I have been thinking of writing this post from such a long time now. It is deeply personal for me since I have lived through it and if writing this is going to help others who have gone through the experience then well, why not.
Let’s get to the basics first – If your are reading this you are mostly aware of the H4 visa status. To those who aren’t – In the USA a H4 Visa is a Visa issued to dependents (spouses or children under 21 years of age) of H1B visa holders. Spouses of H1B visa holders are not allowed to work with just an H4 Visa. There is, however, an option to obtain an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) which allows you to work with an H4 visa. Now that’s the shortest version, I am not going to touch base with the process of getting an EAD. There are several government websites that explains the process. What this post consists will be how to keep yourself active during this period of waiting to get your EAD. And for those who are curious I received my EAD after 2 years of moving to the US. In those 2 years I have tried to keep myself occupied, busy with learning new things and taking the time to nourish myself physically and mentally. I knew what I was getting into when I moved to the US. After having worked in Marketing for 6 years this was hard but a necessary choice for us as I did want to be with my husband post our wedding.
If you are a career oriented enthusiastic person who loves to work, get out there and face new challenges, then there is no easy way of putting it- You will miss home and your freedom to work! But we are trying to look at the bright side here. There are multiple options that you can do, and here’s a few.
- Get into college. You can study on your Visa, and this is one of the best options for you if you want to take up a course you have always been looking forward to do or if you want to get yourself an MBA. Cost will be one of the deciding factors, however there are tons of community colleges to pick from. In-state tuition is available for H4 visa holders in the US. But keep in mind that different schools and states have different application schemes and policies for the process and it is recommended that you check with the desired school first. Personally for me, I had my MBA and I had no intentions of going back to college when I moved.
- Find a full-time job and have an employer sponsor H1B Visa. This is an option if your work experience is in STEM field, however this is definitely not an easy option. The issue is that if a company sponsors your Visa and even if you get it, you cannot work for the company for 6 months after Visa approval and hence it is not logical for the company to spend money on your sponsorship. But you can definitely give it a try.
- Volunteer in you field. One of the best things that I found out is that you can volunteer in organizations based on your interest. There are multiple portals to find what interests you. I looked up Volunteermatch.org and found several places that I loved to volunteer and that is what I did. You get to meet people, network with them which will definitely help you once you get your EAD and plus it definitely adds weightage to your your Resume!
- Work on your self. I can’t emphasize on this enough! I started working out and eating right and understanding so much about nutrition since I had the time. Take up hobbies, things that you have always wanted to do, I learnt to cook and that’s something I am really proud of! I know a friend who started gardening and she’s such a pro at it now. Keep yourself occupied and learn new things.
- Learn the culture/Explore: I have been lucky to have travelled to so many places in the country experiencing the culture and tasting the amazing variety of food. I researched and planned my travels extensively and shared my travel photographs and tips on Instagram, mostly because it made me happy! There is so much out there all you have to do is get out and talk to people. Don’t be afraid of making new friends, there are apps like meet-ups that lets you catch up with people who share your interests, .
Here’s my advice, the first thing you need to do once you move here is to get yourself a driving license. Trust me when I say that cars are your way to freedom. At least it was for me!
And finally I know a lot of my friends who don’t want to get into the workforce and are starting families and becoming wonderful stay at home mommas and taking care of the household and you know, that itself is a full time job! A few have come up with youtube channels and started their own ventures.
For me personally I knew I had to get back to the workforce. The journey has had it’s ups and downs and after 2 years I got myself a job in a multinational company (Non IT- girl here) A lot of people asked me to switch since it is a competitive market but hey, you do what you love and not what everyone else is doing. That’ the way to live right? In the end if you have a supportive partner you can get through anything!
I know a lot of them call this VISA a curse but I believe that there is always hope and all you have to do is believe in yourself and live the life that makes you happy!