This week, USA Today featured an inside look at the legal immigration process foreign nationals must go through before entering the country, becoming permanent residents or eventually becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen. The article said that it's a long road, often filled with detours and potholes.
The piece started with the story of an immigrant from Peru who was recruited to work in Alabama producing a Spanish-language Catholic television show. With help from his employer, the man was able to obtain an H1B temporary work visa and began working.
After that, it took another 11 years with many obstacles along the way before the man was finally granted permanent legal status this month.
This man's story may seem surprising because not only was he beckoned to the United States by a TV network, he is also very well-educated and is an expert in his field. However, it is actually quite common for even skilled workers to face setbacks during the legal immigration process, the article said.
Getting through the process successfully appears to have a lot to do with patience persistence and even luck, no matter who you are.
The TV producer from Peru said that he was denied a visa that would have allowed him to study in Texas twice before he had a chance meeting with a U.S. congressman who intervened and helped him secure documentation. Then he used the expertise of an immigration attorney to finally become a permanent resident.
The article pointed out that most immigrants legally enter the United States one of two routes: either by way of family or by way of career, both of which can have their hang-ups. For more on this important topic, check back later this week.
Source: USA Today, "Immigrants find legal paths to U.S. long, difficult," Brian Lyman, Oct. 24, 2011.