Like any other 21st century woman, my professional life was cruising in the express lane until it hit the H4 bump. My husband was offered a job in the U.S. of “A” on H1b visa and the dependants were to be on H4. The amusing part is you are warned by your friends who have gone through the H4 trauma but you are still ready to take the plunge. So just like everybody, I decided to take my chances.
I had my list of options ready which were exhausted before we could even find our ground. The conversation with the employers and consultants would end as soon as they would hear the “H4″ word. I discovered a whole new definition of joblessness and boredom in life. You try convincing yourself that no it’s not over but deep within the sadness kicks in. There is one thing that you get to hear a lot when you are on H4 “Oh, you can always volunteer”. No mademoiselle, it’s not that easy to volunteer too.
When life is limited to four walls of the house, grocery shopping turns out to be the most exciting part of the day. The transition from the world of cubicles to the kitchen is no less than a cultural shock. This is when your “stay-at-home” batch mates become active and barge you with all sorts of recipe related queries and gossip. I am not saying this was not a part of my life but yeah I can’t spend my entire day thinking about that.
The frustration kicks into an even higher gear when you realize your financial independence is also gone. Some of us are lucky to be married to gentlemen who try their best to dilute that feeling. But let’s accept it, it’s a single salaried household, u just can’t randomly plan a weekend in Vegas on a Friday evening. For others who are stuck with men in tiny households with even tinier hearts, emotional and physical harassment becomes a routine. Away from families, who are we suppose to turn to in tough times.
Within a short span, you lose confidence in yourself and everything around you. Even though I am a mother, a wife, a daughter but I am always searching for my own identity. Currently, I am in India visiting family and sometimes end up looking for job options. But with my husband back in the States, I am torn between the temptation to work and leading a normal family life with my husband. Who would contemplate such a thing in their right senses?
No EAD for H4 is not merely an immigration glitch but also subjects a person to a vicious circle of emotional trauma. Only if people understood that the dependents of highly skilled people are no less skilled themselves and deserve basic human rights.
From Arina – I am a Comp.Sc.& Engg. graduate with 3 years of professional experience. Prior to coming to US, I worked with Cadence Design Systems (San Jose based semiconductor giant) for 1.5 years. I have been living in Madison (WI) on H4 for nearly 2 years now.