Undocumented in the U.S.? When it's a Good Idea to Stay or Go Home.

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I need to post a disclaimer before proceeding with this post: I share with all of you my personal experiences through this blog and my decisions and actions may not necessarily be something you would want to go through with yourself, if you are to find yourself in the same situation as I was or am in! On the other hand, I highly encourage you to leave a comment if you want to share your story or ask for my opinion on your experience!!

Why the whole disclaimer? I finally went to see a lawyer last week after one year or so of having my tourist/business visa to the U.S. denied. My parents' green cards are still making their way to them, and I'm getting antsy and homesick more than ever, so I figured the least I could do was talk to someone who knew what he was saying about my situation and at least be at ease with a positive or negative position on what I should do regarding my attempts to go to the United States.

First of all - I do not plan on going to live there. I absolutely love my life in Brazil. But you know, you tend to miss the people you love when you're far away. So I just wanted to visit. And besides that, opportunities to make it there for work related conferences and trainings are starting to come up and I need to know what my chances are of actually making it to them! Here's the rundown with a little bit of everything I learned during my visit.

I get to the lawyer's office which is pretty simple, and this sweet old[er] man welcomes me into his office. I proceed to tell him my entire story holding back tears (I'm working on the whole crying thing); show him all my documents and letters from the consulate I hadn't even looked at since last March; and ask him what I should or shouldn't do.

He then proceeds to first pat me on the back for telling the truth at the US consulate. They're quite good at tracking people which is why I still suspect undocumented immigrants are kept in the country for economic reasons (but that's a post for another day), so it's not a good idea to try to trick them and tell them you're going to Disney World and have never been to the U.S. before if you have and you were undocumented.

Dr. Miguel, the lawyer, looked over my paperwork and told me I'd be wasting my money if I tried to get a tourist or business visa. Since I lived in the country for over a year illegally (the government doesn't care if you were dependent on your parents or not), I'm denied any type of non-immigrant visa for 10 years starting the date I left the country. This means I can't go just to visit, if I am to get a visa it would have to be an immigrant visa. If I were to try to get a tourist or business visa again, the consulate would be suspicious as to why I was trying so hard "just to visit." (even if my intentions are honest!)

I have three options now. 1. Wait on my parents' green cards and then wait in line for a green card from them (or wait in line even more and wait for my American brother to turn 21 and apply for me); 2. Marry an American boy; 3. Get hired by an American company to work there. I know that I could probably be eligible for any of the three sometime soon, but since I can't go to just visit and would have to live there - I guess I'll just wait it out, finish my MBA here, grow more career-wise, and hey - maybe my company will even send me there to work for a year and I can enjoy being close to Momma and Poppa for a bit? :-)

When I said the guy was sweet, I wasn't exaggerating. We chatted for about an hour about my case but also about whether or not I was happy in Brazil. I assured him I was, and he turns to me and says, "You know what? You're probably better off here than you would've been there. You're young, smart, friendly. You're native in Portuguese and English for God's sakes! You'll grow quicker professionally here, and you're not stuck waiting tables like you would have been had you stayed in the US. You couldn't have done anything about your legal situation there if you had stayed anyway." Thank youuu. That's what I've been telling people all along!

I honestly would not have come to Brazil if I hadn't have completed my college education, had I not spoken Portuguese as well as I do, and had I not been as extroverted as I am! It's not easy for someone to leave everything they have and no and venture off into new territory with no option to look back. But I'm not the only one who's done it - and I recommend anyone in a similar situation to do it themselves. Just know your options and risks. Talk to a lawyer you trust before making the decision because it's a big one. Do whatever you can to not break the law even more. And know that home is where you want it to be. Don't go to your home country if you're going to be pessimistic about it. Do go if you're willing to learn, grow, and share your experiences abroad with others. My two cents.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend and wonderful WOMEN'S DAY yesterday!! I hope you all remembered to thank the wonderful women in your life for being there!


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