1990s - early 2000s:
Declaration: "I'll just go to the US, study, earn my degree, work a little bit, then come back and settle in India."
Said by: early 20 somethings, single, mostly males
2000s - today:
Declaration: "I'll go onsite for two years, save some money, then settle back in India."
Translation for Americans: The guy is coming onsite single, but will leave the US ready to enter his arranged marriage, and then return to India to live there permanently.
Said by: mid 20 somethings up until age 30ish or before they get married
Declaration: "I'll just go onsite for a few months or years. My family will join me and get the experience of living in the US. But, we will move back and live permanently in India.
Said by: married people. In most cases, men, but now a days there are women who get the sponsorship before their husbands, too!
Declaration: "I'm studying abroad to New Zealand, Australia or Canada for a few years to get my MBA, maybe work for one year, get citizenship or permanent status, then come back to India."
Said by: Married people, who also take their spouse and/or children with them. (These countries have more relaxed immigration standards than the US.)
Outcome: We shall see as this has been the newest trend over the past few years.
While some do hold true to this because of work assignment limitations or visa limitations, others find visa, green card and citizenship obstacles to be the sole reason they are 'trapped in the US'. While some may dream to be trapped in the US, the real experience of this means ones misses out on family functions, utilizing property purchased in India, births of new family members, last days of others, and other milestones. The video below made in Tamil with English subtitles highlights the journey of Thiru and his dream of working onsite for two years and how that ended up in raising a family and settling permanently in the US.
Before showing the video, I'd like to share a few reflections I had while watching it in the order it appears in the video:
- The small cross-cultural training the manager gives Thiru is quite hilarious and does not really help one understand the real implications of working in the US.
- Yes, American managers will find it hard to understand the Indian head nod and if it means yes or no. Make sure if you come onsite you learn how to say YES clearly as well as learn how to say NO politely.
- Thiru's wife urges him to allow her to give birth in the US. I find this scene to be misrepresenting the majority of similar situations I have heard or seen. Typically, Indians in the US do not want to go home to give birth because anyone born in the US is automatically a US citizen. Alternatively, Indians in Middle Eastern countries or South East Asian countries often do come home to give birth because those countries do not automatically give citizenship up.
- The wife mentions her pitiful status as an H4 spouse. Some spouses on H4 may be able to work now. (It's best to consult with your immigration consultant before doing so.)
- I agree that both wife and husband give up and sacrifice to go through the citizenship process, but to argue that 'I've lost more than you.' is not healthy for martial relationships, it will cause resentment.
- Really? If an Indian child gets into Harvard an Indian parent would say no? Parents of any nationality or background would be thrilled about this, probably more so with Indian parents! This interaction doesn't seem realistic to me.
- I love the ending! The ending is captured in a screen capture in the image in this post. I love this video. Though I have a few minor concerns with a few parts, I think the video is very well made both in story line and videography. I also love how Thiru's hairstyles and personalities change to reflect his lifestyle changes, it makes the story feel as if it does move forward. Hats off to the whole team!
Thank you Albany Tamil Sangam!
Jennifer Kumar, an American expat living in Kochi, India, is a cross-cultural business strategist helping Indians prepare for their onsite career and life adventures. Learn more here.
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