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Old June 16th, 2005, 09:42 AM
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Post Oh I dont need a GC. I will return to India. OOoh.. now I need one!

When I came to the USA on a H1/B visa in January 1998, I had only heard about the Green Card. I did not know the details.

Within six months I realised that working in USA on a H1 visa was just like working in the Gulf on a work permit - you did not really have freedom to work at any company you wanted. H1 was a bug hurdle everytime you wanted to change a job.

I remember conversations with colleagues and some friends who had varying views on this topic. Some would say that getting a Green Card ties you down to your employer for 3 to 4 years and they exploit you. So its no use applying for one till you get a job on H1 in a company of your choice.

Then there were some who would say - No Green Card please. I want to return to India.The reasons would be varied like kids wont grow up in a proper culture to I want to go back and settle down.

Those good 'old' days of the Internet boom were really good as many would jump jobs despite long H1 processing times.

Then came the crash and many had to return and many managed to stay back.

Much before the Internet economy crashed, I had made a conscious decision to apply for a Green Card. My reasoning was that whether I wanted to settle in USA or go back to India, I should have the freedom to work at any company just like a US citizen has. H1 will tie me down to my contractor for 3 or more years but then after that I would be free to do as I wish.

Among the group of colleagues and friends, only 4 of us really applied early on in 1999 and today we all are happy at our decision. Happy because we dont have to worry about H1 visa hassles, projects coming to an end, etc. Those who did not apply are now worrying about things like projects ending and the prospects of returning to India when they are not yet ready.

Some of these folks were the ones who were like - GC? Baah.. I want to return home. These same folks now have kids but want to stay here! Well, I cannot comment on their change of heart, but I do sometimes feel like saying - "I told you so!" Suddenly many folks who cannot get GC applications in time are now bitter that they have to go back to India forcibly! And these were the folks who would say that - "IT is booming in India. I am going to buy a nice place in Pune/Bangalaore/Hyderabad/Chennai/Noida and settle down in a cushy job!"

I am not berating or making fun of these folks, but I wonder that why was a GC looked upon as such an emotional issue and not a practical issue? Why did folks think that a GC would prevent their return to India? Why would getting a GC cause their kids to suddenly become trashy kids and not have proper culture? Come on folks, the Green Card is a important license to work . Period.

I know a couple of people who have returned to India even after having a GC. Teh GC served them well for many years as they could change jobs and try different ventures here. GC should be looked upon as an enabler and nothing else.

I write this today because a close friend has had to go back against his will. I used to egg him to start his process long ago but he would just keep delaying. Now he is desperate to stay a year outside USA and again come back on a H1!! (And yes he has a kid too!)
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