As a young girl, Yuvika began her emigrating journey at the age of 15. The plan of her, to study overseas was encouraged by her parents who had envisioned great success for her future which they believed is outside of their home country, India.
Unlike most emigrants whose greatest struggle was learning English, Yuvika was someone who grew up studying English as the medium language. But this doesn’t make Yuvika walk comfortably as an emigrant.
She too had struggles of her own which fueled her desire to reach out to her fellow emigrants. She then started her own platform, “Ports of Entry” where she gives emigrants a chance to share their individual journey on moving out of their own countries.
Don’t miss out on Yuvika’s episode by tuning in to the Emigrant’s Life Podcast and may you be inspired by the story of a woman who journeyed at a young age to break free from the limited opportunities set by her own country.
Went through the whole thing they liked me. I talked to met them and then they were like, okay, just fill out the form and we'll talk more next day and I filled it out. And the next day I got a call saying, I'm sorry, we don't hire people like you. And I'm sorry that this rule exists, but I cannot do anything about it.
Hi, everyone, and welcome to episode number 16 of the Emigrant's Life podcast where we share stories of people who left their country to chase a better life. I'm Daniel De Biasi. And in this episode, I had the pleasure to chat with Yuvika. She's originally from India and she now lives in Chicago, US. She left her country when she was only 15 to go to study in Singapore. Her parents believed that she would have more opportunities if she will get a degree and a career outside of India, where women are treated differently. And the society expects you as a woman to get married and take care of the kids. She now has a job and a career that she likes. But it wasn't easy for it to get to this point. Finding a job as an immigrant in the US can be very challenging. Yuvika started a year ago a platform to bring more awareness around immigrants, so people can have a better understanding of what we have to go through when we move to a new country, and have more empathy towards immigrants. You can find her work on Instagram and Facebook by searching "Ports of Entry". You can also find the link in the show notes. Before moving into my conversation with Yuvika, make sure to subscribe and it'll be great if you could give us a five stars review. And now, please enjoy my conversation with Yuvika.
Hi Yuvika, thanks for being on the show.
Hey, Daniel. Thanks for having me.
No worries. How are you?
I'm good. It's a, it's a good evening so far here in Chicago.
Awesome. And where are you originally from?
I am from India. I was born there. But I now live in Chicago.
Okay, so try to - I don't know walk me through from did you leave India and you go straight to the US to Chicago or?
Yeah, sure. I've lived in a lot of different cities in the US and I was born in India. But then when I was in high school, I had the opportunity to go to Singapore, for two years of my high school. It was supposed to be an opportunity to really get out and like experience something different and it was a scholarship. And so that's how this journey started. And I applied, I got the scholarship. And I did went for high school, the last two years of high school, to a school in Singapore. And when I was there, that's when a lot of people said, hey, you should look into schools, colleges in the US. And I did and then I applied again. And then I got into a college that I thought was good. I didn't come here to visit it or anything I just went. So it's been kind of like different steps that happen that led me there and when I came here, I came I lived in Minnesota, that's where my college was, and in a small town in Minnesota, and then after I finished college, I lived in New York. I lived in Florida, Michigan, and now Chicago. So lots of places. Yeah.
Yeah, you definitely saw a few parts of the United States. Um, a question because you said somebody told you or recommended you to get into a scholarship or get into college in the US. Why did they recommend you that?
So they, I was in high school and my teachers and my parents and some other friends, they knew about the scholarship. And it was it's, it's a hard it's a hard scholarship to get, but they said, hey, it's not a big deal. Just apply for it. It's like any other, you know, application form. And at that time, when I was doing it, my parents thought that it would be really cool if I could get out of the Indian education system and experience a different education and see where that leads me. My parents really wanted me to find another way to build a career. They didn't think that the Indian education system was enough or like good enough.
Okay. Did you like - leave India on your own to go to university?
Yeah, so I left India first to go to high school and then after that, to go to college, yeah. And I left on my own. My family was still in India at that time.
Okay, so high school will be like I was 16, 17, something like that?
Yeah. So I was 15 years old when I left. I had celebrated my 16th birthday in Singapore.
Okay, wow. So you were really young. So how was the first experience overseas in a new country?
It was really cool. I think I was thrilled happy that I got the scholarship but I was really homesick and I think I like cried a lot in the first few months because I didn't know how to live on my own and I had friends but like, you know, I was barely dependent on my family. So my parents, you know, I would call them every day I would. I had to I was so homesick that I had to go home after two months of school because I was so so so homesick. But that's how you adjust and I think within that first year, it changed a lot and I, you know, did better. It was also a different experience. Because if you grew up with your family, like if you're a kid and suddenly you're just by yourself in a boarding school living with roommates, my roommates didn't speak a lot of English either. So it was just a weird environment and it took me like at least a year to adjust to it.
Like a year to adjust? Or a year to actually have your group of friends and having-
Yeah, everything, everything like, and it also to like the school and to like enjoy it. I think the first few days I was like, Yes, this is exciting, but then it became harder to like, adjust. And so the way I eventually managed to do it is just to like, you know, be strong and just be like, this is a cool opportunity. Not everybody gets this opportunity. I have to - I have to figure this out. And so eventually I did.
You were the only one from your school to go to Singapore?
Um, yeah, I was the only one from my school. There were some other people from my city and other a few other people from other cities. So there were a total of 25 to 30 people across the country who were doing the same thing that I was doing on the same scholarship.
Okay, so at least you were you had some someone to talk to you.
At least they speak the same language.
Did you speak English at that point?
Yes, I did. So I went to an English school all my life. So I had that. So that wasn't the problem. Out of all the people I was, so there were 30 of us maybe, and there were like five girls. And so I think just the fact that I think a lot of girls declined the scholarship, because their parents were like, scared to send them away and my family was brave enough to be like, you can you can do this like you'll be fine. And so I think that was I think that they they were probably dealing with more than I did like, I was a kid, I adapted but they were my parents they were probably more scared.
You know, I bet. Do you have any siblings?
I have two younger siblings. Yes.
Okay do they stay in India?
No. So once I left, and they also left at that, like when they got to the 10th grade, 11th grade, they left as well. So my parents then made sure that everybody in my family could get that same opportunity again, so that, you know, because it opens doors, so they didn't want any of us to be left behind. Because, you know, it's really just a little bit of hard work to do that. So, so yeah, I think a lot of it has happened because my family believed that that would be a good step for us. And for me if I was an experiment in some ways, because nobody knew what would happen like whether I would like it. And once I adjusted like my brother and sister, they're younger, but I think they're a little bit stronger than me. So they were fine.
Yeah, I mean, they knew me they had your experience and your example to follow. So it was definitely easier. As a second child.
So I don't know, I don't know much about India. I've never been to India but why are your parents were like so keen to give you more opportunity to I dont know this opportunity to go overseas and study overseas?
Yeah, I think it was a few different things. And I think there are a lot of Indian families that are doing that now. They're sending their kids overseas, you might have seen a lot of Indian people in Canada, and I'm seeing a lot of people here. But at that time, and this is 2007, I think. I think the, my parents knew that I was doing really good like I had, I was a straight A student, that I if I applied to college in India, I would get it but they were just worried that I would not be happy in that environment. It's like a very what's the word? It doesn't promote creativity. It's very dull and because India has such a big population in those schools, like the competition is like crazy. And the people sometimes compete on the wrong things. Like, for example, if you are trying to be, you know, I don't know an accountant or an engineer like people like study for like months to get to that point and I think that in that process, they lose their creativity, balance of life, things like that. The Indian education system does not help people to be well rounded individuals. They did a lot of research and they they went to Indian colleges, right? So they just knew that I wouldn't be happy and they also thought that, you know, my long term futures probably somewhere else. They wanted me to have a big life and a big career. Another factor that probably affected them was that they didn't want me to suffer one size one if I live in India and I work or go to college there, I would also work there, which meant that I would, in some ways be considered less because I was a woman in India. As a woman there's lots of discrimination and and people don't talk about it but in the workplace, like it's really hard to get equal pay and promotions and it's just they just expect you to get married and have kids and so my parents didn't want that.
Okay, yeah, fair enough.
It's so complicated yeah.
Yeah. But at the same time its hard for parents to have three children and have them all overseas and not see them very often.
Yeah it's hard.
Well is that kind of like an getting more normal now in India is it like a kind of the new norm for parents to send kids away, wait, no, probably away is not the right term but?
Yeah, I think most people would, if they have the ability to they do it. I think it's better for everyone because you, you learn something different. Like I said, the education system is so like box-like that you don't really grow as a person. And when you work there, like, if you're a woman, it's just really hard in the big cities like crime is so high that you can't even do anything past a certain time there and things like that. So it's just like your life, your work. your mindset isn't healthy all the time. So and my parents went through that and they just saw that the education system, work environments, etc. were more equitable in other countries. And so that's why I think they took the decision. They were they were also being very ambitious. They were like, you know, they want me to be successful. They want me to be like, anything I wanted to be, you know. So that's kind of a big dream that they gave me and that I took from them. And I don't think I would have done anything if they weren't like, looking, looking towards that dream.
Okay, no, it's definitely admirable for for them to do that because as you said, it's not easy for parents to to let your your kids go and not see them very often. I mean, it was hard for my mom and going back to the education system, so you said that you move to a new school in high school in the last two years of high school so how was the - did you see that difference when you move to a new school in Singapore, the education system was different?
Yeah, so the education system so both India and Singapore have the British education system because they were colonies of the UK, long time back. So in terms of the teaching style, there is a slight difference because what the Singaporean education system does is it's intense like in India, but it's also balanced. So, to be good in class classes and exams is not good enough. You have to also be good in extracurricular activities. You have to be good in sports, like, they look at everything. So just being good at one thing isn't, isn't done. And they also help open the door for me to colleges that if I was in India, in Indian high school, I wouldn't be able to access so from an Indian high school to apply to an American college is very hard because the scores, the results are not comparable to US scores US High School scores, but in Singapore, the school that I went to, those scores could be comparable to US High School scores and so that helped the college admissions group to figure that out and help me get the admissions. But yeah, so I think the experience was still like, in line with the Indian experience, but it was just more broader. It was about I took like economics and literature and project work and just like very broad courses, whereas in India, I was studying math, physics and like just all the subject areas and here I was able to let go a little bit broader and do some things that I wanted to do.
Okay, out of curiosity. I mean, Singapore, I think the official language is English, right?
Unknown Speaker 15:44
Yes, it's in - they have four languages. They have English, Tamil, Malay and Chinese.
But you're learning all the lesson everything was in English?
Everything was in English.
So even then, you mean did you know that kind of English, the terminology for what are you're studying? Because in India, I guess you were studying in Indian, right in your own language?
No, so in India, I was studying in English.
But, but obviously, like, when I was home I was speaking in Hindi. But in in, in school, like, everything, like, speaking, writing was in English. The only difference was the slang so like, sometimes people, the way they talk is slightly different, even if they're speaking English, you know? So that I had to adjust, but other than that, there was no difference in English.
Okay, no, because sometimes I feel like I don't know anything because sometimes people ask me a question or even about about history about some like a famous, I don't know. Yeah, so in English and it changes the name. So I don't know. Like, I don't know these guys. How do you know- how you don't know these guys? Like they're so famous and so important. Like, I don't know, then I know the equivalence in my own language of course I know that's just yeah. That's why I'm saying it.
I have to learn like, okay, who are what is Singapore and its history I had to learn who are the famous people I had to learn like, it is a country and it's different from other countries. So I have to figure that out. But I didn't have a communication barrier, like people could understand me, I could understand them. So communication wasn't the issue. It was the culture, it was a culturally different place.
And the culture was, I guess was was different it's ike a more like a?
Yeah, more Western. So I was coming from a conservative Indian, small town, and I was going to like a big Metropolitan country that's very Americanized, but also still Asian.
Okay, so when you moved to the US, did you have another adjustment to make? Or was like as was similar kind of environment and that you had in Singapore?
Yeah, so I had to make another adjustment when I moved to the US, but the adjustment was a lot smoother. Maybe because I was already, I think, go doing the adjustment so like it was automatic. But it was a lot smoother. One of the things I think it was a lot smoother, I think that I'm in Singapore, like, the there is a hierarchy of like people, I think, subtly in society. There's a hierarchy and the dominant race in Singapore is Chinese. And so as an Indian, even though like I spoke English, it was kind of hard to assimilate and make friends with a large bunch of Chinese people even though like, we were all kids and be like, it was just hard, because there's a subtle hierarchy but in the US, like, I didn't feel like I was somebody you know, different like everybody just like immediately wanted to get to know me without caring about where I was from. Does that make sense?
Yeah, no, kind of. And yes.
I don't know. I don't I can't fully understand what he's saying. Because I never had that feeling that experience in my life. But I could, I could get it even cause I - correct me if I'm wrong but usually, like a Chinese are famous to be kind of like a close community. Yeah so they kind of like group together, right? So maybe if you felt the same environment that you feel automatically excluded because you're not part of the same group. Right?
Yeah. And in the US, even though there are groups, there's still enough diversity that they, there's enough openness that like, nobody's completely tied down, like everybody is trying to understand everybody else. I mean, I know there are issues but people are not forced to be with each other if they look the same, you know, they can just diversify if they want.
Yeah, that's the beauty of this like neo-countries, there's so many different races and different many people and from all over the place and then joining together together, together in one single group that's what I love about it especially as a college.
Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
And after you finish college, how easy was to for you to stay in the country?
It was tough. I think. That's why I care a lot about immigration related issues. Because I think since college till now, I've dealt with different different challenges and worked my way through it. And even though there were no issues getting assimilated in American society, I think the hardest part was to figure out financially and legally, how to stay and how to be productive here. So my first job was definitely like, it was tough for me to get I, I have to always every few years figure out my visa situation. Because in the US, it's really hard to be a permanent resident. If you're an international student or international immigrant, like if you're an immigrant, it's just they it's just the legal process is just really long. And so, but I figured it out. I've worked with different companies, different lawyers, and and I'm still here so there are loopholes, but it's not perfect at all.
Do you have any tips that you can give to people about maybe I don't know, you learn from your mistakes, or do you have any tips of what people can do to not make the same mistakes or the path to get you permanency or to get a visa a little bit easier?
Yeah, I think what I would recommend and I know all international students look into this, but try to find out If you can stay on your student visa for longer after you graduate, because the switch from student visa to work visa is always tricky. So try to find out if you can extend your stay. And I can go into more detail of what that legally means, but there's ways to extend it. And the other thing I would say is for work visas, like, different companies fall under different categories of work visas. So if you work for a nonprofit, or research institution, you don't have to go through the lottery process of getting a work visa. And if you work for a normal for profit company, it's slightly different. You have to go through the lottery process. And the lottery processes basically, you get selected to work and it's since a lottery you can buy luck, you could get rejected so There's a lot of other things like, you know, networking a lot and having an immigration lawyer, like, throughout your lifetime. If you do if you can, like, that would be great. I didn't do that that great. I always try to find a new lawyer and it was always hard. Um, yeah, I'll keep thinking I probably have a lot more. But those are some big things that come to mind.
Okay, so let's talk about you. You said you care about other people, other immigrants. Um, you have like a social media, you have an Instagram page about where you interview other people, other people, other immigrants and share their stories. Do you want to more talk about what's your goal is or what your mission is?
Yeah, sure. So I just I started this project last year, and it's called "Ports of entry". It's a right now it's on Instagram and Facebook, but what I'm trying to do here is find ways to share stories of people who are either connected to immigration, or are immigrants themselves and just bring out very simple everyday stories to the, to the public. The the way I'm thinking about it is that if I find somebody on the street or at an airport or at an event who has an interesting story, maybe someone who reads that will be like, one who's not an immigrant will read that and be like, Oh, I can relate to that. And that will help people to kind of be more accepting of immigrants. One thing that I feel in the US could be better is that, that even though people are cool with different cultures, different races, there's still this thing about, you know, building walls and all that rhetoric about how people from outside shouldn't come in and well, America's a country that was made from immigrants, like everybody who is in America moved here from other places and other countries, and I think people are forgetting that, like, everybody has an immigration story, whether they know it or not in their family, everybody, so maybe their great grandparents moved here. But they all have that. And so they're forgotten that. And I think that the new immigrants who are coming these days are suffering more, because the rules are not in their favor. So I'm just trying to create more solidarity for them through these stories.
You know, and I think you're doing an amazing job. And I agree with you, and I think there's so much ignorance around immigration and about racism. And I think with a with internet, social media thing this ignorance actually amplified and it reached more people. And as you said, people forget that the whole immigrants, the previous generation, all immigrants, they all come from somewhere unless they're natives. I mean even just the name of America comes from the sailor Amerigo Vespucci, which was an Italian. He was as I'm not very good, in history, but I know he was Italian. I'm not sure about I think he used like, British ships. Okay. And that's why it was a British colony. Even Christopher Columbus, which is English, I think is Christopher Columbus?
Yeah. Christopher Columbus. Yeah.
That's what I was talking about before about the history names. He was another Italian guy with British sponsored by the British Empire. So everybody in the US I don't know why they forgot, or they just they pretend they forgot it's a land immigrants. That's what it is. And I think spreading knowledge it might be silly thing for somebody but like about the racism right now in the US, I, I had no idea how bad it was. We I think we we had to get to this point where things are going crazy to actually realize how bad the situation is cause poor people of color, that's their life, they are aware of what's going on there. There's racism happening everyday, they've experienced but for a white person or somebody from not inside of the United States, that's the thing is for me, it's still something that I can't really wrap my head around. It's just something that comes from a different planet. I don't know it's, it's so freakin weird. So having that knowledge that not now I know more about the life of people of color. So the same thing that you're doing with immigrants, knowing more about the life of immigrants, what people why people live in the country, because, you know, it's not an easy thing to do. So if people get to the point to where even people in Italy, they come from Africa, and they get this boat, they risked their lives to get to the boat. Yeah. And they go to a new land to go to the process. Its not because they want to come to go to Italy and steal jobs. They do it because they're desperate so when you see this story from the other side, we see the other point of view, then you start realizing and having more compassion about the other people why they're doing the work they're doing. It's not easy if they get to that point, they must have a good reason. Yeah. And it needs to have more sympathy and empathy about immigrants and other people in general to be honest, you never know what other people's story is so you can't judge them or criticize them for for what they're doing. If you don't know why they're doing it for
Yeah, what do you think Canada's doing better that the US is not doing about immigration? I feel like they're better country about it, but I don't know.
I don't see people against immigration in general. Maybe they are against some certain race, maybe just like a thing in Vancouver they maybe you can see like some kind of racism or they dislike Chinese probably because there's a big community there's like there's there are a lot here in Vancouver and also there's a lot wealthy Chinese people so probably even some racism comes from jealousy that you can see like this young kid driving a Ferrari I don't think its come most comes from from jealousy but overall is not it's not bad. I felt like a been 100 treated different because I was from Italy actually, for some reason, Italians have a really good reputation in Canada. I don't know why. When I when I say that I'm Italian they usually people sees like as a good thing. So I'm pretty lucky for that. But not in general. atleast here in Vancouver, I don't see any racism that I can hear from from coming from the US.
Yeah, that's good.
Yeah, no, no, it is and I keep the more I dig into the immigration situation in the US, the more I get upset because that's, that's what we were talking about before. There's so much ignorance that people are talking and they don't really know what they're talking about. Do you ever like a witness any, like a situation yourself about being treated different because you're an immigrant?
Yeah, I mean, I think I think that the reason why I have an accent that's American is probably because I don't want to be treated differently. I'd think I just got it in college because I was like, I don't want to look or feel different. I just want to be part of the society. So that's one thing. The other thing is, I'm just generally when I meet people, nobody asks me about, oh, what's your passport? Or which country are you from? Unless like, they are curious. But I do think that you know, when I get out of my bubble, and I go out and, like, for example, I was at a Thanksgiving dinner a long time ago and I, um, somebody asked, like, what my immigration status was, and I felt like, nobody ever asks me that. So why why would they ask me and I think it was because I was like good friends with somebody and they just wanted to know, like, what my intentions were and how long I was going to be here. And, and it's like, it's like asking somebody like, what your parents do.
Or, you know, so I just felt like it was a little awkward. So when incidents like that happen, then I feel like okay, maybe, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are people who genuinely care that there's an outsider. And sometimes I feel like my friends group are people who are have something to do with immigration either their parents were immigrant or they are immigrants or, you know, some, like, I feel like that's my bubble and when I get out of it, I see one or two incidents a year that where I'm like, Okay, this is weird. But I'm not surprised anymore. And sometimes I just like talk to them like, one time I was once on a plane and this lady sitting next to me asked me like, Where are you from? And I told her I was from India. And she said, Oh, okay, so are you going to be a citizen? I said, No, like, you know how long it takes to be citizen like 10, 15 years. And she was really surprised, she had no idea. So sometimes it helps to start conversations.
Yeah. I think most people think like, oh, the people come over here and they they stay. But no, there's a long process and to stay legally in the country takes a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of frustration.
Because one of the things about immigration they makes you feel unwelcome most of the time, because they put so many obstacles in the way that feels like, do you guys want me here or no? And when you try to move to a new country its like moving to a new apartment with other people. Be like, do you guys want me here? Or no? Because I feel like you guys don't want me if you don't want me I probably just better leave.
That's a really good analogy, actually. Yeah. Do you want me here or no? Yeah, so I just take that whenever I travel, I definitely feel that way. Because I have to go through a separate line to enter the US and I have to answer questions about why I'm entering the US and it's always like, Oh, I have to study, oh, I have to work. So I don't have permanent residence right now. And in order for me to get permanent residence, I have to, you know, go through other steps that I'm not there yet for. Whereas in other countries like Canada, you don't have to do that. Um, I also think that there are a little other things that affect your life if you're an immigrant, like you can't really get a loan, if you're an immigrant if you're not a US citizen or permanent resident, so for me to get a student loan was really hard. You also like, sometimes need a cosigner on the lease. Or like if you want to buy something big like car or something, there's like little little difficulties here and there that you have to deal with. And yeah, traveling traveling is when you actually feel it like in my job, I am a consultant I travel for work and there are these Fast Track lanes that you can take that are like pre it's like pre-check that you can just go through and quickly get on the plane and I can't apply for that because my passport is Indian and I need to be a US citizen for that.
I mean, I understand some certain limitation especially financially and I mean give you a loan that they don't know if you're going to stay in the country or not, maybe just get the money and then you leave, they don't know how to track you down. So I understand that. So there's - I understand some certain limitation, but that doesn't mean that they should treat you differently. But at the same time, I think certain regulation are there for a reason. So I'm not really against certain those regulation. It's my perspective, I don't know your perspective on that.
Yeah, I mean, I think it's fine. But if you can't become a citizen or permanent resident, let's say it takes 10, 15 years to do that and like, you start a family here or, you know, you have money here that you need to invest like, it puts a lot of obstacles. So like, I think if there are rules, then they should be consistent. It should be okay, as long as you are on this visa status, you can do anything but as soon as you switch and become more permanent, you can do whatever you want. You know but then they won't let you make that switch until like way later, when everything is done.
What do you mean?
Like you can't apply for permanent residence unless you have somebody to sponsor you. And if you do apply for permanent residence from a country like India or China, there is a like a 10 year wait before you get your residence card.
Oh, wow. So what are you doing now? You just keep renewing your visa.
Yeah, so I renew my visa twice. And if I can't get to the permanent residence stage, then I just reapply for another like similar class of visa. I just have to keep applying and renewing visas
And is it like a straightforward you just apply for the to renew your visa and just get renewed or you have to go through a process and it can be denied at any point.
It can be denied but I always make sure that I have a good lawyer. And if all you have all your paperwork and you haven't done anything wrong or if you don't have anything sketchy on your profile, it generally goes through under this administration under the Trump administration. All the applications that I filed and I know for my friends filed, they always came back with like a question mark saying hey, this is incomplete and then you have to like resubmit it. So they added another step, but it will in my case it has been approved. In some of my friend's cases, they were rejected.
Okay, because that's the main thing when you're building your life in a new country you never know is still until you are a permanent resident. You know, you can stay in the country so it's like, it's always a risk when you have to reapply kind of need to have like atleast for me is like I need to have a plan B. What if I can't stay in Canada? My visa like expired in January, for example, what if I can't get an extended so I need to have a plan B and have that uncertainty, you can't have a big commitment, you can buy a house or you can, I don't know, four years long for a new car or something like that, because you never know how long you'd be able to stay in the country. That kind of thing is just that sort of uncertainty.
Yeah, were you able to become a permanent resident in Canada?
Actually in my situation I had to apply for permanent residency when I applied for my work permit. The situation was a slightly different it was like, okay, we give you a work permit because we need you, we need people like you here in British Columbia. But we want to know if you actually serious to stay in the country. So if you want to get a visa, you need to show us that you actually are planning to stay in the country. And to do that you need to apply for permanent residency. But that was one of the requirements when I applied for my work permit.
That's cool. That's good.
So its completely the opposite of what it sounds like from US that's-
Yeah, completely the opposite and I don't know why because it's not like they're not enough jobs. Also every immigrant creates jobs like they're, they're more immigrants, they have more businesses, they work for more businesses, they create more jobs for more people. So there they are trying to reform it. I've been following the politics, but um, it will take some time.
Yeah. And another thing about immigrants they, especially immigrants, they come with not a good level of education or a good level of English, more actually, education is not really a good point because there's people that are doctors or good education in their country they move to a new one and their education is like a doesn't have value at all. But if they don't have a good level of English, that means they need to start from the bottom. They need to start from the easiest job or the the shittiest job ever and climb the ladder. So it, and those kind of jobs, usually people that are born in the country don't want to do anyway. So that's another thing that the immigrants are good for they're good for those kind of jobs that nobody else wants to do. And they're willing to do it because they want to stay in the country. And because they know that they have to climb the ladder. So they have to start from the first step and, and are willing to do those kind of jobs that other people are aren't like, I wasn't I did jobs when I was in New Zealand that I would never done it if I was in Italy not because I'm better than that. But I think it's kind of normal when you are born in the country, the bar is set a certain level and you don't want to get lower otherwise its just I don't know. Do you know what I'm saying, you know what I mean? Right?
Yeah, I know. So I know that there are people who come here without the education and language skills, depending on how they came they there are opportunities in the country to climb the ladder. I just think it's really cool in the US how their immigration immigrants helping immigrants like really, really strong communities like because the government isn't there for them. So they just find ways to support each other and they make sure everybody gets jobs like, you know, they help each other out. Like I've heard a lot of stories where people are like, giving each other money. Like I was just on the phone with somebody who's dealing with some financial situation and she was like, my friend just dropped like $1,000 check at my place. And I was like, that's crazy. But, you know, people help each other out. And I've never, I think that's a very unique thing about immigrants. I've not seen that happen. They don't have that much themselves, but they give because they want the people around them to be, to be good. Because they know it can be life or death. You know, $1,000 for somebody who's rich doesn't mean anything. But for an immigrant it can mean a lot.
No, exactly. No, no, you're right. And I don't know what was the best biggest challenge you have to face in your own journey of immigration from when you left India to today?
I think the biggest challenge was to get a job. Yeah, get a, get a good job, get a job that I wanted. And I had, okay jobs like, where I was able to use my college degree and my basic skills. But the job that I have today, I think, was probably the hardest job to get because I, even though I was, you know, a good student and I worked really hard. I just think that there's just some companies that don't hire non US citizens and non permanent residents. And I remember going to all the information sessions and meeting with companies and I was like, I want to I want to apply and people would get really excited that I'm applying. But then when I would fill out the application form and they say, are you a US citizen or permanent resident? Then it would be like protection. So, I think, for me to get basic jobs is okay, but to get the next level jobs like really, really good paying jobs, where you can, you know, support yourself and your family and everything that this job is like that. And I feel like, I worked so hard. And I think I'm just lucky that I got it. But it was definitely very stressful. And I was really disappointed to see that so many companies don't want to deal with that. And I think they don't want to deal with it, because maybe they have to do paperwork, maybe they have to deal with the risk that, you know, their visa could get rejected. But it's all like a cycle, like the government doesn't want to help us that much. So then the companies don't want to help, you know, it's like a cycle because they're scared that this person will have to leave.
Yeah, even the process. Maybe they don't want to deal with the all application for sponsorship, I guess.
Because I had a similar situation in Canada. I had my background in telecommunication I worked nine years in telecommunication so I applied for a job as a telecommunication technician here in Canada. And they really wanted me they call me like I don't know four or five times to ask me, Daniel so are you you come in working for us? And I said, I need a visa if you guys want to sponsor me, I am happy to start with you like no. I'm sorry we we can't sponsor you, the company is like a big company so the company doesn't doesn't do that. If you can find another way to stay in the country to get a visa whenever we're happy to having you and they call me five times to keep like, so Daniel did you find a way to get a visa? No I didn't. I need you to give me a visa. But same thing they were like even when they needed me. But they didn't want and they were not willing to go through the whole process to wire somebody in my current in my immigration situation.
Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I don't blame them. But I also think that there is no, I don't know if there's any additional cost to the company. Like, they all if they're a big company, they have lawyers, they have to have some international connection.
So just just weird when people say that and my first job, the only reason I got my first job out of college was because my boss, she was American. She was not an immigrant. But she really wanted me like you said, your company really wanted you. And she was like, I'm gonna hire you. And I said, I looked into the company website, and they said, they don't hire people like me. And she said, Don't worry, I will figure it out. And then she made an exception she called HR. She's like, I want to hire this person, how do I do it? And they applied for a visa for me, which they never do. So it was just my boss who did that, except like an exceptional case. But that's crazy, because not everybody will get that kind of boss, you know,
No, exactly how big is your company, the company you work for?
The one that I work for right now, I think it's like thousands of people but the one that my first job that I worked for was only like 2-3000. And I did an internship with them. And that's when my boss at that time, she really wanted to hire me. And she said, I'll figure it out. And she called a lot of people and made it happen,
Because that's the thing about big big corporation or big companies. It's so hard to change the rule, then you have to go through so many different steps, which is much easier.
I think if you have the will, you should you can do it like, she was a senior VP. And she just called her boss and HR and she said, Why is there this rule? Like I want to hire this person, I don't have anybody else. And they were just like, okay, yeah just go go ahead, But HR, the HR department, if I submitted my application blind, they would reject it. You know what I mean? Because somebody in HR has been told not to accept applications that are non US citizen or non permanent resident. It's just how it is. I had the same experience in college too when I went to a seminar that was of a company that I knew had this policy and I was like, I want to see why they don't want people like me. And I went through the whole thing. They liked me, I talked to met them, and then they were like, okay, just fill out the form. And we'll talk more next day, and I filled it out. And the next day, I got a call, saying, I'm sorry, we don't have hire people like you. And I'm sorry that this rule exists, but I cannot do anything about it so.
Hold on. Did you actually say people like you or they use a better better term?
No, I don't remember. No, I don't remember. I think it just said they don't. It was an email probably and they just said, Oh, we don't hire non-US citizens or people who don't have, who don't need sponsorship or something.
Sorry. And then what the guy who wanted to hire me said, Hey, I can change the rules. So this is what it is. And, and that's it. But I know that if people wanted to they could, like, but but again, the company should be flexible enough. It shouldn't be on individual managers.
And so have you ever thought about moving to a new on new different country where maybe I don't know, the view about immigrants is different? Where you might be treated differently?
Yeah. So the only other option I've looked into is moving to Canada, moving to Toronto but I haven't really seriously looked into it because I've spent 10 years in the US and I really like living here. And other than all the obstacles that I have to deal with like, my life is very balanced and full and I make good money and I can I have, I can support my family, I can visit them. So I just feel like this is my place. And if I move again, I have to learn about another country all over again. And so I'm not ready to do that. I think I won't move unless I'm kicked out. for any reason. I'm gonna stay here.
Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. Yeah. And do you feel lucky to be an immigrant?
Yeah, I think I'm lucky that I'm, I'm able to do this. And I know that lots of people are everyday trying to do it. And I hope that whoever's out there trying to do it, they they get to where they're going, because it's tough journey.
Yeah, no, it is. It absolutely is. And if you have like some kind of like a time machine that you could go back in time to when you went to for the first time to Singapore and talk to your young self, what would you say to her?
I would just say that this is just the beginning. And there's a lot more hardship and good things and bad things going to happen to you. So don't cry so much. Cause I was always like homesick and I didn't know what I was doing. I was just trying to adjust, but I didn't know that like I would be here in the US 10 years later, doing a great job and living a great life. I had no idea.
Yeah, there's always that kind of uncertainty.
Awesome. And where people can find you and your and find the work you're doing with other immigrants, the ports of entry?
Yeah. So ports of entry is on Facebook and Instagram, just type in ports of entry in the search box. And then yeah, you can leave me a message there. And I'll get back to you. But yeah, it's it's still growing. It's only a year old. Like I mentioned earlier to you, Daniel, and I'm still looking for people and looking to capture more stories.
Awesome. Okay, thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. It was a pleasure. And congratulation for what are you doing with the ports of entry I think you're doing a great job. And I hope we can collaborate more in the future because I think we are on the same path, on the same with the same goal and with the same mission. So it will be cool to have, like some kind of collaboration between us.
Yeah, definitely. Thanks, Daniel.
Awesome. Thank you very much. Bye
Thank you so much for tuning in this week. You can find all the show notes on the website, emigrantslife.com. If you are considering immigrating to a new country, I know how hard it is to leave everything behind and jump into the unknown. I've been there. That's why we're working on to create more content to provide you with tips and resources to make the big jump, a lot easier. All the content will be free. And if you want to be the first one to know when this will be available, you can join the Emigrant's Life newsletter from our website. Thanks again for listening. Talk to you on the next one. Ciao!
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