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What about us?

By cezarg in Op-Ed
Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 10:39:41 AM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

We are a rare breed. Sometimes we are welcome with open arms other times we are ridiculed and hated even. We are often criticized for being selfish and materialistic. Often we serve as politicians' scapegoats. We're an easy target for them because we can't vote. We can't vote because we're immigrants.

I lived in Central Europe, Western Europe and North America. I experienced all the problems that immigrants may go through first hand: inflexible laws, prejudiced people, substandard rates of pay. But I also experienced all the good stuff that comes with moving countries: meeting new people, travelling, getting to know other cultures, advancing my career.

Emigration is a big step. It always involves tradeoffs and for some it simply isn't worth the price. It is not for the faint of the heart and it certainly is not for those that want things to just come their way. As soon as you decide to leave the country of your birth things that you never had to worry about become massive obstacles. You have to fight prejudice with an open mind and keep your head up. You have to survive on your own often with nobody to turn to when things don't go according to plans. Nevertheless, quite often opportunities outside of your own country are simply too good to pass up. In rare cases basic human rights may be violated in your home country forcing you to seek a refuge.

The biggest single problem immigrants face is getting accepted in their new society. In my experience the magnitude of this problem largely depends on the host country. On one end of the spectrum we have certain states with a long tradition of relutance towards newcomers (eg. Austria, Denmark) on the other end there are countries for whom immigration is a fact of everyday life and are usually more tolerant towards it (eg. Canada, UK). Some might say that this tolerance depends on the economic situation (mainly unemployment figures) of the host country. Well, I doubt that very much since many afluent states are openly hostile towards any significant influx of foreigners while other not so rich ones (eg. South Africa) have packages designed to attract said foreigners. My experience suggests that societies that are multiracial and multicultural are more open minded than those "uniform" countries that never experienced any large immigration numbers. In other words we are afraid of things we don't know. This is a natural human behaviour and nobody is at fault here. However, the effort should be made to familiarise yourself with the unknown. The benefits that can be had from learning about other cultures are enormous. Many racial tensions are often a direct result of people fearing the unknown.

Kuro5hin is an international forum. People from all over the world can participate in discussions here and I'd like to hear their opinions on the issue of migration. State your views if you live in a country that experiences large immigration figures. Post a comment if like myself you moved countries as a result of a concious decision. If you live in a country that has virtually no immigrants tell me if you'd rather see it stay this way or would prefer to be living in a mixed society. If it all depended on you how would you design your country's immigration policy? Everyone is welcome to state their views but please keep it somewhat moderate given the delicate nature of the topic.


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My country has:
o Too many foreigners 12%
o Not enough foreigners 71%
o No foreigners 8%
o Go home you foreign #!$@#%$! 7%

Votes: 90
Results | Other Polls

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What about us? | 43 comments (36 topical, 7 editorial, 1 hidden)
I have to respect emigrants (4.46 / 13) (#2)
by onyxruby on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 12:12:03 AM EST

I would have to think that emigrating would require a large amount of courage. I live here in the US and of course, we were essentially built by immigrants from the rest of the world. In many ways, this makes the US reflect the best and worst of the world. I have worked with people like yourself, and always had to respect what they were willing to go through to better themselves. It is one thing to talk about things, another to do it.

I think acceptance is going to depend in very large part on the community chosen. This varies so widely from one part of a country to another that you can't generalize at all. Parts of the US are very welcoming to people like yourself, other parts are outright hostile. The issue was brought up earlier of H1B visas (work visas for tech people) in the US. Most tech people I have worked with oppose these on a large scale basis. Yet these same people have been very welcome to those who emigrated from their home country to find a permanent home here. I guess it's the difference between those seen as wanting to become part of a community, and those seen as wanting to live off of it.

One of the biggest assets of the US has always been those that have emigrated from other countries. This brings in a wealth of new ideas, cultures, and ways of doing things. Their contribution to my country has been remarkable at the least. I have to support those who have the courage to do something like that, regardless of where they decide to emigrate to. I generally try not to make my posts to US-centric, but I think it was neccassary here.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

Why not try it yourself? (4.25 / 4) (#6)
by cezarg on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 12:52:36 AM EST

Really. Even if you decide to go back to the US eventually you'll come back a different person. If you can't put up with learning a new language try working in the UK or another English speaking country for a year or two. While the world economy is still bouyant obtaining a work permit is a little easier. I appreciate the fact that you come from a large and diverse country but it's one thing to go to a differnt US state but going abroad is a completely different experience. Perhaps you should give it a shot?

[ Parent ]
Thought about it (none / 0) (#7)
by onyxruby on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 01:03:29 AM EST

Believe it or not, I have thought about doing exactly that. I'm not sure about Germany or Japan though. I studied German is high school for a few years. I'm pretty rusty (10 years of no use) with my German right now though. I don't know any Japanase at all, and that would take longer to learn. I want to pick up German again, and start Japanese, with the goal to become fluent in both. Even if I didn't try living in either country, I want to at least do a lot of business travel there.

I certainly agree with the premise of getting out and seeing what you can through travel. My last job had quite a bit of travel (6 days a week through continental US). My new job has me traveling for most of next week, but not as often. For me, the international travel is merely a natural extension of this. Before I can do this for a living though, I really need to work on the language thing. Once I have that down, I figure I can look at these options much more seriously.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

Hong Kong (4.66 / 6) (#8)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 01:48:06 AM EST

If you don't mind coming back in, say, 10 years after the political shit has hit the fan, have you considered Hong Kong? It's very much like a small version of Japan, except that people speak Cantonese, but more importantly, nearly everyone there speaks English, and those who don't it's almost always possible to get someone who can act as an interpreter, or the amount of communication is minimal and can be done through numbers anyway. My cousin lived there for several months working for a Swiss bank, and I visited him there for 2.5 weeks while he was living there, and there were almost never any language issues. The only Cantonese I needed to know was "Gei chi?" ("how much?") and then point at a calculator so the vendor could type the price in...

Oh, and the food there is great, as long as you avoid the bland crap which was heavily-influenced by the Brits. There's good Cantonese and Japanese cuisine there nearly everywhere. Some of the best sushi I've ever had was in Hong Kong. :)

Culture is also alive and well. There's several great museums there (which are all cheap to get into, particularly the university's which is free), there's concerts of all sorts all the time, and it's very easy to acquire porn^H^H^H^Hart films in the various VCD shops scattered all over.

The only real concerns with living there are in getting a job where you can speak English (so working for a tech company would probably work, but forget about working for anything service-industry-related) and getting decent housing which isn't extremely expensive (my cousin's place was something like US$3000/month, but it was very nice and his job paid for his rent). I don't know what sort of immigration stuff they have, though I personally wouldn't become a Hong Kong citizen with the current political climate anyway (you know, the 30-year 'special administrative transition' between the colonial and Chinese governments).

Still, if the opportunity came up for me to live there for, say, a year, I'd probably take it. :)
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

more on HK (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 02:10:47 PM EST

I spent a semester studying abroad in Hong Kong in '99. An incredible city, no doubt about it. Only problems I could find were extremely high pollution and some people seem to have some problems with how (un)clean the place can be, although I think they are grossly exaggerating.

What I liked most about Hong Kong was the food, transportation and the city itself. As you pointed out, Hong Kong has incredible Cantonese cuisine (although you have to go over the border to Guanzhou try the "local delicacies", ie. dogs and others not well known to Westerners) and has arguably the best and most diverse ethnic foods in the world, from Malaysian to Dutch and beyond. Public transportation is incredibly effective; the subway/metro goes to most places and where you can't go by metro you can go by buses or taxis for dirt cheap. And lastly, the city itself is an eclectic mixture of colorful cultures and people from all over the world, amazing contrast of ultramodern and rural landscapes (a treasure-trove for a photographer like me) and the pace of the city is hectic to say the least: some native New Yorkers said when we were leaving that NYC is going to look sooo slow after HK.

Hong Kong people are very hard working (6 days a week, less vacation time than Japanese), entrepreneurial, jovial, hard bargainers and easy to get along with. There will be some cultural barriers to negotiate, but that just makes travelling and living abroad more fun. Housing conditions can be very cramped for a Westerner, but if you're willing to commute 30-60 mins you will find spacious apartments for a decent price. Also, although Hong Kong is always ranked in the top 10 most expensive cities in the world, you can get along with a student's budget without starving if you know what you're doing. Talking of money, it's financial market have the most freedom in the world (you read that right) and the mainland Chinese are unlikely to stifle Hong Kong's growth prospects for the simple reason that so much money is funneled through HK exports and imports to and from mainland China.

And lastly, Hong Kong is right in the middle of South-East Asia, which results in good prices and flying times to travel to anywhere else in the region. This is a major point for multinational companies doing business there, and lends itself to some of the best vacationing opportunities on earth, IMO.

So there you have my opinion and observations on HK. I heartily recommend it to anyone who has any desire to immerse themselves in an entirely different culture which nevertheless has a familiar feeling. I hope I can go back there for a longer period of time in the near future. I had some of the best times of my life there, and believe that most can have that same experience.

My bodyweight is muscle and cock MMM
Tenured K5 uberdouchebag Herr mirleid
Meatgazer Frau gr3y

[ Parent ]
HK's pollution (5.00 / 1) (#29)
by fluffy grue on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 11:00:39 PM EST

Actually, Hong Kong's pollution is quite low these days. At least, when I visited there (late May 2000) the air was remarkably clean. I noticed that the government has a very strong anti-pollution initiative there, which is likely the reason for this - two specifics I saw were that any visible emissions from a car meant an instant US$50,000 fine, and so much as dropping a piece of paper into the harbor was punishable by about US$90,000 and a three-month jail sentence. A pretty strong incentive not to pollute, that. :)

I never got outside of HK itself (though one day I had actually walked almost all the way to the New Territories from the Kowloon side of the Star Ferry), so I never got to try the real local food I guess, though the best food I had there was some shrimp and sea-cucumber fried dumplings in a hole in the wall restaurant behind the Mong Kok Ladies Market.

As far as the hard bargaining bit: Yeah, I spent way too much money in Tsim Sha Tsui, and even though I got scammed and bait-and-switched a few times, the salespeople were so nice about it that I actually felt honored to be swindled, and even then things still cost about the same as what they would have in America, so I'm not bitter at all. :)

When you mention living on a student's budget, however, what sort of housing are you talking about? Are you referring to the government-subsidized apartments? I know that food's cheap (a decently-sized sushi dinner costs about US$4), as is transportation (35 Hong Kong cents - 8 US cents - to get across the harbor on the Star Ferry - and $0.50USD is about how much the EXPENSIVE bus rides cost), so all that's really left is housing... :)

Hm. I wonder what sorts of job I could get there after I get my PhD... I really wouldn't mind living there. :) Even in a cramped place... as long as there's room for my modest recording studio, I think I'd be happy, and Hong Kong's commutes aren't that big a deal, considering that the entire country is only a few miles across. :) (It's pretty obvious that my 2.5 weeks there changed my outlook, huh.)

Oh, and the cultural things are no problem - I seem to grok Asian culture a lot better than American culture.
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

more on hk (none / 0) (#30)
by odaiwai on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 02:05:21 AM EST

Never ever, ever buy tech stuff from the shops on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. They're all crooks and swindlers.

You're better off getting techie things from Sham Shui Po (Golden Arcade) and the various hi-fi shops, camera shops scattered around the rest of the SAR. If the shop is full of gweilos (westerners) you're going to get ripped off.

-- "They're chefs! Chefs with chainsaws!"
[ Parent ]
My objection to H1B (5.00 / 3) (#25)
by duffbeer703 on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 09:02:57 PM EST

Is that it isn't really immigration, the whole program is just a way to use the talents of foreign workers while at the same time kicking them out of the country later to keep the rednecks happy.

Both sides of my family immigrated from Ireland just after World War 2. They did not face the language barrier that may immigrants face, but they worked themselves hard to build something for themselves.

My mother's father shoveled coal into the boilers of school in NYC from 3am - 8am, then put in a full days work as a sanitation worker. My dad's dad was a bartender who eventually ran two successful pubs in Brooklyn, all while raising three kids after my grandmother died of cancer in the mid-50's.

This may sound stupid, but my family had the opportunity to come here and build something. None of my grandparents were educated beyond the 8th grade, yet they managed to raise families, build houses and retire happy and healthy. They all loved their homeland, but they chose to make America their home and were proud of their citizenship.

I am in favor of immigration. We should be allowing foreigners to be permament residents and give them the opportunity to become US citizens should they see fit.

[ Parent ]
Thoughts (3.35 / 14) (#12)
by debaere on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 11:33:32 AM EST

I have dealt with a fair number of immigrants over the years, and I find that the "local" attitude depends largely on the immigrants attitude (or the immigrated community if there is a lot of them in the area). I live in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, which has a very high percentage of immigrants, and I deal with, and work with (and for) immigrants on a daily basis.

Some guidelines I would state for Immigrants to successfully migrate into a new country would be:

1) Make an honest attempt to learn the language. At the same time, make an honest effort to learn the culture. Its been my experience that immigrants are accepted a lot easier if the immigrant(s) make an attempt to fit in.
2) Be prepared to accept that your culture and traditions MAY NOT BE RESPECTED, and you do not have the right to force them onto your new cultural surroundings. I have had people actually demand that their cultural traditions be included into our events. This just pisses people off. Most people do like to learn about different cultures, but to have it forced on them is simply not going to work. Which brings me to my next point:
3) Although you should never have to give up your religious beliefs or practices in your own home, be as flexible as possible when dealing with the public.
4) Recognize that you moved into OUR culture, not the other way around.
5) Some people, no matter how hard you try, are not going to like you simply because you are an outsider. Don't try to 'fight' with these people either verbally or physically. Ignore them as much as possible. If you are ever going to be accepted by them, it will be when you demonstrate that you are not a threat, are not trying to change them, and can be trusted, and respected. (A lot of these are irrational fears, but there are a lot of irrational people in the world)

m 2c


Your guidelines don't always work (2.50 / 2) (#36)
by exotherm on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 09:43:09 PM EST

Let me start by saying that someone I know would tell you to "fuck off".

I have dealt with a fair number of immigrants over the years, and I find that the "local" attitude depends largely on the immigrants attitude (or the immigrated community if there is a lot of them in the area).

That's odd, I understand xenophobia can affect the "local" attitude as well. My friend can tell you that.

1) Make an honest attempt to learn the language. At the same time, make an honest effort to learn the culture. Its been my experience that immigrants are accepted a lot easier if the immigrant(s) make an attempt to fit in.

Sometimes, even when they do, skin color can make it much more difficult to be accepted, even when the immigrant can speak English/French/etc. better than the "locals". As in the case of my friend, people are more interested in his skin color than what he's saying.

2) Be prepared to accept that your culture and traditions MAY NOT BE RESPECTED, and you do not have the right to force them onto your new cultural surroundings. I have had people actually demand that their cultural traditions be included into our events. This just pisses people off.

My friend doesn't seem to be interested in his culture being represented considering he grew up here in the US. Other than the fact that he was born elsewhere, he's no different than everyone else here. However, people still only see his skin color and think he "just came off the boat."

Most people do like to learn about different cultures, but to have it forced on them is simply not going to work.

Not when those people think their culture is superior to all others (hint: fundamentalists).

5) Some people, no matter how hard you try, are not going to like you simply because you are an outsider. Don't try to 'fight' with these people either verbally or physically. Ignore them as much as possible. If you are ever going to be accepted by them, it will be when you demonstrate that you are not a threat, are not trying to change them, and can be trusted, and respected. (A lot of these are irrational fears, but there are a lot of irrational people in the world)

How can they demonstrate when such people either ignore the outsider or when attempts are seen as anything but earnest? The line of thinking that places suspicion on anyone of a certain group isn't likely to allow a concept of trust.

3) Although you should never have to give up your religious beliefs or practices in your own home, be as flexible as possible when dealing with the public. 4) Recognize that you moved into OUR culture, not the other way around.

That's interesting. Perhaps we shouldn't celebrate Christmas then, since it was introduced to N. America by German immigrants. And what about early N. American settlers from Europe? They made little or no attempt to follow these five guidelines you've posted. Do we live in teepees/wigwams/etc. and hunt buffalo? What do you suggest we do? A precedent has been set and the suggestion of these guidelines will only stir up more controversy since it only affects certain peoples (you know, since European-Americans are already well established here).
Those who can are driven mad by those who can't.
[ Parent ]

How I Learned Respect For Immigrants... (3.71 / 7) (#13)
by CyberQuog on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 12:28:43 PM EST

Last year over the summer my family and I went for a vacation in Italy for two and a half weeks. We set everything up ourselves, so there was no tourgroup or interpreters. It was quite insane for the first two or three days. No one spoke English, the road system is different enough to be confusing, we couldn't even figure out what the speed limit was, and custom's are really different. After a few days you get used to everything, but it's still confusing. I should mention that we didn't really stay in "toursity" towns, but in towns that we thought were interesting.

The whole experience gave me a lot of respect for immigrants who come to America. They go through all that and more, but on a permanent basis.

Slightly OT... How about NZ? (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by ehintz on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 12:44:39 PM EST

Ok, this is somewhat OT... Anybody have any personal experience with New Zealand? I've been thinking of heading that way, it looks like a nice place. I've read through their immigration policies, which seem a bit strict, but I'd like to hear anybody's comments on real world experiences, or just general comments about NZ... Thanks...

Ed Hintz
Anyone know much about H-1b visas? (none / 0) (#33)
by Harlequin on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 12:14:09 PM EST

>or just general comments about NZ...

I live in New Zeland, and will be moving to the US soon when my H-1b comes through. First, some questions: (Real world experience is more informative than INS information which only covers how their system was _intended_ to work... :-)

Does having an H-1b make it any easier to get a green card? (Eg employment based E3 or something)

Working on an H-1b, am I going to be paying significant taxes for social services I'm denied access to? (I know in some countries, you pay less tax when you're not eligible for the things that your taxes normally buy you, but the USA seems pretty arrogant over immigrants, and h-1bs seem particularly obnoxious).

I've read that if you lose your job on an H-1b, you have 30 days to get a new job and new visa, or leave the country. I've been told, however, that you only have 10 days... Anyone know which is right?

When the changes to the h-1b system went through last year, changes were also made to employment based immigrant visas. Does anyone know what those changes (to the immigrant visas) were? I can find info on the h-1b changes, but regarding the employment visas, nothing... (except that reasonably large changes were made)

Regarding NZ, I'm not sure what to tell you since you didn't say which country you're from. I like it here. I'm moving to a part of CA where the rent for a small apartment would, over here, get a huge 5 bedroom house with large gardened section in an exclusive neighbourhood. In addition to that, any money I take with me gets mauled by the current (quite bad) exchange rate. So if you were coming here from that particular part of the USA, you'd be made - cheap housing and your savings inflate on the way over :-)
One mans poison and all that...

[ Parent ]
NZ (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by kagaku_ninja on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 06:21:49 PM EST

Gotta say I loved that exchange rate when I visited :-)

Given all the news coverage of the NZ "brain drain" (young, high-tech savvy individuals leaving the country), I would expect that some form of high-tech worker visa must exist over there.

Given that shitty condos cost $400K where I live, I am seriously tempted to make the move...

[ Parent ]
Not me... (none / 0) (#42)
by ehintz on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 07:52:32 PM EST

Sorry, I know nothing of H1Bs other than what I read on places like this and /..

Slightly amusing-given your description of where you're going, I'd say you're headed for the SF Bay Area, which is where I am... ;-) Drop me a pmail and I can try to do whatever I can to help out with local clues and such. I'd certainly be interested in hearing more about NZ. Grass is always greener...

Ed Hintz
[ Parent ]
OffTopic: Definitions (1.00 / 13) (#15)
by vectro on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 02:07:40 PM EST

The word "emigrate" refers to movement within one's own country (e.g. moving from Oklahoma to California), whereas "immigrate" refers to movement to another country.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
Wrong! (4.00 / 1) (#17)
by titivillus on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 02:43:27 PM EST

Nope. If someone moves from, for example, Sweden to the US, that person is immigrating to the US but emigrating from Sweden. I don't think there's a term for moving around within a country.

[ Parent ]
Re: Wrong! (1.00 / 1) (#19)
by homeless on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 04:19:51 PM EST

Sure there is. It's called "aggravating".


'SYN! .. SYN|ACK! .. ACK!' - the mating call of the internet --Bert Hubert
[ Parent ]
Moving within a country (none / 0) (#24)
by aphrael on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 08:58:26 PM EST

you can use immigrate/emigrate there, too, depending on the level. Someone moving from San Francisco to Oakland probably isn't doing *either*, but someone moving from San Francisco to New York has arguably emigrated from California and immigrated to New York ... but maybe that's an oddity of the US political system. Can you speak of someone immigrating to Bayern from Berlin?

[ Parent ]
Wrong (none / 0) (#18)
by Spendocrat on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 03:48:06 PM EST

The definitions you give are wrong, but I've got no friggin clue why that merits you getting mojo'd to zero. The zero is for spam.

It's a better idea just to post a reply correcting the mistake. Who knows, someone else could not know the definitios too; reading this would let them learn.

[ Parent ]

Correct Definitions (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by filsa on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 09:28:32 PM EST

The root word 'migrate' denotes moving around. Both 'immigrate' and 'emigrate' add a prefix to change the meaning slightly.

Dictionary.com has this helpful usage note:

Migrate, which is used of people and animals, sometimes implies a lack of permanent settlement, especially as a result of seasonal or periodic movement. Emigrate and immigrate are used only of people and imply a permanent move, generally across a political boundary. Emigrate describes the move relative to the point of departure: After the Nazis came to power in Germany, many scientists emigrated (that is, left Germany). By contrast, immigrate describes the move relative to the destination: The promise of prosperity in the United States encouraged many people to immigrate (that is, move to the United States).

[ Parent ]
Sentiments against/for migrants (3.75 / 4) (#20)
by Robby on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 05:17:27 PM EST

This is an interesting/important topic, and it's seemed to me like there is always a pattern to the attitudes of a culture towards migrants.

Sydney (Australia) has a large proportion of migrants in the city. There is very little prejudice against migrants around the place, simply because the interaction is day-to-day, and there are no anti-migrants myths that can hold, simply because human interaction disproves anything that can be said against migrants.

Go to communities isolated from migrant communities, and you can often hear demands that the rate of immigration to Australia be slowed or stopped altogether, that migrants are the cause of the suffering of the Country.

Actually, it's somewhat of a cyclic problem, as because of sentiments like this, most migrants to Australia prefer to locate in the Large Urban centers (i.e. Melbourne,Sydney).

In essence, in a simplistic sort of way, the more 'exposed' you are to different cultures, the less Xenophobic the culture becomes. Until then, migrants just have to wait it out..

now for the disclaimer: I too am a migrant to Australia, but I was a young child (8 years old) when I came, and my language skills are on par (actually, probably higher, but anywya :) ) with anyone else, I don't speak with an accent so I really don't get classified as an immigrant.

Actually, this sort of brought up an interesting issue in my head: is there a common 'experience' for children of migrants? Is there a set of issues which pop up for migrant children? I didn't really feel much anti-migrant sentiment as a child, but is there any one out there that did? What about what happens once you've 'grown up'? Anyway, just posing questions. Cheers.

Immigration (1.80 / 5) (#21)
by Signal 11 on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 05:51:17 PM EST

The only immigration I'll be doing is if Dubya signs another DMCA into law, in which case I'll be shacking up with Inoshiro in Canada.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
but (none / 0) (#22)
by spacejack on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 06:28:40 PM EST

It's entirely possible we'll pull another "monkey see, monkey do".

[ Parent ]
Multicultural cities (4.00 / 4) (#23)
by spacejack on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 06:45:56 PM EST

I live in Toronto, allegedly the most multi-cultural city in the world (unless someone from Melbourne wants to argue :). It is all that much better for it. The ethnic restaurants, clubs, shops & neighbourhoods always keep it fascinating and fun, even to a T.O. native like myself.

I've been to a lot of great cities around the world. But I always think this is the best of them all, and it's mostly because of this. Some clever urban planning in the 60's (I can easily stroll through 30-odd uniqe neighbourhoods in a day right from home) and the diverse population really created something special here.

Really true? (4.00 / 1) (#27)
by ucblockhead on Sat Jan 20, 2001 at 09:24:42 PM EST

Is this really true? I work in San Francisco. and recall reading two interesting statistics:

1) No racial group in San Francisco accounts for more that 40% of the population.
2) Four racial groups in San Francisco account for 10% of the population or more.

Add to that a population that is over 15% gay, and you have a pretty damn diverse place.

Though I have heard wonderful things about Toronto being ethnically half-canuck (my dad was born in Edmonton) I've often thought I should check that country out more, but never have.

In terms of immigration, I do know that an amazing 25% of California's population was born in a country other than the US. I've no idea how the San Fracisco Bay Area stacks up there, but the amount of immigrants is astounding.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
I think so (none / 0) (#34)
by spacejack on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 05:09:34 PM EST

The only reference I have on hand is an old Let's Go USA & Canada '94 which says about Toronto: "The UN dubbed Toronto the world's most multicultural city in 1988". So I suppose things may have changed, but I doubt very much we're any less multicultural than we were 10 years ago. I was in S.F. (back in '94 I guess) and except for the geography, the climate, the architecture and the ocean, it is quite similar in a lot of ways :)

Also, if I look up "most multicultural city" in Google Toronto seems to be the only city to pop up. Not very scientific I guess, but at least others seem to agree with me. :)

[ Parent ]
My story (5.00 / 8) (#31)
by jethro on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 05:57:13 AM EST

Well, a few years ago I immigrated from Israel to the US. I did this so I could live with the woman I love.

What follows is the story of the actual humiliating, and somewhat dehumanizing process which the Immigration and Naturalization Service put me through. I almost wish I could post anonimously because I'm still scared of them.

the INS made the process extremely inconvenient. I can understand them wanting us to prove we really are in a relationship, but they take that a little far. Plus they make you prove you'll be able to support yourself financially. Which isn't easy to prove.

They make you prove all these things to your local embassy, as well as take a whole lot of (expensive) medical tests.

Then the local INS office in the US will not even see you until after you're married, which they give you 90 days to do. Now, before moving, they were saying you can get a temporary work-permit before all that, so that you'll be able to actually pay for a nice wedding. But when asked they said that getting a temporary work permit takes more than 90 days. At this point I was still expecting logic, so naturally I was a bit surprised.

Anyway, we got married after 14 days. Not too bad, we wanted a small wedding anyway.

Then the INS wants me to prove all the financial stability things I did before moving here, and I'm not allowed to use my assets in my country of origin. In other words, I need to find someone who makes at least a certain amount of money a year to sign a piece of paper saying they're responsible for me.

Have you ever tried moving to a new country where you know only one person (who was a student at the time and thus didn't qualify), and tried to find someone who'd be willing to sign a paper which basically says "The US Government now has a choke-hold over you. Any money we spend on this guy, you'll have to pay for. For the next 10 years." ? It is not easy and it's definetly not fun.

Then they want me to have all these medical exams and vaccinations. Yes, the same ones I had 2 months ago. Yes, the same ones I had to give a record of to the US Embassy. YES, the ones they have the records of in that sealed brown envalope.

Here was the discussion I had with the INS Officer:

Me: Ok, my passport here says I have a K-1 Visa. In order to get a K-1 Visa, I needed to have these vaccinations and prove that to the US Embassy. [spoken very slowly] I have a K-1 Visa. Therefore, I have had these exams and vaccinations.
INS: I'm sorry Sir but we need proof. Me:</userdefined> Ok, fine, it's in that brown envalope the US Embassy had me carry over.
INS: I'm sorry sir, we cannot open that envalope until medical exams are complete.
Me: But... but that... doesn't... make... sense...
INS: Sir I don't make the rules, I'm just trying to help you.

Anyway, the upside of this is I've had so many tetnus that I can eat rusty nails.

So eventually, finally, they give me a greencard, which is actually (a) white, and (b) actually called a "Permanent Resident" card.
Except it's not permanent, it's a "Conditional Permanent Resident". It expires in a year. Then you have to ask them to please remove the "Conditional" status by filing a specific form (I-751 in case you were curious).

Along with the form you have to supply proof that you had "Entered the marrige in good faith".

How do you prove that? Well, we were apparently supposed to save every piece of paper, every bill, evert certificate that proves we're married. Of course, since we're normal people, we didn't do that. We never bothered to make sure that all the utilities are in both our names. My wife kept her own last name (can't say I blame her). We don't have kids.

Whether what 'proof' we have is enough or not remains to be seen - I-751 is supposed to be processed in 30-60 days, but I have recently got a message from the INS saying it will take 300-360 days. So that's another year where they can kick me out of the country on a whim.

Also, in addition to my greencard, I need to carry around a huge certificate saying it's legal for me to be here. Very convenient.

I guess it could be worse - at least I'm an actual immigrant and not an H1-B...

PS to the poeple about to respond and trash me:
I'm really tired (; please let me know what I said wrong and I'll try and fill in the gaps.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
Ack! (none / 0) (#32)
by jethro on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 05:59:23 AM EST

And I actually DID preview! But then I fixed stuff and hit Post by mistake....

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
[ Parent ]
commiseration... (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by jacwhite on Sun Jan 21, 2001 at 05:54:07 PM EST

From the other side of the aisle, so to speak...

I'm American and my husband is British. We live in Alabama. What this does is puts us into the area of the country served by the Atlanta INS office, which was recently rated the slowest in the country for processing green cards. (I don't have the source for that, but I saw it on CNN not too long ago.)

I have never been more ashamed to be an American than during our time dealing with the INS. For a nation of immigrants, we sure don't seem to want any more.

You must bring money with you from your home country. You cannot legally come to the United States and try to make a life for yourself. The filing fees alone ensure that. Add to that the medical tests, and the lawyer fees that might as well be required--we're two college graduates and we couldn't understand all the paperwork--and you're talking about easily over a thousand dollars to file for permanent residency. And considering this includes the knowledge that your husband isn't guaranteed a work permit, so he can't even look for a job, the cost involved can be daunting, indeed.

And here's the kicker: the conditional green card is for those who have been married less than two years. So theoretically, they are supposed to be able to accomplish this process fairly quickly, and then you go through a second process for a permanent one. Well, we've been married over two and a half years, and we haven't even been interviewed yet. My husband had to get a second set of fingerprints because the first ones are now too old for them to use, because they took too long.

We were very fortunate that he was on a student visa originally. A student visa has a provision called "optional practical training" that allows for a year of work in the immigrant's field of study after graduation. So, while I couldn't send him off to the local Mickey-D's to flip burgers, he was able to find a part-time job an hour away. (Let's just say that the opportunities for his field in our town are limited.) Since then, he's been able to get a work permit, due largely to the fact that he had already been here on the student visa, I think.

Work permits expire every year, so we've already had to make two trips to Atlanta to get his renewed. That involves a 4 hour drive each way, plus time off work, plus a night in a hotel since we always have to be at INS first thing in the morning. The last time, we had to go there without an appointment (because they had been so backed-up they quit giving appointments!) and ended up waiting for five hours. We were separated and treated like cattle. They make the lines look shorter by only allowing one person for each group to stand there. They didn't have anywhere for the rest of us to go, we just couldn't stay there, or there ... or over there. And when they run out of chairs, you can't sit on the floor. The comment about "this being a place of business" would have been more believable if any INS officer had actually been seen working!

These are only things I can tell people that are going to be in this position. IANAL, but this is the best I can tell.

  • Get a lawyer. A good one, with references. If you're lucky, this will help you avoid problems, and it gives you a person to ask questions of at various stages of the process. These two things make a lawyer well worth the expense.
  • Count on the immigrant spouse to not be able to work. Budget, budget, budget.
  • We were also college students. If the in-laws don't like the immigrant spouse, this is bad. You will probably need them, so don't piss them off. My parents were able to co-sponsor my husband. They also paid for the wedding, which will help show the INS that they believe the wedding to be in good faith. Written statements also apparently help.
  • Get everything in both names, or start splitting some up. The lease or mortgage should be in both names, period. For utilities, put some in his and some in hers. Consider joint banking accounts and/or loans. The important thing is showing financial entanglement, especially if there are no children or name changes involved.

It's really abysmal the way we treat immigrants to this country, especially those that are here for family. I am a U.S. citizen by birth, and I sometimes feel that I sold my soul to the INS when I got married. Don't get me wrong: I don't regret it, but I also know that some "real" marriages don't last this long, even without the INS pressure. I'm curious how many marriages this process has indirectly broken up, especially over the expense and working. How many men do you know that wouldn't mind their wives being the sole breadwinner? And money is almost always tight for newlyweds and is the source of most conflict. This is a big financial drain.

But there's light at the end of the tunnel. Once the paperwork is done, you should have your final green card. We'll have his eventually, too. Good luck!


[ Parent ]
alt.visa.us.marriage-based (none / 0) (#39)
by sab39 on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 11:30:01 AM EST

Did you guys find this newsgroup? It's probably been the single most useful resource to me for any purpose ever. The FAQs provide detailed information on virtually every stage of the K-1 process and (at least a couple of years ago when I was filing) the people are incredibly helpful.

I've never needed any lawyers, I only had to get my medical tests once, and the worst thing that happened to me was an 8-month delay before getting my green card. Because *they* screwed up (the CIA was backlogged or something).

I still have to go through the removal of conditions phase, but so far everything's gone as well as I could possibly have expected it to - and without a.v.us.m-b, I guarantee it would have gone much worse.

"Forty-two" -- Deep Thought
"Quinze" -- Amélie

[ Parent ]
my experiences (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by j on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 11:43:41 AM EST

I have never been more ashamed to be an American than during our time dealing with the INS. For a nation of immigrants, we sure don't seem to want any more.
I heard that a lot while I was dealing with the INS. Indeed, the procedure they make you go through to get your greencard did remind me of Brazil (the movie, not the country). I had come from Germany and we had been planning to start out with a fiancee visa. Turns out you can't apply for it when you are already in the USA. Our fault for not asking. So we got married, which we had intended to do anyways - just at our own pace.
And then the fun began. We stood in line in Newark from about 5:30am to 10am, because we were told that that would yield faster results than trying to submit the application by mail. Our application was rejected upon initial review three times due to problems with the documentation (like the fingerprints having been taken by a police officer instead of on of the commercial places). The last time I stood in line there, I waited about four hours, only to be told that the applications weren't accepted in person anymore and that I had to send it in by mail. Yay!
It was quite unpleasant, but it was also an important experience. I figure anyone who is willing to go through all that with you must really love you.
When we finally got through to an individual who had the authority to make real decisions, things actually got way better. The lady who finally reviewed our application just glanced over the documentation, asked a few questions and waved to my in-laws (who had come as a cheering squad). After about 10 minutes I had the stamp in my passport, indicating that I was now authorized to stay for the next two years (until it was time to file for the removal of the conditional status on my greencard).
The support from friends and family was really overwhelming. When it was time to file for the removal of the conditional status on my greencard, one of our friends wrote an affidavid to support the claim that our marriage was 'real'. Her plea to let me stay in the USA almost moved me to tears.
The most wonderful experience, though, was the support from my in-laws. We were a bit concerned, because my wife's family is Jewish and I am not only a Protestant, I am German, too. But I could never have dreamed of a warmer reception. They treated me like their own son, even before we were married. They paid for the wedding and they supported us in every way imaginable.
After all was said and done (well, not all: I am still waiting for my permanent visa), I think it was well worth it. And it's not like dealing with bueraucracies in other countries is any more pleasant.

[ Parent ]
"Immigrants" in Japan (4.83 / 6) (#37)
by driptray on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 03:26:46 AM EST

I'm an Australian currently living in Japan. I'm still an Australian citizen, and have no intention/desire to become a Japanese citizen. I came here with my wife(1) and daughter a year ago. We had no job, no place to stay, we couldn't speak the language, we had a tourist visa that lasted 3 months and forbid working, and we had only a small amount of savings. We found work, got the proper visas, got a place to stay, got my daughter into school, and it all worked out. But was it ever an adventure!

The Japanese love to see themselves as a homogoneous nation, distinct from Asia, and the rest of the world. There is only a very limited concept of naturalisation - if I mention to Japanese people the idea of myself becoming a Japanese citizen they usually respond with either confusion or laughter. This seems to be because there is a no distinction made between race and nationality here. There are a few exceptions, notably for Hawaiin/Samoan sumo stars, Brazilian soccer stars, and Chinese baseball players. But this just underlines the rarity of the naturalisatin issue in a country where 5th generation Koreans are still "Koreans" and are still gaijin.

There can be no hope of ever "fitting in" in Japan for a person like me. No matter how good my Japanese got, and no matter how well I mastered the day to day cultural nuances and customs, I would always be gaijin.

Is this a problem? For many gaijin it is - they chafe at the lack of acceptance. For others like myself it is one of the best features of Japanese life. Imagine living where nobody expects you to fit in, and all your quirks and eccentricities have a built-in explanation that everybody accepts.

Japan has a falling birth rate and people are beginning to worry about depopulation. I don't see what the problem is considering that the Japanese consider their country to be overcrowded, and limited in natural resources to provide food etc for everybody. Nevertheless, there are a number of proposals for policies to increase the birth rate, but immigration is hardly mentioned. When it is, it is quickly dismissed as "threatening social cohesion".

If you say that back in Australia you are instantly dubbed racist.

Anyway, as some kind of summary to a post that is really just a structureless ramble, my status here is really undefined. I don't feel like an immigrant, and Japan doesn't really have much of a concept of immigration anyway. I basically feel like a guest, and I suck up all that wonderful Japanese politeness and hospitality while blundering along in my insensitive western way. Its been fun, and I recommend it to anyone who wants a bit of a change.

(1) Long time girlfriend, but we had to get married in order for her to get a "spouse visa" to allow her to stay in Japan. There's no concept of de facto relationships here. Nor does anybody understand why we have different family names.

We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
Islands (3.25 / 4) (#38)
by pallex on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 08:37:55 AM EST

It seems that people from Islands (Uk, Japan, Denmark (yes, i DID mean to say that Denmark is an island - check it out) are more likely to have problems with foreigners, as they`ve been isolated from them, and people fear the unknown.
The u.k. has generally been better with foreigners than other islands, but as people are now getting more and more stupid, and you have to be stupid to fear foreigners, that has been changing (witness recent hysteria in the popular press here, protests at Dover (where a lot of immigrants arrive) etc.

immagration (4.00 / 1) (#43)
by cyndrekit on Tue Jan 23, 2001 at 09:09:34 PM EST

Well I wasn't an immigrant, but I did visit Canada for nearly a year. I lived in Saskatoon with my sister and her family and how I was treated really depended on my age group it seemed. I tried to avoid mentioning that I was from the U.S. and worse, from L.A. I didn't have too many problems, except for the strange looks and questions of "why are you here??" from my peers. Mostly, to my relief, I was accepted by most people, but there are always people that dislike all foreigners. My sister and her husband had more problems on the other hand. Her husband worked for the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool as a researcher in feed. There was some of resentment that they encountered due to a few reasons. The first is simply because they were Americans. In Saskatchewan and in some other areas in Canada, Americans aren't very well received and mentioning that you are American starts many people off on a long rant about the evils of the U.S. and how egotistical all of us are, how the U.S. is taking over all of Canada's culture, etc. Secondly, it is thought that U.S. citizens are trying to take over the jobs that should rightfully go to Canadians. This is just an example of what they had to go through, and I had to deal with the animosity a bit also, but not so much so. But this is not isolated by any means. I think that these same sediments are what nearly every immigrant group has come up against in one place or another. Depending on where you go, you will see signs of this. In central and southern California, the immigrant group most picked on is the Mexicans coming both legally and illegally over the border. Immigrants are the easy scapegoats for the government. That's just how it is sometimes.

My sister and her family lived in two places in Canada, both in Saskatchewan. The first was a very small town (actually a "village") called Lucky Lake, and they found they were more accepted and made friends easier then in Saskatoon. It seemed harder to get accepted into groups and new people were sometimes looked at with disdain. So really I guess what I am trying to say is your experience in the country depends on where you go and how the people are in that particular area are with new people. In the Saskatoon, I think it was easier for me to find friends because my the people my age are in college and interested in meeting new people and traveling. In Lucky Lake, though my sister enjoyed it, I think I would have turned my car around and left within the span of a month. ;) I don't think I would have been accepted and I would have gone quite mad. I would like to travel more now, but I don't think I will be returning to Saskatchewan in the winter....that was a bad idea. ;)


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