“Welcome to the United States of America.”
That’s the first thing you read when you find out your green card application was approved. Those long-awaited words are printed on fancier-than-usual paper, an improvement on the usual copy machine printed paper that the government sends to periodically remind you that you, like millions of other people, are stuck in the same slow bureaucratic system.
First you cry — then you cry a lot. And then you celebrate. But then you have to wait another week or so for the actual credit card-sized card — yes, it’s green — to turn up in the mail before it really kicks in.
It took two years to get my green card, otherwise known as U.S. permanent residency. That’s a drop in the ocean to the millions who endure twice, or even three times as long. After six years as a Brit in New York, I could once again leave the country and arrive without worrying as much that a grumpy border officer might not let me back in because they don’t like journalists.
The reality is, U.S. authorities can reject me — and any other foreign national — from entering the U.S. for almost any reason. As …read more