The American Baby and the Indian Baby

After the Green Card post, NavajoKeti mentioned that her Nepali bf was born in the US so luckily they don’t need to deal with all these frustrating immigration hurdles, and it reminded me of a story.

One of our Indian friends is currently in the process of getting her Green Card. Out of the five people in her family, she was the last to make it to the Green Card/Citizenship chapter.

When her parents were a young married couple, her father came to the US as a graduate student. After some time her mother had a baby, her first child, my friend’s elder sister. Since her child was born in the US the baby was automatically an American citizen.

A few years after that, her mother was pregnant again. Perhaps being a bit nostalgic for home, she decided, “I already have my American baby, but I would really like to have an Indian baby.” So she traveled back to India to be with her family and have her second child, our friend. Due to her birth in India, our friend had Indian and only Indian citizenship. Once the baby was old enough to travel and had all the visa documents needed, our friend’s mother traveled back to America—American baby and Indian baby in tow.

Eventually her father finished his program/work in the United States and the entire family moved back to India, where several years later their final child, our friend’s younger brother, was born. A second Indian baby.

This is where my details in the story get a bit hazy, but somewhere along the line the family was able to apply for Green Cards (I think through her father’s work, even though they were still in India). At the time our friend was in college back in the US, and was already on an F-1 student visa. Even though her parents submitted the paperwork for her to be included on the family’s Green Card, she “timed out” of being able to apply with the family because she turned 21 and was no longer considered a “minor” and had to be put in a different  Green Card category (unmarried child, not a minor) with a much much longer wait. Her younger brother, as the younger child, didn’t “time out” and was able to get his Green Card along with his parents.

So now the family had 1 American Citizen, 3 Permanent Residents, and 1 Indian Baby.

Of course life in the US without citizenship or a Green Card feels more precarious. Certainly lots of people are in this category, but to know you could have had citizenship or potentially a Green Card probably feels a bit unfair (although I am certainly adlibbing her potential feelings). Instead she had to worry about applying for her F-1 student OPT work authorization in order to be eligible to work, finding a job that would be willing to sponsor an H1B work visa, and the stress of the economic crisis where people were losing jobs left and right—there are no “grace periods” with H1B, technically if you lose your job, you lose your H1B status immediately unless the company makes some sort of provision for you in your compensation package, and without status, you are illegal in the US or you have to leave the US immediately.

Luckily our “Indian baby” friend weathered all the storms, and relatively recently had a visa number for her Green Card become available after years and years of waiting. She has been able to start the process, which again could be lengthy, but at least she is in the queue.

It’s kind of interesting to think though that most of this stemmed from her mother’s nostalgic idea of having an “Indian baby.” I’m sure 30 years ago people didn’t necessarily think about immigration repercussions in the same way.

3 responses to “The American Baby and the Indian Baby

  1. And, then there are Nepalis (and others) who go to U.S. on a tourist visa, have an “American baby” and all return home. This way the baby can return to the U.S. at 18 years of age, for college or other reasons as an American citizen. Here is an interesting article:

  2. Laws are never fair. Thats why we see people going around to find a loophole. Excluding the genuine cases (like yours or your indian friend’s), i have seen people going through the hassle of 10 or 15 years to get a green card or citizenship? I have always wondered- is it really worth it? Will these people who give up everything back home to settle in the United States permanently be happy about their “achievements” throughout their life?

    • I agree as well. It’s kind of like the Gurkha resettlement issue in the UK– that after winning the rights for retired Gurkha soldiers to be able to move to the UK, so many families have moved and are now living in poverty in England… is it worth it? Maybe for some, but certainly not for all (

      I’ve also heard stories about Nepalis who have falsely declared asylum in the US so they could gain permanent residence/citizenship by creating fake documents and fake newspaper articles to say they were being persecuted by the Maoists. People take drastic measures to attempt to stay in the US because the rules are strict and difficult and it take so much time… however I also get frustrated when I hear this, because fake applications make it more difficult for genuine applications to be approved.

      Plus if someone in your family declares asylum then it might make it impossible for other members of your direct family to ever be issued a tourist visa to the US (and you can never go back to your home country, at least while the “threat” you declared asylum for is still around) so you could be separated from your family for a really really long time, and I don’t think people realize that. Is that worth it?

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