Lessons in ESL
My annoying co-irker aside, I look forward to work every day.
I joke when I say you can go around the world without ever leaving Upper Darby, but at last count, the school district boasts over 80 different Mother Tongues. Let me break down a typical day: I start with brothers from Peru who need help figuring out how to apply for medical benefits. Then I spend two hours with my ESL class, my ear tuned to the musical accents that range from Mexico, Ecuador, India, Haiti, and China. I spend lunch in Korea, assuring the resident that her daughter is not insane, just Americanized, and I end my day in Morocco.
What each person has in common is their love for America and their desire to be a part of this great country.
The path to citizenship is not an easy one. It can take up to ten years to get a visa to VISIT America. Then the person is considered a non-immigrant until other steps are followed.
A non-immigrant is everyone who comes to the United States legally with the intention to stay for a short period of time. The length of the visit depends on the purpose the visa was issued. Visas are issued for people here for vacations, work, weddings, etc. Applying for a visa doesn’t mean you will be issued a visa and allowed to visit the states. Only a US immigration officer has the authority to permit entry to the United States. Once the person has been accepted for entry, their visit begins based on the visa type. A typical visitor’s visa is about six months.
Sometimes, the visitor decides they like America, and want to make their visit permanent. The next step is to immigrate to America. The steps for immigration can come in three ways:
1. Permanent Residency
A permanent resident is a person who has applied for a change of status and been granted a “green card”. The permanent resident card holder can work and live without fear of deportation provided they remain out of trouble. They must renew their cards every 10 years.
To apply for permanent resident status there are a few ways:
1. Through an immediate relative (spouse, parent, unmarried child under 21) despite the dragging of feet on Immigration reform, the US does want to keep families united.
2. Through other relatives. These take longer to get approval. This is why you hear stories of people who have been waiting 10 years to get to this country.
3. Employment based (these are people considered to have extraordinary skills not found in the US)
4. The Diversity Visa Lottery. Approximately 500K visas are offered in countries that have sent the fewest immigrants each year. This ensures a mixture among people who immigrate to the US.
5. Refugees or Asylees
A refugee receives permission to come to the United States when their home country is in turmoil. Refugees are from countries that have had a disaster, like those that were affected by the earthquake in Haiti. An asylee is already in the United States and fears that returning to their country would cause them harm.
Both refugees and asylees plan to stay in the US.
Another class of immigrants are those under Temporary Protected Status. People who are in this category are also from countries in turmoil but plan to return once the civil unrest is abated.
Permanent residency leads to a resident deciding that they want to be a United States Citizen. Tomorrow I’ll share the steps a person takes to become a citizen.