I'm now officially welcomed to the United States. How do I know I am? I got a letter telling me so. Last week something monumental happened. I received my Green Card. And over the past weekend, I realized I live in the United States.
I've been living in the United States for a couple of years now. I've created a home together with my husband and our home feels very much like our home. My visa status has allowed me to stay and live in the United States but prevented me from working. I used to really enjoy working, but I've also really enjoyed my years as an involuntary housewife. I've been looking forward to receiving my Green Card, mostly to regain power to decide over my own choices in life, weather it be working or not.
So, in my mind, the Green Card is a work permit. It allows me to apply for a Social Security Number, it allows me to work and it makes me a fuller member of society, with it's rights and responsibilities. But I came to realize it's much more than that. And it says so, right on the Green Card. In the eyes of the United States, I'm now a permanent resident. A permanent resident.
If I plan to leave the US for more than 12 months I have to apply for a re-entry permit before leaving. Not too long ago, my visa extension was denied and I was asked to leave the country. It's like inviting your self to a party, having the host throw you out but by the end of the night you're asked to move in and never leave.
The journey through immigration bureaucracy is difficult in many countries. Mine has been a real adventure, with ups and downs and a lot of suspense. But all is well that ends well. I imagine I could have grown resentful along the way, but the matter of fact is that I really love my life here and I'm just thrilled that I'm welcomed to stay and that I'm invited to explore even more aspects of life in the US.
I can't wait to go through the US immigrations next time I go abroad. Hopefully I'll be greeted by a officer who will welcome me home. Because the United States is where I live, it's where home is.