Pending: My visa, my immigration status, my life. The word “pending” has followed me through all my years of high school and it’s something I think about now, even as I’m getting ready to graduate college. I remember every year my family would have to pay hundreds of dollars that we didn’t have to renew our paperwork. We would receive our new statuses a year later only for them to be valid for just a couple of months. We would then have to send our renewal paperwork back with more money and the cycle would continue. Out of the entire year, I would only have a valid status for two months. In the months where it was pending, we lived in constant fear of retaliation and deportation. Those months are the reason why it took me three years to get a driver’s license, why I wasn’t eligible for most scholarships, and why I was told to pay international tuition for a state that I’ve been living in for 6 years. There hasn’t been a single day of my life where I don’t think about my immigration status.
I wish I believed in the American Dream and American exceptionalism, but I don’t. I am not asking for much, just for a chance to live a normal life. A chance to not have my life decisions impacted by my visa status: to be able to apply to the jobs and internships I want, to protest, to vote, to go back to India to see my grandparents and cousins. I want to start a life for myself, but the broken immigration system keeps me from doing that. So, my life continues to be on hold: pending.