I moved to the United States when I was 10 years old with my mom and my brother, finally reuniting with my dad. They made this choice to present my younger brother and I with an opportunity for a better and larger future. Every day, my parents, my extended family in India, friends, and everyone else around me told me to dream big. I could be anything and everything I wanted to be and more. It wasn’t until high school that I realized exactly how many limitations come with my H-4 Dependent Visa status. The American Dream that I knew of before entering the United States didn’t apply to me all along.
I was a normal high school student growing up in Illinois. Like my peers on the pre-medicine track, I wanted to work at special needs summer camps, internships, and research mentorship programs. However, due to my visa status, I could not apply to most of these opportunities. My very first semester at college, after having gone through the entire two month training process, I was turned away from a cutting-edge Neuroscience Lab because I am not a permanent resident or citizen. As a result, I have been completely dependent on my parents without being able to contribute financially towards my education.
Even after 10 years of living in the United States, when looking at scholarships and programs for a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, the first thing I check for is: “Must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.” That’s what my life is. In my heart, I’m an Indian American woman who has big dreams, but my visa status prohibits me from embracing and realizing my true potential. It prohibits me from taking advantage of the endless opportunities and experiences that the United States has to offer. Where is my American Dream?