When I was younger, my family moved around a lot. Every time my parents told me that we were moving, I would get very anxious and upset because I had to start all over- new environment, new friends, new everything. But, when I was eight years old, we finally settled down in one place, the US. Over time, I felt comfortable here and even began to call this place my home.
Soon, I started to unconsciously speak with an American accent, eat American food, and enjoy American television. I assimilated to the point that I considered myself a part of this country. It was only in middle school that I learned that this was actually not the case; I was only here on a H-4 dependent visa. But, it was in high school when I realized the true consequences of this. During this time, I excelled both in academia and extracurricular activities. I was valedictorian, National Merit Semifinalist, and President of Key Club to name a few. However, I was limited by my visa status. I could not become a National Merit Finalist because I am not a US citizen. I had to apply to college as an international student though I have lived in this country since I was a child. Regardless of my high GPA and competitive test scores, I could not apply to many scholarships.
However, I did not let that stop me. I began college majoring in biomedical engineering with hopes of going to medical school. I knew that the possibilities of international students getting into a US medical school is low, but that did not deter me from my goals. I continued to work hard by maintaining a 4.0 GPA and volunteering in healthcare settings. However, I am still facing the consequences of my visa status. Applying to medical school is already an incredibly tough process, and it has been even more so for me. Though I have a complete and diverse application, I have not heard back from any of the numerous schools I have applied to.
As a senior in college, I have already aged out. I switched to a F1 visa before my sophomore year of college, but that means I can only stay in the US to study. I cannot imagine leaving the country I have come to call my home to go to a country that I have only visited a few times over the years. Now, to stay in this country, I have to get a job, switch to a H-1B visa, and start the process my parents started 14 years ago all over again.
I feel it is unfair that many people in similar situations are forced to self-deport from the only place we have called home or have to live in constant worry of maintaining our visa status. Please help people like me have a clear path to citizenship.