The articles portraying the living conditions of a section of women holding H-4 visas (July 29 & 30), based on a Facebook survey, magnify the issue beyond proportions and are sure to make the nervous more nervous. Awareness of the law and adherence can only be a plus, not minus. Hundreds of postgraduates are pursuing higher education in the U.S. under similar conditions. Many are raising families in true Indian style. Things were quite good till the year 2000.
But the quick-buck mentality and impatience are driving some to depression. Money alone will not assure peace and good health.
Many countries impose restrictions on the spouses of foreigners employed there. Women are given the right to join their husbands in the U.S. as it is considered unfair to deny them the benefit. Millions of Indians are working in the Gulf countries where this freedom is absent. Men get to visit their families once every two or three years. The newly married girls end up in depression and loneliness in their parents’ or in-laws’ places.
The ‘victims’ of the H-4 visa are not refugees who have been granted amnesty in the U.S. They are Indian citizens who are free to return any time they want. The distress they face is but a collateral damage resulting from a selfish pursuit of financial gain over general happiness.
Nobody forces women to leave for the U.S. on an H-4 visa. There are many ways in which such women can gainfully occupy themselves. My niece gave private tuitions. Her friend helped in a soup kitchen organised by a social welfare agency. Another knitted sweaters and supplied them to a boutique. She earned more than her husband. Women should not blame their visas for depression. Look at the plight of the educated unemployed in India. Which visa can they blame for their fate?
People who travel on H-4 need to be prepared to face the challenges if they want to make the U.S. their home. We know that many Indian H1-B visa holders tell their future wives that they need to find their own sponsors if they decide to work or pursue higher studies in the U.S. It is meaningless to cry over what is obvious. On the education front, many Indians send their children to the U.S. after school. When American universities have seen such business, why would they offer scholarships or lower fee structures?