Life as a H-1B worker – a first-hand account

img-us-immigrationAmong other topics, this month’s America Abroad: Immigration and the Global Talent Search, explored what life is like for immigrant workers who come to the U.S. on a temporary H-1B visa. The H-1B visa program allows employers to hire up to 65,000 foreign workers each year to fill American jobs in specialty occupations, such as science and engineering.

Mohamed Tom is an H-1B worker from Khartoum, Sudan, and is currently a medical resident at the University of Minnesota.

Listen to his story by clicking on the audio player below or continue reading below.

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Having lived with his family in Southern California for two and a half years when we was nine before going back to Sudan, Mohamed says he always wanted to return to the U.S. to work someday.

“In the back of my mind, I felt an attachment to America that never really completely went away. I felt that I was going to come back,” he says.

Mohamed returned to the U.S. in July, 2010 on a H-1B visa to begin his medical training at the University of Minnesota. He hopes to become a U.S. citizen.

“Until you get your green card, it’s unbelievable how much it drags on. You have to give up so much, to go through all this and knowing how much you have ahead… It just wears you down,” says Mohamed.

He says one of the difficulties of the H-1B visa is that it is a single-entry visa: “I can’t travel freely; so I can’t go visit my family. I’ve already been here almost three years now, and knowing that it could easily be five or six years before I go back, is something that weighs on my mind.”

Reporting by Samara Freemark for America Abroad. Photo via Flickr by SEIU International.

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