How did I obtain my Green Card

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After 4 years trying to immigrate through my employer (read other posts in this blog), I found out by accident that there was a way to immigrate into the US without the need of an employer, i.e. through self-petition. It is called "Alien of Extraordinary Ability." It has three sub-categories: E1-1 or Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, E1-2 or Outstanding Professors and Researchers, and E1-3 or Multinational Executives. In order to qualify, you must be truly extraordinary, not only good; only a tiny fraction (less than half percent) of all US immigrants fall in this category. See immigration statistics for this category in 2005 (1,122,373 total immigrants, vs. 5,089 or 0.45% in E1-1), 2006 (1,266,264 total immigrants, vs. 3,339 or 0.26% in E1-1), and 2007 (1,052,415 total immigrants, vs. 2,243 or 0.21% in E1-1). The category E1-1 is the most reputable door America offers to get in. It does not require sponsors, favors, o political will. People in this category stand for who they are, not by their circumstances. You are accepted into the US if you are among the best and the brightest in your field of endeavor (see the official criteria.) You also need to figure out how to navigate the American immigration system (an achievement in itself.)

I submitted my application as an alien of extraordinary ability in the field of... electronic literature. It took a decade of hard work to get to the top of this field of expertise, and one year gathering all the supporting documentation. The background I needed to make it into this category is extensively documented here. The application was submitted in May 2007, and it was approved in June 2007. During all this process I had the guidance of Everett P. Anderson, attorney at law; without his help it would have been nearly impossible for me to do it.

My biometrics were taken in June 2007. On November 12th, I received in the mail a laconic yet infinitely expressive letter from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services: "Welcome to the United States of America". This letter was the notification that my green card, the permanent residence permit, had been issued.

I have found that the US is far from being the perfect society, and is certainly more flawed than most Americans think. Still, with all its defects, I love profoundly this nation. I believe this society truly offers the option to reinvent and develop ourselves in any direction we choose. We have the right and the possibility to pursue happiness in this land. That is freedom, I guess.

I graduated with a PhD in mathematics from Florida State University on December 2009. I was a postdoctoral associate for one year (2009-2010) at the Institute for Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology, University of Miami.  I started in 2010 a research project with Level 3 Data, a Canadian company.  I was a postdoctoral fellow for two years (2010-2012) at the Mathematical Biosciences Institue, Ohio State University. Currently, I work as an associate professor at the Department of Mathematics and the Institue of Bioinformatics, at the University of Georgia.

It has been a long way since I began my journey to America. When I compare where I am now against all the grief and constant defeat in my origin country, it reinforces my belief that coming to the US was the right choice. I will be able to make a more significant contribution from here.

I pay back everyday to this country, now my home, for the happiness I have found. This has been the promised land, the land of opportunity; but that was only achievable with hard work. I am yet another living proof that the American dream is still alive.

I escaped from hell crossing a river of fire. I came as a slave to the land of the free, empty-handed and on my knees. Today I walk tall and harbor great expectations for the future.

Keep reading: How did the journey to America begin?