Came from Auckland, New Zealand in 1988.
Kiwi is a term for what New Zealander’s call each other. The nickname originated from a bird that’s native to the country.
It was a very long process to go through. I applied for my green card in 2005 and then I think I it was 3 to 5 years to apply for citizenship and just go through the process.
How I came to the United States? How I came? Pretty easy. I just purchased a ticket from Auckland and just flew into the country. Oh, my fiancé… he was here, he’s an American Citizen and because of him I came over to the states and it wasn’t long, I think within a week we were married. Well, you know I had met him before hand, I had met him in Australia… it was a long relationship, but the goal was to you know once I finally came over we were going to get married and I was going to stay here.
I think it’s very tough. Other immigrants who are here legally.. it is, you know it is a big culture change you know from where they’re coming through. I came from a country that was very small. Population was very small. It’s not as diverse as it is here in America. But, I really like the states because there’s so much going on, so much innovation and you know if you have a good idea and you want to produce a product… you could do that. Finding the right people, getting the product out in the market. I really like that because in New Zealand, when I was back home you know everything took too long. But here, there was just so much energy in this country. What influenced me, what I liked about is just I think the most interesting thing was that they were really innovative and just like a diverse culture you know I thought it was just great. There’s so much to learn here. So many people to meet and get along. I really like this country. I didn’t have a problem with it. It took me a while to get use to everything, especially with the driving… cause we drive on the you know. .. but I think coming over here and if you’re determined to fit in and do well you can. It’s a lot to go through, but over the years things have really worked out for me. I have 3 children, 3 beautiful children and they have done extremely well.
I was just going to say, I went back to New Zealand just recently and what a difference. When I left the country, you know it was still growing .. still learning. It’s been 30.. 25 years since I’ve been back to New Zealand, you know Auckland has really changed. You know the ideas… I was looking at America it seems like New Zealand has fast forward into the future. It’s just a new city to me that progressed so much. They’re innovative. Just the city itself, a lot of changes… there’s a lot of new buildings and I can just see that they have a lot of great ideas… new ideas…and it’s just obvious that people have gone overseas and brought all those new ideas back to Auckland… and it just really amazes me. So, what we have in the states, it’s now back in New Zealand… it’s not that it was backward, but they’ve really come forward you know and I just went WOW… it’s a really beautiful city. But comparing it with the states, a lot of people, I just like the vibrant lifestyle here and it’s always attracted me… this country. If you want to do really well, you know if you got the patience, work really hard… anyone can come into the country can make it. I never think about those things, you know there’s a lot of issues here … but if I can just do my own thing and just be a good citizen and what else could I say… I’ve never had any problems, whatsoever. If there have been problems, I’ve never really… it just doesn’t really upset me at all.
So when I came into the country you know I had all the papers, so that wasn’t a problem. Like I said, my husband and I we married within the week and then I had 3 children. My middle child had potential to represent this country overseas and that’s at the stage… I had a New Zealand passport, but for me to leave the country and then re-enter… I guess I could have still used my New Zealand passport, but I preferred to use American green card. So, in order to get that I found a lawyer.. an immigration lawyer who was able to help me and take me through the whole process so we had a meeting with him and then he started the process. The first thing that we had to do was my husband had to fill out forms that he was going to sponsor me… and from there I had to go and have a doctor’s examination then not long after that… I’m not too sure several months I had to go and get my fingerprints and then not long after that we had an appointment with an interview with the immigration officials and my lawyer came with me. After all the papers were signed and sealed and everything was checked correctly, I finally got my green card. I became a permanent resident. So that was great. I was able to travel with my daughter to France and re-enter the country and then I had to wait the 3-5 years to apply to become a natural citizen.
Again, I think because I had already went through the process of the green card it wasn’t too long… it didn’t take too long to fill out the other forms to become a natural citizen… because since all my papers were all correct I had to… for the natural citizen I filled out forms … went for interviews and once that was done everything checked through… I think that the day that I went to the interview it was morning and then in the afternoon they had this swearing an oath ceremony and I became a United States Citizen with 88 other people from all over the country.
So, yeah it is a long process, but as long as you fill in all forms, and everything is correct you should have no problems. But just making sure I had to have my birth certificate, my New Zealand passport, everything had to be in order and they do all this background check to make sure you don’t have any outstanding warrants or anything like that… I think that my process wasn’t that bad. I know people have gotten through and if some of the forms were filled out incorrectly then they had to go back in the waiting line and it would take them another 6 months before being through. So, yes I would say I was very fortunate but it took me from I think 2005 up to 2013 before I became a natural citizen. I wasn’t in a hurry, but I’m glad I got it… I’m really pleased with it.. so life moves on.
I was born and raised in Vietnam, specifically, Da Nang; one of the major port cities on the South Central Coast of Vietnam. I came to the United States August of 2009. I was 17 years old at the time and had just graduated from high school. I came here for a better future.
It is more of a personal reason as to why I came. My relatives who live in the U.S. always looked down on my mom and grandma because they came from a very poor family. My mom is the greatest woman I know and the fact that they disrespected her so much really upset me. That’s probably the biggest motivation as to why I came to the United States. I wanted to prove a point and show my family that my mom is not small nor to be disrespected and make my mom proud.
It’s tough living here. People think America is the land of opportunity and success. That is true, but you have to work hard to be able to obtain those opportunities exposed. Sometimes, I get frustrated and mad at those who have all these benefits, but take them for granted. Here I am working my ass off, yet my immigrant status is holding me back from being able to receive anything. I’m tired of hearing the same thing come out of many prospective openings: “No, you can’t apply for scholarships, unless you’re a citizen.” “You’re a very qualified candidate, but we cannot hire a person on visa due to our company policy.” Etc. I’ve heard those words come out of people’s mouths more times than I would have liked to have heard. I just smirk at them whenever I hear them.
My family isn’t rich at all, so they definitely couldn’t afford my school in the States. However, it is because they believed in me and my dream to go to school here, my parents saved enough money for me to attend school for a year in exchange for me to find a job to support myself while living here. It is illegal for students on VISA to work in the U.S., so I worked under the table during my first year to pay for school. It was hard but I was motivated to keep my head up and succeed no matter the circumstance.
I am trying really hard to obtain citizenship. For many international students, getting an H1B1 Visa (Employer Sponsorship) is the ultimate way to stay in the states, besides getting married. I got my first big girl job right after college and the employer is filing my H1B1 Visa. I’m pretty happy about that right now. I recently found out that H1B1 is a non-immigrant visa that qualifies for in-state tuition, which means that I am one step closer to Grad school! To be able to get a green card and eventually citizenship, I have to get my PhD, which would take me another 5-10 years. If my employer wants to sponsor my green card, I have to work in a super important filed such as engineering, research, etc., and have to work for them at 6-10 years before filing for a green card. It is a very lengthy process, but I feel that must do this not only for myself but my family back at home.