What Is An Immigrant?
Where were you born? Where do you live now? Are there others who live around you, go to your school, or play on your soccer team who were born in a different country? They may look different than you, but maybe not. They may speak differently, but maybe not. Maybe you know someone who was born here, but their parents were born in a different country before moving here.
An immigrant is someone who moves from the country where they were born to a new country. They may become a permanent resident of the new country, meaning they remain a citizen of their birth country but live in the new country permanently, or they may become a citizen of their new country, as if they had been born into the new country.
It is even possible for a person to hold dual citizenship, continuing to be a citizen of their birth country and becoming a citizen of the new country as well.
Why Do People Immigrate?
- Lack of jobs or low wages: Some people choose to leave their country in the hopes of finding a better job in a new location. Depending on their skills or education levels, there may be too few jobs in one area, while another area may be looking for people to do those jobs. It is also possible that one country may pay less for the same job in another country, causing people to move to the country that pays more.
- War or civil unrest: In some countries, people are fighting and it is becoming impossible to live in peace. Families may choose to move to a new country to get away from the fighting.
- Political Leaders: When new leaders come into office or gain control over a country, people who do not agree with their leadership may choose to move to another country.
- Pleasure: Sometimes families move to another country simply because they want a change. They may leave a busy city in one country and move to a quiet beach area in another, or they may leave a small village in one country to move to a busy city in the other.
- Following a dream: It is possible that someone has always dreamed of a specific career such as being a model, actor, musician, or artist, which would lead them to move to a country where they feel they can get the best education and the most opportunities to make their dream come true.
- Job transfers: Some companies have offices in several different countries. When they have job openings in their offices, they sometimes choose to move an employee from one country to the other.
The Immigration Process
Once a person decides to move to another country, he must get a passport and a visa and decide whether to start the process to become a permanent resident or citizen of the new country.
According to www.usimmigration.org, in the United States a person can apply for a green card, which will allow him to live and work in the United States. The process includes filing an application and getting a medical examination to make sure the person is healthy and has received all of his immunizations.
The green card is valid for ten years, and must be renewed if the person plans to remain and work in the United States. Parents can request green cards for their children who are still in their home country, and spouses can request green gards for their husbands or wives who are still in their home country. This is called a family-based green card.
If a permanent resident decides to become a citizen in the United States, she must begin the naturalization process. She must be 18 years old or older, have lived in the United States for three to five years as a permanent resident, be a good, moral person, have a basic knowledge of U.S. government, and be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
If all of these requirements are met, an immigrant can apply to take the citizenship test. Once she passes the test, she is now a citizen of the United States and has the same rights as someone who was born here. Basically the only thing she cannot do is run for the office of President.
What challenges do you think immigrants face?
Immigrants face many challenges in their new country.
Some of these challenges are:
- Not knowing anyone: Regardless of where you move, you have to start over and make new friends. When you come from another country this can be very difficult. You may become very lonely or struggle as you try to meet new people.
- Not knowing the language: It can be very difficult to function in a new country if you don’t know the language well. It takes time to learn a new language and all of its slang words (the words people use when talking with friends or family that may not be taught in language classes).
Challenges Immigrants Face
- Mistreatment: Unfortunately, there are people who judge others by the way they look or talk. It is possible that an immigrant will be mistreated, ignored, disrespected, or made fun of due to their differences.
- Homesickness: Even when you are in great place with many new friends, you may still suffer from homesickness. Leaving your own country is a very big decision, and there are days when you will miss it.
Whether moving for pleasure, work, or to be closer to family, there are many reasons why one may choose to leave the country where they were born and make a new home in a different country.
As you go throughout your day, look around. Be aware of those in your class, neighborhood, and community who may be different from you. Be sensitive to their needs and feelings, and befriend them.
You may be surprised to hear their stories and discover how many common interests you share!