Living My Own (Lola-ish) American Dream

Living My Own (Lola-ish) American Dream

Hey guys! Carolina here. You may remember from my last blog that I was ‘Living on the Edge’, anxiously awaiting news regarding immigration status. You can read all about how I got to this point here.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that after 2 master’s degrees, 6 apartments, and 1 global pandemic, I’m finally on my way to conquer my American dream!

On March 31, 2020, I won the lottery! No, not the Powerball (I wish). I won the H1-B visa lottery, where only 65,000 out of 200,000 get the opportunity to be evaluated. From there, the incredibly slow and painful process continued. Now it was a waiting game while the USCIS looked over my case to determine whether or not Lola and I were extraordinary enough to sponsor a working visa. 

Here we are in the thick of the “first wave” of the global pandemic. As the days went by, I would hop on my Twitter feed only to find out the rules for H1-B visas were changed. I genuinely thought this was the end. My dreams were being stripped away from me. I remember crying on the phone with Anna telling her how unfair this was. I was doing everything by the rules. Even if I was paying my taxes, even if I contributed to this country’s economy, they were still willing to kick me out. 

The anxiety of not knowing whether I would get my visa was seriously building up. And as a Leo, “patience is a virtue” doesn’t really apply to me. After hearing a whole lot of nothing, it happened, we had contact. I received a letter asking us for more evidence to prove we qualify for this kind of visa. So, now what? What did it mean? Was it a good sign? A bad sign? What was it?!

Like I mentioned before, I studied at an international school. Many of my friends and classmates hoped to get a job and stay here, but that just wasn’t in the cards for them. Eventually, I saw them leaving one by one. Every day we are less and less. It’s hard not to feel like you’re up against a wall waiting to be the next one to get dropped. But Anna didn’t falter. She told me that I was already here, and we have momentum on our side.

After months of sleepless nights, tears, and never-ending anxiety, I got a text from Anna one afternoon. She sent me a photo of a letter from the immigration office saying “Approval Notice.” My heart fluttered. Was this really happening? I read it over about 5 times just to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Once I was sure it said “approved,” I jumped and let out a loud enough scream so that everyone on the block would know I got the visa. I celebrated my win with a cold Sam Adams, of course! I felt like I had just finished a marathon, and I was finally able to catch my breath. This massive weight was instantly released from my shoulders. 

Whenever you talk to someone from the HR department in a big corporation about the H1-B visas process, they will tell you, “No way! Don’t even think about it!” Most of the companies that grant H1B visas are technology companies, like Google, IBM, or Microsoft.

They give them to the 14-year-old whiz kids who already have a Ph.D. at MIT.  We were competing against the big corporate giants (no shade, RedSox). When it comes to the beauty industry, major corporations like Sephora rule, these companies employ thousands of people worldwide, and we were able to compete in the same arena. We proved we’re an extraordinary business that employs extraordinary people. As a women-run small beauty salon in Cambridge, MA, we’re damn proud of ourselves! If you’re unfamiliar with the US immigration laws ins and outs, this is really something special that we could accomplish! Believe me, I have seen (too) many of my friends packing their bags to find different paths in different countries.   

I’m so grateful to work with a team of female-warriors. The women who wake up every day to conqueror anything that comes their way, all while rocking fabulous hair and bold lipstick (yes, even with a mask on). I’m happy to work in an industry that centers around women empowerment, making others feel good about themselves, and an industry that’s not afraid to have a little fun! The beauty trade gives women the chance to work in high-power positions, #girlboss! 

This chapter of my life truly feels like a victory! I finished a marathon, and now I’m able to catch my breath. There’s more I need to do, much more to accomplish, explore, and more dreams to make happen.

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