A Better Life
Categorized as January 2010 Issue
By Rohit Dharawadkar
Attorney, Elliott & Davis, PC, Pittsburgh, PA
Phone: 412.434.4911 x. 28 /Email Rohit
Rohit arrived in Pittsburgh in 2005 with a law degree from Southwestern University, Los Angeles, Calif. His specialty is immigration law which he has practiced for nine years. He lives in the South Hills.
One of my earliest memories is standing underneath the staircase at my aunt’s house in Los Angeles, a few hours after arriving in the United States on a Pan Am flight from Bombay. Even then, at the age of five, I realized that my family had embarked on a great adventure, and I remember feeling very far away from what I had known to be my home. My family settled in the Los Angeles area, where I ended up attending school and college.
After completing college and graduating from law school, I began practicing immigration law in San Francisco in April 2001 and have been doing so ever since. Till then, I hadn’t considered exactly how my family had immigrated to the United States. As a child, I simply accepted that we were here, and as a teenager I swore the oath of allegiance to the US government without much thought.
Until that spring of 2001, as I began my practice as an immigration attorney, I had never really considered what it took for my parents to get me to this country. I eventually learned that my aunt had filed an immigrant visa petition on behalf of my mother, my father, my brother and me. An interview had taken place at a consulate in India, after which my entire family was granted Green Cards to enter and live in the United States. In 1980, the process took a total of five months.
Today, the beneficiary family in the same situation as my father would be waiting no less than 12-15 years for an approval. The processes and timings for immigration petitions have changed, but it appears, through all the clients I have helped, that the goals remain the same: a better life in the United States.
Just about every first or second generation child, in the re-telling of their parent’s immigration story, talks about how their parents came to the United States with around $300. For some reason every parent seems to have immigrated with only $300. These stories often conclude with the parents achieving the American dream. A few years back, I asked my father why he decided to leave his parents, extended family and friends, and move half way across the world to a place where he knew only five people — three of whom were children. Echoing the sentiments of all my immigration clients, his answer was simple: to make a better life for his family.
For most, the journey and the right to remain in the United States have become more lengthy and difficult. I am immensely satisfied to say that my life’s work has been to help individuals and families from around the world achieve their dream of coming to America, whether it’s applying for an H-1B visa after finishing graduate school, or navigating the sometimes treacherous path through the PERM employment-based labor certification process, or completing a filing for a mother or father who still lives back in the home country, I.
I recently received a post card at my office from a client whose wife had been granted a green card to the United States. It had a picture of the couple and a photo of her approved immigrant visa and simply read “Thank you very much Rohit for all your help.”
I have proudly hung the post card in my office as a reminder of why I do what I do, and the journey that my own family had taken to our life in the United States.