Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Vox Culture - Winding Road: My Immigration Story (Part 3)

Happy Wednesday, friends! 
Tomorrow is the last day of January and let's just say I am seriously over January. I'm hoping February is a better month and the rest of this year is a breeze to get through. 
There has been a lot on my mind this month, and a lot of anxiety. I'm letting go of some of my extra activities, and after letting go of just a couple small ones I am already feeling better! 
I plan on blogging a little tomorrow, recapping how my past month has been. Don't expect a happy happy joy joy post, but at the same time it isn't going to make you want to fall off a cliff. 

Here is Viktor with his final post for the month on his immigration story. 
I hope you have enjoyed having him around!

With no luck in the job hunt up in Washington, D.C., and feeling that I needed a new start, I decided to head for Texas and look for a Political Science Master’s Degree program that was still taking applicants in December (in order to begin in January). I ended up signing up with the University of Texas at San Antonio, where I received my renewed F-1 student visa.

During my last semester at UTSA, I would begin to look for job opportunities again, but having been worn out from all the moving in a short period of time, I began focusing on offers within Texas. In addition, another major reason for my decision to stick around in Texas had to do with my parents’ immigration battle.

My parents on their wedding day.

After a total of nearly thirteen years, they were still unable to obtain a Green Card, and to make matters worse, after the application for their Green Card had been denied originally in 2009 (which led to a further appeal of the decision), the INS had sent them a letter in the earlier part of 2012, asking for additional evidence to appeal the decision. The reason for the 2009 denial and 2012 letter from the INS was because, our now former lawyer (who was fired just a few years before from the law firm we are using) had made a mistake when sending the application for my father to the INS in 2007. In the simplest terms possible, the mistake was in regards to listing my father’s education on the application at a higher level than what it really was. The INS, being an institution that only sees the black and the white, and really does not use much actual thought for anything else, saw this mistake as an attempt of being “dishonest” in the application and stated that based on the job description and education requirements given by our previous lawyer, that my father was “not qualified” for a job in the field that he has been in for about 35 years, and who is one of the most respected and sought after individuals in the global shipping community.

Pictures of my father, during his younger years sailing on the ship.

However, despite using certain “connections” through acquaintances in an attempt to write letters and intervene, and the law firm admitting that it was in fact their mistake and providing further proof required by the government, we have yet to hear back from the INS as to what the final verdict will be. All our lawyers however have said that the worst is to be expected, and therefore my parents, with the full support of my father’s company’s headquarters in Germany, have already made arrangements to leave the U.S. for a minimum of 12 months, during which they will be in Hamburg, Germany. While they were supposed to hear from the INS in December, they have not as of yet, but the latest the verdict would come in is expected at the end of February 2013. If our fears are confirmed they would leave the country soon after, and make a comeback in about 15 months under what is called the L visa… which we were told MUCH later by the same law firm that we had used all this time that, had we applied for the L visa, specially for someone in my father’s position, the process may have gone much quicker and smoother.

Recent picture of my folks.

Expecting this outcome, I began making preparations to move from San Antonio to Houston for what I thought would be a brief period. Balancing the thought of maybe leaving the U.S. as well and taking one of several offers in Europe, around the same time, a friend of mine who had then been working with a communications company up in Dallas told me of a position that had become available that he thought I’d be a great fit for. Little behold, just as I began typing in the communications company’s name online, the search option pulled up the name of a different organization that had a similar name to the communications company up in Dallas. This one though was called Vox Culture Houston. Thinking that is was somehow affiliated with the communications company (which turned out to be that it was not); I decided to check it out and was immediately hooked by what I saw. The rest, as it is said, is history, and I am where I am today. What happens next only tomorrow will tell.

Helping present at a Vox Culture event.

As I stated in the very first blog posting, if I could sum up my experience in the U.S. so far in one word, I do not believe it would be one that would be appropriate from a professional stance. However, when I look back at the last thirteen (going on fourteen) years of my life, where I’ve been and where I am now… I have found that my overall experience with the immigration system has played a key part in the making of who I am today. The challenges that I face (together with my family) are still there, and will likely remain as such for the foreseeable future… and while there have been bumps along my path where I’ve felt lost and broken, having found this unplanned and unexpected path that I’m currently on has given my soul a sense of resurrection. Doing the work that I do now has given me a sense of definition and completion, while giving me the optimism to believe that something better lies ahead. More importantly, I believe, it has given me the will and the energy to stand up and fight for what I believe is right, and try to live my life by my own rules and choices as best possible, while giving a voice to a side of an issue many are unaware of. What I am most grateful for however, is that when I look at the overall experience… I realize that I have become more aware of who I am and what I stand for.

In order for brevity, I will end this chapter of my story with a poem by William Ernest Henley, Invictus, that over the years I’ve found both inspiration in (the poem as well as the poet himself), and which I have felt best captures this winding road, my immigration story.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be,
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years,
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


Introduction to My Immigration Story | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

If you would like to learn more about Vox Culture and see how it has connected the Houston community to social causes in creative ways, "Like" their FaceBook page. A sponsor will donate $1 to the organization's Vision Fund for every fan.  


  1. I first met Viktor in early May at the Crawfish Boil that Vox Culture co-hosted. He was very interesting to get to know and I am so glad that I got to know him when I did. Viktor has a wonderful heart and he is so giving of his time. I can't even imagine what it felt like to have to go through these events. This really is eye-opening and probably something that goes unseen by so many (including me).

    Thank you for sharing you story Viktor.

  2. Thank you for your kind words Linda :)!


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