In the last decade more than 10,000 citizens of the former Soviet Union countries applied for a permanent US visa (Star & Hackley, 1998).
I interviewed an immigrant from Russia, Vladimir Kazakov, 24, who moved to the United States of America in 2002 from Russian city of Saint-Petersburg. He came from a rather poor family and even though he was an only child he didn't get a lot of treatment from his parents. His father died when he was five and his mother passed away when he was sixteen, so he lived with his relatives and has been planning to immigrate to the United States for a long time.
We all know how hard it is to get a green card to work and live in America on permanent basis. Vladimir's experience was no exception. It took him almost 7 months to settle all the organizational problems and get a visa. He never gave up his hope, and even though he did not have any relatives or work arrangement he has finally received an H1B visa which allowed him to work in America for 3 years. Vladimir knew that he would have to work as an unskilled laborer for a while to get used to the language and the lifestyle, but he was picturing himself as a successful programmer in Silicon Valley or in some other big place, and earn a lot of money. He also knew that if he worked well during these three years he can qualify for a permanent visa and thus secure himself as a United States' citizen.
Kazakov had to go through a range of problems any immigrant faces in a foreign country with no previous experience of living abroad. In Russia Vladimir did not have a permanent job; he used to work freelance and didn't have a strict work day and payments. Life in Russia is obviously very different from one in the USA, so Vladimir didn't know what a Social Security Number or medical insurance is. Those kinds of things made it hard for him to adjust to the American lifestyle. For example, in Russia Vladimir did not have a car and managed to get by pretty good without it. In America he found it impossible to live without a vehicle, and, although it wasn't easy to fit the lessons into his tight work schedule, he went to the driver's school and after a few months of learning the rules and practicing he got his license.
There were a number of challenges Vladimir faced. Firstly, it was the language. Although he studied English at school and attended free courses of English while in the United States, it was hard for him to communicate with his new friends and colleagues. Plus he didn't have much time to work on his English because of the jobs he had. Eventually, of course, he accumulated enough words and expressions, and now Vladimir speaks a lot better, although he still has a distinct accent and he is not very good at grammar.
Second problem was money. As I said, Vladimir didn't take much money from home, so he applied for a variety of vacancies. He got a job as a waiter from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., and he worked at the warehouse from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. He made about seven dollars an hour from each job and it was a rather impressive income compared to one he had in Russia. Nevertheless, the schedule was truly exhausting for him, so he didn't have any time for any other activities. As soon as Vladimir earned enough money to get a car and pay his debts, he dropped his restaurant job and started to look for more intellectual opportunities as he used to be a programmer. Now Vladimir got a job in a bank as a network administrator, he