One Foot In: Stories of Expat Women in America

The Documentary

With this project, we want to tell the challenges immigrant women face in the U.S. and raise awareness of the gender bias of the U.S. immigration laws. The laws are for both men and women, but we noticed a pattern that shows a preference for men when Visas are given.

America receives talent from all over the world every year, and the immigration laws limit the potential of professional and talented women who could contribute to the economy. If America doesn’t want to lose talent during Trump’s presidency, he will have to listen to the needs of immigrant and give opportunities to immigrant women.

Most of the H1B visas are granted for the science, technology, engineering and mathematics industries (STEM). It is not surprising that most of these visas go to men and recent data from the U.S. Immigration Statistics shows that only 30% of all the H1B visas are granted to women.

Many expat women come to the US as spouses of H1B holders. They are allowed to stay, but they cannot work. As a consequence, thousands of women have no other choice other than putting their careers on hold. If in a family there only one person works, the income is lower, and the money spent focuses on basic necessities. If both people work, they can spend more money and contribute to the economy. Even if immigrant women want to launch their own business and create new jobs for Americans, they are not allowed to work.

Foreign mothers of American children aren’t allowed to work either, and many of them have an excellent education and have a lot to offer to American companies regarding international perspective and experience.

The situation is not easier for female students looking for an H1B sponsor. They have to find a job within three months after graduation or leave the country. This policy also applies to men, but women have fewer chances than them. Many of them have to leave the country after the studies and America loses talent.

Raising awareness, we are also hoping to foster a change in the immigration policies to give immigrant women more opportunities to develop a career in the United States.