I Was A Legal Alien


Now an American citizen.

Following James Fulford’s post about H-1B visas, and a subsequent conversation about placement of the hyphen in “H-1B,” which NOBODY EVER GETS RIGHT, James suggested I post my own U.S. visa history here.

All right, I’m game.  I dug out my old U.K. passports, blew the dust off them, and scanned in the U.S. visa stamps.  I’ve posted links to them below.

Here for reference is a list of current nonimmigrant visa categories.

(Nonimmigrant visas are for visitors, persons in transit, investors, trainees, students, temporary refugees, and guest workers.  Their common feature is that they come with no right to permanent settlement.  This is another point on which journalists and politicians seem to be wilfully ignorant.  “What we need is a guest-worker program!” they chirrup brightly, as if they were the first to think of this concept.  I once heard Newt Gingrich say this, across a table at National Review.  Bill O’Reilly I think still says it.  Look at the damn list, you dolts!  We have twenty-odd guest-worker programs, covering everything from lettuce-pickers to concert pianists.  We’ve had them for decades.  Grrrrr.)

The categories don’t match precisely with the ones on my visa stamps because my stamps are from way back and the categories have changed.  The H-1 visa, for example, which dates from 1952, did not speciate into the H-1B and H-1C until (I think) 1990.

B-2:  July 10, 1973.  My first transatlantic foray.  I am ashamed to say I violated the terms of this visa, as told here.  Quem paenitet peccasse pene est innocens.

B-2:  August 20, 1981.  A flying visit in hopes of finding a U.S. publisher for a book I’d written.  (I didn’t).

H-1:  October 21, 1985.  Hired to work as a software developer for First Boston Corp. in the mid-1980s Wall Street boom.

H-1:  July 7, 1987.  Extension of same.

H-1:  October 28, 1989.  Another extension.

H-1B:  September 13, 1991.  Yet another.

Green card: January 12, 1994.  Yes, it’s actually pink.

I attained U.S. citizenship April 19, 2002.