(An aside: when describing the above, regular, non-emigrant citizens in the US never have the slightest familiarity with what I’m talking about. These indignities are instantly familiar to even the fanciest of us developed-world middle-class immigrants, but a perpetual surprise to citizens. If they have that little insight, you’ll probably grok why they can’t understand a Honduran lad with three socks and one shoe who’s running from a civil war.)

This is from James Heathers, “I Quit,” Medium, June 20. HT2 Tyler Cowen.

You won’t understand that paragraph without understanding the previous few paragraphs. So here they are:

Being an immigrant (‘ex-pat’ is stupid, I was a very indifferent ‘pat’ to begin with) will knock a few dents in this, though. Even if you’re a fancy Australian person, one of the ‘good’ immigrants (typing that concept makes me throw up in my mouth, but the attitude is real), the process has a few brickbats waiting for you.

Let me make that concrete: when we moved to the US, we bought flights, flew the cat (it isn’t cheap), and then immediately had to pay four months rent up front for an apartment at a weird time outside the rental cycle (first and last month, broker’s fee, security deposit). With the unfortunate exchange rate, that was all the money I had.

All of it.

And that was immediately followed by seven months of sitting around, because my PhD hadn’t been marked yet, unable to start a postdoctoral fellowship I had already been awarded, because I didn’t have a PhD yet, technically.

I filled the time with something useful, of course. I worked on research, I read, I went to the gym, but I couldn’t even do odd jobs — it was illegal. I had a similar experience waiting for my work visa to get filed.

Then, later, my wife wore the same hat getting a work permit authorized through the visa I had for my second postdoc, waiting months for university administration to issue her with spousal status, so she could work. At a job someone really wanted to give her.

Now, recently, waiting for work authorization that comes in advance of my green card has been the same story.

This is the abridged version, leaving out four separate visa renewal trips out of the country and a good deal else that I won’t bore you with.

Suffice to say, we have lost ~36 months worth of salary since 2014 waiting for someone else to fill out or file a form.

Heather’s experience immigrating to the United States was worse than mine, but I immediately grokked it because mine was pretty bad.

By the way, that’s not the main point of his article. His article is worth reading for more reasons than the details of his immigration experience, especially his predictions about where academia is going for the next few years.

The bottom line from that discussion: Man, did I ever time my leaving academia well.