H1B Visa: A Golden Cage ?

The year was 2014. I had just moved to the United States from India and was incredibly excited to advance my studies and then pursue a job. In the beginning, clearing my license exam (National Physical Therapy Examination NPTE) was the ultimate enabler, and then the next step was finding someone who can hire you and sponsor your H1B visa. I was able to eventually find a company to sponsor my visa and started working sometime in 2016.

From an outsider’s perspective, everything was going well! Despite my success early on, I could never quite shake the voice that was looming in the background of my subconscious, reminding me of the one caveat to any of these exciting new developments. The voice I am referring to is the H1B visa itself, an immigration nightmare that became the sole reason why my happiness and life-satisfaction were severely curtailed during my time in the USA.

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Although the application process is cumbersome and counter-intuitive, the wait times, which can take upwards of an entire year, are especially burdensome.  Fortunately, my application was approved after the first round. It was only after approval that I became fully aware of the tangible limitations that exist with the H1B visa.

I felt as if I was playing an arcade claw machine, seeing countless job opportunities through the window yet unable to grasp them. Although there was an abundance of desirable positions I would have loved to take, many employers simply could not afford to wait for the visa transfer process.

Additionally, the visa limited my ability to execute numerous business and investment ideas that my entrepreneurial spirit was craving. Worse yet, travel breaks were unauthorized during the application filing period, and I wasn’t able to take long enough breaks from my job to make the trip back to India.

As a result, I went as long as 3 years without seeing my family – the people who matter most to me. This period of absence from my family is not unique, as I know countless individuals on H1B visas who have reported even longer periods away as they waited upwards of 4 years for application approval.

The experience overall truly had me feeling as if I were a caged bird, reminding me of the following Shane Arbuthnott quote: “And when you are kept from your home, no matter where you are, you are in a cage.”

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And then the wait from H1B to get a green card is just unjustifiable. All this started taking a toll on my mental and physical health. The uncertainty of what is next, confusion and anxiety kept piling up and it was time for me to make a decision between my peace of mind and money.

To be clear, I want my readers to understand that I appreciate the financial freedom that was offered to me through the visa. At the same time, I felt as if I was constantly giving away pieces of myself for nothing in return. My goal for anyone reading is to simply understand the facts. Every year, hardworking, motivated individuals set sail for the USA on H1B visas.

If you are thinking about applying (or if you know someone who is), please send them this blog post to spread awareness. Immigrants bring a wealth of education and skills to the table. Without major immigration reform, the US will continue to miss out on thousands of would-be contributing members of society who are stifled by the current immigration system.

PS: This is my personal journey that doesn’t mean everybody would have faced the same scenarios.

Can I do Canada PR on my own?

Hello everyone, I am sharing my views on why the Canada PR immigration is self doable.

I read so many people hiring consultants or lawyers and paying a huge amount of money back in India and other countries to apply for Canada Immigration. Shockingly, some of the ‘self – labeled experts’ do not even have a thorough knowledge and despite that somehow they try to convince the crowd to go through this route.

Reasons why is the Express Entry process self doable –

  1. First of all, CIC does not require an expert or a consultant or a lawyer to apply for the Canada Immigration Process. It is very much possible to apply for the Immigration process by yourself. The Express Entry process is pretty straightforward.
  2. There are so many legit forums available online on Facebook like Ask Kubeir, etc who are willing to help so many people sincerely with questions and information.
  3. There are so many videos on Youtube that explain the basic process of Canada Immigration
  4. People afraid of not knowing what documents to submit – CIC tells you very clearly what documents are required.
  5. You are the best person to fill the application forms and making sure everything is submitted properly.

At the end of the day , it is your opinion and I completely respect it. I may just advise one thing before you pay for any services –

  1. Make sure you have at least done some homework and are aware of the general outline process of Canada immigration.
  2. Do not rely completely on the consultants just because you have paid them a chunk of money.
  3. Make sure you know about your NOC and the job demand for your NOC in a certain province.
  4. Make sure you know the process too so you can ask your experts questions as and where needed.
  5. Some people hire just for the peace of their mind – Well, what can I say, whatever works in your case.

Finally, it is up to YOU as a decision maker. But if you plan to do it by yourself, stop doubting yourself, read about the process, start asking for help if you have any questions post on the Facebook forums, ask for help from people around you and believe in yourself.

Feel free to comment or ask questions.

Moving To Canada During COVID – 19

I am sharing my personal experience and my opinion about moving to Canada during COVID.

I have recently moved to Canada on my PR from USA. I had to make this decision rather quickly and abruptly due to COVID-19 spreading faster in the USA. When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau & Trump announced that they would be closing borders, I had 2 options:

  1. To stay in USA on my H1B visa (i.e. with poor medical benefits and no Government benefits since I am not a citizen)
  2. To move to Canada on my PR (I did my soft landing last year in 2019)

After going back and forth with these options I finally decided to move to Canada and in my opinion I made the best decision.

WHY?

  1. Canadian Government is not only helping the Citizens or Permanent Residents, but they are also providing aid to international students.
  2. Since I had an OHIP card it was easy for me to avail the medical benefits if needed.
  3. My partner has a full time job so it will not load us financially.

But some of the drawbacks of moving to Canada right now is:

  1. There are NO job-fairs or it is very difficult to get in touch with the recruiters, so looking for a job in my field has become a a hassle.
  2. Most of the network providers are closed like freedom, fido, etc. It is difficult to even get a sim card during this pandemic.
  3. Difficult to meet people and make new connections as that can help to find a job.
  4. Most of the stores are closed except all essential services.
  5. Finding a rental place/apartment is extremely difficult and expensive. AirBnb is not entertaining anyone as well.

In short, I would not advise any one to come here right now on PR if they don’t have a job as they will just exhaust their savings. If CIC is giving you a chance to hold onto the landing process then see this as an opportunity and not a blocker. Until you want to come here with your savings. So the people who got COPR do not worry, Canadian government will not take your PR away because you can’t land, they will be understanding towards the situation.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below and I will answer them.

Lemon Rice Recipe

” When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade rather make lemon rice” – Deepika

Learn this quick and easy lemon rice recipe that has a punchy, zesty flavor. I love to eat it with pickle or yogurt. A secret tip to make this lemon rice is to make sure you use fresh lemons and add enough mustard seeds.

Ingredients –

  1. A big Smile
  2. 1 cup cooked rice or leftover rice
  3. 1 tsp mustard seeds, oil
  4. 10-12 curry leaves
  5. 1/2 cup peanuts roasted
  6. 1/2 cup chana dal and urad dal roasted (optional)
  7. 1/2 inch piece ginger roasted
  8. Spices – turmeric, asafoetida, salt (as per your taste)
  9. Juice of 2 lemons (as per your taste)
  10. 1-2 green chilies

Follow the below steps

  1. Heat oil on the pan, add urad dal, chana dal , peanuts (you can roast dal prior, i like to roast them together). After 1-2 mins, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger, green chillies, asafoetida and salt.
  2. Add cooked rice or leftover rice and mix everything well.
  3. Turn off the stove and let it cool for a min or so, and then add the lemon juice.

Before you eat, you can say “Anna Daata Sukhi Bhava” in your mind. This small prayer means that all the people who were responsible for this meal be happy. i.e. the person who cooked, who got the groceries, the farmer, etc.

Methi Muthias Recipe

I have so many good childhood memories associated with this dish. Hence writing the recipe with the same love. Hope you feel the same love while cooking it. So let us get to business.

Ingredients –

  1. A big Smile
  2. 3 cups fresh methi (fenugreek leaves) / (You can use any veggies that you have available, I remember my mom using spinach, dudhi (bottle gourd too)
  3. Sesame seeds as per your taste (i always enjoy this in extra quantity)
  4. 0.5 cups besan
  5. 2 tbsp yogurt (using too much of yogurt can make me very smooth and hence difficult to bind)
  6. 2 cups Wheat flour
  7. green chilies, ginger,
  8. Oil, salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, curry leaves (As per your taste)
  9. For tempering – oil, salt, chili powder, turmeric powder, curry leaves, asafoetida, sesame seeds

Follow the below steps –

  1. Chop the fenugreek leaves and wash them thoroughly.
  2. Mix methi, wheat flour, besan yogurt, grated ginger, salt, sesame seeds, turmeric, red chili powder, water and make it a pliable dough. (the one you make for theplas). Keep it aside for 5 mins. Using a little water, mix to create a firm yet pliable dough.
  3. Add 1tbsp oil and knead the dough again for a min. Keep it aside for a few minutes.
  4. Divide the dough into 2-3 equal halves and make it into sausage rolls and place them on a greased tray.
  5. Start the steamer and allow the water to boil for 5-6 minutes.
  6.  Place the greased tray in the pan. Cover and let the muthia steam for 10-12 minutes. (it may take longer if its induction cooking)
  7. Check with a fork or knife to see for firmness. If it is properly steamed then the dough will not stick to the fork and will come out clean.
  8. Let the muthia cool down and slice them up in small round pieces and your steamed muthia is ready. Some people prefer to eat it like this, but I like to temper them with some oil and spices.
  9. For tempering – in a pan, heat some oil, add curry leaves, mustard seeds, sesame seeds, turmeric (if you want), red chili powder and asafoetida. Stir fry the muthias for 3-4 minutes until they start to change their colors.

You can serve muthias with yogurt or spicy kadhi (i.e. my favorite combination). I hope you enjoy the recipe and feel free to share it in the comments below.

Before you eat, you can say “Anna Daata Sukhi Bhava” in your mind. This small prayer means that all the people who were responsible for this meal be happy. i.e. the person who cooked, who got the groceries, the farmer, etc.

Coconut Green Chutney Recipe

I use Coconut Green Chutney pretty much with everything. My favorite dishes with which I use are sandwiches, idli, Dosa, Upma, etc. It is easy to make and delicious to taste.

Takes less than 5 minutes to make it.

Ingredients

  • A big smile
  • 1 cup Coconut Grated (i use frozen coconut available in Indian stores)
  • 2 tbsp Roasted Chana Daal
  • 2-3 Green Chilies
  • 1/2 inch Ginger Chopped
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Coriander
  • Lemon
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 4-5 Curry Leaves
  • 1-2 slice of bread
  • 1 tbsp Urad Daal
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Instructions

  1. Blend coconut, chana dal, green chilies, ginger, coriander, bread in a blender to make a smooth paste.
  2. Use very little water to blend the chutney.
  3. Temper it using oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and urad dal.
  4. Pour the tempering over the chutney and then mix well
  5. Mix the tempering with the chutney.

The reason why I have used bread is to bring it to a good consistency. But you can make it without bread too,

Many people like to make the chutney in batches and store it for months. But in my experience, any chutney that uses coconut cannot be stored for a long time as it starts tasting very unpleasant. I always make a fresh batch of chutney that lasts for 4-5 servings.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Ragi / Fingermillet Cupcake Recipe

I love how versatile Ragi is, I can cook a 5 course meal out of Raagi. First of all, this recipe is meant to satisfy your taste buds if you are craving something healthy. I have not used any frosting or icing or sugar. But you can use it if you want. I prefer not to add any unnecessary calories.

Anyways we are here to talk about this healthy, sugarfree recipe.

Ingredients – (please try to stick to the measurements)

  1. A big Smile
  2. 3/4th cup raagi flour
  3. 3/4th cup whole wheat flour
  4. 3tbsp cocoa powder
  5. 1 tsp baking soda
  6. 1 tsp baking powder
  7. 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  8. 1/3rd cup plain dahi or yogurt or curd
  9. 1 cup jaggery is recommended but i used 1/2 a cup jaggery, you can even use sugar if you dont’ have jaggery.
  10. 2/3 cup oil or unsalted butter

Follow the below steps –

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 C for 15 minutes
  2. Sieve raagi flour, whole wheat flour, cocoa powder, well, Start adding yogurt, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla extract, oil in the same mixture one after another and mix it well. (It does not have to be in any order, Also Do not over mix it)
  3. Grease the pan (if you are making a cake) or cupcake mould well, use parchment paper wherever necessary.
  4. Place the mixture in the oven pan and let it bake for 20-25 mins if you are making a cake OR 15 mins for cupcakes. (I tend to open it after every 7-8 mins to check how much its baked)
  5. Once done, remove it and allow it to cool down for at least 5-8 mins.
  6. You can add frosting or icing if you would like. You can use whipped cream as a frosting too if you want, I didn’t add any for avoiding unwanted calories.

Before you eat, you can say “Anna Daata Sukhi Bhava” in your mind. This small prayer means that all the people who were responsible for this meal be happy. i.e. the person who cooked, who got the groceries, the farmer, etc.

Why Journal Writing is a Good Idea

Sometime in 2010 when I was going through a teenager crisis, I picked up a book (Who will cry when you Die by Robin Sharma) in a Crossword book store, near my house. I found the title very catchy and I wanted to peek in and see what the book was about.


The author spoke very briefly about maintaining a diary or a journal to track your goals or habits. And that is where I developed this habit. It was this book where I read the ideal of journal writing for the very first time. Though I started writing in 2012, I wasn’t completely into it.

After a few years, one of my professors recommended us to read this book ‘The Power of Habit’. There was this line by Charles Duhigg in that book which is still ingrained in my mind:

“Small changes or Habits that people introduce into their routines can unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives. You acquire one of these habits, and everything in your life can change.”

That is when I realized that it is all about creating a chain reaction of every good habit.

I moved to the USA in 2014 and had a tough License Exam to crack in 2015. It required discipline and self-awareness. That is when I started writing my daily journal and started acting on my goals be it small or big.

Writing journals has helped me tremendously. Not only in achieving goals but also to track the progress of my daily habits. i.e.

  1. It helps me focus on my Self Development.
  2. It helps me to evaluate my Performance.
  3. I am able to create new milestones each time I accomplish something big or small.
  4. I can easily change my habits as I get aware of when I am going off track.

Journal writing is a very powerful tool as it is impossible not to grow from it. No matter what you use it for, you’ll eventually see yourself growing as a person.

 

Chilli Garlic Paneer Recipe

I wanted to cook something quickly within 10 minutes but also something tasty and healthy.

I ended up looking for the ingredients in my refrigerator and thought of trying this out.

Ingredients

  1. A big smile (Very Important. A happy mind creates happy things.)
  2. Garlic 4-5 cubes (you can add more or less depending on your taste buds)
  3. Salt, sugar (i don’t use sugar so I substituted with jaggery), Oil, cumin
  4. 4-5 red chiles (again depending on your taste buds)
  5. Veggies that you like to add – I added onion, bell pepper, kale,
  6. Lemon and Chaat masala (Key to this recipe)
  7. 1 cup panner
  8. Soya sauce or vinegar is recommended (but I didn’t add any as I wanted it to be healthy)

Follow the below steps

  1. Blend garlic, salt, sugar, red chillies or Kashmiri chilli in the blender with some water.
  2. Heat your pan, add oil, cumin, onions, bell pepper, kale or any other veggies you prefer and saute them for a few minutes
  3. Then add the sauce and cook it until it thickens and the oil separates.
  4. Add paneer cubes and mix everything well cook for 4-5 minutes
  5. When it is almost done, add lemon juice, chaat masala, and fresh coriander just before you serve it.

Before you eat, you can say “Anna Daata Sukhi Bhava” in your mind. This small prayer means that all the people who were responsible for this meal be happy. i.e. the person who cooked, who got the groceries, the farmer, etc.