I read Ron Wilson's article about the Semiconductor Industry Association (see Sept. 19, page 1) and would like to share my experiences regarding a problem faced by some workers in the semiconductor industry.
I moved to the United States in 1999 as an employee of the biggest electronics company in Europe. With many years of experience in advanced development under my belt, I settled in Silicon Valley. I have worked here ever since as a product development manager in the wireless field. I love electronics development, and I love my family and my house in Redwood Shores.
Currently I'm going through the infamous green card process, which my company sponsors. I will spare you the details of the odd system, but in nearly two years I have not heard a word from the U.S. government. Ask a lawyer for information, and you get excuses: There are no phones to call government employees, there's nobody to ask, reorganizations are under way and so on. I hear horror stories from other people who have gone through similar government processes for even longer periods.
But when I made plans to attend a three-day meeting in Europe, I received a laundry list of things I'd need to do to be able to return to the United States. This included submitting copies of all my filed taxes in the U.S. and visiting the U.S. Consulate in Europe (I could not make an appointment from here in the U.S.). I had hoped to be able to get back as soon as possible, because my little 11-month-old girl, who ironically is a U.S. citizen, is precious to me. My father helped me out by calling the consulate center in Germany to make an appointment for me. Unfortunately, there were no appointments available for October. They told him that in a week, the batch for November meetings would be available. That meant my three-day business trip would probably end in a four- to six-week stay, with unknown risks attached to coming back. I told senior management that I would have to cancel my participation because of this issue.
What is wrong with this system? I have never had a problem going anywhere, but in the last few years, going in and out of America has become a nightmare. I am still patient, but I do consider returning to Europe if this does not get better soon.
If we treated our customers this way, we would be out of business in no time.
Product Development Manager
Vishay Infrared Components
Santa Clara, Calif.