Migrating with Teens: What to Expect Before Moving to the States

by Sudarsan Chakraborty

It’s hard enough for a teen to move to a new town. They’re at the phase of their life when they’re more attached to their friends than their families. As such, life in a new place can feel intimidating or even depressing for them. Even if they warm up to new people easily, they’d always keep looking for the place they’ve left behind.

Imagine how much harder it will be for them to migrate to another country. A teen would probably rage at that idea. They might even resent their parents a bit. Though you’ve let them know the reasons for your migration, a teen will still react negatively. And that’s normal. Teens are still discovering who they are and where they belong. A disruption in that experience will really set them on edge.

But since you have to push through with this difficult decision, the best you can do is help your teen accept your new situation. If you haven’t broken the news yet, here’s what to expect once you do so that you can minimize the tension:

1. Immigration is Stressful

The period between preparing to move and moving is the most stressful part of immigration. During that time, you’d be in an unstable position. There are lots of requirements to fulfill, documents to prepare, and responsibilities to settle. This causes stress on the whole family, and a teen may feel anxious as a result.

To care for your teen’s well-being, talk about immigration casually. Don’t bombard them with responsibilities, tasks, and other serious matters. Instead, discuss what they think of immigration. Maybe their friends at school have talked about it at least once, or a classmate of theirs also migrated. Ask them what they think of the situation, as well as their concerns. Your teen is probably worried about what could go wrong. For example, what if they don’t get a visa, or what if their future classmates shun them out?

To ease their logistical concerns, ensure that you’re working with a reputable immigration lawyer. It will guarantee that you’ll get approved for the necessary visas, and get a Green card in no time. Teens seek the affirmation that they can visit your home country from time to time. So prioritize your visas for the sake reducing your teen’s worries.

2. Teens Would Like to be Involved

Teens may be terrible at handling responsibilities, but it doesn’t mean they appreciate being excluded in serious family matters. If they want to help in any way, let them. After all, they also have a crucial role in the immigration. Like you, they’ll be interviewed as a step in the visa approval process.

So as you make your preparation plans, give your teen an active role. Let them play to their strengths. For example, if they’re good at organization, maybe you can assign them as document handlers. They’ll take responsibility for all the important paperwork, including your immigrant visa, official receipts, employment documents, etc. But if you think that would be too much for a teen, just make them responsible for their own stuff, like their school documents and health records.

3. One Misstep Can Ruin All Your Plans

There are different types of immigrant visas. Make sure you know exactly what you need. If you have an American spouse, you need a Spousal visa, a.k.a. the IR1 or CR1 visa category. If you’re just about to marry an American citizen, you need the K-1 visa category.

If you’re migrating for work, your visa should be sponsored by your employer. The exact visa category you need depends on the type of work you’ll do. Your employer should handle this, but for your peace of mind, consult your immigration lawyer as well. They can confirm if you’re on the right track.

Your visa will be affixed inside your passport. Once you receive it, do not open the sealed visa packet. Tell your teen to remember this rule. Mistakenly opening it can deny you entry to the States. The immigration officer must be the one to open the visa packet.

4. Your Teen Will Be More Dependent on You Than Ever

Lastly, since immigration is a period of instability in your family, your teen will lean on you more for everything. They’d need your reassurance that everything is taken care of and ready to go. When you arrive in the U.S., they’ll need you to help them navigate your new neighborhood, school, and town. They might also seek your assistance during their enrollment.

It’s intimidating for a teen to explore unfamiliar territory without a guide. If they’re the adventurous type, they may enjoy the thrill. But at the end of the day, they’ll seek familiarity and stability, which they’ll fin

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