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Up until 9 months ago (green card 🙏), I was on an F1 visa for 13 years. This last measure is unbelievably cruel but perhaps you don't realize how many other hurdles international students face. This is what it was like for me 👇 #StudentBan #InternationalStudents 1/n
Step 1: Apply to college, get accepted. That's where it ends for US citizens & permanent residents. For undergrads and MS students, you first have to show the school that you already have the $$ to pay for tuition AND everything else for yr 1 - they issue an I-20 #StudentBan 2/n
You then take that I-20 to apply for a #F1visa and it's up to the consul to decide whether your family has enough $$ to pay for your education. The consul that reviewed my visa app for undergrad almost denied me mine. I was almost in tears during that entire appt #StudentBan 3/n
My family is upper class in Colombia but my parents are professors, we didn't have an unlimited supply of $$. We barely had enough in our accounts to pay tuition for the 1st semester. Eventually, the Consul approved my #F1visa. It was a traumatizing experience. #StudentBan 4/n
So... tuition, I went to @UTAustin, a public school. So I had to pay out of state tuition - about $12k/semester when I started in 2006. A ton of $$ converted to pesos. I had a small scholarship from @ECOPETROL_SA but mostly my parents sacrificed a LOT #StudentBan 5/n
I went to school during the '08 crisis. To make up for the financial losses, tuition increased to $15k in 2009. From freshmen to 5th year ('11), we saw an increase of 30%. My tuition subsidized in-state students. I understand why this happens but it was HARD #StudentBan 6/n
Like most students at public schools, I had a job (at @UTSangerCenter - BEST employers on campus ❤️). What you might not know is that we can only work on-campus and for max 20 hrs/week. I didn't need to more work but other int'l students did #StudentBan 7/n
Let's talk orientation... Ours are usually shorter than for domestic students and even MORE crammed. I've never understood how you're supposed to absorb anything. I was SO overwhelmed that the only thing I remember from those 3 days is getting lost on Lavaca St. #StudentBan 8/n
Actually, I remember VERY little about my first 3 weeks here except for meeting the incredible people in my residential FIG community. Why aren't int'l freshman automatically enrolled in a semester-long program to make sense of the American school system??? #StudentBan 9/n
My academic advisors at @UTBiomedical, my first-year engineering interest group, and the residential FIG community are the reasons I started college so well. I had quite honestly very little support beyond that. It's honestly a miracle it turned out well. #StudentBan 10/n
Being away from home is SO hard and on top of that you have to perform at the very top (remember how much $$ my parents were investing??) in another language. I had a leg up bc I grew up attending a bilingual school and it was still really hard #StudentBan 11/n
Maybe you're thinking, but Ana, why didn't you apply for scholarships? I couldn't! International students (particularly at undergrad) aren't eligible for 99% of scholarships. Thank goodness though that @UTBiomedical had my back and did nominate me for a couple. #StudentBan 12/n
Pro-tip for international #Longhorns, if you do win a $1k+ scholarship that Texas students have to compete for, the school will waive the out-of-state portion of your tuition that semester. That's how I was able to buy a car. #StudentBan 13/n
Ok so if we add up all the tuition I paid for (minus the scholarships), my family and I invested ~$110k in tuition alone. That's even without adding lodging, food, textbooks, clothing, etc... I am privileged enough to be able to buy a lot of stuff every year #StudentBan 14/n
Let's talk about wanting to go to grad school. You're supposed to have as much research experience as possible. Thankfully, the @UTWEP program paired me up with @lab_schmidt to get going. If it weren't for WEP, I wouldn't even have known where to start #StudentBan 15/n
It's really common for applicants to have summer research experience too and guess what... we also AREN'T eligible for most of these programs. I applied again and again to the few I could and I was only accepted into one in my 4th summer #StudentBan 16/n
So when you tell me everyone has an equal chance of getting into grad school bc it's merit based, I call major BS. It was REALLY hard for me and I even have the privilege of having gone to school here. It's WAAAAAAAAAAY harder from abroad #StudentBan 17/n
Thank goodness people are starting to realize #GRExit is the way to go. I tortured myself studying for the stupid verbal portion in the summer of 2010 AND I had already been living in the US for 4 years speaking English every day. Imagine doing that from Colombia #StudentBan 18/n
Now I'm in grad school. Even if you go to school in the US, still gotta apply for a new #F1Visa. At least with a PhD in STEM it's easier bc your lab has funding for you. Remember how the 1st appt traumatized me though, I was SO nervous for that appt 🤣 #StudentBan 19/n
Now, in grad school I honestly had a leg up compared to other international students bc I already knew how American schools work. Grad students get even less useful info than undergrads though. The orientation is pitiful #StudentBan 20/n
OH!! I forgot to mention the I-20 doc that proofs you can be a student here, has to be signed by a school official every year. Remember how I forgot all about orientation? I didn't realize that and almost had problems at the border coming back for Sophomore year #StudentBan 21/n
Moving from @UTAustin to @UWMadison was a shock because there were a lot fewer Latinx. So, I started experiencing what it was like to be minoritized but programs that help people deal with these issues are designed for US citizens & permanent residents #StudentBan 22/n
Success in academia is partially measured by ability to obtain funding & AGAIN I wasn't eligible for most fellowships/grants. I applied to EVERYTHING I could & eventually won a fellowship @american_heart. I was lucky, outside of biomedicine, opportunities are few #StudentBan 23/n
In grad school, you don't have the big breaks of undergrad so I could travel to see my family less often and I was physically further away. Studying abroad is hard and I'm lucky, for Colombians, our visas can be 4-5 years so we don't have to renew every time #StudentBan 24/n
In all my time as a student, I NEVER experienced the anti-immigrant environment of today. I never had to worry about getting kicked out or not being allowed in (do the math- I graduated in 2016). Heck, I messed up once (when Bush was in office) and it was ok! #StudentBan 25/n
Ok moving on to postdoc, an #F1visa is a non-immigrant category so it didn't matter that I had been here for 11 years at that point, there's no direct path to residency just bc you were a student here. #StudentBan 26/n
I had 2 options for my postdoc. Decided against a #J1visa bc that has a 2 year home requirement and chose to extend my #F1visa through OPT (Optional Practical Training). I actually couldn't go home for the Holidays the year I graduated bc my OPT took too long 😔 #StudentBan 27/n
At that point, I decided I couldn't live in the limbo of my immigration situation anymore and sought council from Sandra Bruno at @MillerMayerLLP. She encouraged me to apply for permanent residence through the EB-2 process + national interest waiver. #StudentBan 28/n
It took several months of gathering all the supporting docs and rec letters (100+ pages of evidence) and ended up investing a ton of money on this. If I hadn't done it, the last proclamation would have severely affected my ability to join @UFBME next year. #StudentBan 29/n
While I waited, I applied for OPT STEM - so yeah, I had one of those too. And reminder: this is NOT a partisan issue. OPT STEM was established by George W. Bush. #StudentBan 30/n
Ended up having to wait 14 months for my green card approval. A process that is taking increasingly longer under this administration. I couldn't leave the country during ~6 of thoseThe same process used to take ~6 months during the Obama years. #FoodForThought. #StudentBan 31/n
I am telling you this not so you feel bad for me. I'm on the other side with a faculty job lined up. I made it and I had a great time during most of it. I love living here. I just want you to understand the daily weight that international students carry #StudentBan 32/n
If my story tired or upset you, think about this: I am VERY privileged. I had a lot of financial help from my parents, 0 student loans, a bilingual education growing up, legal documents, the ability to go home, etc... Many aren't as lucky as I am #StudentBan 33/n
Also, we as international students and high-skilled workers are very charismatic but we are not that special. The only difference between me and many undocumented immigrants is that life dealt me a better hand. We are all people and we deserve your support #StudentBan 34/n
Please do help us in fighting both the proclamation banning #J1 and #H1B visas and this latest attack on #F1visas. But PLEASE don't stop there. I rarely see faculty or stuff advocating for international students/staff. Don't forget about us #StudentBan 35/n
International students, do you have other experiences you want to share? Add them here below or send them to me anonymously via DM and I'll post them on a separate thread ❤️. I will never forget the last 13 years of my life and will ALWAYS fight for you #StudentBan 36/36
I can't believe I forgot to add that people told me all the time that being an international student wouldn't matter for faculty apps. My response in gif form below... I have a 36-part thread☝️on why it does matter. Just freaking read it and internalize it #FuturePI #StudentBan
Forgot to mention another one of my privileges: I am visibly Latina but I’m also light-skinned. International students who are Black have the added burden of facing deep racism and colorism. #BlackAndSTEM #BlackLivesMatter

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