By Nikita Hernandez, Paralegal at Sumner Immigration Law
Generally speaking, when a person applies for a green card in the US by submitting the I-485 application for adjustment of status, they cannot work in the US until they receive the work permit (also known as an employment authorization document, or EAD) in hand. Unfortunately, USCIS processing times are a bit longer right now than they have been recently, including for processing time for a work permit. Cabin fever can drive you crazy, especially if you’re not used to sitting around at home all day. We understand the wait can be particularly frustrating and may leave you feeling dependent on others, worried about the future, or bored. This can also be exacerbated by homesickness and culture shock.
The number one thing you can do to ease this transition is stay busy and get involved with either your community or something you enjoy doing. We’ve compiled a list of ideas you can use to keep busy until you’re legally allowed to work in the US.
Take Up A New Hobby/Craft
If you’ve ever found yourself interested in trying a new craft or hobby, this is the perfect time to look into it! Hobbies are a wonderful way to keep busy and make you happier. They are a great expression of creativity, can reduce stress, and give you a sense of purpose and general well-being.
Need some ideas to get you started? Here are a few suggestions:
- Cooking or baking (you can find plenty of recipe ideas online)
- Knitting, sewing, crocheting
- Painting, drawing, sculpture
- Reading or join a book club (you can find one here: https://www.my-bookclub.com/find/bookclub/)
- Geocaching (a sort of treasure hunt for items other people have hidden all around the world. Learn more here: https://www.geocaching.com/guide/)
- Start a collection (coins, stamps, vintage maps, depression glass, seashells, rocks, etc.)
- Learn to play chess or another game you’re unfamiliar with
- Build model airplanes, ships, etc.
- Learn calligraphy and write letters to friends and family
- Take up origami (ancient art of folding paper into unique shapes)
If you’re interested in craft projects specifically, you can check out Michaels, JoAnns, Hobby Lobby, or Pinterest for great inspiration and ideas.
Going outside for a leisurely walk, bike ride, or taking up a new exercise regime/class is another great way to stay busy and healthy. There are many fitness class options depending on your interests: karate, dancing, yoga, swimming, hiking, rock climbing, and more. You can look into a local gym or YMCA membership if you’re interested in particular classes, or sharing an environment with other people also interested in fitness. Heading to a local park or community green space is another great way to get out of the house. Staying active can help reduce stress as well.
Practice English (If Necessary)
Learning and practicing English if it’s not your native tongue can help you assimilate and feel more at home and comfortable in social situations. There are many great ways to accomplish this:
- Websites like Duolingo or Babbel
- Watching English TV programs or listening to the radio/news programs
- Speaking with family members and friends
- Enrolling in English classes at a local community college
Prepare Yourself For A Job
Although you are not allowed to work during the wait period, that doesn’t mean you can’t do a little research about possible positions you’d like to apply for. This research can help you get a feel for how in-demand a particular position might be, what skills you could sharpen up on, and possibly make a few connections to get your foot in the door. This is also a great time to brush up your resume and cover letter so you’ll be ready to apply for positions.
Explore Your New Community
What better way to feel more at home in a new place than explore? Find out what the locals love to do, the best places to eat, museums, art galleries, or parks to visit and have fun becoming familiar with your new home. Many cities have their own websites with lists of local happenings, events, and great things to do in the area. You can also head to your local library to brush up on local history and learn some interesting things. Exploring is an exceptional way to feel more connected to a new place, and who doesn’t love a little adventure?
Work On Your Family Tree
As your journey begins in the United States, have you ever wondered what your ancestors went through or how they lived? The time spent waiting for your work permit could be time well spent researching your family tree. Your immediate family can be a great help in getting your research started. Ask them for old photographs and have them tell you family stories and legends. If documents are available, you can follow the paper trail for as long as possible. When those routes exhausts themselves, there are great resources online. Imagine what you can discover about your family! Genealogy brings out the detective in all of us.
Need a little inspiration? These are Sumner Immigration’s favorite genealogy shows that always get us in the mood to learn more about our family trees:
- Finding Your Roots | PBS
- Genealogy Road Show | PBS
- Who Do You Think You Are? | TLC
Want to take your genealogy research even further? There are DNA services that can tell you about your ethnic origins and genetic makeup. The Sumner Immigration team dove into this a while back. Check out our results here.
Start a Bucket List/ Focus On Your Goals
The waiting period can also be used to focus on your goals. What do you really want to accomplish in this upcoming chapter of your life? Use this time to really think and open yourself up to the possibilities. Do you want to start a family? Go on an all American road trip? Visit all the national parks? Writing down your goals can help motivate you to achieve them. Maybe you’d like to start a bucket list of the things you’d like to do as a permanent resident. If you’re a visual person then a vision board is another great way to compile your goals.
The waiting period between applying for the work permit and actually receiving the work permit doesn’t have to be agonizing. The main takeaway here is to stay busy in whatever passion you choose to follow. It’s definitely okay to have lazy days, but time flies when you’re having fun!
We are dedicated to continuing to represent employers, employees, families, and individuals in this challenging immigration environment. If you need assistance, please contact us today via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling our office at 804-396-3412. We are immigration lawyers based in Richmond, VA, but serve clients across the country.