America’s Immigration: An Experience From an Indian Family

Senior Sathvika Shanker retells how her life in America has been influenced and changed by her Indian family and the challenges her family had to overcome


Cade Goins

Sathvika Shanker (12) poses with bright hope in Liberty’s hallway.

Cade Goins, Reporter

America, the golden land of opportunity. Many individuals come to live in America in order to find a future for themselves or family. In this country, they can find many things including jobs, homes, freedoms, education, and new possibilities. It is truly beautiful in the fact that people from across the globe have come here to find a new life or sanctuary and the country provides that role for them. 

One of the families that have come to America is the family of senior Vika Shanker. She was only 1-year-old when her family moved across the world and over a sea to be able to settle themselves into a new future here. While she was too young to remember the first move her family had, Shanker does recall many of the conversations she’s had or heard with her family about the numerous obstacles they had to overcome.

“Being able to move here was not an easy process, it still isn’t after all these years,” is one of the many comments Shanker has about the process.

“There was years worth of documentation and paperwork that had to be filled out and filed before we were approved to move, and once we got here, things were still a little difficult.” Visa paperwork and approval for residency is notorious for being a tedious process, even more so from certain countries that see the bulk of American immigration such as India, where Shanker’s family was born and comes from.

Numerous changes are made to family’s lifestyles when they move countries. The culture, environment, and people are all much more different than where they come from. Shanker describes some of the differences she experiences compared to most people in America. “It is sometimes weird to think about because we have a lot of different ways we do things or views on bonds with other people. One of the things we do differently is leaving our shoes outside. It seems small but compared with many of the other people and how we request guests to do the same, it does end up a bigger deal than it would seem,” Shanker said.

One of the parts of American culture that people have grown very used to is how social life goes and develops, going out with friends or having sleepovers. This can be in a romantic sense too of being able to find someone to love on a chance encounter while out in the world. However, Shanker has a slightly different story with how she was raised. 

“I was raised a lot more Indian than American, so I grew up and still am around that Indian culture and way of life,” she stated.

“A huge culture difference is how we look at friends. Indian culture is a lot more family-based, so many activities were focused around the people in your house, and it was sometimes slow to make friends paired with the fact I couldn’t go out and do many things with them. Another thing to note is that in India, arranged marriages are a very common practice, so self-seeking romance is somewhat discouraged in a way.”

Shanker has mostly lived in the United States, but for a time she had gone to India to see family and temporarily stay there. Traveling between countries is already a hassle for many people with passports and the many airport obstacles that seem to appear, but Shanker accounts for a story more difficult than normal. 

“Even after all these years, we still don’t have the documentation we should have received as the processing time seems to keep getting delayed,” she said.

According to visa offices in America, getting some of the visas and other documents Shanker’s family still needs, such as a green card, takes about 1-3 years, but sometimes it can be as long as 10 years, a time that Shanker’s family is around. She continues her story, “We actually got stuck in India for a little while because of some of these missing docs, it took a little longer to be able to return here as we had to go through a lot of paperwork and signing to get back.”

Changing countries is no easy feat, even more difficult in being able to adapt to the different culture and way of life. Despite this challenge, America has over one million immigrants per year that seek permanent residence, asylum, or other purposes that have them reside. All of these families and people undergo such changes and are able to keep themselves together, truly showing the determination to thrive and live the best life they can in a new home here in this beautiful and welcoming country, with Shanker and her family being one of these strong groups of individuals.