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Meet Jorge Enrique Jiménez

April 17, 2012

I have highlighted the woes associated with dependent visas — especially F-2 — in the country. While those on F-2 visa can only take up volunteer work or engage in study that is recreational or avocational in nature, those on J-2 visa have the liberty to study full-time or work once they get their employment authorization document.

About two-thirds of the members of the Westgate Culinary Club are on F-2 visas, the rest are on J-2 visas. While most of them (J-2 visa holders) have opted to work during their stay in the country others choose to utilize the time by exploring the country and their passion.

While coming to the U.S. on a J visa might seem to be beneficial for both the spouses; there is a reason why very few opt for this class of visa. J visas are subject to two-year foreign residency requirement.

Jorge Enrique Jimenez, the only male member of the Westgate Culinary Club, is on a J-2 visa. He moved to the US from Colombia to accompany his wife, Angela Franco, who is a fellow at the Urban Studies and Planning Department of the MIT.

Jorge used to work as a professor at the Javeriana University in Cali, Colombia. He is also currently involved with a project at the ICESI University in Cali.

Jorge with his wife Angela.

I asked him how does it feel to be the only male member in the club?

“This is a very interesting experience,” said Jorge. “I’ve never felt any kind of discrimination from the women because of my gender. At the beginning I was a little bit shy but now I feel that I’m just one more in the group.”

While Jorge’s visa allows him to work in the country — after he gets a work authorization — he preferred not to take up a job here.

“Actually I didn’t have any plans to work in the U.S. because I’ve continued a previous labor relation I had in my country, but if I have to stay here for some more time I think I would like to have a job, because this is a very good way to know the culture and learn the language,” he said.

He utilizes his free time by studying and honing his English language skills and also by engaging himself in various sports.

On asking him how is U.S. different form Colombia he said, “This is a huge question. But I would like to give an answer related with the culinary club and the cultural experience [I had]. One of the more important impacts of my experience of living in the U.S. during these months has been the opportunity to meet people from very different countries and cultures.”

“Thanks to the club I have the opportunity of practicing English and also meet very interesting people. Additionally I’ve learned about the food in other countries, that is one of the most interesting cultural characteristics we always want to learn about when we are traveling,” Jorge said.

While J-2 visa holders like Jorge have the freedom to decide whether or not they want to work or study during their stay, F-2 visa holders lack this freedom. So F-2 visa holders cannot help but wonder how life could have been different if they could have pursued a job or enrolled in a full-time study here.

The more things are forbidden the more desirable they become!


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