Federica Giordano, 32, researcher in the field of nanotechnology in Houston, one of the thousands of Italians blocked in the US due to the rules
My name is Federica Giordano, I am 32 years old and I come from Palermo. I’m a nanotechnology researcher in Houston, Texas. The goal of our research line is to use nanoparticles as a drug vehicle for the treatment of tumors.
There are so many stories of us Italian expats who, to date, are experiencing moments of difficulty and sadness. We are over 57,000 students, researchers, doctors, managers, investors, entrepreneurs, employees and other professionals: and in these months we are unfortunately living an American nightmare.
Like many friends and fellow researchers, I have a visa that allows us to work in the United States. In March 2020, then President Donald Trump introduced the travel ban, a measure intended to contain the flow of foreigners to the United States during the pandemic.
A few days ago, unfortunately, the current president Joe Biden reconfirmed the measure, severely limiting the possibility of returning to our country of origin.
In fact, the current measures mean, at the moment, that a possible return to Europe would not guarantee us the possibility of returning overseas: in that case we would be holders of a visa that cannot be obtained / renewed.
While Italian-American citizens can enter Europe and return to the USA without problems, those who are really affected by this deprivation of protection are the category of visa holders: and in most cases they are visas of excellence.
The situation became even more burdensome and discriminatory when Europe reopened its borders, as American citizens and green card holders can travel freely, even without being vaccinated, as long as they have a negative buffer. The travel ban thus lacks any rational, as well as legal, foundation.
There is more. The only trick to be able to return to the United States could be to spend 14 days outside the Schengen area, as you can cross the American border with both a work visa (provided that this is issued / renewed) and with that tourist.
This means that those who have the time and financial resources can stay for two weeks, for example, in Croatia or Turkey and then safely embark on a flight to the USA. An opportunity Not exactly: firstly because only the most privileged could afford it, and secondly because an American employee (like many of us) has on average between five and fifteen days of vacation a year: which makes it even more remote the possibility of spend fourteen days in another country to be able to go home.
Many of us have heard of the principle of reciprocity in international relations. But in this case where did it end?
This situation, in addition to affecting our mental health, represents a serious limitation of our freedom and our right to reunite with our families, our friends, our loved ones from whom we have been separated for almost two years.
Our commitment and dedication have always distinguished us, and until recently we were considered the brains on the run to be returned to Italy.
But what are we today? Sometimes we feel only Italians and forgotten Europeans.
Right now our lives are in limbo. It seems to live suspended, waiting for when we can be sure of being able to do things that seem, after all, very simple: travel to Italy, hug our loved ones, and then return to our work.