There are thousands of Polish websites that describe the process of moving to the U.S. They include:
“How to get a job in the US?”
“Ways to get your American visa”
“What does one need to have to apply for an American visa?”
These websites have been and still are extremely popular among Polish people. Most Polish citizens want to experience living a better life, an American life.
Some Polish immigrants escape to Canada…
However, many of Polish immigrants, who succeeded in coming here, are leaving. Years of dreaming about America and then months of applying for a legalized stay don’t matter when the economic crisis hits.
Members from the club of Wroclaw, city in Poland on Polish Constitution Day Parade in Chicago.
Such is the story of Anna Kowalska*, 32, a Polish immigrant who lived in the U.S. for over eight years, during which she got married and had children. Last May however, Kowalska moved to Canada to seek a better and economically safer life.
“We realized that it’s going to get worse; that it’ll be hard to keep a job, especially in the construction business, where my husband worked. It was my husband’s job that really constituted our ‘be or not to be’,” said Kowalska.
Upon receiving a welcoming letter from the Canadian government three years after submitting an application, Kowalska was determined to take the opportunity and move there.
The decision of leaving the U.S. was not an easy one though.
“We were saying goodbye to our many friends; we were leaving behind jobs we liked. I think our kids understood that they wouldn’t go back to their ‘old’ schools. Our apartment stopped being ours,” Kowalska said.
…Others return to Poland
There are many more Polish immigrants who, out of fear of the crisis, moved to different countries, such as Canada and Poland. However, there are no available statistics to show their exact number.
Monika Kaminski, 35, a branch manager for one of Chicago’s tax companies, popular in the Polish community, met dozens of people who decided to leave.
„Last year, some people decided to leave for Canada; others said that in a year or two they’d be going back to Poland. They are all not here this year,” Kaminski said.
One of Kaminski’s clients, a Polish immigrant working at a shipping company, told her about the number of people who decided to move back to Poland. Most of them returned to their home country last year, during the time when the price of American dollar dropped significantly.
„He [the shipping company worker] sent containers with people’s belongings to Poland. There were thousands of people who decided to move back there. Most of them were here illegally. During a week, this customer said he would send over 50 containers to Poland,” Kaminski said.
Some of those, who left, want to be back
Today, some of those who left the U.S. are trying hard to return because the economic crisis turned out to be much worse in Poland. Jobs are hard to find and the prices of food rose greatly, even though salaries of most Polish citizens remained the same.
„After three months, all of those who had moved called my customer [the shipping company worker] asking how to get back to the U.S. They were terrified with the situation in Poland. And their only way was through Mexico and Canada,” Kaminski said.
Others, like Kowalska, are happy with their choice and don’t plan on returning to the States.
“We won’t ever go back to the U.S. Nevertheless, we don’t regret the fact that we lived there. We toughened up and learned how to live. Many of our memories are closely tied with the U.S.,” Kowalska said.
American Dreams keeps on living
There is still a large group of Polish immigrants who are contemplating their return to Poland. They are just waiting to see when and if the crisis in the U.S. will end.
Even though most people in the U.S. experienced at least some economic difficulties, many Polish citizens still view the life in America as easier and safer than life in Poland.
The American Dream continues to lure in many immigrants of Polish descent, just as it had for the past one hundred years.
*Name of the immigrant has been changed to protect her identity.