When senior Guanghao Yu walked into his Theory of Knowledge classroom on Feb. 2 he was met with the sound of cheers, an archway of people and a table full of green food. Just two days before, Yu had received a letter in the mail notifying him and his mom that their green cards had been approved. To celebrate, Yu’s International Baccalaureate classmates decided to throw him a “green” party to celebrate his new resident status.
“I wanted him to feel special and recognized,” senior IB student and Yu’s girlfriend Portia Renée said. “I thought that the best way to show him that is by getting all our best friends together to show him that we’re proud of him.”
Yu first moved to the U.S. in the fourth grade, following his mom who had come to the country a few years prior to broaden her experience in scientific research. When Yu was in seventh grade, they filed for the extraordinary ability green card — which expedites the permanent residency if the applicant can prove extraordinary ability in their profession. However that same year, the application was denied, and they applied for a regular green card instead.
This October, while still waiting on approval for their green cards, Yu’s family tried again for the extraordinary ability status again. This time it was approved. Five years after first submitting their green card applications, they were finally permanent residents of the United States.
Yu’s mom’s scientific research papers had been cited more and reached a greater sphere of influence since the original application, which Yu credits as the reason the application was approved the second time. When he received his green card in the mail, Yu felt a sense of relief.
“It wasn’t a feeling of elation like I had expected,” Yu said. “It was like, ‘Finally after five years, we can move on.’”
This relief partly comes from the fact that as a green card holder, Yu will be able to apply for financial aid from whatever college he attends in the fall. Because he got his green card right before the FAFSA was due, Yu has had to make some stressful phone calls to colleges to confirm they have his financial aid information.
“I have to keep calling them and being like,‘Have you received my social security number yet?’ because they didn’t have it before,” Yu said. “It’s a huge hassle, but what can I say? I can’t complain; I can live here forever.”
For a least a few minutes, however, that stress went away during his green party.
“I felt really happy, my IB family, the love and support feels like such a blessing to have so many friends supporting you,” Yu said.