Visa process smoothed through prayer

I have often had to apply for visas to work or study in other countries, as I’ve not lived in my home country for many years now. The application process generally involves extensive paperwork and long waiting times. I have learned through my study of Christian Science that the best place to begin with anything, including these application processes, is prayer. So that’s what I did when I recently applied for an extension of my work visa in the United States.

This process had become much more difficult since I had last applied, and I knew I needed to give it some deep prayerful thought. I hired an immigration lawyer who seemed to be the most suited to helping me. But some doubt remained in my mind as to whether she was the right choice. 

Less than two months before the expiration of my existing visa, the lawyer emailed me to say that she felt she could no longer help me. It had become obvious that our approaches were quite different, and our working relationship had become strained. Preparing an application usually takes two to three months, and most lawyers only take on cases well in advance. Finding another lawyer so close to the deadline seemed like an impossible task. 

Filled with fear as well as indignation at this last-minute change on the lawyer’s part, I called a Christian Science practitioner. The practitioner assured me that God was guiding me and that as I listened for that guidance, I would hear the right steps for going forward. She encouraged me to trust the lawyer to God and focus on humbly yielding to God’s will, which is always good. I was reminded, too, that I shouldn’t compare this application process with previous ones that had gone more smoothly, but should instead open my thought to new ideas and fresh approaches, whether that would be with this lawyer or another. I knew the practitioner was right. 

Before speaking with the lawyer the next day, I prayed for the humility I knew this would require, as I still felt that her actions were unjustified and that she was in the wrong. When we spoke, she explained to me her reasoning, and I was able to calmly respond that I hadn’t completely understood her working style, but that things were now clearer, and I was willing to adapt so we could continue working together. She agreed to continue helping me. 

Over the next few weeks, there were a lot of delays in the lawyer’s work in the case. As the deadline approached, doubts about my choice of lawyer began to creep in again. The practitioner encouraged me to know that I was not depending on a person, but on God, and that I could trust God. I knew that the Christ—defined in Christian Science as “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332)—was my true advocate. And I prayed to understand that God’s message was being heard by both the lawyer and me, and was guiding us in the right timing of this application process. When there were other delays in getting the documents I needed, I prayed to understand that there was no stoppage of right action and that God, omniactive divine Mind, is unstoppable. Divine Love, God, was meeting my every need, even the need to fulfill every requirement for the visa and the application. 

The lawyer seemed to think my best option was to submit my application very close to the expiration date of my existing visa and that I should use the time to strengthen my application. I didn’t think this was a good idea at all, as I didn’t think that any other possibilities existed to strengthen my application. With the uncertainty in the political climate at the time, I wanted to get my application in as soon as possible. But in praying about this, I was led to put aside all human will and not push my lawyer to embrace my timeline. Instead, I yielded to God’s will and let Him determine the timing.  

As I continued to pray in this way, the idea came to me to help the lawyer by drafting some of the required letters myself. This turned out to be a great help, since nobody knew my strengths better than I did. It was also a wonderful exercise for me in acknowledging my strengths and skill sets and in recognizing the true value of my work. Thinking this through helped me learn not to undervalue myself by allowing others to take me or my work for granted. As I did this, the stress I had been feeling gave way to a deep assurance and understanding that my real value had already been established by God! As the Bible says, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

It turned out that over that period of delay, I unexpectedly received three new opportunities for work, which did indeed make for a much stronger application when we did file, quite close to the deadline. If we had gone forward on my timeline, I would have missed out on including these new opportunities. And within less than two weeks of filing, I received a communication stating that my petition for an extension of my visa had been approved. Even the lawyer was surprised at the speed at which the application had been processed. 

I am so grateful for this evidence of the fact that we are always dependent only on God rather than people or circumstances, that we can rely on Him with trust and humility, and that as citizens of the kingdom of God, we already have His approval—the one that really counts! 

Nitya Thomas
New York City, New York, US

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