Edit [to clarify]: American immigration policy is unwelcoming to immigrants. Often, the only ways to enter the US legally are to marry someone in the US or to get the sponsorship of a powerful tech company. It takes several months even under the best of circumstances. I just wanted clarify that Russians living in the US face no prejudice.

Dear [redacted],

I'm sorry. I had notifications turned off and didn't see your message until right now.

Get out of Russia before the borders close! If your in-group is LW-adjacent techies then you're probably smart enough to find a great job in the USA that pays way more than you could ever earn in Russia (even before the war and the sanctions).

I ask you for advice on how to help them find safe place in the foreign social fabric? Is there anyone left who can offer them student\IT positions w/t being ostracised?


Ostracism is a complete non-issue for Russians in the United States. (And, presumably, other Western nations.) I have never met a single person in real life with hatred towards Russians. Nobody hates Russians here. Russians fit right in. All you need is good English (and, judging by your message, your English is fine (even if it's not, English isn't too hard for Russian-speakers to learn)).

Don't get me wrong. The United States has problems with racism, prejudice and xenophobia. But it's not directed towards Russians living in America. Getting a visa is hard. But that's it. Once you're in, you're in. (Don't worry about obtaining an American visa right now. Just get out of the country immediately. Worry about obtaining an American visa later.)

You know that Russian rocket scientist friend I was advertising? I have already gotten contacts from three companies that want to help him acquire employment and a visa. And not just three ordinary companies. Three of the best places to work in the entire United States of America. I can't promise you the same, but I hope my words help reassure you. We literally have a giant statue in New York symbolizing how welcoming this country is to immigrants.

Your priorities should be.

  1. Get the hell out of Russia before the borders close.
  2. Secure your short-term finances.
  3. Start figuring out how to get a tech job.



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14 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 11:40 PM

Thanks,.That means a lot. Focusing on getting out right now.

It's indelicate to point out, but I'd like to reiterate that our racism is based far more on physical appearance than on cultural background. When I've traveled in eastern Europe, only language, dress, and grooming preferences reveal that the locals are from there rather than from the US.

If anxiety about English fluency is a sticking point for getting people out of there, is this a place where the community could step up? Would support like calls with and proofreading by fluent English speakers in this community help get people out who might have been unwilling to take that risk without it? If so, I would be interested in helping out in this way, because selfishly I like feeling like I'm doing something to help. Would others feel similarly?

I appreciate your offer to help. I believe your comment helps corroborate the gist of what I am trying to communicate here.

English fluency has been a non-issue with any of the Russians I have communicated with. It's not actually a problem. I just include it for the sake of completeness. The Russians in our community tend to have very high English proficiency.

It's indelicate to point out, but I'd like to reiterate that our racism is based far more on physical appearance than on cultural background.


The Russians in our community tend to have very high English proficiency.

I think it may be a selection bias. Probably you have communicated with Russians with good English because Russians with bad English have a little chance to communicate with you.

In Russia there are many people who interested in ideas of rationality. HPMoR is very popular in Russia. But in the Russian rationalist community there are many people who cannot even read in English.

I didn't know that. It is definitely sampling bias.

Why do you insist on using on a loaded and truly meaningless word like "racism'? 

Why do you assume that I insist? I reused the same convenient shorthand for a deeply complex and nuanced phenomenon that occurred in the original post, where it said "The United States has problems with racism, prejudice and xenophobia.".

What do you hope will change as a result of having made your comment? Genuinely curious; would you like me to edit in some scare quotes around it or switch to a shorthand for the complicated phenomenon which you find more palatable? I'm not particularly attached to nor fond of the word, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it entirely meaningless -- I grew up speaking a language in which "racism" refers to treating some people more negatively than others on the basis of some aspect of their ancestry, and most dictionaries seem to loosely agree.

>Often, the only ways to enter the US legally are to marry someone in the US or to get the sponsorship of a powerful tech company.

Actually even Tech companies can't typically do it. Years ago, I had an offer from a FAANG company that wanted to hire me to one of their US offices. However as it turns out there is no regular "skilled worked sponsored by a company visa". The paths are:

H-1B: lottery, happens once a year, consistently oversubscribed. So you'd have to wait at least one year, likely several
L-1B: intracompany transferee. Bunch of requirements, most notably having been employed in another country by the same company for 1+ years
O-1: "extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim" Some people do this, but unless you're a Nobel prize winner it's a gamble

They ended up parking me in Europe in a country with a more normal immigration system (which is almost any EU country) with the aim of doing L-1B later, but I ended up staying.

There's no quick and easy path to enter the US even if you speak perfect English or even if you received an education in US universities. However, compared to many places the family path in the US is easier (e.g. moving my parents from Russia to the EU is almost impossible unless they apply for refugee status which wasn't on the cards until very recently).

Non-profit education or research focused organizations can request to be exempt from the H-1B cap. (Here is a somewhat outdated list: https://public.tableau.com/app/profile/lawer.akrofi/viz/H1BProject/H1BCapExemptDashboard ) Could be an alternative to the lottery (also, a lot faster).

I definitely think it's possible that, due to this war, a Russian immigrant might face some negative reactions or people that don't want to be their friend, and it depends on what they assume are your political beliefs (i.e. do you support Putin.) It's not so much racism as the political division and the assumptions people make. Most people will say "I support the Russian people (who are anti-war), but I hate Putin," and they would be happy to associate with a fervently anti-war Russian. But, if you openly support Putin and the war, you might find it very difficult to make friends here. In that case I would suggest a different country.

I generally agree with this, but I'd like to check my optimism against some forecasting questions on US immigration policy with respect to the war. I don't see anything on Metaculus here.

Yes. Immigrating into the US is difficult even in the best of times.

"American immigration policy is unwelcoming to immigrants."

Relative to the truly enormous number of people wishing to immigrate, perhaps. Pre-covid levels of over a million people a year are, however, truly enormous in an absolute sense, even if these people were randomly distributed across the entire country (they're not). 

[+][comment deleted]2y1