“For Here or To Go?” follows a Silicon Valley veteran from India facing an uncertain future under an H-1B nonimmigrant visa. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
The H-1B nonimmigrant visa, which allows U.S. companies to temporarily employ foreign professionals in specialized occupations, has long been popular with tech-industry giants and ambitious startups. But abuses of the system by some employers have been reported, and now both the White House and Congress may make the program harder to use.
The mellow if monotonous “For Here or to Go?” reminds us that for some foreign workers, that H-1B status is a path into the American dream, albeit a short-term one with no easy answers about what comes next. The film’s large cast of Indian and Indian-American actors brings a knowing, sardonic authenticity to the story of one Silicon Valley veteran for whom time is running out as an H-1B guest.
Movie Review ★★
‘For Here or To Go,’ with Ali Fazal, Melanie Chandra, Rajit Kapur, Omi Vaidya, Amitosh Nagpal. Directed by Rucha Humnabadkar, from a screenplay by Rishi Bhilawadikar. 105 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Several theaters.
Vivek (Ali Fazal) has been a reliable software engineer at a San Francisco firm for years, having moved away from his doting mother in India. With a year left on his allotted time in America, Vivek is suddenly ready to take his best ideas to a scrappy new startup that will appreciate his full potential.
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But there’s a problem. There are no guarantees Vivek can attain a green card or other favorable immigration status that will allow him to stay in the country.
In Vivek, screenwriter Rishi Bhilawadikar and director Rucha Humnabadkar crystallize the H-1B dilemma. It’s normal for a young pro to keep growing and reach a creative peak — just when the law requires him or her to leave. The filmmakers reveal similar disconnections in the way other Indian workers experience tentativeness in their lives. As American as they feel, they can’t shake the probability they’ll be uprooted.
“For Here or to Go?” offers an insightful group portrait but lacks imagination in a romantic subplot and (except for a requisite Bollywood-style dance number) is visually dreary.