Waiting for a Green Card


by Emily Threlkeld, Contributor

This week we’re exploring the meaning behind the words, “No matter what the future holds.” But the thing is, sometimes we face obstacles in our relationships that hold our futures hostage, leaving us at an impasse and unable to move forward. And when it feels like everyone around us is making plans while we’re standing still, that can be a lonely place to exist. So today our own Editorial Assistant, Emily, is giving that experience a voice as she and her husband Ian wait to find out the status of his citizenship. Now, if you’d like to join me, I’m going to go cross my fingers and send good Green Card vibes out into the universe with the hope that through solidarity and sheer willpower maybe we can help the USCIS and USPS along a little faster. In the meantime, I’ll leave you to Emily.

—Maddie for Maternity Leave

Waiting for a Green Card | A Practical Wedding

In the beginning of November, we got a phone call from our lawyer’s office at nine p.m. letting us know we had an interview with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services first thing the next morning. The purpose of the appointment was to decide whether or not my husband should be granted a Green Card. We had stopped checking our mailbox for the notice for a couple of days—dreading the growing collection of election mailers, mostly—so if it hadn’t been for a dedicated paralegal, we may have missed the interview entirely. (And there’s no hotline to call to reschedule. You make your appointment or they can dismiss your case.) Needless to say, this short notice sent both of us into a panic.

So how did we get here? Well, Ian is originally from Kenya. (I’m originally from Texas, which is also a foreign country, depending on who you ask.) We met in North Carolina in 2005, at college, and got married in Louisiana in 2010. We’re geographically complicated. We got married because we wanted to, but I knew that if we wanted to live in the U.S. we would have to go through the process of making him a citizen, which starts with getting a Green Card. When we said our vows, I thought this process would take months. Now that I’m in the middle of it, I know that it takes years, even in the easiest cases. And, for reasons that would take an entirely separate post to delve into, we don’t have an easy case.

Five minutes after the paralegal hung up with Ian, I was sitting on our living room floor with dry heaves. “I’m fine,” I kept saying in between gags while Ian was trying to get some papers together. It was his final adjustment of status interview, and there were only two outcomes: approval, which meant a Green Card, or denial, which meant he couldn’t stay. The epic nature of both of those options was too much to deal with emotionally. (Hence the dry heaving, I suppose.) I texted my best friend the news, because I was traveling to see her the next morning and I had to change my flight. “What are you going to wear?” she asked.

It’s difficult to explain what it’s been like to not feel safe for the first two (going on three) years of our marriage. At any point, the person I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with can be ordered out of the country and never be allowed to return. It sounds dramatic, and it is a worst-case scenario, but it’s not completely crazy, because we have a backup plan if that happens. (Plan B is Canada, and Plan C is the UK. Both involve going through all this immigration nonsense again, but with officers with different accents.)

It’s not something we ever talk about, the precariousness of our living situation. It’s not one of those things that is helped by talking, because so much is out of our control. Sometimes the anxiety comes bubbling to the surface at the strangest times. Before we moved into our current apartment, we went furniture shopping. We picked out a couch and were about to buy it when I had a meltdown. I started crying right there in the furniture store. Ian shepherded me into the car and we drove around for awhile. “I’m just not sure that I’m ready to commit to a couch right now. What if something happens to it?” I think we both knew I wasn’t really that upset about a couch. But we didn’t talk about what I was upset about.

In a way, this whole immigration process has stunted our growth. We know how to talk about our problems. We’re not afraid to say, “I think it’s your turn to do the dishes,” or, “You really hurt my feelings when you said that.” But we don’t talk about what will happen if the USCIS doesn’t approve our petition. We don’t talk about how it makes us feel, because neither of us are sure enough about the outcome to comfort each other. Couples we went to college with are buying houses and starting to have children, and we haven’t even talked about that stuff. We’re spending all of our time worried about our basic survival.

I ended up wearing the dress I wore to my father’s funeral to the interview. (Our lawyer advised us to dress up, hence the wardrobe question from my friend.) There were very few questions; it was much easier than the first interview that determined if our marriage was valid. (Our marriage had already been approved for several months. When I allowed myself to smile about that in the interview room, our officer told me bluntly, “Don’t get too excited, this doesn’t change anything.”)

Our lawyer told Ian to bring his passport so they could stamp it immediately after the interview. Our officer told us that she had to have her supervisor look over a few forms, so she sent us to lunch and told us to come back. We did just that, only to be told—just kidding!—she couldn’t do it. Her supervisor was busy, and there were a few final background checks to run. A decision would be in the mail within three to four weeks. Well it’s been four weeks, and guess what there’s no sign of?

I think if you asked him, Ian would say that he has faith that he will get his Green Card eventually. Most days, I do, too. It’s living in limbo that’s the difficult part. (And I’ve only been in this for three years; he’s been dealing with it for ten.) For now, we are taking it one day at a time. We buy groceries and feed our cats. We hang family pictures on the wall. We check the mail every day. And we hope that soon we won’t have to.

Photo by: Moodeous Photography (APW Sponsor)

Emily Threlkeld

Emily’s first marriage was to her stuffed raccoon Ringo (named for the Beatle). She wore her yellow Easter dress to the ceremony, and her mother officiated. She has a BFA in Creative Writing, a cat named after the heroine of To Kill a Mockingbird, and a permanent case of wanderlust.

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  • http://www.minnesota-chic.com PAW

    Oh, wow. I have so much respect for your hanging-in-there-ness! Best of luck to you both, and thank you for sharing!

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    “It’s living in limbo that’s the difficult part. For now, we are taking it one day at a time. We buy groceries and feed our cats. We hang family pictures on the wall.”

    Spaces in between, without knowledge, and without control, are very very hard to navigate. All you can do is keep the faith, and the hope and love each other, focus on the bright spots, and take it one moment at a time.

    All the hope to you, I hope you get a positive answer soon.

  • Laura

    Wow, what a nightmare. I can’t even begin to imagine it! I hope very much that he gets his green card!

  • One More Sara

    “It’s not something we ever talk about, the precariousness of our living situation. It’s not one of those things that is helped by talking, because so much is out of our control.”

    This. So much. Thankfully my immigration process only took a few months, but while waiting for approval I received a series of letters. “The decision will be made by the Xth of September” (September passes) then another letter “The decision will be made by the Xth of October” (October passes) then another letter “The decision will be made by the Xth of November.” After that final date passed and we still hadn’t received approval (or denial, frankly ANY answer would’ve been a relief, bc then we could actually move on!), my partner got fed up and called the office. He got a nice woman on the phone who told him that we “should be receiving something in the next day or two, and [we'll] probably be happy with it.” It felt like I could finally breathe for the first time in months.

    Hoping that you get that feeling of relief in the next few days or weeks. Fingers crossed and immigration solidarity fist bump!!!

  • Cassandra

    This is often a process of hoping against hope. I’m hoping along with y’all today.

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

    This really sums up a lot of my emotions going through the immigration process to Canada. The couch story made me get teary, and you captured it with “not feeling safe.” The liminality was hard for me too.

    Living this feeling every day was hard:
    “It’s difficult to explain what it’s been like to not feel safe for the first two (going on three) years of our marriage. At any point, the person I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with can be ordered out of the country and never be allowed to return. It sounds dramatic, and it is a worst-case scenario, but it’s not completely crazy…”

    And I also feel “behind” in those decisions about having kids (or not), buying a house (or not), etc., and I hadn’t really realized that immigration (in addition to marrying in our 30s) are factors in the timing of it all…

    Anyhow, I wish you all the best and hope your process is over in the coming weeks so you can start 2013 with a feeling of deep post-immigration peace.

    • http://eclpse.livejournal.com Kimberly

      This is the part that got to me as well, because we also know what it’s like not to feel safe during the first few years of marriage. We used to go to sleep at night saying to each other, “What if we can’t stay here? Then what?” The threat was always there, and we didn’t have any answers. And while we did buy a couch (we had to, we couldn’t go another moment without sitting on something substantial), there were so many other things that we didn’t want to get into, that I didn’t want to get involved with, simply because I felt I could be whisked away at any moment. For all the blessings about living in a western country and, you know, having clean water and all of our basic living needs met, it was a horrible way to live.

      But, as you said, you keep doing what you do because that’s all you can do. Our process took 2.5 years, and I can’t tell you the relief that we felt when we got the letter telling us that it was coming to an end. With any luck you’ll know the feeling soon enough — very soon. Hang in there, guys.

  • http://www.ouatinreallife.blogspot.com Erin

    Sending you good wishes and lots of love. My husband and I have chosen for the first part of our marriage to live in his country of residence (which is in Asia), therefore postponing the Green Card approval process. But we both know we eventually want to move to the US (for a variety of reasons- schooling, being close to my family, etc) and I find myself alternating between sheer, terrible fear about trying to get his Green Card and a small hopefulness about what would it mean to not have that looming over our heads anymore.

    There is something so difficult about not being able to express to people the element of our marriage that is completely out of our control. At any point, my visa in his home country could be denied, forcing me to leave. At some point in the future, the same could be done for his in the US. At this point, anytime we want to visit my family he has to apply and get approved for a tourist visa (a process in and of itself). There is an unspoken sense of “we will plan and do the best that we can, but we cannot know beyond a shadow of a doubt where we will be living and what we will be doing at any given point in the future.” I find that scary as heck, but am also working on choosing to believe that is freeing and beautiful too.

    I’ve come to believe this distinction- our lives might be based around visa approvals, but our marriage is not. Our marriage is between us and is based on our love for one another. The government(s) can’t approve or disapprove that!

    Lots of love and peace to you both!

  • KB

    Hopeful fist bumps all the way. I also want to say ditto to the crying-about-a-couch-not-about-the-couch thing – stress can bubble over in the weirdest ways and places.

  • Katie

    May I recommend, if you’re not already a member, checking out visajourney.com? My husband & I have used it for every step of the immigration process, from getting a K-1 visa for him (he’s also from Kenya & I’m also from Texas! but we met while I was living in Kenya doing Peace Corps) to adjustment of status, to now removal of conditions. Is that what you’re in? Does he already have his 2 year green card and now waiting for the 10 year? We’ll use it again for citizenship next year, too.

    Sending good vibes!! We know what it’s like – the waiting. Thankfully at least with removal of conditions he can still work, go to school, travel, etc. I think so many people assume when a foreigner marries a US Citizen that the immigrant automatically gets citizenship…uhh, no. Years and LOTS of money. Hoping your decision comes soon!

    • Jaime

      I was just about to suggest visajourney.com! :)

    • Amanda

      Yes to this “I think so many people assume when a foreigner marries a US Citizen that the immigrant automatically gets citizenship…uhh, no.”

      Even if you are granted a Green Card you are not a citizen (yet) – another misconception.

      While our Green Card granting process didn’t take long (1 day short of three months), it was fraught with worry, stress, and what-ifs. And the money!! We were lucky to be able to handle the paperwork without hiring a lawyer – I am fairly certain I wouldn’t have my Green Card if we needed a lawyer, as there is no way we could afford it.

      I have to say, the up side of applying/receiving? All our paperwork was in order to immediately purchase a house after the fact. All documents copied and filed in tidy, organized, labeled folders. And if I never have to do all that paperwork again, I will be one happy lady.

      • Katie

        SO true. I have all of our personal paperwork super organized, in binders, labeled, etc. ha.

        And yes, I recommend Visa Journey to anyone I talk to who is contemplating going through this – that’s the only way we were able to do it without a lawyer, and we couldn’t have afforded to hire a lawyer for any of this, either, considering all of the insane fees USCIS charges as it is!

    • sarahmrose

      “Years and LOTS of money”

      Ugh – the money! All the applications fees, and then the lawyer’s fees if you get one…it is really freaking expensive.

  • Ali

    Im sorry that is has been such a problem for you guys. My husband and I applied for the spousal visa (we are residing abroad) and are now waiting for the NOA 2. I also suggest using visajourney.com. It has helped me in doing the process and just seeing that other people are going through the same thing. I have high hopes that we will go through this process without problems but I remember the stress in planning the wedding in the US. It is legal to get married in the US on a tourist visa as long as you plan to return to your country. All that matters though is the immigration officer and anything could happen. My husband went with A LOT of evidence of his intent to return. He was sent to secondary inspection, but then thankfully he was let through with no problems. Wow I couldnt really start to feel happy about the wedding until he made it through to the US. I had nightmares about having to cancel the whole wedding because he wasn´t allowed in to the country.

    Wishing you lots of luck for good news soon!

    • anon

      “It is legal to get married in the US on a tourist visa as long as you plan to return to your country.”

      In particular, as long as you WERE planning to return to your country at the time that you entered the U.S. We had an immigration lawyer advise us to do this. You can then say that you changed your mind once you arrived in the U.S. But it can be tricky — you have to be able to make a solid case for that you were really going to return, and this can also cause extra troubles/costs (i.e. a return ticket that we didn’t use). But it can be worth it, as if you get married in the U.S. and apply for the green card shortly after, your spouse should be granted (fairly) quickly the right to stay while the application is being processed, and so you get to stay together and in the U.S. for the process.

      • Ali

        I would be VERY VERY careful doing this. Personally I would never consider doing this as it is Visa Fraud. Sure I guess people have done it successfully, but if it is not accepted, then the consequences can really suck.

  • LifeSheWrote

    Oh, what an ordeal! I’m sending good, green-card-getting vibes your way!

  • Alice

    Ahhhh. This makes my blood pressure sky rocket. I’m already a permanent resident of my husband’s home country and we’ve lived here for our entire marriage so we’re not in a precarious situation but I do know we eventually plan to return to the US and I have no idea what to expect especially applying from abroad. I kinda just want to hire a lawyer and close my eyes. But I do know many expats that have returned to the US with their families from here and none have had any problems with rejection so I probably should relax.

  • Jen B

    I have so many thoughts and feelings on the immigration process, most of them strongly unpleasant. I’m crossing my fingers and wishing for the best for both of you, Emily and Ian. The bureaucratic black hole of USCIS is indeed escapable, as I am living proof, and I hope your case is resolved soon.

  • http://www.thesongsontheway.com Pamela

    Sending up prayers for you two!

    The US process is insane. We looked into it before we decided that it would be better for me to move to India. That being said the Indian process isn’t easy either, but we get to do it all together, where as the US fiance visa would have had to have happened while we were apart.

    I really hope your waiting ends, and definitely in a favorable fashion.

    Love to you both, and empathy because I know that could be us soon.

  • Kirsten

    Best wishes to all y’all!

    I knew this wasn’t an easy process at the best of times, but your stories have made me even more grateful that my fiance already has his green card.

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    Fingers are crossed for you guys!

    It’s amazing how complicated the immigration and naturalization processes are. Two years ago my mother in law started on the path of trying to go from being a lifelong permanent resident of Canada to becoming a citizen and it’s still ongoing. It’s so hard watching her wait for the next step in the process, and I can only imagine how much harder the process would be with the fear of being separated from your spouse.

  • http://www.stephaniemballo.com stephanie mballo

    I could have written this post myself. My husband is from Senegal and I from the States. We also did not have an easy case. My heart just goes out to you. I know how incredibly difficult and painful this process is. After a long process, we just got our notice for our green card approval. Fingers crossed that yours is coming soon.

  • marbella

    Ugh. Do not miss that awful nagging feeling thats constantly part of your relationship. Five years of it has left me with horrible acid stomach/reflux issues over a year after we are done. Sending positive vibes your way.

  • Megz

    I am an immigration attorney and if I could have one magic power, it would be to keep nice gals like you from freaking out over interviews at USCIS. If you are a good person with a real family relationship, a decent amount of organization, and a little faith, you are fine. The process is annoying, complicated, and long, but it should never be scary. That’s the fault of USCIS- what is supposed to be a customer-focused, service-providing organization strikes fear in the hearts of many.

    Congrats on all your progress so far. Supervisors take forever to review files, and it is VERY unusual to get an approval stamp anymore. Y’all will be just fine. Good luck!

    • Stephanie

      Yes to all of this. I’m not a lawyer (yet, oh law school) but ive worked in immigration for over 5 years and I just want to tell people it isn’t so scary. And then a USCIS adjudicator left the government to come work for my firm and all of a sudden I realized why it’s so scary–she was a beast!

  • Amanda

    Can I just add a tip for anyone thinking of beginning the Green Card application process in the near future? Consider applying during US tax season (March – April). We found the journey to be swift (but scary – we could always be denied despite being totally legit), and I attribute some of that to fewer applications being filed during a time when many folks are busy scrambling to get their taxes filed. It’s just a thought :)

    Best wishes to all going through or thinking of going through the process.

  • http://medeamaterial.com jules

    Hope you get a good response in the mail soon!

  • http://www.theloudandclear.com Kate

    Hang in there lady! My husband and I went through the Green Card process and I can totally relate to not feeling safe until all is said and done. Like you said, deportation is a worst-case scenario but it’s still a possibility and that’s what kept me up at night. It was hard for my friends who weren’t going through it to understand that since many people think getting a Green Card is a piece of cake.

    Luckily, our process went smoothly, we got the Green Card, and now we just have to go back to get his conditional status removed before the 2 year mark.

    I’ll be thinking of you and hope that you get happy news soon!!

  • http://cuvikingadventures.blogspot.com/ Jenny- Adventures Along the Way

    For anyone who reads this and is facing the Canadian immigration process:
    http://www.canadavisa.com
    We learned everything from here and applied on our own, without a lawyer (and were approved). The community helped when we felt like nobody in our day-to-day lives understood the process.

  • Elena

    Hang in there and good luck!
    I’ll have to start my Green Card process in a week as well, after my wedding next Wednesday. I’m Canadian, he is American. One good thing is that my employer will be providing legal help with application and the process, since they’re already in the process of getting me the Green Card through work – it’ll be cheaper for them to get it for me through the marriage.
    I don’t think about “what if I don’t get it”, I just can’t accept that as a possibility – we already bought a house together here, we’re settled, we’re ready to expand out family of 2 people, 3 dogs, and 2 cats. I guess there is always an option to move to Canada, which my lovely fiance doesn’t want to consider an option – talk about being patriotic. But I think that if it ever comes to it (no, it won’t, it can’t…) and he’d have to chose between losing me, or moving 200 miles away across the border – he’ll move.

    • Not Sarah

      This will probably be me!

      After reading this post this morning, I told my boyfriend “I’m really glad we’re Canadian and American and I got into this country on my own [through employment]“.

      I haven’t started the green card process through work yet because I’m hoping to get into EB-2, rather than EB-3, so we’ll see how things play out. Most people I know through work who got their green cards through marriage, work paid for it anyways and it didn’t take more than a few months. I don’t know if I’ll apply for an EB one though – my only reasoning to stay here would be if I was to marry an American.

      Moving 200 miles across the border – are you in WA? I love that I live ~120 miles from my parents’ house, despite living in another country. His are further away and they live in the same country as us!

      • Elena

        Hey Not Sarah,

        I am in WA :) We live in Seattle, my parents are in Vancouver. I’m actually heading there this Saturday for my bachelorette party :]

        I agree with you on being happy that I got here on my own. This remove any kind of questioning about my relationship being for the green card purposes – even if we don’t marry, I’d eventually get my citizenship through work. However, the job application is a forever process – it’s been about 3 years since they initiated the first step (labor certification), and I’m now only on the second (out of 3) step. And yeah, I only qualify for EB-3, so it’d be years and years waiting if I kept going this route.

        And yeah, my parents are only 2-3 hours drive away, while my fiance’s family is in Alaska – same country, but worlds away! (and that’s where our wedding will be – in the middle of nowhere, with 2 hours sunlight per day and 10F temperature)

        • Not Sarah

          Cool! Enjoy your bachelorette party this weekend :) I actually drove up to my parents’ for dinner last weekend and then drove back, lol!

          An Alaska wedding would be quite beautiful! I’ll be watching for your Wedding Graduate post!! And enjoy your wedding!!! Texas (my boyfriend’s parents’) is a world away too. I asked B when we crossed the border if it looked like a different country and he said “This just looks like America”.

          I also like that driving across the border together is completely legit. I am legally in the US on my own and he can easily get a “tourist visa” to go to Canada for a few days since he obviously lives in Seattle. My owning a condo, my work visa, all legit reasons to get a green card ignoring marriage. Living so close to the border though…visas just don’t seem real to me and I couldn’t fathom a world in which I wouldn’t get a green card if I applied for one!

  • Suzanne

    Hope everything goes smoothly for both of you! The US Immigration process is a very LONG, frustrating and arduous one typically as many others have stated. Which is one reason we probably won’t be relocating back to the states anytime soon because we would then need to go through that process for my husband (instead we are doing my immigration in New Zealand which thankfully is not the ordeal that you unfortunately face in the states).
    Keep living day by day as you guys are doing and surround yourselves with good thoughts and memories during this time. I’m sure he will be approved and that down the road you will look back upon all this as an important building block to your relationship! Best wishes and hope that approval letter comes soon so both of you can not have that looming!

    • Amanda

      I just want to clarify that not all US immigration proceedings are long. Arduous – yes. But LONG – no, not for everyone.

      If you are highly organized, have EVERY piece of information required (and multiple copies at that), read the verbose directions carefully once, twice and then a third time, the process from status adjustment –> Green Card can be completed swiftly.

      I was terrified of the process before I dove into it, but found that I received all correspondence in a very timely manner. In turn, I responded in a timely manner and received my Green Card at exactly the time predicted (90 days). There are tools on the USCIS website that allow you to virtually track the stage your application is at, which is helpful. Also, if you can actually track down a real person on the phone (this part was difficult), they will answer any and all questions (albeit in a slightly generic manner, but still helpful).

      Suzanne – if you and your husband have a fairly straight forward immigration case, don’t let the Green Card application deter you from moving back to the US sooner than you would like to!

      • Suzanne

        Glad yours went through quickly :) I agree that not all are long, but many do seem to take a long time. Years ago, I did deal with immigration there as I was engaged to someone on a student visa. The lawyer told us it could take a very long time due to the fact that he was from a third world country. We ended the relationship for other reasons but my experience with US immigration wasn’t exactly pleasant. So there’s the good and bad always when dealing with them and depends on the immigration officer as well. My heart goes out to Emily and I do hope they get a quick answer soon so they aren’t in limbo anymore.

        Both of us are actually a bit of wanderers and enjoy living abroad! =) Personally neither of us are too keen on moving back to the states. We would only move back if my parents needed us there when they are unable to take care of themselves anymore. My husband swore he would never deal with immigrating to the states again unless it was necessary (he lived, studied and worked in the states for over 10 years – originally from India).

  • Meghan A.

    Reading this made my heart grow tight. So many of my fears are written down not only by Emily, as I’m currently applying for my fiancee visa to Australia. It’s very hard for me to not think about what could possibly go wrong with our application as we wait for so many things to go correctly.

    Tomorrow is the day that I complete another task towards the ultimate goal. I don’t have too many more to go before we are just awaiting my approval. Just keep swimming, right?

    • Kara

      I’m an american born and bred lady, married to my Aussie husband, now living down unda and an Aussie permanent resident, on my way to Aussie citizenship. I’ll be a dual citizen. Or as I like to call it, a double agent. :p ;)

      It was definitely a nerve-wracking experience but one that was relatively easy. Whenever you have to ring the various embassy/consulates, make sure you get the person’s name and their phone extension. Trust me, just do it. ;) We sent off as much of my paperwork that we could to the appropriate people ahead of time.
      We got married in the US at my childhood church, with 200 guests (and 3 weeks later I left the US for good). After our ceremony and short weekend honeymoon (local B&B ftw!), we got our marriage license registered and several official copies before running to find a place to do passport photos. We finally found some, had them taken and printed, ran BACK to the car to get the flight confirmations to prove I needed this new passport like yesterday and ordered one. The next day it was ready (SO worth the expedite fee) and sent it off to DC.

      It was very tense waiting for the response from the Aussie embassy in DC after we sent my new passport in to them for visa approval. Luckily, we had an excellent caseworker in D. Lamb and my spouse visa was approved within days.

      No matter which country you choose to get visas for, it’s gonna be a bit trying. Just keep thinking positive thoughts, have a cuppa in hand and remind yourself “This will be over soon. This will be over soon.”

      • Meghan A.

        Kara, thanks for your note!

        It definitely helps things out. I’m experincing more headaches from my local government…partially because I over looked something in attempting to get my fingerprints for the FBI check. However, that will fall into place in the next couple days. I hope that things will go quickly and smoothly.

        I’ve realized that nothing is simple when it comes to immigration/migration. Hopefully, things will go ok and in a couple months my caseworker will approve our petition.

        Question for you, with the background checks, should they go directly to the embassy?

  • http://www.justanotherstarryeyedbride.wordpress.com Stephanie

    Sending good thoughts and prayers your way! My fiancé’s name is Iain too! Only spelled with the Gaelic version as he’s from Scotland. He has a work visa so we don’t have the same fear of him leaving the country but we have no say with his job as that is what keeps him here and by here I mean Kansas City- required travel- and we live in Chicago. My goal is to get the green card paperwork filled out before the wedding but it’s so much stress to do that and plan for the big day at the same time!

    Good luck with everything, the best advice I’ve ever heard about hard situations is to remember that everything is temporary.

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  • Stephanie

    Thank you so much for writing this.

    I am the child of immigrants whose parents have gone through this for each other and later, for my step father. In addition, I’ve been in immigration law for almost 6 years and am currently in law school to be an immigration lawyer. As a result, I know in the real world, if you’re a real couple, the odds of being denied are slim–but they’re still there.

    It’s a nice wake up call to remember that MOST people have never seen this process and how jarring it is for them and how much it affects them, the unknowing, the holding pattern. So thank you for sharing.

  • HyeKeen

    I just wanted to say that I totally empathize with you. My husband and I went through an immigration process for him. Our experience from the US side of things wasn’t so bad, but his country gave me a permanent migraine for about 6 months or so… I had several crying episodes over little things which were really about the big stress of not knowing if we would be able to get him out of his country.

    My biggest piece of advice for the US side of things is overwhelm them with evidence. When we submitted documentation for his adjustment of status we supplied three vouchers (can’t remember the actual name) from folks who knew us (my dad, my stepmom, a friend) and vouched for our relationship, photos from our wedding in his country, photos of us with family and friends in the US, emails from my family to him, copies of envelopes of items addressed to both of us, etc. This was in addition to bank statements in both of our names, etc. They REALLY want to be assured that you are a a legitimate couple and not a “in name only” marriage.

    I wish you both the best of luck in getting a positive answer in the very near future!!! This kind of stress certainly doesn’t contribute to a harmonious marital vibe – even thout like other posters said it doesn’t make your marraige.

  • megan

    Hi everyone, I am Canadian and my husband is American. We have found the process to be stressful but straightforward. The best money we spent was on our lawyer. We prepared the documents ourselves (using Visa Journey and the government websites) and then had her review everything. It was a fraction of the cost. Visa Journey is not a complete source and may not be up-to-date.

    Our other decision was to plan our wedding as a separate event from our “legal” marriage. We could control the date and not have to worry about the government timeline. We said our vows in front of our family and had a party. Then after I received my fiancé visa (k-1) we went to the courthouse. This was definitely a better option for us. Best of luck to everyone who is enduring this process too.

  • http://orthogals.wordpress.com Brigid

    Emily, what happened?