Friday, September 15, 2006

Just Breathe...

Let me explain what receiving correspondence from Immigration is like.

Their letters sweep into your home like the Dementors from Harry Potter. They drain the color and joy out of life, leaving you feeling like a mere husk of your former self.

You find yourself atop the Tower of Despair, and with your chin heavy in your hands, you think of winter.

If you think I’m exaggerating here, think of this scenario:

You meet someone in a foreign clime, fall in love and give up nearly everything you have to be with them. You go through a very long and involved process, spend an average yearly wage on fees, flights and phone calls (ooh! Aliteration…I’ll make a writer yet).

You fly to the new country, and think the worst is over…only to discover that it’s only just beginning.

In short, Sunny and I have spent years to get to this point, and over $40,000 dollars.

…and each interview is an opportunity for all this to crash down around our ears.

Basically, if I go to an interview and discover I checked the wrong box on a form I filled out two years ago, guess what? I’m on a plane back to England, and have to start the whole 5 year process again from scratch…and that’s if I’m lucky and allowed to re-apply.

Let me absolutely clear on this. The process for moving to America as the spouse or fiancĂ© of an American citizen is complicated. I’ve lost count of the number of forms I’ve filled out, the meetings and interviews I’ve been to, the sheer number of court-houses I’ve visited to collect documents etc

Then we come to the things we can’t really prove. Even though it’s complicated, I can call my local Police Department and get a statement from them that I have no records. I can call my doctor and get my vaccination records. I can contact the IRS and get a copy of my tax returns.

However, imagine sitting across a desk from a complete stranger and them turning to you and saying, in not so many words, “Prove to me that you actually love each other and that this isn’t a marriage of convenience.”

After all that paperwork, my staying in the country can come down to me remembering Sunny’s favorite color, where she keeps her toothbrush and what side of the bed she likes to sleep on.

It’s no longer a matter of paperwork, it’s convincing a single person. If that person isn’t convinced, tough shit, get on the plane and you’re not welcome back in the United States any more.

If you’re still having difficulty grasping this situation, look at it this way. Look at your husband, wife or your boyfriend or girlfriend. Imagine it being in someone else’s power whether you get to stay with them or not.

There…now you have a basic understanding of the pressure we’ve been under for the past 5 years.

Anyway, Sunny and I received one of these Immigration missives seven weeks ago. It demanded that we appear for an interview today at 2:30pm. Just to make us feel a little better, written across the top of the letter in bold was:


I tried to blog about this over the past few weeks, but to be perfectly honest, I felt like I was going to have a panic attack or throw up every time I thought about it…so I steered as clear away from the topic as I could.

Despite the fact that Sunny and I are 100% legit, it’s still an absolutely terrifying experience to be interviewed by someone who has the power to, there and then, demand you leave the country.

So when I get one of these letters, I start to think of the worst. If I get deported, will Sunny be able to get permanent residence in England? If I move back I won’t have my own house anymore, and I’m certain my parents wouldn’t be able to support the two of us while I found a job. Is it going to be another five years before I actually get to be in the same room as my wife again?

In short…serious brown trousers time.

So, it is with great pleasure that I announce, I am now officially a lawful permanent resident of the United States. My Greencard should arrive within the week, and I’m eligible for Citizenship in three years.

If you’ll indulge me for a moment…


Seriously…this is the first time I’ve been totally relaxed in the past two and a half years.

Now I just need to find me a job…

(I have also just noticed that this message also just happens to be my 400th blog post. I can't think of anything I'd rather write about at this milestone. Wow, Red Letter Day or what???)


Lois said...

Congratulations, Paulius! It was a long, hard road, but I'm certain you feel that it's worth it. I'm so happy that you and Sunny are past all the prove-it stuff now.


MC Etcher said...

Yay! Yay! Congratulations and yay!

Vicarious Living said...

Break out the bubbly baby!
Very happy for both of you!!!

Anonymous said...

Yee-haw!!! That is awsome and congratulatons to the both of you!!!

OzzyC said...

Most Cool