Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rules of Engagement... The US Immigration System

On Thanksgiving evening 2010, my now husband dropped to one knee under the glow of frosted, vintage blue lights and asked me to marry him. With a familiar romantic song drifting through the air beside us I, of course, said yes without hesitation.

Once the dust had settled and I had stared for a sufficiently lengthy period of time at my new ring, the research began. Dreaming of how to tell my family and closest friends about this most amazing thing that was finally happening to me, I had not imagined I would have to choose between waiting for 2 months to tell them in person or scheduling an 'emergency' Skype session. As it happens I choose to keep the life changing events to myself, in order to share it with those closest to me the way I always hoped I could, in person. You see what made our engagement and indeed in many ways our wedding day, so prone to compromise, is that I am a British citizen and my then husband-to-be, an American. As far as love stories go, I reside quite happily within the eternally romantic 'worlds apart' cliche that we seemed to be weaving into our own tale. Sadly, there is not a lot of room for romance once you are both drowning in endless USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) forms, packets, referrals for evidence, costly checks and of course, the dreaded immigrant interviews.

I will admit this; we were absolutely clueless and adorably naive when we began our journey to bring me permanently to the States. Our first day attempting to gather information and resources about where to begin and how long this whole dance should last, we were heartbroken. Time frames closer to 1, 2 even 3 years came dashing towards us and we wondered if we were even capable of the level of understanding necessary to make this happen. But perseverance counts for a lot, as does the commitment we were determined to make, to spend our lives together, any way we could. Using several different sites we slowly began to piece together what we needed to know, what we needed to spend and what we needed to prepare for mentally.

First decision to be made; where and when will the wedding take place? Second; how do we afford it and how do we make sure our families, stretched out far across the world as they were, could all make it? Third; where do we live, do we choose his home in the USA or mine, namely the UK? And lastly, the big one, how do we begin to prepare ourselves for the inevitable months apart we must face, in order to start a solid life together, finally on common ground...?

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