Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Jon's Visa Update

photo by Emma, Jon's cousin

The tale of Jon's visa is long and sordid.  Okay, sordid isn't the right word - stressful would be more accurate - and the process hasn't been prolonged so much as constantly stop-and-start.  But we are very ready for it to be over or, at the very least, out of our hands!

Jon and I agreed about a year and a half ago that he would be the expatriate this time.  There wasn't much we could do, logistically, after we made that decision because there was no point in filling out forms that might be irrelevant come time to submit, so, except for an exploratory meeting with an immigration lawyer in August 2012, we didn't actually focus on Jon's visa until spring 2013.  The idea was to work on the application while planning our wedding; originally, we wanted to have everything ready to go before I flew to England for the wedding so that I could just slot in our marriage certificate on the day I got back to the States and send it off, but that wasn't realistic.

After weeks of frustration in which we tried to juggle far too many details, Jon and I realized that we couldn't finalize our wedding and his visa at the same time if we wanted our relationship to survive.  However, I did meet with a fantastic new immigration lawyer over the summer just to make sure Jon and I understood what was involved in being prepared to submit his visa application.   Given what our lawyer suggested, when we reassessed we decided we'd try to submit all of the forms and documents by the end of September - but it turns out that wasn't realistic either.

Officially, we're not required to submit tons of supporting materials, but we do have to provide evidence that our relationship is real and more is definitely safer than less.  The lawyer gave us a list of everything we should include with our application - photos, cards, letters, emails, affidavits from friends and family members, Skype records, receipts from wedding vendors, the lease we both signed, etc - and we've spent the past two months gathering and preparing everything.  When I gave our lawyer a binder full of the materials she'd advised we include, she sent it back to me with a two-page memo attached detailing where and how we needed to do more.  The second binder came back with additional comments.  I'm meeting with her tomorrow for final approval and - fingers crossed - will finally be able to submit the application on Friday.

(The Department of Homeland Security is actively offering many immigration services during the shutdown; USCIS is a fee-funded body, so it's still open.  I wish I had the excuse of blaming the government for not having submitted Jon's visa before now, but alas!)

Once the application has been received, it should take 4-5 months before Jon's visa is granted, so we're looking at February or March for Jon's arrival in the States.  I'm hoping that this here now is the most stressful part of the process - there are other things to be done between now and then, but it's mostly a lot of waiting!  Think happy thoughts at us, please, dear readers.  We're ready to start our marriage together for real!

 photo 866de425-8336-4c63-9efd-1c4dd8bf0e62_zpsafe0d56b.jpg

38 comments:

  1. I know all about the bureaucracy that is our government! It's so frustrating. I hope the 4-5 months speed by :)

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  2. sending you so many happy thoughts! I hope that the meeting goes well on Friday!

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  3. LO @ Lo and BeholdOctober 16, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Good luck! My cousin and his wife just finished a very long visa battle, it makes the finale all the sweeter!

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  4. Best of luck! I can imagine that you would like the LDR to end now that you're married. Hope the process can begin to be finalized really soon!

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  5. I had a huge folder filled with documents as well, and had no problems. I was trying to come the UK so not sure the differences, but my partner visa was granted within a week! My uk residency took about four months though because of backlogs, so with my experiences, the US was more on the ball. Fingers and toes crossed everything goes smoothly for you guys!

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  6. Wow... what a long battle! I hope it all goes well and you can submit! Then only a few more months :) There is light at the end of the tunnel!

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  7. Good luck to you both! We know how stressful it is. We're expecting 10 months total since we had to file in the US. Makes the UK process look like a breeze in comparison!

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  8. Worst case scenario (which happened to me) is that he'll have to stay behind till his visa comes through. Hope not though.

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  9. hahahahhahaha a week. don't make me cry :P


    but the time will fly once we're not stressing about it all, I'm sure!

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  10. it could be worse - another option would have been 8-9 months! thank you :)

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  11. that is SO true! we will never take being together for granted.

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  12. haha I love the language we use - begin to be finalized. it is SUCH a process! thank you :)

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  13. I always thought having too much evidence would be better then having too little. Thing is I see and hear so many difference cases including my own. I took a tonne of evidence with me for my immigration interview and did they ask for any of it? No. I do wish there was a set standard they would stick too, would make it easier for all concerned. Interesting you turned to lawyers too to help, we never went anywhere near one!

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  14. haha you never know! Yeah it goes pretty quickly when it's just a waiting game.

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  15. Hope everything will work out fine! I have been through this before so I know how nerve-wracking it is! Can't believe they even want to see Skype records!

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  16. very true! but you're right - I talked with another friend who has been through this process, and half the things my lawyer asked for his didn't and half the things his lawyer asked for mine didn't. I'm just throwing the kitchen sink in!

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  17. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PAGES IT TAKES TO PRINT 5 YEARS OF SKYPE CALLS? including the ones where I just dialed and re-dialed for a full 10 minutes when Jon wasn't picking up because I'm a crazy girlfriend? haha

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  18. oh we know he will! he's not allowed in the US while his immigration status is in flux, alas.

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  19. Yeah, I can imagine! :( I stressed out so much about these things but I did not even include things like that. I included pictures, cards, cards from his family members, our lease and I think that was it. And we did not have any problems. I was so worried about the interview but everything went pretty smoothly!

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  20. Happy thoughts, friend! Sorry you have to go through all the visa hassle.

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  21. Sending happy thoughts your way! Any visa process just sounds like such a hassle. You should show them this blog as proof haha!

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  22. This is so intense! Frankly the mere fact you're willing to go through this madness should be proof you two are the real deal. lol

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  23. Ahhh, I can't even imagine having to go through this process! Friends of mine have been married for over a year - they got married, then she had to go back to Australia to renew her Visa and was denied. Since then, she's been trying to go through the whole process but it's been SUCH a struggle, and now they've been separated for over 10 months.


    Yikes. Crossing my fingers that everything goes smoothly for you two love birds!

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  24. Since I am old when we did this we printed out pages (like hundreds) of our emails between each other, amongst many, many other things. Such a pain. Hugs my friend, he will be here before you know it!

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  25. Good luck! I'm happy for you that at least you're ready to submit and have it out of your hands for awhile!

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  26. Ugh so stressful. And, on a similar note, I just threw away so many little relationship "mementos" that were cluttering our guest bedroom closet. Good thing neither one of us is trying to immigrate!

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  27. I can't even imagine how stressful this whole process is! It seems crazy to me that it's that complicated and drawn out. I guess it's for a good reason though, but still. I hope your meeting goes well tomorrow!

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  28. cheese and crackers, that's a lot of work. (that's becoming my exclamation of choice lately for some unknown reason, and when it pops into my brain it's always in the voice of Charlotte from The Princess and the Frog)

    I mean, five years of relationship records?? I feel like it should be proof enough that you spent a year and a half planning a transatlantic wedding - it that doesn't show that you're serious, I really don't know what else will.

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  29. I was wondering, did it take longer because you guys got married in the UK but want to live in the US? I had a friend a few years ago, she (US) knew the guy (UK) maybe a year before they got engaged, never lived together, applied for the fiance visa or whatever and as soon as that was approved, he had like a short time to get here and for them to get married. No huge wedding, at least officially, but it seemed to take a lot shorter then yours. Granted this was like 2-3 years ago and I know how fast things change in the visa system.

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  30. Skype records and emails?! Who would have ever thought... so crazy. The process is almost identical for me in SA, aside from those two things. So glad the end is in sight... what an amazing feeling it will be when Jon steps off the plane and onto American soil semi-permanently :)

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  31. Definitely go for front-loading the application. I think our package was over an inch thick (to be fair my husband compiled it, not me) and you won't need to worry come interview time!

    I can't believe it's soon time I have to go through the whole thing again to extend my green card…

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  32. The laws may have changed, but when I went through this process a few years ago I thought the same thing, but was wrong. My then English boyfriend, now husband, was able to visit the US during the application process. It could be completely different now and he was coming over on a fiance visa, which I know is different from you. If the distance gets too much, it's worth looking into!

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  33. Betsy! Not true - he just has a harder time proving he doesn't have 'immigrant intent' at the time he enters. Hugo just came with me to the us last week and we've had his petition in with uscis since august. they didn't even ask any questions about it! Granted, we live overseas together, but if Jon is working and is open and transparent about everything, I don't think it would be a huge problem. There is NO rule or law that he can't enter while an immigrant petition is being adjudicated. Trust me, I know these things :)

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  34. Thinking good thoughts, Betsy! Wow, what a process!

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  35. Wow, such a big process! I hope that this all goes well and that there are no crazy twists along the way. Fingers crossed for you both!

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  36. adventuresofalondonkiwiOctober 20, 2013 at 3:23 PM

    Good luck!!

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