Immigrate

The word means, “to come to live in another country permanently.”  Seems simple enough.  But the process, oh my stars, it’s anything but simple.

I can say this now, now that my husband and I are standing near the finish line of this whole production.  As I write, he’s driving eight hours from Ontario to Montreal for his interview at the U.S. Consulate.  If all goes well, he will walk away — after 431 days, $1260 in fees, 8 months of separation, and countless hours of stress/anxiety/longing — with an approved CR-1 Visa.  This will allow him to enter the United States and become a permanent resident.  With this status he can legally live and work here, in fact, he can do just about anything a citizen can do — including being drafted — with the exception of voting, being a civil servant, or holding a public office.

Why did we put ourselves through this whole song and dance?  Back in 2013, when we first fell in love, we thought, foolishly in retrospect, that being together would be easy — we would just get married and then he would get a green card and then we would live happily ever after — it happens in the movies all the time!  We, like most people, were completely unaware of the bureaucratic nightmare that would overtake our lives involving not one, but two delightful governmental departments — the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (part of the Department of Homeland Security) and the National Visa Center (part of the Department of State).

It quickly became apparent that the whole process was fundamentally broken, partly because of the DACA immigration policy that was changed right around the time we submitted our application, but also because of unnecessary redundancies, unstable computer systems, and ever-changing procedures — all of which created confusion and fostered mistrust.  We felt lost in the process, fumbling around in the dark, helpless to do anything but wait.  And to add insult to injury, we, like all married couples pursuing a CR-1 Visa, had to wait through this all alone.  Wait, what?  Yes — except for a few visits, my husband and I have been living in different countries since we filed for his CR-1 Visa.

Again, it’s easy to write this from where we stand.  We are HOURS away from the finish line.  Yes, we are still HOURS away from each other, but the separation finally feels finite — all the waiting, all the living in limbo, all the emotional and financial tolls — they all seem to have an end now.  I can’t say that it was easy, or that I handled everything with grace, but we did get through it all, together, despite the separation.

As I hoped months ago, I can see this time as a gift. I do see that it made us strong. That it made us sure. That it built trust in a way only separation can. That we are better for all of this.

The next time I see my husband will be at the airport — his passport in hand, carrying that coveted CR-1 Visa — and I will hold him close knowing that we can finally begin our life together and that there are finally no more goodbyes to be said.

us

And one by one the nights between our separated cities are joined to the night that unites us.

(Pablo Neruda)


3 Comments

Beautifully written Heather! I want to share this on my Facebook page!

Posted by linda on 29 March 2015 @ 12pm

Very nicely written Heather, cheers to the finish line!

Posted by Kim on 29 March 2015 @ 5pm

Beautifully written, Heather and Congratulations!

As you know, Matthew and Elena, also went through a process of convoluted red tape. Elena had dual citizenship in two Countries which threw another wrench in their quest. She was finally awarded a Fiancé Visa and they were married within 90 days after she arrived.

We will be happily celebrating, their renewal of vows in the Church, this summer in Spain!

Posted by Renee Pratta on 30 March 2015 @ 11am

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