Thursday, May 14, 2015

Visas and Commitment

If you know me outside of Facebook, then you know I'm in the middle of a long and seemingly unending process that is the immigrant visa. The CR-1 Visa is a conditional residency visa issued to spouses of U.S. citizens. Unlike the movies, spouses of Americans can't just ask the US Embassy, "gee, when's the next boat?!" and sail on over to Ellis Island. No, the U.S. Citizen and the Spouse (the Applicant and Beneficiary, as they are officially known by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Visa Center) must undergo a long and incredibly taxing process in order to obtain the visa.

It isn't just the paperwork that is difficult (and confusing) to fill out. It's also kind of humiliating. Not only do you have to fill out a stack of paperwork thicker than the Bible, you also have to submit evidence of your marriage beyond the marriage certificate. They don't really specific what that is, but it usually is pictures, copies of Facebook chats, phone and Skype records, copies of plane tickets and reservations for trips taken together, copies of cards and receipts for gifts, etc. It literally could be anything you can think of that somehow proves a relationship beyond the marriage certificate.

Now, I know why this is. I realize that alot of people commit fraud and make up information about their relationship just so they can come to the U.S.. Unfortunately, much of this fraud comes from the Middle East and the rest of Africa, which is one reason why this process is taking so long for us. It's not fair that some bad apples ruin it for everyone else.

I have to say, though, that being apart for so long (nearly three years) with intermittent visits has actually brought us closer together.

I always heard that long distance relationships were hard. And my husband would tell me now, "Quit listening to what other people say and letting it affect the way you think!" And he's right. Sure, long distance relationships are hard--but all relationships are hard. They're hard because they're worth keeping. Nothing worth having is easy.

We've come up with ways to stay engaged with each other: Facebook chat, emails, Skype discussions and watching movies together, MagicJack, iMessage, and even the occasional snail mail (though sometimes it never makes it to its final destination). All of these things constantly keep us communicating even though we are more than 7000 miles and 7 time zones apart.

So to people who complain about long distance relationships, I say: you don't really want it. If you can't handle it, then don't be in it. If you can't find ways to connect, then it wasn't really meant to be.

And for people who think the visa process is a cake walk: educate yourselves. It is one of the most difficult experiences anyone can go through for so many reasons. You constantly feel like you're getting towards the end, only to be asked for another document or proof of something. It's hard, but it's worth it.

I can't wait for the day to see my husband at the airport and for us to finally start our lives together. I've never wanted something so bad in my entire life.

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