Today I realized that four blog posts in, going on about my move to the U.S and I haven’t even disclosed how I am actually planning to do it! As I touched on earlier, I do not have an official working/student visa. In order to obtain a working visa in the U.S you must have an ability to perform a job is not otherwise able to be filled by an American citizen. You will also need a company to sponsor you’re move as well. They must fill out a, ‘Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker’, and that must be approved before visa status can be granted. Coming from serving at a restaurant it is not hard to imagine why that would be impossible for me. The other option, of pursuing further schooling, was not appealing for several reasons. First and foremost being that I am not ready or interested in going after a Master’s degree at this point in my life. Furthermore, schooling in the States is crazy expensive, and to be at a college in San Francisco, my options would be challenging and limited. Overall school just isn’t something I am wanting to jump into right now.
That pretty much leaves us with one option: marriage. When I explain this plan to people, sometimes I feel like I am running in circles justifying why we are getting married so early in our relationship while also explaining that we are very happy and aren’t only getting married so I can have a green card. The way I feel about it is that it was only a matter of time before Alan and I got hitched and we did not want to wait any longer to live together. This is our best option.
Okay, so I’m from Canada, moving to the States with the intention of marrying my now fiancé, what next? Well being from Canada I am allowed 182 days (6 months) per year in the U.S as a visitor with no visa required – For visitors from other countries it is 90 days – That means, the total number of days comprising all the trips I have taken to the U.S in the last calendar year starting the date I arrive in the U.S are subtracted from the allowed 182 days to give me the total number of days I can be in the U.S as a visitor. Luckily you do not have to do the math yourself (it gets really complicated) and there is a website run by the U.S Customs and Boarder Protection (super official) which will tell you your absolute last day allowed in the U.S for a consecutive stay. What I mean when I say consecutive stay, is that if you leave the U.S for a while and then come back, the date that you have to exit the States will be pushed back by however long you were away. For instance, when I arrived on August 30th my last legal day in the U.S was to be February 27th. Then Alan and I took a three week trip to the Philippines, now my leaving date is March 29th. That is if I stay every consecutive day till then in the U.S. On the website the middle tab that reads, ‘Already visiting & need proof of visitor status?’, is the one you will click. Enter your name, birthday and passport number and it will give you your I-94 which tells you when your official entry and exit dates are for the U.S. Hopefully you’re still with me.
So, after my 180 days as a visitor the next stage is the fiancé visa. This visa, once granted, will allow me to legally stay in the U.S for 3 (extra) months, during which Alan and I must get married. Afterwards there is a somewhat streamlined avenue for me to obtain my green card and permanent resident status. Fiancé visas are notoriously hard to get and are guarded by mountains of paperwork and many-a stiff lipped bureaucrat. Though I have not seen it, many people looked at me with unabated horror when I told them of our plan to pursue a fiancé visa and referenced the TV show, 90 Day Fiancé (apparently it’s very dramatic). To get a fiancé visa the first thing you have to do is fill out a K-3 petition. The petitioner (Alan) must prove that the relationship is real, that we have met in person over the last two years, that we both intend to get married in the time they allot us, and that he has the means to support me. The whole process, just to get the visa approved, often takes up to 5 or 6 months. That is basically the entirety of the time I have in the States before I will need the visa in able to keep staying here, so timing is key.
Another part of getting this visa is that I have to go home to Canada and get a health exam as well as an interview conducted by the American consulate. Obviously they do not want a very sick person coming into the U.S and becoming a tax on the healthcare system, which explains the health exam. As for the interview, what I’ve heard is that it is very basic. They want to make sure you are truly committed to marrying your American counter part and that there is no chance you are attempting to defraud the government to get a green card. Since Alan and I are going about this from a place of genuine honesty, I feel fairly confident that it should all go over as smoothly as can be hoped!
As for the fun part of marriages and weddings goes, our plan is to have a very small and private court wedding during the three months of our fiancé visa and wait to have a big wedding later on. We talked about a lot of possibilities, but once we decided to take this path we only had about a year before we would have to get married. Under normal circumstances a year is a decent amount of time to plan a wedding. Considering we also had to organize my move from Canada, obtain the fiancé visa and then get a green card, it all seemed like way too much to put on our plates. Instead we will have a quiet marriage in the spring and a loud wedding, probably, two years from now. For anyone who is hoping to follow this same path, if you have enough time and foresight to plan a wedding before or while the visa process is going on, I applaud you! For us, however, this strategy makes the most sense.
Okay so there’s the plan! I will continue with my documentation of its progress for my therapy and hopefully your education, especially as things do not always go exactly as you think. As they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men…”