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A Guide to Getting Your Man into America

Posted on July 14, 2010 by yankeebean

Welcome to guest blogger – Wandering Seattleite!  Visit her blog seattleiteimagery

Wandering Seattleite

Wandering Seattleite

Two weeks ago my British husband and I flew into LAX. He handed the immigration officer his sealed manilla envelope, waited in a sterile lounge for an hour, and came out a legal resident of the United States of America.

When I married Dan almost five years ago I had some idea how big a role immigration officers would play in our relational logistics, but this past year it hit home. Every day for 6 months the Green Card was on our minds: How long’s it going to take? What if Dan doesn’t get in?! Moving across the world is stressful enough without all the legalities.

Now that my alien spouse has finally made it into the country, the whole immigration process seems far away. But I’ve had lots of people back in England ask me for tips for getting their aliens into the States. So, whether you’re in the throes of the Green Card application process, or just thinking about what it will look like in the future, here are a few helpful tips.

1 – Have a meticulous husband

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Honestly, my husband’s detail orientation came into it’s own here as I watched him fill out the overwhelming and tedious paperwork I’d have placed in my “to do” pile(s) for months. Don’t worry if your spouse is less than organized though – set aside a few evenings and force yourselves to fill out the boring papers/ locate documents, etc. It feels like a lot of work, but it’s not that hard, so just get on with it. Then reward yourself with a bottle of wine and dreams of Mexican food and Trader Joes shopping sprees.

2 – Do your taxes & get your police checks

It’s easy to forget about your US taxes while in the UK. Very easy. But proof of filing those bad boys is one of the things the immigration office is going to want from you in order to let your sweetheart in. If you’re a bit behind, this guide will sort your out – http://britishexpats.com/wiki/Taxes_filing_with_the_US_IRS_in_London. Another potential hold-up could be waiting for the police checks from every country your alien spouse has lived for a year since age 16. It took about 6 weeks to get the Japanese police check through, so if your spouse is at all nomadic I’d get on it straightaway.

3 – Keep calm and carry on, damn it!

When we were going through the process, waiting for dates, biting our nails, trying to plan our lives, etc., those red WWII posters were everywhere. They were my daily reminders not to freak out, to channel my inner Brit and just keep calm and carry on. This mantra honestly helped. Thousands of people apply for Green Cards and are accepted every year, often without a high school education or grasp of the English language. If they can do it, so can you. It feels overwhelming, but keep it in perspective and stop worrying. You will get there.

4 – Don’t be afraid of Plan Q

Before we applied we had it all figured out. We’d get the Green Card within three months, find jobs from the UK and move seamlessly to Los Angeles to start our lives. Well, Plan A became Plan B became Plan Q. The Green Card took 6 months, we spent the winter in New Zealand with my in-laws (highly recommended) and now we’re living at my parents house on an inflatable mattress in Seattle looking for jobs. Not Plan A, but not the end of the world either. My advice is to reassess where you’re at every week or so with the process and create a variety of plans depending on how long things take. Flexibility is very helpful!

5 – Interview prep

When Dan went for his interview he got all suited and booted and said no one else in the waiting room made an effort. I’m not saying my man’s appearance got him in, but I don’t think it hurts to dress like you’re taking this whole thing seriously either. The interview took just over an hour and was basically a final check of all the paperwork he’d so diligently rustled up. The one odd thing was when he handed the officer a letter proving my London employment, the lady said I needed proof of American employment! This seemed like a Catch-22  – how could I get a job in America until I knew we could both move over legally? Anyway, for some reason they let him in despite my lack of dual employment (because he was so well dressed?), and we didn’t need to worry about it. I’m not sure how other people have got around this though.

This list isn’t comprehensive, but it includes some of the things I found helpful going through the joys of getting a Green Card for my alien spouse. Have you gone through the same thing or are you planning to? I’d love to swap immigration stories.

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What Others Are Saying

  1. Camie August 11, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    The day I brought my then-fiance (now husband) to the States from England was a happy one. We came back together, he on a K-1 visa (we married, then adjusted his status to Permanent Resident), and security was lovely to him – which was a shocker considering that our point-of-entry was LAX. They took his envelope and said “welcome home” – brings tears to my eyes every time I think of how nice that was for my hubs.

    Justine, I can also attest to Visa Journey’s awesomeness – we went through K-1 and AOS w/their help.

  2. Justine July 26, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I wouldn’t recommend calling the embassy itself every other day. They will get pissed off and have been known to delay visas for that kind of thing in London. It is MUCH more recommended to call the Dept of State instead–I called them every weekday. Plus it’s free to call them versus paying $15 every 7 minutes for the Embassy.

    Please don’t assume that nothing has changed in 20 years. You can inadvertently give some very bad advice that can cost them a lot of time, no matter your intentions.

  3. Expat Mum July 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    Congrats! I can feel your relief.
    I would add to your advice – be tenacious. When I was applying for a Visa (20 years ago) they kept losing bits of paper and forgetting to do things and I just had to keep phoning the Embassy every day or two.
    The other piece of advice I would give is not to have any kind of “deadline” for getting your Visa. In other words, if you try to get it to coincide with your wedding (like I did) you will probably find your American husband having to return to the States without you for a month (like I did.)

  4. Justine July 17, 2010 at 2:58 am

    I very highly recommend visajourney.com

    They have a step-by-step process on how to apply for family-based visas and multiple forums for whatever issues you might have, from CR1s to DCFs to K1s and even a UK specific regional forum.

    Would recommend uk-yankee.com for the reverse process :)

  5. wanderingseattleite July 16, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Yes, Dreamer, congrats! It’s all so nice when it’s behind you.

    Andrea, I didn’t know about all that conditionality stuff. And I would consider a son to be stronger proof of union than a gas bill too, but hey, the that sort of logic is a bit out there.

    thechubbygirl, glad you’ve got a meticulous husband too! They come in handy. :) I won’t lie, the job search can be hard. But equally it’s difficult to find a job before you get out there. We moved to the UK without jobs and moved back without jobs and, though it’s a challenge, it’s do-able. I think you just have to brace yourself and know it could take awhile. Good luck!

  6. yankeebean July 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Congrats, Dreamer!! I’m THRILLED for you! I remember the feeling like it was yesterday.

    I hope you’re celebrating!

  7. Dreamer…unrealistic?…do i care? July 15, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Just went through this process but reverse..me getting the visa for the UK. Just heard yesterday! finally have one! i am THRILLED. but even more than that, relieved. me and my man are SO happy we can put this visa stuff behind us.

  8. Andrea July 14, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    We also went through this 2 years ago, via DCF in London. The one thing that was a huge difference for us was since we had been married just under 2 years my husbands green card was conditional, and we just applied last week to have his conditions removed (you have to wait 2 years), so another $550 to the US and another long process. It is worth it though!

    Keep lots of proof of living together, joint bank accounts, pictures, etc. We were surprised our son wasn’t proof on his own :)

    Congrats!

  9. thechubbygrl July 14, 2010 at 11:37 am

    This is perfect!! Hubby and I plan to move in April so have started the process already hoping to get everything done in time. I love all the hints you gave and I’ll definitely be passing this over to him. As you say having a meticulous husband during a time like this is a God send. Other times it pisses me off, but at the moment it’s amazing. He was also the only reason we were able to really get married as he got all my fiance visa stuff while I had a nervous breakdnever down that I would never get in. Anywho thanks again! Let us know how the job search goes. That’s the part that is scaring my hubby the most. He thinks he should get a job before moving.

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