Coming to America

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Want to know what it’s like to come here legally? Welcome to a 1000 pages of documentation the Trump administration and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has released to keep individuals from getting a green card.

It used to be a packet around 50 pages with tax and income documents proving financial stability of sponsor so the foreign national will not be a burden to the government. A Few weeks ago- USCIS revised the process to be even more invasive making it even harder to receive a green card.

Lets take a look to see what that journey has been like for my husband and I.

(If reading isn’t your thing- I included a John Oliver video that eloquently walks you through the process. Scroll to the bottom)

As many of you know- My husband and I met in a day- got engaged and married 9 months later in January 2017. Since Day 1 of our engagement we’ve roped in amazing immigration lawyers to help us through this process to ensure that we are filling out all the correct paperwork, on the right dates, with the correct proof, in all the right ways.

The night we met-

It’s a long involved process to get a green card- I’ll break it down.
July 2016– We met- applied for the K1 visa- got approved he came over and we got married on Jan 2017.
January 2017– After getting married- we applied for a change of status from visa to green card holder- waited and got approved in May 2017.

September 2017– Finally got the green card after they lost it in the mail, twice

September 2019– That was a temporary green card only lasting two years (based on Sept 2017) so we have to reapply for a 10 year green card which we did Sept 2019- to get approval it take up to two years.

Meanwhile– His green card has expired and we had to file a motion to get allowance on an extension so he could still be here legally to work. Otherwise he would be “illegal”.

While it takes two years to get another green card- we can apply in Sept 2020 for a change of status so he can apply for naturalization and become a citizen- negating the green card.

Can you imagine if you had to prove you’re in a relationship with someone? How would you do it? Would there be enough evidence? Since Day 1 there has been a folder living on my desktop documenting every photo, ticket stub, private texts, facebook post, family letters and more PROVING that we are in a relationship and it is genuine.

We’ve been privileged enough to have the resources, understand the language, be white, and have the financial stability to have lawyers and documentation- many foreign nationals do not.

And even with all the resources we have- there still a possibility it can all be taken away.

I understand the questioning for financial stability- even if it is unfairly biased and rooted in oppression. For the first six months in America- Adam could not work, he didn’t have a bank account, insurance, or a car. He had to solely rely on savings, and me to pay bills, groceries, and any living expenses.

You see- to even get a bank account- you need a social security number- which you don’t receive until you have a green card. So I had to open up an account, with Adam’s trust that I wasn’t going to steal his money, and he had to transfer all his money to me so he could have an account in America. Until he received his green card and social security number- technically I was owner of that account. Whew talk about responsibility.

This new form- I-944 is a new form that asks even more invasive and intrusive questions. The USCIS, published final version of the ‘Public Charge’ rule, officially titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” in late 2019. But it was blocked by many courts until late January 2020. After Supreme Court Judgment on Public Charge rule lawsuit, USCIS announced that it will be effective from February 24, 2020. 

In this form, it asks-

Do they speak English?

Do they have money in the bank?

Do they have a college degree?

Are they rich?

Do they have health insurance?

What are their long term job prospects?

While still proving that I can solely support my husband on my paychecks.

These questions need to be answered to the government’s satisfaction, which is subjective, and highly biased.

Basically, it’s a whole new way for a government bureaucrat to deny a green card application. Even if the marriage is legitimate. Even if the foreign national has never gotten a dime from the government. Even if I can financially support my husband.

The form itself is confusing, convoluted and confounding. Im honestly not sure if non-lawyers can even get a green card case approved any more. But people are still falling in love, fleeing their war torn country, still wanting to be reunited with their family.

So what do you do?

Same as we’ve always done- document the hell out of everything.

Save ticket stubs

Take photos

Have family and friends write letters of support to the government vouching for our relationship.

Don’t post anything negative about the government on social media- because they are watching.

Keep all bills- to prove you guys have money and are paying.

Submit private conversations between you and your husband to prove that you talk.

The process is exhausting.

We do all that we can- knowing that it can be taken away at any moment. Even after we filed all the paperwork, submit all pictures, letters, bank statements- we then just wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Right now- because of Co-Vid19 the offices are closed. So our case is indefinitely delayed. When the office was open- the waiting period was 2 years IF the government approved.

Another tricky tactic they like to do is hold your case in the purgatory of “processing” where it is acknowledged- but never finalized so you don’t receive your green card. Thats where our amazing lawyers come in.

They have our backs if this were to be the case- they can sue the government and hopefully get an answer to the case. Which they have done many other times for other people- and won.

They, like us, continue to fight. They play the game and win the game. Inspiring others to do the same. Because even in the face of hopelessness, bigotry, prejudice, and more- there will always be others there to fight the injustices and win. We are not alone.

If you need resources be sure to check out Hacking Law Practice YouTube filled with tons of help and advice to walk you through this process.

Visit NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER to get involved. The NIL is a center in the United States that “engages in policy analysis, litigation, education and advocacy, to achieve vision of a society in which all people — regardless of race, gender, immigration or economic status — are treated fairly and humanely.”

Any Questions? Email me at kelsienick0531@gmail.com

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Bold Haired, plus size Saint Louisian with a vested interest to advocate for diversity and inclusion

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