I hold my hands up, I’m an immigrant. I’m living in America on an immigrant visa. I know especially in the blogging community, the word ‘Expat’ is thrown around a lot and I admit this is what I tend to refer to myself as, but in fact, I am an immigrant. But can you really blame me for not really using this term at the moment? Just look at the news, it has so much bad press and I debated as to whether or not I should pipe up and say my view. But as an immigrant, and especially one that blogs about the visa process, I thought surely I should show what it’s like through my eyes?
The other day, there were protests in some USA cities called ‘Life Without Immigrants‘. Immigrants were encouraged not to turn up to work, skip school and not go out in public and use restaurants etc to show what America would be like without immigrants. Does that mean I shouldn’t have gone to work that day? But lets face it. The majority of America are from immigrant descendants. My ‘all American’ in-laws (and now me) even have a last name that probably has German/European origins. Just look at Iowa, there are towns with Dutch, Norwegian and German heritage just to name a few!
So lets get things straight.
I went through the visa process and first entered the States as an immigrant when OBAMA WAS PRESIDENT.
Throughout the whole process. I felt like a criminal and violated as a human being.
I’m white and British.
When I tell my work colleagues what I went through to get here, they are pretty shocked. So today I share some of the shocking parts of my experience of the USA visa process.
My paperwork took 9 MONTHS to complete.
During this time I was forced apart from my Husband. Sound familiar? Families being forced apart? Yep, happens to EVERYONE. We had ONE WEEK of married life together before he was back in the States and I was left in the UK. It took over 10 months before we were back together.
And guess what. I was advised that I really shouldn’t enter the USA at all during these 9 MONTHS as there’s a chance that I’d get turned away at the border. 3 months sounds like nothing now doesn’t it?
Ironically, we both flew into Mexico and met across the border. Good ole Mexico.
I had to have a background police check.
Nothing unusual about that. Well what if I told you I had to get a ‘high up’ friend (NOT a family member) to vouch for me that I was a good person. Essentially putting his reputation on the line. Luckily our neighbour in the UK who I’ve known for a long time now, is a bank manager and thankfully that occupation was one of the few accepted ones. How many bank managers do you know on a personal level?
I had to get butt naked in front of a doctor (TMI ALERT).
Fair enough, if I had a problem or was having a baby or something this wouldn’t have bothered me. But I was made to do it because they wanted to check every inch of my body in case I had any rashes/infections that they didn’t want me bringing into America, no area or opening was left un-touched. I have never felt so violated in my whole life. If all my injections weren’t up to date, they would have also pumped them into my arm one after another. There was a list of around 10 I had to have covered. Due to all my travel habits, I had kept most up to date over the years so I only had to have one on the day of my medical.
I have to play by the rules OR I’LL BE DEPORTED.
It’s written all over the visa paperwork.
Do something wrong:
Don’t keep on top of your paperwork:
Enter on a marriage visa and split up before 2 years:
When you enter legally, the big D word is written in black and white. Don’t play by the rules or keep your visa up to date and you will be kicked out. My Green Card has a 2 year condition on it. Before it reaches the 2 year point, I have to fill in MORE paperwork and send off MORE money to prove that I’m still married to the person I was when I first applied for the visa. This is to stop sham marriages, people getting married just to get a Green Card. It means you’d have to be married to them for at least 3 years before you can stay here ‘without them’. Once this form has been accepted, my Green Card is then valid for the full 10 years…and in 10 years…yep more money to renew it again.
Wanna know how much it costs to enter the States legally on a visa? I shared the total 2016 cost in THIS POST. This total doesn’t even include future fees that keep me here legally.
It’s gone crazy. I’m part of a Brits in the USA Facebook group and this whole thing has even got them debating as to whether or not they should be going for citizenship. They are scared that no immigrant is safe anymore if Green Cards are being threatened to be taken away and they don’t want to be split up from their families.
So in summary, the immigration process has sucked for all nationalities, not just the ones that are currently all over the media. It also sucked during Obama’s presidency. Trump just wants everyone to be legal and have better background checks, I’ve been through hell and paid an arm and a leg to do it the right way so you can imagine what it feels like for someone like me when others don’t play by the rules.