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The World at Home

Last update - Sunday, September 1, 2013, 15:12 By Charles Laffiteau

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Last time out I mentioned that immediately after she agreed to marry me, Kinda and I began the year-long process of obtaining a fiancée visa for the US. What I didn’t mention were some of the ups and downs we experienced along the way.

As some of you may already be aware, obtaining a permanent resident visa or ‘green card’ that allows someone to immigrate to and live in the United States is a long and difficult procedure – even if that visa is for a foreign national who is already married to or plans to marry a US citizen. And believe it or not, it actually takes six to nine months longer for someone who is already married to a US citizen to get a visa than it does for a fiancée to get a visa to marry a US citizen in the States. That also explains why Kinda and I waited until we were there to get married.

Fortunately for Kinda and I, my sister-in-law Cynthia is a native of Peru who came to the US seven years ago on a fiancée visa to marry my brother David. Because she already had plenty of experience dealing with the ins and outs of the US Customs and Immigration Service’s fiancée visa process, she was an invaluable resource and guide for us.

One thing we all learned, however, is that when you are dealing with the US government, things can and will go wrong, no matter how carefully you try to adhere to all of the rules and procedures.

Kinda and I spent a month filling out several different visa forms, as well as gathering and mailing all of the birth certificates and other types of documents required for the application. I then express mailed the package of documents to the National Visa Centre in Lewisville, Texas on Thursday 26 July 2012 – more than a year ago – and was notified that the documents had been accepted and forwarded to the visa processing centre in Burlington, Vermont four days later.

Then began a long seven-month wait for them to process my request. Finally in March this year I received a letter requesting more proof that Kinda and I had actually met and knew each other prior to the application. Why did they want this? Because I had neglected to write the date of the picture a friend of ours had taken of Kinda and I in our Dublin apartment on the back of the photograph.  It meant Kinda and I had to spend a week gathering sworn affidavits from our friends and flatmates before mailing them, along with some properly dated pictures of the two of us together, back to the visa centre in Vermont.

After another month, we finally got the good news that the visa application had been approved, along with the date for Kinda’s visa interview at the US Embassy. Unfortunately, the clerk handling my application ignored my request that Kinda’s interview be conducted at the US Embassy in Ireland, where she was living, and had instead sent her file to the US Embassy in Jordan. When I told Kinda the good news about the application, I left out the second part, hoping I could sort out the situation before she’d be forced to travel east.

Changing the country where a visa interview is scheduled is rare and not an easy or simple matter. But fortunately for us, the consular staff at the US Embassy in Dublin was very sympathetic, and agreed to request Kinda’s file so she could have her interview in Dublin. Six weeks later and the embassy called to schedule her visa interview – on Thursday 27 June, exactly 364 days after I proposed.

As soon as we learned that her visa would be issued, I immediately booked my flights to Ireland and our return flights to the United States. As I’m sure some of you are aware, booking reasonably priced transatlantic airfares on short notice during the summer season is a dicey proposition. So I was also pleasantly surprised when I found out Delta still had some discounted seats left, even though they were only available on the 26 July flight from Dublin to Atlanta.

After her interview, the US Embassy kept Kinda’s passport and told her they would call her to retrieve it after they received another file from me. However, two weeks later, and just two weeks before our flights to the US, we discovered Kinda’s visa had still not been issued because the embassy had not received the file I sent them. After a few very anxious hours, the consular staff called back to let me know they had finally found my package in the mail room, and told us Kinda could pick up her passport on 16 July – just 10 days before our flights to Dallas.

So as I sat in Dallas on 21 July waiting for my flights to Atlanta and Dublin, I couldn’t help but wonder what other unforeseen situations and coincidences still awaited Kinda and I on our road to wedded bliss. I guess I’ll have to wait until next time to tell you…



Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas who is pursuing a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011.

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