My British husband and I had been married for about 15 months when we had a very important parenting decision to make. Would we raise a family in the UK or the USA? We had spent much of this time flying back and forth between both counties for my husband’s work. While I really enjoyed being a jet setting newlywed, I was desperate to set down roots. We decided to apply for his green card.
The application process was overwhelming. I insisted to my husband that we hire an attorney to help us. We were living in a small, Southern town and our choices for legal representation were limited. We met with two immigration attorneys (one was a divorce attorney, the other seemed mean). Neither attorney struck me as competent. After our free consultations, I asked my husband to choose which one we would work with because I didn’t like either option. He thought the divorce attorney was unpleasant to him, while I thought the other had taken a disliking to me. We chose the latter.
The application process was extensive and time consuming. We spent many hours compiling personal documents for our application. My husband needed to have documented immunizations and a physical examination at the county health department. We also had to drive to a neighboring state to have his biometrics taken by the Department of Homeland Security.
Although we submitted all of our forms correctly to our attorney’s office, the paralegal working on our case made numerous typos when she typed up our forms. We refused to mail anything to the Immigration Naturalization Services (INS) until she had corrected the errors. We had to double check her work several times and it set back the mailing of our application by about a week and a half. Once we had finally mailed those forms, we received a letter from the INS requesting more information because the paralegal had completed the wrong forms for our case. This further delayed the process for receiving our green card interview invitation. Meanwhile, our attorney advised us that he would not accompany us to the green card interview because there was no need for him to be present.
Finally, after many months of waiting, we were assigned an interview date and time at the INS office in Atlanta. On the morning of our interview, we sat in the waiting room and anxiously waited for our case number to be called. There was a beautiful family from India sitting behind us and a couple of old men with Russian brides sitting in front of us. When our immigration officer appeared, I noticed that she was young and dressed in a suit. I could sense that she had a pleasant disposition which put me at ease. She called us back to her office and asked if our attorney was present. We explained that he had opted not to attend our interview. She seemed surprised. Then, the interview began.
The Immigration Interview
We talked to the immigration officer about how we’d met, our wedding, our families, and our jobs. She looked through our photos and listened to our stories. She concluded the interview and said that my husband’s green card would be mailed to him. Since we had been married for less than two years, we would have to apply again to the INS in a few years to remove the marriage restrictions on his card. Ten days after our interview, the card arrived at our home. About six weeks later, I became pregnant with our son, Hunter.
We were officially going to start a family in America! I still count the day my husband’s green card arrived in the mail as one of the happiest of my life. It was a long and expensive process but definitely worth it.