Saturday, August 28, 2010

Denied again...

Well, to put it simply, I got refused at the border.

My dad and I arrived at the border around 9:30am. We gave our passports over, saying we were heading to Plattsburgh. Everything was okay until I heard the officer ask, 'Have you had any problems passing through the border, Lindsay?' And that's when my heart stopped. I said yes, and explained what happened since he wanted to know. After a few more questions, he sent us off to secondary inspection. We parked the car, and went into this building.

Once inside, we took a seat and waited to be called. My name was finally called and I approached the guy behind the counter. He asked some questions, I explained to him I was visiting my husband for 7 weeks, that we had applied for the CR-1 visa, I explained why I was refused last week, etc, etc. He told me that I wasn't allowed to come to the USA without a visa. I told him I had filed for the CR-1 and that I had the right to visit. He told me that I was an intending immigrant and that I would need either the immigration visa (which we applied for) or the K3 visa. I tried explaining to the guy that the K3 is basically obsolete, but he didn't believe me. He told me to take a seat.

I sat back down. I couldn't believe what was happening. I knew that the K3 visa was obsolete and if I had applied for it, the application would just get thrown out. And I knew I had the right to visit while this CR-1 visa was being processed. But this officer didn't believe me. I finally got called back up by the same guy. He told me that he spoke with some fellow officers and they all said the same thing, that I would need either a K3 or an immigrant visa to be allowed back into the US. I tried telling this guy again that if I filed for a K3 now after having submitted an I-130, that it would just get thrown out. Again, he insisted that wasn't right. He told me to take a seat again and someone would call me up to get my fingerprints.

I told my dad to listen for my name while I went outside and called Ben (no cellphones allowed inside). I told him what had happened so far and that it was basically over, I wasn't getting in. I saw my dad waving for me, so I said goodbye and headed back inside. This lady officer escorted me to a back room. The guy officer who I had been talking to was already back there, ready to take my fingerprints. Just like I had done last Tuesday. Once it was over, the lady officer escorted me back to the seating area and told me to wait till I was called up.

Again, I told my dad to listen for my name as I headed back outside to call Ben. Told him what just had happened. And throughout this whole ordeal, I hadn't started crying yet. But now is when I started to cry. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. I knew I was allowed to go through, but for whatever reason, this guy wouldn't believe me. After talking for about 5 minutes, my dad waved for me to come back inside.

The same officer had called me up. Told me he needed to take my left and right index fingers again, and then took a picture of me from a webcam. He explained that I was being refused entry. Told me that to get through to the US I would need either the immigration visa I applied for or a K3. And he explained that if I went to another border and tried this again with another story that it could lead to trouble, and might hurt my visa application, and it might even lead to being banned from the USA for a couple of years. Neither of which I want at all. So until I get my visa, I won't be visiting the US.

Hoping Ben could come visit, but it wouldn't be for long. He has full-time work and only has a two-week vacation. Not sure how we're going to do this for almost a year. Hopefully we can figure something out and see each other soon. Please, if you're reading this, pray for us. We need all the good luck we can get right now.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Package arrived!

Ben just told me now that he was informed by USPS that our I-130 package finally arrived in Chicago. He thought it should have arrived by Monday, but he later found out that the lady who told him that didn't know what she was talking about and it would actually take longer. Oh well, I'm just happy it finally arrived. Now to just wait for the NOA1 to be sent.

In other news, I'm planning on visiting Ben tomorrow. I thought I would have a better chance at getting through US Customs if I went through the land border. Which is what I ended up doing. My dad and I will drive down to Plattsburgh tomorrow morning and I'll catch a flight at 12:45pm, connecting then in Boston, Chicago, and finally landing in Sioux Falls. I'm hoping nothing goes wrong at the border. I'm praying my dad doesn't mess anything up or the immigration officer doesn't ask too many questions.

If no post is put up tomorrow, then I made it through. If there is a post, it's not going to be a happy one. Keeping my fingers crossed that I make it through tomorrow and can finally get back together with my one and only love, even if it is only for a 7-week visit.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

The I-130

As soon as I got home from the airport, Ben and I began to research what we needed to do. We decided to file for the CR-1 visa (an immigration visa) since the K3 visa is unofficially not done anymore. We discovered what forms we needed to fill out and what documents we needed to send in. So much is needed!

-form G-1145
-cover letter explaining what's included
-check for $355, fee for the I-130
-form I-130 all filled out, signed and dated
-form G-325A from the petitioner (Ben), all filled out, signed and dated
-a passport picture of Ben
-form G325A from the beneficiary (me), all filled out, signed and dated
-a passport picture of me
-copy of petitioner's passport
-copy of petitioner's birth certificate
-copy of marriage certificate
-copy of beneficiary's passport
-copy of beneficiary's birth certificate
-evidence that our marriage/relationship is real

I knew what I had to do the next day (Wednesday), as did Ben. I needed to get passport pictures of myself done, as did Ben, and I needed to photocopy all airplane boarding passes from my previous trips to the US. I also photocopied some movie tickets from when we went to see movies together. I also needed to make a photocopy of my passport and birth certificate. Once I had everything done on my part, the next day (Wednesday) I sent everything by priority to Ben in the US. He received my package two days later, on Friday. He then spent that night putting everything together in the correct order. And into the manila envelope it went.

On Saturday, August 21st (our three month anniversary), he went to his post office and sent our application for my visa by priority mail.

And now the month-long wait begins. The immigration officer that I spoke with at the airport said this takes about 4 months. He was very wrong. On VisaJourney (the website where we got our information from), users frequently show their own timelines of their journey through immigration. Many of them have taken months just to get their I-130 approved. And then there's more steps after that which takes even more time. By the time most people have sent in their I-130 and have got their new visa in hand, it's closer to a year than 4 months.

So, I'm trying to remain hopeful. I'm planning on visiting Ben soon, but I will discuss the challenges I will face in another post.



Hello to everyone!

I have created this blog to write down my journey through immigration. Before I begin, I'd like to share a little background information of how I got to where I am now.

It all began on January 7th, 2010. I was on Facebook and going through the news feed when I saw an interesting post by one of my friends who re-posted from one of his friends (Ben). At the end of reading it, I made a comment about it. An hour or two later, I got a friend request from Ben. Usually I don't add anyone on Facebook I don't know, but I thought why not. So, I added him. And that's when our friendship began. That first day alone, we talked for two or three hours on Facebook chat, just getting to know one another. This continued on everyday.

One day, I was on the bus heading somewhere when I got a text message on my phone. When I view it, I see it's from Ben. He mentioned that he found my cell number listed on Facebook and decided to text me. And since then, we texted everytime one of us wasn't home or at work to talk online.

We eventually moved from Facebook chat to MSN as it was much easier.

We soon began to joke about me going to visit him in South Dakota (USA). Eventually, we went from joking to serious, and before I knew it, I was booking a flight from Montreal (Canada) to his little town in the US. Our first meeting was in mid-March and lasted for five days. Throughout the visit, I thought it would be so cool if he was my boyfriend. He was absolutely amazing and on the last day of the visit, I never wanted to leave.

Over the next week, Ben and I expressed how much we missed each other and soon began to reveal our feelings for one another. There was just one little problem...

At that time, I was actually with someone else (my first ever boyfriend), but had fallen out of love with him months before. We had our own apartment together for more than a year at that point. I had never broken up with anyone before, but I knew it must be done. He was in quite a shock when I told him. Within a week or two later, I was back to living with my dad's.

Ben and I thought another visit should be in order, so mid-April, I headed back to South Dakota, this time for only four days. It was technically even less since I arrived late Friday night and left early Monday. But, on April 16th, the first night I was there, Ben proposed to me. We had actually been discussing it since we knew we were right for each other and wanted to have a small courtroom wedding and then get me to the US as fast as possible.

After that April visit, I came back for another four days at the end of April/beginning of May. It had only been two weeks apart, but it felt like forever. I came in earlier on Friday, so we had almost three full days together this time. Again, we didn't want to say goodbye, but we both knew I would return in two weeks time and we'd have the whole summer together.

Two days after I finished my semester, I headed back to South Dakota, this time to spend almost three months there. On May 21, we got married in the courthouse in his town. His mother and grandmother were witnesses (his younger step-brother was there as well playing in the benches). We had decided to just have a small courthouse wedding to get all the legal stuff out of the way, and after some time, we'd have another bigger wedding with everyone invited, once we have the time and money to plan it.

My return ticket to Canada was a week into August. Neither of us wanted me to leave. And looking back, I never should have. But, it was for only 10 days and I needed to get some things done in Canada before I came back and began the process of becoming a legal permanent resident of the US. Leaving was mistake number 1.

Mistake number 2 occurred at customs at the airport when I was going to return back to South Dakota. I unfortunately mentioned that I was going back to apply for a green card. What I didn't know at that time is that you cannot cross the border to the US with the intention of immigrating. That is a violation of immigration laws. I was sent to the immigration area at the airport while I waited for an hour, not knowing what was going on. An immigration officer finally took me in, about 10 minutes before my flight was supposed to leave, and then told me the devastating news. I was not going to see my husband that night. He explained what I was doing wrong and told me that I had to either apply for an immigration visa or a K3 non-immigrant visa. And that I wouldn't be seeing my husband for 4 months. Never have I cried so much in my life....