My husband came here with his parents at age 15 in 1999. They were tourists who overstayed their visas and applied for asylum status but were denied. In 2006, three months before we met, they were all granted a temporary status, which allows them to remain in the country and work, but has no path to permanence. After a short and loving courtship, we married in 2007 and have been in the process of applying for his permanent residence since December 2008. After an incredibly complex, bureaucratic process which has spanned three lawyers, almost 5000 dollars, an editorial about our story published in the Baltimore Sun and countless sleepless nights; we had a hearing on Tuesday (after several appointments with USCIS and no resolution), which was supposed to be the final step in the process and the day that a judge was to decide whether to approve or deny his green card.
I went into the day completely confident in the process and the system. Unfortunately, we encountered yet another roadblock. His medical exam indicated a "latent TB infection," which was discovered by the lawyer from the Department of Homeland Security and read aloud during the hearing. Even though we were assured by the doctor who performed the exam that this is common in many immigrants from the developing world who receive a slight strain of TB in the form of a vaccine and were assured that he does not in any pose a threat to the public after a chest x-ray, we were asked by the U.S. government to submit either a waiver from this exception or a letter from the doctor. Therefore, we have yet another hearing now scheduled for August 10th.
To say that we are devastated would be an understatement. After spending almost a year documenting our marriage, asking friends to submit letters testifying to its authenticity, after multiple check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (in which we were never really sure if they would detain him or not) and, finally, after two and a half years of waiting for the government to determine our marriage's legitimacy, we have once again had to put our lives on hold and continue to fight for our family to be together.
This process has been a black cloud over our marriage. We have endured great uncertainty while we try to figure out whether or not he will eventually be allowed to stay on a permanent basis. Imagine trying to create a life together, pursue education and job opportunities and think about starting a family when the truth is you never know if both of you will be around to enjoy it. It leaves you with a feeling of incredible isolation – since not even your own lawyer can really understand what it feels like to face possible separation. On Tuesday, I finally accepted the reality that our situation really is temporary; despite the fact that in September we will celebrate four years of marriage. The one true thing I can say for certain is that the uncertainty is the only real permanence in our lives…
submitted to Define American on July 1, 2011 at 10:56
We hope to share more stories that "define American" and beg critical questions about the state of immigration in our country. Submit your story here. Names are changed to maintain anonymity.