Nobody realizes or thinks about the amount of military personnel who marry foreigners. I am one of them. The foreigner, that is. I was born in Kenya to an Argentine mother and a Spanish father. Twenty-seven years later, I took on the role of marrying what I viewed as a foreigner (just like my parents did to one another), a US Marine. Born and raised in Cajun country and with a slight twang in his accent. We could not be more opposite of one another. I was raised around the world, literally. While he was raised in one place his entire life.
The idea of marriage to anyone same citizenship-civilian person as I like to say is simple. There’s no hassle, just that of the wedding and barely any paperwork, aside from the marriage certificate and the whatnots.
Unfortunately, my marriage to my husband was not as simple as one would think. First, you have to think of the concept that we are both foreigners in each other’s worlds. In order for us to get married in his home state of Louisiana, we both had to endure countless and countless hours on frustrating paperwork with the USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services). I had to obtain a fiancé visa, which could take up to 6-12 months and it had to go through the US Consulate where I was residing. At that time I was between countries, Spain and the UK where I was just finishing up my Masters. For the Consulate you had to get mounds of more of the same paperwork you had originally filled and the extras like: police records saying that you had no felonies, translated copies of anything and everything, pictures of you and your fiancé, updated passport, US passport size pictures and between all of that you had to make sure your sanity was intact because gathering all that information was extremely stressful. I remember waiting and sitting at the Consulate for about 6 hours to get interviewed and processed. At that point I was a nervous wreck, my wedding was only weeks away and I had no visa. Lucky for me, I got my visa a week before I left for the US, but the stress wasn’t yet over.
During the process of getting the fiancé visa we also had to deal with the Marine Corps, of course. My husband and I had set the date to get married on January 9th, 2010, but the Marine Corps had other plans, of course. We ended up getting married a month earlier, December 12th, 2010.
Entering the US I had to get interviewed by Border Patrol at my first port of entry, it’s a routine check done on anyone immigrating to the US. Bad part, I missed my connecting flight to New Orleans so I spent a lovely 6 hours in the airport in Miami waiting for the next flight. After we got married, we headed on our honeymoon and moved to the lovely Twentynine Palms, CA. I had to deal with the USCIS again to get my permanent resident card (a.k.a. green card) in order to be able to work and live in the US. Thank goodness this process only took a total of four months, compared to the seven month wait for my fiancé visa.
Now I’m gearing up to remove my conditions on my permanent resident card (this normally happens if you enter the country as a fiancé), which is another workload of paperwork, which I’m dreading to deal with again.
“Was it all worth it?” To be with the love of my life? Absolutely. Love is not easy and I did not expect any immigration process nor dealing with the Marine Corps to be peachy.
* The author, in no way shape or form, represents the USCIS or its affiliates. Please note that this article is based solely on the author’s experience. It does not mean that everyone going through the process will have the exact same experience.*