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Don't Learn the Hard Way
personal account about a student visa holder married to a U.S. citizen: Their
experience when re-entering the country after a trip abroad, and the less
fortunate experiences of others in similar situations.
When we arrived at customs and passport control, the INS officer had drawn a huge and zealous magic marker line through Peter's student visa, indicating that it was no longer valid. Even though he was still attending college in California, he was also the new spouse of an American citizen, and was thus considered an immigrant (or even worse, a pending immigrant.) Despite the fact that we had followed all procedures to the letter of the law, this change in his status was the apparent cause for our delay: we had to be patient while they entered his information into the computer and stamped his advance parole papers. And so we waited... long enough to make some friends.
A long wait for her green card, and to see her husband
The importance of Advance Parole
One set of newlyweds who sought our guidance had already made an irreversible error. Patrice was an American citizen and her fianc� Michael was Canadian. When Michael unwittingly admitted to border patrol that he was entering the U.S. to marry an American, they naturally turned him away: a foreign national cannot enter the U.S. with the intention to marry, unless the couple has filed for and received a K-1 fianc� visa.
At this point, Patrice decided that it would surely be easier to go to Canada and marry
Michael there, so she did. They returned to the United States, inadvertently evading
border control (no one asked if they were married, and they never volunteered this
information). If they had been found out, Michael may have been arrested for visa fraud
because he was entering as a "visitor" instead of under his truthful (marital)
status. When I informed Patrice that Michael would have to return to Canada while she
filed the appropriate immigration paperwork, the two of them gave up on the States
entirely and returned to Canada in favor of Canadian immigration laws. They were fortunate
to have that option.
Educate yourself on immigration matters
Remember: Love knows no boundaries, but the INS does, and it will enforce them.
Jennifer & Peter
Association of Americans for Spouse
A comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself immigration by Nolo Press.
� Peter and Jennifer Wipf 1999-2005. All rights reserved. No duplication without explicit written permission.
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