Your Immigration Journey
You’ve come so far in your immigration journey. First, it was taking that first step to come to the United States to visit your aunt and cousins. This was your first time applying for a visa and traveling to the U.S.
Would they even give you the tourist visa? You’ve heard stories from your friends about denials, rude officers who didn’t want to hear your story, no questions asked. You miraculously get through the super short interview even though you’ve never been so nervous in your life. Now that you have the visa, you’ve never been more excited! Your dream come true, to finally visit the United States of America.
You didn’t anticipate the long immigration lines at the Dulles airport for visitors. So much longer than the U.S. Citizen and Permanent Resident lines! It’s your turn, and the Officer does not exactly seem in good spirits. He’s all business when he asks “what’s the purpose of your trip?” You reply “to visit my aunt and cousins in Virginia Beach, they’re picking me up but we’re staying in Washington DC for a few days…” Mid-sentence, he abruptly cuts you off and asks when you plan to return back home. You show him your return ticket, and he seems satisfied with that. The Officer stamps your passport and waves you through.
You’re finally here. You’ve been so nervous the whole time, you don’t know why, because you’ve done nothing wrong. You just know that you’ve heard the rumors and the stories that it’s harder and harder to get to the U.S. even for just a visit. You’re so relieved.
What a great country! It’s just different here. You can see from hanging out with your aunt and your cousins that they all have good jobs, working on their college education and a good future. Your aunt is proud of their little house, which is a lot more than she had back home. Your cousins are so American – easy going, confident and don’t seem to be worried about a thing.
One day your cousin, who goes to Tidewater Community College part-time and works part-time at a pizzeria, asks you if you want to deliver pizzas for the day. They need someone right away because their delivery guy was a no-show. You’ve been in the U.S. for three months now, and you don’t see that it’s a big deal. You’re working just for tips after all.
Wow! How did you make $50 in tips just for delivering pizzas? You start to calculate that if you did it 7 times a week, you’d make $350 in just one week. You could send money back home to your parents to help pay for your little sister’s schooling. As the oldest of the family, they have always counted on you. You’ll only do this until your stay is up, just three more months.
It feels so good to support your family. You’ve always wanted to take care of them. Things in your country aren’t so great, and you definitely can’t make money like this there. Even if you work very hard in your country, it’s still hard to support your family and make a decent living.
Three months comes and goes, and the next thing you know, you’ve been working at the pizzeria for two years now. In the back of your mind, you know you overstayed your visa, but in the end, the need to support your parents and sister is the most important thing to you. Nothing else matters.
At Christmas, your aunt and cousins have a party and invite many people. You meet a lot of people that night, but you really hit it off with your aunt’s co-worker’s daughter. The two of you talk and laugh all night and by the end of the night, you get enough of courage to ask for her number and she gives it to you. You text her late that evening to make sure she got home ok, and see if she’s around for coffee the next day. She is!
You’ve never met anyone like her before. She’s so open, laughs out loud, and asks you a million questions about your culture. The morning coffee date turns into two hours at Starbucks and then lunch. You end up spending the whole day together since it’s your day off.
After that, the two of you are inseparable; you message each other all day long and when you’re not working you spend all of your time with her. You don’t know how it happened, but you are madly in love with this girl after only a few months of dating, and you know she feels the same way.
You move into her apartment, and life is just good. After six months or so of being with her, one night at dinner, she blurts out, “let’s get married!” You love this girl, she’s so direct, and you’ve known that she is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.
But for the first time since you met her, you feel uneasy. You haven’t told her about your immigration status. She has no idea you’ve overstayed your tourist visa.
You blurt it all out, everything – that you stayed and worked and you knew you weren’t supposed to do that, but you were sending so much money home to support your family, they counted on you.
She doesn’t care. She tells you that the two of you will work it out, and there must be some way to make it right.
Your girl wants find out how to get married and wants to go to the courthouse where it’s done. You’re hesitant, because you don’t have a U.S. ID, and the visa in your passport has expired. What if they need something more? It’s a courthouse, what if they arrest you? She’s a little scared too, but still wants to go to at least get information.
What a relief, all they need is a form of ID and your passport works, you apply, pay the fee, and the Clerk asks you if you want to get married that day, now. Right now?? But you both look at each other, giggle and say, “yes, now.”
The ceremony is short and sweet, you had no rings, you weren’t even dressed properly and had no witnesses. But it was perfect. You two are feeling very happy and when you go and tell your aunt, she’s a little upset she wasn’t there but so excited for you both – she throws an impromptu dinner party for you both that night. All of your cousins are there, and your co-workers from the pizzeria. It’s a great night! You and your wife go home, feeling like the two luckiest people in the world.
The next morning you, you wake up happy but immediately feel that dread. What about your status? Do you need to go back home to get it all taken care of? You can’t imagine leaving your wife, because you have no idea how long it will take to get back. If at all. You Google. You read about a ten-year bar, you read about Trump’s increased enforcement and arrests, you read it all and you start to feel sick. You go to the uscis.gov website. It’s even worse there. So many forms, which one do you fill out? One of your cousins says that she can help you, but you don’t know. Does she even know what she’s doing? The government filing fees are so high. What if you mess up and don’t get your money back?
This is where the Immigration Attorneys at Gardner & Mendoza come in.
We’ve handled thousands of cases just like yours. Call us at (757) 464-9224 or contact us online and let us take that worry off of your shoulders. We will help you create that life you’ve always dreamed about.