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Immigration gone nuts
Old 06-03-2009, 08:08 AM   #1
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Immigration gone nuts

Just complaining a bit here....Currently living in the UK and married to a local Yorkshire lass. Planning on retiring in 2 years at 54 from a teaching job with the military. Both of us would rather live on $40-45,000 a year and not work....and that means moving back to the Spokane area for me (although I grew up on the West side). Being a semi-responsible couple of people we have started the process of getting my wife a VISA (green card) so that she can live permanantly in the US with me (been married 2.5 years). We submitted the first round of paperwork to the London embassy ($355) and were accepted to continue filling out more and more paperwork. Here is where it get's good (er....bad), now we have to get a bunch of the usual proof that we have already given them with a lot more. No problem, nothing unusual....proof of how much money we have, jobs, check with the police for a record etc....no complaint there. We send that pile in and then we will be told when we have to report to London for a physical with the only hospital that they will allow for physicals. Just looking online and it looks like 174 Pounds for us to go and come back. I think there might be something cheaper when I dig into some discount rates. They won't accept the physical to be done by a local doctor here in Harrogate, although they will allow the local doctors to fill out her vaccination records and update anything she is missing. Then we will have to go to London again at a later date for an interview. Other than the trip down just for a physical (which she/I will have to pay for, she wouldn't if she used the National Health)...we can live with that as well. Jump through the hoops, nothing tooooo aggravating. But then within 6 months we will have to fly to the US and go through customs and then turn around and come back to the UK. We have just sent them a letter wondering if they have any problem with us just going to the US when I retire and doing all this there (Oh, I can hear them screaming about that already). Although straight off their computer site they mention all the steps (a LOT easier and cheaper) that you need to do to just bring a fiance over and do the same thing from that side.

Of course, a lot of this is just somebody "doing something" to prove they are on the ball and improving the immigration standards to the US.....although it is much harder to do this through the regular proper channels, and just easier/cheaper to bring somebody into the US with the plans to keep them there once they are there. There doesn't seem to be anything to stop people from just going to the US and staying there once they get there.

Orrrr, I am just screwed up and I have this all wrong. Wouldn't be the first time
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:56 AM   #2
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BTDT- welcome to the wonderful world of being a US citizen wishing to live in his home country with a foreign spouse. It is easier for an illegal alien to stay in the states than for someone who tries to do it fair and square (just have a baby born on US soil).

I feel for you. The road ahead won't be easy. Once she does get into the states, I suggest getting citizenship as fast as legally possible. It will save headaches when travelling. Good luck...you'll need it.

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Old 06-03-2009, 09:06 AM   #3
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a few years ago i was thinking of moving to New Zealand and was on some ex-pat groups - lots of moaning about the process to get into NZ. Seems like many used the services of facilitators to wend their way through the bureaucracy. No idea if something like that is available in England for a US move.

Want to say in Mexico the facilitators are called Coyotes - nah....
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:10 AM   #4
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There is no way my wife would go for US citizenship. The only reason she is going to the States is because it is easier/cheaper for us to live there.....and she seems to be rather fond of me. She is a Brit through and through. If I drop dead from doing something stupid (bike riding, golfing, falling off the roof, etc) she would whip back to the UK faster than snot. We just need the permanant VISA so she can live there until I do the above mentioned stupid thing.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:12 AM   #5
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I have friends who tell me it was easier to do immigration twice - once to Canada - then again from Canada to US - instead of trying directly for US. Maybe that was becasue of the rules like make a trip to the US and come right back.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:13 AM   #6
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That's nothing, wait til you move to Spokane and try to get a mortgage
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:14 AM   #7
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And...........I would be perfectly happy to live here. But we would have to work a fewmore years.....and both of us are yearning rather badly to retire in 2 years and live cheaply. Easy choice for us.....retire in 2 years and live off about $45,000 a year, or keep working a few more years and live here in a smaller colder house. We just looked at each other and said "living cheap sounds good".
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:20 AM   #8
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Bestwifeever. Ha....that is another of the silly things. We already bought a house last summer just north of Spokane along the river in both our names and we are renting it out for 2 years. I own a house here that we will be lucky to get our money back on in a year or two, I would be happy with that. We should be able to retire with a small pension (take home about $12k, SS supplement of about $1000 a month from 56-62, SS for me at 62 and she would also be eligible for half my SS under the spouse rules. Plus we would have about $650,000 in TSP/mutual funds etc after fixing up the house. Enough combined to get about $45k total a year from is what I plan.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:27 AM   #9
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Welcome to the world of dealing with US Immigration, the most unfriendly, unhelpful group you are likely to encounter.

Due to our visa type, we either have to send our passports into US Immigration for renewal which takes 4 months for them to issue, or we have to go to London. The interview in London usually involves them asking one question, who do you work for, and then they say approved and your passport will be couriered in 3 days. So imagine the cost for 2 of us to fly from the US to London, pay for hotels and wait around for passports. What is even sillier is they issue the visa that day, but won't allow you back to collect it the next day.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:49 AM   #10
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Having dealt with US immigration services for years, I understand your frustration. I have plenty of "horror stories", including being detained at the border 3 times because my green card showed up as "stolen" in their computer system due to a clerical error on their end. It took a year and a half for the error to get purged from the system. But it is the price to pay to live in this great country.

My advice is to be patient and follow the rules. I remember a friend whose physical exam form was rejected because he downloaded it from the INS website on white paper when the original forms (which he should have ordered from the INS) had duplicates on colored paper. Same with pictures, always check for new guidelines (they do change from time to time), and make sure that the pictures comply with those guidelines. It can be difficult to get it just right, but you better make sure you do.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:22 AM   #11
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If i were in your position i'd just stay in Britain and do more research on affordable places to stay. Going through all the hassle of moving back to Spokane then getting a job and resettled and having a wife that may really not like the USA sounds like more trouble than its worth.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:29 AM   #12
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Job? I have a good decent teaching job now. I wouldn't be wanting to quit a good govt job to move back to the States just to get another job. I might try to pick up a little part time job if I get bored...but I can't see that happening. I have seen too many of the people I work with work until they have more than enough money to live on and then retire.....and die soon afterwards.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:42 AM   #13
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I'm in the middle of helping my BIL bring his fiancee over here from Cambodia. They aren't married yet, so we are obtaining a I-129F / K-1 fiancee visa. It looks like she will be able to immigrate in under a year of filing the application assuming her final interview goes smoothly next week. I had heard that the I-130 / K-3 marriage visas take a while longer to get issued. Maybe the reason is fiancee visa is technically a non-immigrant visa while the marriage visa is an immigrant visa, even though they are treated basically the same through the state department (and mostly the same through INS/USCIS). We are doing the same hoop-jumping with regards to medical exam only being offered on the other side of the country in one of two selected hospitals in the capital city (a long 8 hr journey by car or bus, some of which is on dirt roads).

One very helpful reference I have found is Nolo's Fiance & Marriage Visas: A Couple's Guide to U.S. Immigration. It will help avoid some pitfalls (such as letting spouse come to US through tourist visa, then overstaying visa, which could make obtaining a marriage visa extremely difficult and much more expensive and time consuming)

Good luck!
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:10 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by DangerMouse View Post
Welcome to the world of dealing with US Immigration, the most unfriendly, unhelpful group you are likely to encounter.

Due to our visa type, we either have to send our passports into US Immigration for renewal which takes 4 months for them to issue, or we have to go to London. The interview in London usually involves them asking one question, who do you work for, and then they say approved and your passport will be couriered in 3 days. So imagine the cost for 2 of us to fly from the US to London, pay for hotels and wait around for passports. What is even sillier is they issue the visa that day, but won't allow you back to collect it the next day.
So what you are saying is you both are moving here BEFORE she does her interview for her visa... well, then yes, you have to go back...

Now, if you stay there, no problem...


Go to a site called Visajourney.com.... lots of people doing the same thing you are and they show all the forms etc... and have links etc. to show how long the process takes... and it is LONG..

Good luck...
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:45 AM   #15
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F4Mandolin,
if you work where I think you work, go see the head of admin in SBII, name is LaBonte, he has done the process several times for employees. And, for himself. He can steer you onto some nice work-arounds.
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Old 06-03-2009, 01:04 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Texas Proud View Post
So what you are saying is you both are moving here BEFORE she does her interview for her visa... well, then yes, you have to go back...

Now, if you stay there, no problem...


Go to a site called Visajourney.com.... lots of people doing the same thing you are and they show all the forms etc... and have links etc. to show how long the process takes... and it is LONG..

Good luck...
Actually we already live here, it's the renewal process that seems so jacked up. We never do the application ourselves, it's all done through lawyers etc. All we do is show up at an Embassy and have 5 minutes of 5 face time, and a very expensive 5 minutes at that.
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Old 06-03-2009, 02:34 PM   #17
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PX4....Yep, school teacher on top of the hill. Thanks, I will look into that. Anything to help the process. I think I foolishly thought after the first pile of paperwork it would be the physical....then the interview...and "Voila!!" Everything would be fine......but....I have worked for the Govt long enough to figure something else would be in the cogs somewhere. There just doesn't seem to be a list of all the steps you need to take to get things done.....or at least that I could find. The other comment from TexasProud I will look into as well....I will take all the help I can get. We were just online looking into house prices in Cornwall....not bad actually if you can live in a small 2 bedroom bungalow. But I just got off the phone with my finance guy near Spokane and he still thinks we can pack up in 2 years if we want (and I get early retirement).
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Old 06-03-2009, 04:08 PM   #18
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F4mandolin,

Check out the Nolo book I mentioned above. Pretty good checklist/flowchart for forms you have to fill out and the steps you have to go through. It was available locally in the public library, not sure about your current location overseas though.
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:12 PM   #19
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In the mid-90s I got married to a european national (met overseas) while I was living in the USA. She came on a student visa for a 1-2 month trade course, we got married during that time. She then got a green card with no particular problems. There was paperwork and a few tedious appointments in INS offices, and the first few years are a probationary period, but it wasn't a big deal. They were all quite nice about it, and it seemed routine. A native-born USA citizen with an obviously legitimate marriage to a western european just doesn't set off the alarms inside the USA. Foreign embassies might be another matter. You might consider having her come on a tourist visa when you reestablish residency inland, and do the paperwork here.

Edited to add- whatever you do, do it properly. They will most likely ship her out without qualms if she overstays a non-residency limit, married or not.

USA taxes, now, that's another matter. Do your homework, including inheritance/estate taxes if either of you has significant assets.
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Old 06-03-2009, 06:28 PM   #20
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USA taxes, now, that's another matter. Do your homework, including inheritance/estate taxes if either of you has significant assets.
Yes, do that. This is another reason DW will be going for citizenship a quickly as possible when we return. I have not yet done the research myself but have been told by friends that if you die, the non-citizen spouse has to pay taxes on your estate at current income rates. How would you like to see $650k turn into 400k. (of course you could get life insurance to cover that, but it is an additional cost).

DW has been detained before at immigration, back when visas were issued by the justice dept, and immigration was handled by the state dept. The right hand and the left hand do not always talk to each other. I followed their directions to the letter, and we still got it wrong because of that.

FWIW

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