My first post is a retrospective glance at my arrival into the US; my Visa experience. Although it all worked out in the end, I can't say that this was an easy, timely or enjoyable experience. I passionately want to log the mistakes and successes we made along our way in the hope that if I can educate and inform at least one other couple not to make the mistakes that we did, I will rest easy.
Our love affair with American immigration began in September 2010 when Doug and I (then engaged) applied for a K1 Fiance Visa.
We merrily skipped to the post office hand in hand to post off our application forms and passport photographs, true love must have given us each a pair of rose tinted spectacles as we began to make our wedding day preparations in the UK for March 2011; 6 months away...right?....loads of time for the K1 Fiance Visa to come through....right?!......wrong. Oh and by the way, it is ok to get married in the UK first and then the US isn't it?.....wrong again. Oh how foolish and misinformed we were. So blinded by loves bright light that I eagerly gave up my job as the Head of Learning Support in a fantastic prep school in North London to live in the US.
The days passed quickly and the excitement of our wedding day over shadowed the fact that my visa had not yet arrived. We were finally married in March 2011 in the UK. It was the most amazing day shared with our friends and family at an idyllic venue called Ruston Hall which is very close to where I grew up in Northamptonshire.
Life was wonderful, we were newly married, very much in love and heading to the States to begin our life together as a married couple. We boarded the plane hopeful that my visa would be waiting in the post box upon our return and we could start to plan our wedding in the US. We encountered the first hurdle upon my arrival into Dulles International Airport, where Customs made it known to me that they were unhappy with the number of visits I had made to the States since August 2010. This led us to investigate my status further and we made two horrific revelations.....1- I should not be in the US while my Visa application was being processed and 2- that we had invalidated our Visa application by getting married overseas......ouch! A few days later the amazing and surprising news that I was pregnant was overshadowed as we began to make plans for my journey back to the UK for goodness knows how long while we reapplied for a K3 Spouse Visa. The tears we cried were tears of sadness and frustration at our situation and own foolishness.
So, it was April 2011 and the weeks rolled by and the months started to mount up and my tummy began to swell. Once our paperwork had been submitted to the US Customs Immigration Service (CIS) we appealed to Doug's Senator, the Honourable Mark Warner who was able to help us and our case was soon being dealt with by the National Visa Center (NVC). We found out this good news while we were on our honeymoon in St. Ives, Cornwall, UK after 3 Months of separation. At this point we were hopeful that our case would be resolved quickly but then ensued the longest 3 months of waiting, submitting duplicate paperwork and nervous anticipation that we would hear from the NVC that our case had been sent to the American Embassy in London and that my interview had been scheduled. Finally in August while on holiday in Capena, Italy we heard that my interview had been scheduled for the 16th September 2011.
My visa finally arrived through the post on the 21st September 2011. The good news couldn't have come sooner as I had only a week left until I would be deemed unfit for a long-haul flight due to my pregnancy. I finally arrived into the USA as a 'Spouse Alien' clutching all my paperwork in my sweaty hand on the 23rd September 2011.
In retrospect it is all now beginning to feel like a distant nightmare but at the time it was very painful and stressful. Both my husband and I experienced an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and frustration. We only saw each other twice in the 6 months that we were apart. We had no way of knowing how things were going and where we were in the process, it was hideous and took it's toll on us both.
Our beautiful baby girl was born 6 weeks later and now it's the sleepless nights that cause us the headaches and make us cry; visa's are nothing compared to the anguish over how to calm nappy rash but I can't deny that those 6 months were some of the longest and hardest that I have ever had to endure.
So why am I writing this blog........?
This blog is a way for me to record and reflect upon my day to day life and all the changes that have happened to me over the past 2 years. In a nut-shell I moved from the rich, bustling streets of London to the sleepy suburbs of Washington DC all in the name of love. My biggest reward in this adventure has been the love of my wonderful husband and the birth of our beautiful daughter. However this transition is not and has not been an easy one; it's been filled with tremendous highs and devastating lows- all part of life's rich tapestry and part of my story that I want to share as a mother, wife and of course as an English girl settling into life across the pond.