Green Card Red Tape (Part One)

Where do I even begin with this one?​

Maybe I’ll follow that cheerful Maria from that film about the singing family: ‘Let’s start at the very beginning…a very good place to start…la la la…whiskers on kittens…’

The beginning:

When was it. I can’t remember. I think it was before I was even born. 

No really, let’s see…hummmmm…it was before the end of 2014. Or was it after February 2015.

OK let’s forget dates, I’ll just go by phases instead.

Phase One:

Mark files a petition for my K1 fiancee visa. Money order: big amount. Using a pen and posting a letter costs nearly a thousand dollars according to these people. Well, they can’t say we’re not doing our bit for the illegal-immigrant-benefit-money-pot.

Months pass.

The ghosts-in-the-office send back the documents; something else needed or a repeat of the same thing or not enough postage on the envelope. Mark does as he is told like a good American citizen. Meanwhile I send my bit from Ireland: documents saying ‘hi, I’m not a terrorist’, things like that. More money: where is it going/shame on you government/does a stamp really cost this much etc.

Months pass.

They need more stuff; they need proof the relationship is ‘real’. Our age difference makes them think we’re freaks; I must be a mail-order bride. Mark sends more stuff: Pics, love letters written in ink, sealed with wax, a portion of my heart I cut out of my body using craft scissors, the usual romantic stuff. I also send more documents saying: ‘I love him. This is real. I’m not a terrorist. Age is just a number. How can I cope if you doubt our earth-shattering love? I might just go and cry myself to sleep with lonely-hearts-music playing in the background.’

Time passes. I don’t know how much time anymore. Time is a quantifiable thing. My impatience is unquantifiable.

They send a letter saying: ‘Okay, we’re starting to believe you’re not a terrorist or a mail-order bride. We might just accept the fact that Mark isn’t your sugar daddy. Now you need to do these things you’ve done before on numerous occasions.’

I do the things I’ve done before. Mark does the things he’s done before. More money involved. This must be going towards roads or something…surely stamps aren’t this expensive. 

More time passes.

Finally, a promising letter:

Okay, we’ve had a serious discussion in the boardroom. It’s really starting to look like you’re not a terrorist or a mail-order bride. We’re thinking your relationship is very unusual. I mean, geez, the age gap. However, it seems to be legit. (Are you sure you’re not a mail-order bride?) Anyway, now you have to do an interview to prove you’re not a terrorist or mail-order bride. Here’s the date. Oh and we need more money. Our titanium printer broke and we’re running low on gold-embroidered stationery. 

Letter continues:

For your interview, answer the survey on this link. The survey asks questions like: 

Are you a terrorist?

Are you a mail-order bride?

Are you a smelly person who will spread disease?

Are you a mad scientist intent on destroying America using a biological weapon?

I click no to all the questions, despite my little rebel voice telling me to click yes for fun. Rebellious voice: go away. This kind of thing demands my sensible, serious adult voice.

Letter continues:

Oh and you need to have a medical exam to prove you’re not a smelly person who will spread disease. We need more money to find this out.

Once you do all these things, we will let you into our country. Yes, we are the same country that rewards illegal immigrants with healthcare and benefits. But you? We think you’re weird. Get a man your own age, stupid girl. We’re gonna make you jump through hoops.

I solemnly obey all of the hoop-jumping requirements stated in the letter.

I pay money to be poked and prodded in a medical exam that is actually a short, almost-routine check-up. I stand topless in an office without curtains waiting for a woman to give me an x-ray. I hand over 500 euros. I tell myself: don’t be a brat, I’m sure this business is a very efficient and effective company. I’m sure they’re not just funneling money away into some off-shore bank account in the Cayman Islands. 

A week later, I go back to the medical place and pick up my results. They wouldn’t post me the results because the material is too sensitive. I concur, musing how my blood test could plausibly start World War Three. I pass with flying colours. Hooray! I’m not smelly or contagious.

On the same day, I pay money to be asked embarrassing questions at the American Embassy in Dublin. My cheeks go hot and red. The man arches his eyebrows and double-checks Mark’s birth date versus mine. I go redder. Yes, I know there’s a big age-gap; now feck off. I assure him I’m not a terrorist or mail-order bride. I also assure him I’m not marrying Mark for a green card. I simultaneously wonder how green-card-scammers can be bothered to go through all this hassle just to get a green card. I seem to pass. The man smiles and says ‘congratulations’. 

‘What happens now?’ I ask.

‘You get a big official-looking brown envelope in the post. Don’t open it. Bring it to the airport with you.’

‘That’s it?’

‘That’s it.’

I go home and start to plan for the next phase: Green Card Red Tape Part Two