19 Years and Counting…
It will have been 19 years, this August, on the 19th that I arrived in the United States of American. It also happens to be my 38th birthday! I will have spent exactly half my life in Canada and half my life in the US but that second half of my life has been wrought with stress, concern, and attempts at various VISA’s, boarding crossings and extensive measures to maintain my little life here south of the border.
I have been on an F1 VISA (Student), TN VISA (NAFTA treaty) and H1-B (Work VISA) throughout those 19 years. The most recent has been the TN VISA and as a “temporary VISA” there was going to come a day when I would expire as a legal resident in the US on a temporary VISA.
I have had a number of opportunities over the years to marry. Some of them even came close, but I never wanted to marry to stay in the US. Like I used to tell people, “I’m not from Rawanda” so I don’t NEED to stay in the US. I just built a life here over those 19 years that I really enjoyed and was never ready to leave…although I have had numerous people tell me recently, given the political climate, I should really consider going back.
The irony is, I finally did find someone to marry! He wasn’t just anyone, but someone I could see myself working through life together with, because anyone who is honest about marriage knows it’s work! I am finally in the final stages of residency in the US and am faced with an insane amount of work – a full medical exam (that would have better suited my initial arrival in 1997), thousands in paperwork and legal fees, marital interrogation by a judge and then government officials and all of this needs to be completed by May 26, 2016 when my current VISA is set to expire…
Immigration is an anomaly to me here in the US. I’ve been here 19 years. I’ve paid taxes for 19 years. I’ve contributed to social security for 19 years. I have been a gainfully employed member of American society for 19 years, but I might still face rejection.
With a hope and a prayer, plus solid legal representation, I face the next four months armed to successfully complete the immigration hurdles in front of me and with a new found respect for all my friends who have had to go through this process before me…it’s like marriage, WORK!! 🙂
Here’s to another 19 years of free travel between Canada and the US!