Okay, so I had been reading and studying for immigration since I started dating M in February, 2004. It was now April 2006 and the entire game was changed by his expedited removal in 2005. Everything about the immigration system is convoluted. Most Americans still believe, from their extensive study in sitcoms from "Wings" to "Ugly Betty" that once a person marries a U.S. Citizen, they themselves are a U.S. Citizen. . .I mean, it worked for Balky on "Perfect Strangers," right? Nope. It is actually nothing like that. Nothing at all.
There are actually a lot of steps. People who don't believe in the automatic citizenship theory usually--in my limited experience--believe that you just file a simple application, it gets processed and the immigrant comes to the U.S. Much like the idea that immigrants here illegally should have just applied for citizenship (as if a classification like that exists) this is also not true. There are actually a lot of steps and even in the best of circumstances it can take more than a year for someone to make it to the United States, even when married to a citizen.
The first step is filing a petition with the USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service.) They charge you a little over $300, keep your petition gathering dust on someone's desk for a few months, check to see if you do, if fact, have a marriage certificate attached to your petition and then they either approve or deny it and ship it on to the National Visa Center (NVC) where they ask for more documents--and *cough* more money--and then they can either schedule your interview at the consulate or they will forward the case and the consulate will schedule the interview. None of your documents are really reviewed until that interview at the consulate. USCIS takes them and only verifies if they are there. NVC does exactly the same thing, makes sure that they are *still* there. Only the consulate gets the right to evaluate if they are in fact good enough, and that does not happen until you are months and months into the process.
In our case we would have to submit our marriage certificate and M's divorce certificate from Pakistan. Remember, the one that M had gotten from his parents, the one printed on Rupee paper, yeah, that one.
The marriage certificate from Quebec would not be ready for at least three weeks and so, we were left to relax for the rest of my little vacation. Four days after our wedding I was on my way back home, back to work and back to separation. I had almost forgotten the reality of my life, full time Master's program, a middle school student teaching experience and working 36 hours a week to pay for my Pakistani-Canadian habit.