Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hopeless

The world felt like it was crumbling up around me. I was prepared for the long wait for a waiver. I was prepared to fight about the legalities surrounding whether or not my husband should be forced to file a waiver at all, but here I was being told that they were doubting whether or not my husband was even legally divorced. I had spent a lot of time worrying about this when it came time to submit the divorce certificate initially, nine months before, but when it made its way through the USCIS and then the NVC, I had, wrongly, assumed that it had passed muster.

For those of you who aren't aware, US Immigration takes polygamy very seriously. They also take fraudulent marriages (when they rarely correctly diagnose them) very seriously. Every piece of paper related to a marriage visa that we submitted had to have a certification on it that he was not married to anyone else, and we had CONFIDENTLY signed them. Now, instead of filing a waiver and moving on to simply waiting, we were going to have to figure out if his divorce was valid. We knew it was valid in Pakistan, for his "ex-wife" had remarried years ago, but how to prove that to the United States Consulate in Montreal?! The certificate would be sent to Islamabad by fax and we would be notified of the result in "a few days."

I was crying for the rest of our consular visit, quietly, angrily, crying. I was not only angry at the consular officer for the hold up, but I was angry with M. I had begged him to obtain a different certificate, the type I had read about online. I had lectured him on how unhelpful and unsupportive his family had been already, and I had reminded him of how hard it was to submit supplemental evidence once one piece had been found to be insufficient. I had reminded him of the delays we has already suffered because of his stupid Pakistani marriage. I was livid and M was going to be the one to bear the brunt of it because it was he who had again trusted his parents' word in place of mine. Again it had cost us. I was mad, and I had no idea of the amount of time we were now going to have to wait.

I walked out of the consulate with our huge bag of irrelevant, useless proof along with our five pound waiver envelopes all worthless. The snow was piled high around us as we walked out to the car. Now, even I worried if the divorce was real, I mean, I only had one man's word, right?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Interview

We waited for quite a while before being called and looked like a couple of crazies sitting there in the waiting room. I was wearing my new favorite outfit, business casual best, high heels included. I got a huge hug when I walked in. M looked relieved and nervous. He had bags under his eyes as if he had not slept for days. He held my hand tightly as we sat there waiting for them to call out number.

Consular interviews are made as stressful as possible. In Montreal, there are a series of about four windows on the left and eight on the right. They have separate windows for submitting documents and then windows for submitting payments. It has a similar feel as the Deparmtent of Motor Vehicles, only at least there when they call your number you can get everything done, exept your license picture. He was called to the left first, and then to the right and then to the left again to show the receipt from the right. It was all terribly efficient. When we were finally called in for the interview, there was a gray-haired and balding man who was in a separate room from us. We were separated by what I assume was bullet-proof glass and there was a tiny depository to place requested "evidence" through if asked.

The man's eyes were huge when he saw me. He knew about the blizzard and had all of the paperwork showing my home as more than 700 miles away. From his facial expression, he knew what I had gone through to get there. "You must be Mrs. M," he said. I found it hard to talk, but forced a smile and said yes. There was only one seat, so I stood at the far end of the room while M sat down to be interviewed. I nervously held onto my coats with both hands, and had my thick packets of paperwork and evidence held close to my body. M held a paper shopping bag with pictures and other evidence he had brought from home. (There is strict security at the consulates and "candidates" are not allowed to use any type of bag, but open shopping bags. . . .)

The interview was short the Consular Officer (CO) asked M about how we met and how long we dated before getting married. M's answer was incorrect and I, without blinking said, "Oh no it wasn't! You called me the first time on ****, but we didn't go out for three months after that. You kept standing me up!" The consular officer giggled and M nervously followed suit. I have to laugh when I think about it, because after that the officer did not ask any more relationship related questions.

One of the things about the interview that made me very angry was that the officer bluntly asked me why it was that I could no live in Canada, instead of the United States. While I understand that this may not seem offensive to someone reading the story, it really offended me. For one thing, why in the world should this guy infer that I should have to leave the country instead of applying for my husband to immigrate to my home? I was legally entitled to apply. Second, how was it any of his business? At least that was what I was thinking. I just replied, "I am a Spanish teacher. In the United States, teaching Spanish is a critical needs field, at least in my state it is. Here, French is the necessary second language and I don't speak French. It would be very hard for me to work here or even live here. Also, my whole family is in the states, and his is in Pakistan."

The CO left the window for what seemed like forever. When he returned, he pulled out that hideous piece of paper that M had gotten from his parents. The officer said, "Where did you get this document." M told him about his attorney in Pakistan and his parents sending it from there.

"Well," said the man, "this is not what we are used to seeing from Pakistan. It is possible that this is valid, but we are not experts on Pakistani documents, so we wil be sending it to Islamabad for review."