Eight years later, I finally feel like it is time for me to tell my immigration story. It’s a big part of my life journey. This adventure is responsible for who I have become as it undeniably affected me for the rest of my life. This long, sad and personal immigration story is about to be put down in words for the first time.
December 2005, my husband and I got married in Oklahoma. Me being French, the next day, we went to the immigration office to start the green card process. I will always remember this agent asking me if I had any travel plans in mind for the near future. Heck yea, I’m going home for Christmas, why? “Um no, now you’re in the database, no traveling until you get your green card unless there is a death in your family” she said without any compassion. I was so mad that day. Fine. You got to do what you got to do.
And I started THE green card process. ALL the paperwork, the financial aspect of it, the medical exams, the unanswered questions, the very unfriendly immigration agents on the phone = headache. This was hard. It was difficult but not impossible.
And then…then it happened. December 23, 2005. I will forever remember the phone call that brought the news my mom had passed unexpectedly.
We frantically got on the phone with multiple immigration offices to hear that, NO, they wouldn’t let me go home. Not only was I devastated and in shock just as anybody would be, but I got a NO. Not a “no, we’re sorry for your loss ma’am but rules are rules and we seem to be unable to bypass them this time”. No, instead I got a “NO, you can’t go to your mom’s funeral because two days before Christmas, it’s a bit suspicious and we’re getting tons of calls like this one from immigrants wanting to return home for the holidays”. Broken, I was broken. I ended up having the choice between going anyway and being banned from entering the United States for 10 years (fantastic option when you just got married two weeks ago and you’re trying to build something with your significant other), or staying in the USA waiting to get a temporary authorization to travel (which cost me over $300). This was for sure the hardest decision I ever had to make. EVER. How could they be so heartless? How could they not care to help me in such distress? My dad told me to stay. To think about me and simply stay.
The next few months were tough on me and on just about anybody around me. I hated everybody and everything American. I couldn’t work or drive. I was barely able to understand Oklahomans because of their strong accent and I was waiting for this dang paper to arrive. That was sheer misery for me. I did it all though, I went and got my medical tests done, I showed up at my interviews and gathered all the paperwork I needed. Then came March, three whole months after my mom’s death, I finally was granted the right to go home. But when I got there, nothing was the same. It was different, it was empty. It was simply too late. This immigration process had forever changed me and the course of my life. FOREVER. And do they know that? No. Would they care to know it? Probably not.
I don’t remember the exact date but around eight and a half months after beginning the paperwork, I got my two-year green card. I thought for sure it would get easy from then on. Think again. Between them forgetting to put stamps on my papers, the issues every time I travelled back to France (they even put me in a little room at the airport that I call the immigration jail) and the absolute friendliness of most of my immigration agents friends (airports, immigration offices…) it was a BLAST! NOT! On our way back to the US December 31st of I don’t remember what year, they wouldn’t let me get back to Oklahoma because of a missing paper (not my fault). They said my husband (who is American) was welcome on the plane but I would have to wait until the Embassy opened the next working day (3 days later) to fix my paperwork issue. I ended making it that same day thanks to a French Good Samaritan who worked for the airport. One day, two years after getting my green card, I even got a letter saying that if I didn’t provide evidence that Kelly and I were married legally and were still an item, they would DEPORT me. Me, the totally legal, worker and tax payer! Lovely! Wanna play with me again? Ok!We probably sent them the biggest yellow envelop they ever saw.
Finally came the opportunity to become an American citizen. I never really thought of that as a necessity. I like being French. But I did it anyway. Just to SHUT THEM UP. Just to be able to travel and not be bothered anymore. I now have the dual citizenship, and having a French American child,I know that no matter what happens, I will be able to do whatever the heck I want.
This post was to share my story. To explain. The point is not to scare people considering immigrating to the United States. It’s just to show that it’s not always so easy and the process is not piece of cake. It’s definitely a big rollercoaster of emotions you’re about to embark upon.
I shared my story to give myself some closure. I have been carrying this load for years now and knowing that it will be read and shared, validates the fact that I am turning things around. This story will no longer define me. It makes me who I am and it is something I can put in the past as a life experience, something that makes me stronger. I could regret my choices but I chose not to because regretting has never changed the way things are. This post is turning my negative experience into a new piece of writing and I love it. I just freed myself from this burden and for that, thank you. Thank you for reading my immigration story.
Me 1 – American Immigration 0