To Those Who Say, “They Should Just Come Here Legally”
With the situation that has been underway in America until today’s executive order – children being taken from their parents at the border as part of the Trump Administration’s new immigration strategy – we’re hearing the phrase, “They should have just come here legally!” getting thrown around a lot.
While the people making this statement make it sound easy enough for those seeking asylum or a better chance at life in the USA to obtain a proper visa, they fail to recognise the perplexity of the US Immigration system and demonstrate a lack of knowledge about the demanding process that is “coming here legally”.
Now, you can’t blame someone for not having insight into this process. I wouldn’t either if I hadn’t gone through it myself with my now-husband. Our situation started as hopeful, as he is from England, a predominantly white, Christian nation, which is one of the USA’s greatest allies. Things were looking up even more because I have a relative who is an immigration lawyer and was able to provide more insight into the extremely complicated process that is migrating to the United States.
We extensively researched ways he could live and work here legally without us getting married, but quickly came to the realisation this wasn’t going to happen for us. While there are many different types of visas, they are not achievable unless you meet very specific requirements.
The work visa offered by the US requires you to be sponsored by an employer in a specialty field. The employer has to show you have a degree and two years or more of experience in this field. The US Government only issues 65,000 of this type of visa a year.
Having a relative or spouse who is a US citizen makes you eligible for a US visa, as does being a religious worker or student. Outside of those options, you can kiss your dreams of obtaining a visa to live and work here legally goodbye.
The US does offer tourist visas, allowing you to stay in the country for up to 90 days (no working please!). People traveling from Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are visa exempt, meaning they don’t require a travel visa to enter our country. If you’re coming from anywhere else, you will have to apply for the visa and, wouldn’t you have guessed it, people from Central American, Middle Eastern and African countries have a 40 – 50 per cent visa refusal rate. And young adults, who are single and/or unemployed almost never receive visas.
In our case, we made the decision to move to Australia to see how our relationship progressed, and only after being together for three years decided we wanted to move to the US and get married. Even with my being a US citizen and my relative being an immigration lawyer, this was a demanding process.
We applied for a Fiancé Visa from Australia, which took eight months and thousands of dollars to be approved. Upon arrival into the US, we got married straight away to start the second part of the process – more money and a six-month waiting period for our visa to finalise. That is, six months where my husband was unable to earn an income or leave the country for any reason. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the ability to be unemployed for this extended period of time.
We’ve been here for three years now and while we’re basically through the immigration process, we still get notices every so often about some more money we have to pay, appointments we have to attend, or documents we need to complete.
Next time you think to yourself (or out loud on the internet) that those attempting to cross the border into the USA should just “come here legally”, remember how difficult, time-consuming, expensive and nearly impossible it is to do this. Not everyone who wants to live here can find a fine American woman like myself to marry them. Or in my husband’s case, is forced to live here because he is married to me. Most people from England, Brexit and weather aside, would still choose to live in their own country as opposed to this one, which is being aggrieved by a greedy, self-serving government run by an egomaniacal child.
Cover via NationofChange