Long distance and immigration SUCK. Mixed feelings

posted 3 years ago in Long Distance Relationships
Post # 3
474 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 1993

Wow! This is a tough one.  Good thing you found your way to the bee.  I’m sure others will have very good opinions and ideas on this topic.  Good luck and I’ll be following to see what happens!

Post # 5
4072 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

My FI is English, and I am American. We have the opposite problem when visiting – he gets through US Customs in a flash, and the UK Border Agency interrogates me. It’s definitely not just a US thing.

Anyway, I get how hard the international long distance is. We’ve faced the same obstacles and are finally nearing the end.

The first thing you need to figure out are the long term goals – who will immigrate? Where will you live? Can you get a job there, etc.?

Then figure out when you want it to happen. In a year? In two years? Set a timeline. It gives some hope in the LDR, and it gives you an idea of what you need to accomplish and when for the visa.

From there, figure out if you’re ready to be engaged. If you want the immigration to happen in a year, then get engaged the next time you two have a visit. It would give you enough time to plan a wedding.

And I don’t think the wedding plans need to be as black and white as you make it out – you don’t have to spend a year planning some huge wedding, but you also don’t have to get married in a courthouse. Why not plan a small/medium sized local wedding? A lot of people plan their weddings in less than a year.

Best of luck!

Post # 6
1367 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

DH and I did long-distance for 2 years.  When he finally moved here he couldn’t work for 6 months until his visa came through, but we were just so over being separated.

We’d been talking about marriage, like you are and got married at City Hall because we finally decided we wanted Green Cards (neither of us are American) and it made sense to applly as a couple.  We had a reception a few months later and it was amazing and overwhelming to have 100 of our friends and family from around the world fly here to see us wed (friend officiated and we wrote vows.)

It worked for us, but I can understand why it’s a hard decision for you.  I can tell you that having a reception with our loved ones was awesome, but the city hall experience was actually really fun as well.  And our friends and family were totally cool about it.

Post # 9
474 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 1993

@Sporty-Bee:  I have traveled to Puerto Rico a few times and love spending time there.  It looks to me that since you have to do two separate ceremonies anyway then go on and do the civil one in Germany and the big party in Puerto Rico.  Maybe do that in the time of year when the weather is not good in Germany so more of his relatives will be encouraged to travel for it.  Every couple is unique and, sure, this is a different vision than you had when you were a little girl.  But, that vision probably didn’t have your Prince Charming from another country.  Change is good…..

Post # 10
10219 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Hi @Sporty-Bee:  I enjoyed reading your post.

CONGRATULATIONS… it does sound like an Engagement is in the works !!

Lol, Ring Shopping is fun… make sure you go out and try on lots so you can find the style that is truly you and you LOVE

I don’t have much to offer beyond that on this topic (as I am a Canadian, so things are waaay different here than in the USA) other than I’ve read past posts like yours and I recall the US Bees saying that getting a Visa for Marriage either BEFORE or AFTER the even it not easy

And if I recall correctly you & your man would have to be apart for some of it…

So it may make sense to apply BEFORE you marry vs after (what some call a Fiancé Visa)

Anyways, I am sure someone else will comment with the nitty gritty details (lol, you think you are ticked at US Immigration now)

OR you could do a WBEE SEARCH to find some previous posts on the topic.

Hope this helps, (somewhat)

PS… Mr TTR & I were in Puerto Rico on our Honeymoon (2nd time in PR) and we LOVED it, you have a GORGEOUS country and WONDERFUL culture, we will definitely be back !!


Post # 11
432 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

@Sporty-Bee:  I don’t think getting legally married first will take any “magic” from the wedding. One of my friends had her wedding last weekend, after having been legally married for several months (due to medical/insurance purposes). No one batted an eyelash. The ceremony and reception was just as sentimental (moreso, actually) then any other wedding I’ve been to. Most people didn’t even know they were already married.

The circumstances of your relationship are not traditional, so who’s to say your wedding has to be? What works for most couples doesn’t work for others. I wouldn’t set so many limitations and restrictions on something you both clearly want, as you are just delaying the inevitable. And, with that, comes risk. What if he gets fed up? What if you do? What if something happens to one another? At that point, the only thing you will regret is NOT getting married yet for the reasons that you say. I would think the only *important* thing would be being able to be with him… Not venues and such. I do get that thought process, but think you’re getting too caught up in the wedding hoopla.

Post # 12
4072 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

@Sporty-Bee:  Look into the visa rules. I know for my UK visa, I can’t be out of the UK a ton in the first 5 years. I wouldn’t be able to spend every summer back in the US. You may not be able to live in both countries.

Post # 13
2419 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

@bowsergirl:  My English son and his American wife had exactly your experience! Before they married and while they were in a LDR he was always welcomed straight into the US – he has unlimited entry for 6 months at a time until 2020 – whereas my daughter in law was made to feel like a criminal by the UK Border Agency despite having a perfectly valid visa and NEVER overstaying it. 

So far as your wedding plans, OP. What I would say is that in your circumstances, you may well have to make some compromises so far as being able to marry and you might well not have the luxury of planning in quite the same leisurely way as you would if you were marrying another US citizen. Or indeed if your FI was marrying an EU citizen. Immigration laws don’t help because you cannot predict when the appropriate visas will be approved and also, you get a limited time in which to marry once approval comes through. The US being worse than the UK in this instance (90 days as opposed to 6 months). 

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a wonderful wedding (my son and daughter in law did) but it does mean that decisions have to be made more quickly and in a climate of some uncertainty.

Right now you have a choice of continuing with the stress that comes with a LDR across two continents that both have challenging immigration laws, or the chance to marry rather sooner and still have your special day. It’s just that you might need to reconsider what your idea of a special day is. Because that’s what comes with the territory with this sort of relationship. Whichever country you marry in, someone is going to have to miss the wedding but that doesn’t stop you celebrating your marriage in whichever country you don’t marry in! 

Only you know if you are ready to get married. But if you are then yes, something IS going to have to give. It’s part and parcel of a LDR of the sort you and your FI have. 


Post # 14
2565 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I’m Canadian and FI is American.  Because of my job and being Canadian I qualify for a special type of work visa that is easier to get so we can be together before the wedding and don’t have to worry about the fiance visa which is nice.  The last time renewing my visa they gave me a bit of a harder time about it, but hopefully if things work out timing wise I should have the green card before it expires and won’t have to worry about renewing it again.

Would things have been easier if we were married?  Yes.  And I do understand our situation is different because I don’t have restrictions on how long I can stay here.  But we wanted a wedding with our friends and families.  You can’t get married for immigration and have a “real” wedding later, because it wouldn’t be a wedding.  Your “real” wedding is the day you got married. 

I know it is difficult time wise, especially since you only have 90 days to get married after the visa is approved.  If you can’t have the wedding you want in the timeline that is needed for the visa, you can still have a reception later on with friends and family to celebrate your marriage. 

Post # 15
4072 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

@Steampunkbride:  Every female American expat I’ve met online has had issues at the UK border. I never thought I’d be looked at as a possible illegal immigrant, but apparently there must be a problem if I am so suspect. I assume things are fine now that she has the visa? Can’t wait to be back in England, visa in hand, in just a couple months. 🙂

Post # 16
1464 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

Expat living in America here, currently my green card is processing after marrying an American Citizen. Firstly, OP, Congrats.

Does your S/O have a visa, or an ESTA? ESTA is visa waiver, and what most Germans would get unless they had a specific visa (work, study etc) – it is unlikely he has a tourist visa, as there is usually no point.

Ok. Now for the not so great news. Marriage =/= instant visa. I was concerned about your comment “I used a joke he’s been using and said, you just have to tell them that you are here to marry your girlfriend right at the airport!” Followed by a statement by your S/O to get married to “end” the immigration bulls***.

Turning up to the US with the intention of marrying and going through immigration without first procuring a K1 (fiance) visa is illegal. If immigration found out, your SO would not be allowed in – ie saying your “joke” would guarentee he would NOT be allowed in. Moreso, if he were on an ESTA, he would be banned from coming in on an ESTA ever again – he would have to apply for a tourist visa (different to an ESTA) to be allowed back at all, with no guarentees.

If you decided to marry first (and only you can decide that) you would then need to research which visa you were going to do it with. If you did it in Germany, you would then apply for a marriage visa (K3 I think?). If you wanted to marry in the US, you would need to apply for a K1 visa, then marry within 90 days of entering the US on it, then doing an Adjustment of Status to get SO a green card. It is a LONG, expensive, frustrating process.

We applied for our K1 visa in August 2012. We recieved it in July 2013. I then arrived in August, we had our legal wedding in September (followed by a big celebration in November). Due to not having a specific document, we had to wait to submit the AOS last week to get it. So so far we have been in this process for almost 1 1/2 years, and we are expecting to be in it for months more before I get my green card, and another 2 years before it becomes unconditional. It is a very paperwork intensive process, and so far for us immigration has cost more than our wedding (we did have a budget wedding though). At the moment I also cannot leave the US without losing my visa.

I am not saying this to turn you off, more make you aware of the implications of deciding to marry and have residency in another country. Feel free to PM me.

TL;DR entering the US on an ETSA/Tourist visa?any other visa with intent to marry and imigrate is illegal. Look into the visa process. Be aware it’s hard.


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