Milos and I have been busy with some more wedding planning. Earlier this year, we already chose the date, booked the hotel in Croatia for the ceremony and reception, and I found my dress. We’ve since received our Save the Date cards (to be mailed out soon), started the design of the official invitations (to be sent out in winter), and started shopping for our matching wedding rings.
But as an international couple, we’ve also had another aspect of wedding planning and research to add to the list: all the stuff involved for us to have legal status in eachother’s countries. Fortunately, with my dual citizenship as an American and a Hungarian, I can legally live and work in any of the European Union member countries. So that already means I’m free and clear to live in Croatia. (So it’s not a pressing concern or issue.)
The biggest challenge will be getting Milos the legal ability to come and go freely from the United States as my husband. We don’t know exactly where we will live permanently, but it might change depending on where life takes us. Maybe we will live part of the year in Croatia, part of the year in the USA. We might live for awhile in Austria, or just Croatia, or just the States. We don’t know, but we want to have the choice. And Milos will need the legal ability to work in the USA if we find ourselves living there for any substantial length of time. So that means we will apply for a Green Card. It will allow him legal residence in the USA, with the ability to work. And, most importantly, he will have the ability to travel to and from the United States without having to apply and reapply for travel visas. (Because we don’t want to get stuck having to be apart because of stupid legal stuff.)
In addition to what seems like a lot of paperwork, we will have substantial fees to pay WITH that paperwork. (I read that the one form has a fee of over a thousand dollars. We’ll be adding that to the wedding budget…)
We will also be required to submit evidence to show our relationship is real. They list examples on the government website such as phone bills, letters, and plane tickets.
What century are these people living in? Phone bills and letters??? Who uses regular phones when calling internationally anymore? (I only use my regular phone in extreme circumstances – like checking in on my grandmother after she had surgery – that kind of thing.) Milos and I use Viber and Tango apps on our smart phones to talk whenever we’ve been apart. Do these companies have records of all past conversations? (Let’s hope so. I guess I’ll have to google that…) And letters? Ummm… are they going to want printouts of all our 50,000 facebook messages back and forth from the past four years? (Because we have never sent each other paper letters.) And I guess I can go back through my email account to see records of all my old plane tickets. I hope Milos has his. (But I seriously doubt it – I know my man.) Or perhaps we can show them both of our facebook pages? Facebook essentially shows our entire relationship. All the times we’ve been together are neatly documented in photos and posts – with dates to go along with each one too. And my blog – it’s all right here. But how do I make this work with the application? How does one submit paper proof in a digital age? Send them links to my blog and friend request them on FB?
And that’s just for filing the application. We will also have to go through an interview where a government official asks us a bunch of questions to make sure we’re a real couple.
All of this just because we fell in love and want to spend the rest of our lives together. (I’ve already said it before in other posts – it really seems that many countries don’t like it when their citizens marry foreigners, as they make it as difficult as possible to have a normal life like any other normal couple.)
One of our friends already told us a lot about her experiences, but I would really LOVE to hear from other Americans who married foreigners, and hear what your Green Card experiences were like. If your communications with your spouse were digital, what did you submit? (Print-outs of emails and FB conversations?) How long did the process take? (We’ve heard it can take up to a year or more.) Did you get asked weird questions in the interview?
Thanks in advance for your personal stories!
Edited to add that we got a fantastic recommendation for an immigration lawyer who we’ll be using when we have to do all of this stuff. It’s expensive, but we’ll save up to have someone help us do it all the RIGHT way from the beginning – we don’t want to risk doing anything wrong and having to pay even more to fix it.
(If you want to read more about our story, just click on the “Love Story” link at the top of the page.)