In one of my previous posts, “Long Distance Relationship and its Biggest Challenge”, I mentioned some of the costs associated with the immigration bits of being in a LDR. However, the financial aspect of it is not the only headache. At least it hasn't been for me. I was born in Mexico, but brought to the United States at a very young age. I got my Permanent Resident Card, also known as a “Green Card” through my father’s sponsorship. I’ve lived a normal American life since childhood and never thought becoming a US Citizen would be a necessity for me.
Even when I first met Pete almost 4 years ago, I didn’t realize how important being a US Citizen would be. In the beginning, when we first started speaking, I honestly didn’t think we’d come this far. I liked him a lot, but never saw it being more than a fun virtual fling, so telling him I wasn’t indeed an American Citizen wasn’t a big deal to me. But one night out in Las Vegas, after a few too many 1¢ beers at Margaritaville, I felt the need to tell him. I drunkenly broke down crying and told him there was something I needed to tell him and that I hoped that wouldn’t change the way he felt about me.
There was this terrified look in his eyes, which made me think he wasn’t going to take it so well. When I finally spilled out that I wasn’t and the reason behind me not saying so from the beginning, he laughed and said “that’s it? I thought you were going to tell me you were married! Or worse!” With a sigh of relief I kissed him and we went on with our day.
Now, the rules of immigration are different for US Citizens (people born in the US) and Permanent Residents (people who legally immigrate to the US).
With our original plan of Pete moving to the US, you see how it was important for me to be honest with him about my status in the US. And the reason I was freaking out about it. But that changed when I decided it would be best for us to start our lives in England. Pete has a great military career and I only see him growing, advancing and becoming a great leader in the years to come. So it seemed more sensible to have him finish his contract. At which point, we would circle back and decide if moving to the US would be a good option for us.
Now, once we started looking into the visas needed for me to move to the UK we found that it was a bit easier, but I also risked losing my status in the US. See, when you’re a permanent resident in the US, you’re only allowed to be out of the country for a maximum of 6 months without losing your status, unless you file for a reentry permit, which I just found out as I was writing this post.
Last September I filed for my US Citizenship. In October, I had my first appointment to take biometrics and at the end of November, I got my letter with the appointment for my interview in January. On January 14th I walked into the USCIS office in Phoenix, Arizona. Nervous as hell and waited to be called into a room. During my interview, I was asked about my federal and state tax liabilities. In my application I had written down that I had indeed failed to pay my taxes for a couple years when I first became self employed. Not because I was avoiding paying them, but because as a small business I was barely making enough to sustain myself. I had made a big payment and had a payment agreement with the IRS and the State for the remaining balance and thought that would be enough.
Little did I know how much owing taxes would affect my citizenship application. A few weeks ago, I received the anticipated letter from the USCIS. At first, I was excited, I couldn’t wait to open and see my ceremony date on that letter. But as I opened the letter, I noticed it was thicker and had more writing than I thought would be needed...Then I read, in big bold letters “Decision”. My heart sank. I felt a knot in my throat and as I continued reading, I saw “USCIS has determined that you are not eligible for naturalization”. According to the letter, because I failed to file my taxes on time and because the amount I wrote down on my initial application and what their system was showing didn’t match, I was not a person with good moral character.
I was devastated. But still hopeful. You’re allowed to file a request for a hearing. Which I’m now working on. What they don’t tell you on the letter is that filing the request will cost another $700. Unless you can prove you’re going through financial hardship and apply to get the fee waived.
With the help and support of Pete and my family, I got out of my little depression and have been working my bum off to get things sorted. I’ve hired an attorney to help me and I am about to file my request for a hearing. As much as I felt like giving up on the process and at times even my relationship, I remembered I was a fighter not a quitter. Per the firm I hired. I should be able to get my case resolved in about 3-4 months. So now we play the waiting game again.
Will be updating you on how things are going as I get updated information and I’ve had time to process it. Stay safe!