Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mr. Rant and the US Broke Up

I'm no immigration lawyer but I have had my fair share of time working with the US department of immigration. By work I mean trying to get papers for my husband.

In all fairness, they did give him his Green Card. Guess what, the card was actually green. Go figure. Doing it abroad didn't take nearly all the hoop jumping that getting my Brazilian resident card did. On the contrary, he had it in about 3 months.

So while we were quite a bit poorer after the whole thing, we thought we were set. We thought so anyway. Turns out you have to set foot on American soil every 6 months if you want to keep it. Sadly, the US government doesn't cover the bill of flying from Rio de Janeiro to US soil twice a year. But I did discover that you can enter after 11 months once, twice if the second customs agent is forgiving.

That's what happened to us. Being who we are, and with all our respect for bureaucracy, we pushed the envelope... and we got called into secondary. Thankfully that was just because Immigration departments around the world all have the same standards for organization and they couldn't figure out which was our latest US address. But we were informed that while they were going to let us in, my death glare and bitching must have intimidated them, Mr. Rant would be turned around and sent home if we waited this long again. Oh, and he would be without his Green Card.

We ultimately decided that it was time for Mr. Rant and the US to break up. They could have some ex-sex in the form of the Tourist Visa but nothing more. The US is far too needy. It expected way too much from this relationship. I mean, Permanent resident is a lot, what more could you ask for?

Oh yeah, spontaneous finger printing in California because he wasn't actually a Permanent Resident but a Temporary Permanent Resident. Anyone else see the contradiction in terms there? Not to mention the fact that they could not do it in the consulate and that Residency is for people who are actually residents.

That one right there just pissed me off. I'm an American. Hell, I didn't even leave the country until I was 18 years old. Doesn't my country celebrate that kind of thing? So give my husband his papers.  I'm allowed to marry who I want to... oh wait. But in this case, I can marry him, I just may not be able to bring him home to Mom. I suppose, depending on the Mother-in-law, some spouses may not be too upset by that.

In the end, I guess we all have our immigration stories. The US is famous for just that. What are yours?


  1. "USA say something nice about Mr. Rant, now Mr.Rant you say something nice in return to USA".

    Question: being that the American Consulate in Rio is technically American soil couldn't Mr. Rant just show up there for some coffee every 6 months? (yes, I am an evil genius).

  2. I suggested that but no dice. Seriously, if they are going to make up crazy laws they need to figure out the loop holes first!

    (yes, you are my evil genius mentor)

  3. OMG that is so freaking stupid! Really, just all the crap with getting a tourist visa for Leon was enough to send me into U.S. immigration hell! I couldn't imagine what you have had to go through. I think I would be bombing some place by the end of it all.

    Every six months...that's ridiculous. Once a year maybe I could understand but you are right. It's freaking expensive to fly and so that's why it's ridiculous to think people can just do it every six months.

  4. It's true. PR is for those who want to be residents in the U.S. It's good that he was able to keep hi GC for so long.

    It's for this reason that my husband just became a citizen. I didn't want to move back to Brazil and then have to worry about him having to maintain his residency from abroad, to have to worry about frequent trips back to the U.S., have to pay to renew the GC, and then be bothered by immigration each time he arrives in the U.S. Now we can go back and forth as we please.

    Plus, we don't have to give immigration any more money. Phew.

  5. Moving to New Zealand from the UK was so easy we thought we'd made some sort of mistake when we arrived. We landed in Auckland, showed our passports with work visas (which took 2 weeks to get in the UK), and the customs guy said "Welcome to New Zealand, I hope you love it" and smiled as we walked straight through. It was incredible.

    I've been visiting the US frequently for nearly 20 years. It's gotten so bad, and so awkward to go there, that I get very sad about it. I understand the paranoia, and I'm glad that to some extent the security probably does protect me but.....damn. I mean, LAX? Seriously? It's a disgrace.

  6. Oh wow...I hope it's still every 2 years for a natural born citizen.If not my family may just have to come visit us here in Brazil.

    I think the US is becoming less and less true to the song lyrics "God bless America, land of the free..." There comes a point when the cost of freedom starts to defeat it's own purpose. It makes me very sad. When I was a kid I remember watching short animations in between the regular cartoons produced by Schoolhouse Rock. My favorite was called "The Great American Melting Pot"
    When I was little the excitement of the US was the diversity. It's really sad for me to watch the new developments in regards to immigration.It's almost like watching a loved one die.

    Honestly...all the new rules are doing is making the good people who try to do things the legal way not want to bother with the US...the criminals will still sneak in...

  7. Rachel,

    It will be a hassle for him to get a Visa for every time you guys travel, however, he will always have the right for an American citizenship, he only has to live in the US to be able to get the citizenship written in stone.
    It's a nightmare dealing with American Immigration, the bureaucracy, not to mention how terribly disorganized they are about loosing original documents and other forms.
    We have an American friend who applied for citizenship for her husband and her two boys born in Brazil. They got the citizenship for the husband, for one son and the Immigration department lost the forms and documents for one of her sons, it took years for them to reapply and get the citizenship for her second boy, the problem is that he became of college age and couldn't apply for scholarships and couldn't work to help pay for hid college education.
    She finally got a nice Texas Senator who intervened and helped forcing the Immigration department to "FIND" the lost papers and complete the application.
    Her son lost 2 years of his life waiting for a social security number to be allowed to start his college education.
    There are so many horror stories with the Immigration department, I could write a book about it.


  8. Ok, i had no idea you had to set foot on American soil every 6 months to keep it!! My husband has one... only it took two years to get it (maybe more) because the U.S. government gave the same alien number to him and another person in FL. Great fun. At least your husband doesn't have to file U.S. taxes every year any longer!

  9. I have my very own terror stories with the American immigration department and I wasn't even trying for permanent residency or anything close to that. Apparently, I have stronger ties to the US after living there for 2 years than I have with Brazil after living here 23 or... my whole freaking life. :-) What really pisses me off though is that while I was trying to do everything right and still got denied, there are tons of illegal immigrants running freely on the streets and it's ok. They can.
    But WTH am I saying, right? I'm Brazilian. Brazil has gotten on my nerves already and I have been here for barely a month. Can't even start to imagine what it's like to get this sort of things done in Brazil. It's the land where the people who should know how stuff works don't. It's bad all around, banks and gov. then... good gosh. I'm considering going on antidepressants to survive this mess.

  10. While I am an American, dealing with customs & immigration is a NIGHTMARE! They aren't 'nice' to those trying to go about a legal way of obtaining a green card,work visa,student visa,etc. He** how can we expect them to be when their own citizens are treated poorly.
    Of course it's all done in the name of "national security". SMH.

  11. We Americans have this unthinking willingness to imprison ourselves behind the bars we put up to keep other people out. Those of us who think "freedom" should include the latitude to go wherever we want and date/marry whoever strikes our fancy are vastly outnumbered by the lumps who never leave their hometown.

  12. Mike, I realize that fact and it scares the crap out of me!

  13. My hubs had a green card when we met and we are going to apply for his citizenship come next year. Honestly, I can't wait. We've considered living abroad for a year or so but we won't until he's done with his citizenship stuff. Can you get Mr. Rant citizenship based on yours? I know that I can for my husband but we live in the US. So it's different.

    Conversely, the Brazilian situation isn't much better. I can't get citizenship based on his until I've lived in Brasil for over 3 years! And getting a visa is a hassle. So, we're all screwed?

  14. Interesting, Rachel. I didn't know that (about the 6 months). Three weeks back, I moved to Niterói and am living with my gf. While she cares not for the US, I was curious about the hassle. I'd prefer an EU passport for us both over one of us having a US one.

  15. My Carioca wife got her permit to enry quickly after we married in Rio in 1981. I was living in the US at the time. However, soon after that, we were transferred to Mexico. After a year in Mexico, she went via Miami to Rio to visit her parents. She wanted to avoid the three stop itinerary of Mexico-Bogota-Manaus-Rio by going through Miami. The immigration asked her where she lived. We still had our house in upstate NY but she said she lived in Mexico, thinking litterally, not legally. They confiscated her Green Card and told her that if I had to stay out of the country for work assignments, I should have filed a letter with them telling them so. How in hell is everyone suppose to know all the millions of rules the US government has. We reapplied and she got it another Green Card and for years we lived in the US. At the time, it was required to relinquish your original citizenship to become an American because the US didn't recognize dual citenship like most other countries. Now they do. Therefore, my wife did not apply for US citizenship. Then when we came to Europe to work, we would good back to the US on Home Leave, paid fortunately by the UN, and to get her passporte stamped and file that dammed letter. Finally when I retired and we decided to stay in France, we decided the Green Card wasn't worth it since we weren't ever planning to live the US to live. It was going to be France and Rio. No Green Card, less hassle, life is more peaceful.