This is the first in a series of I-don’t-know-how-many posts intended as prompts for the hesitant writers out there. When you try to think of a single story to share about a relationship that is such a large part of your life, where do you start? One area of unique challenges for couples like us: BUREAUCRACY.
Hüseyin and I began the process of getting his US fiance visa almost exactly two months ago, and it’s no surprise it has taken this long – this is just the beginning of a much longer process, and we’re prepared to wait it out. We understand this is a unique situation, there are procedures that must be followed, and that’s just the way it is.
But then there are times when Bureaucracy sneaks up behind you in an alley that has suddenly gone dark and sinister, covers your mouth with one hand, and demands you give it all your money. After getting a UK visa just in time to see my old orchestra play in Scotland and Harry Potter on stage in London, we figured Bureaucracy had gotten a new girlfriend, let’s call her Karma, and would continue to smile on us.
In a month, a friend of mine is getting married in Germany, and we’ve been invited to her wedding. We’ve gone to visit Bureaucracy to ask for his blessing for the journey. He calls me over first. “Passport?”
“I’m just coming to visit…”
“Don’t need to know. You’re fine…NEXT!”
And then it’s Hüseyin’s turn.
“Passport? Hmmm. Turkish. Do you also have the requisite return flight, travel insurance, proof of employment, sponsor who is not your fiancee, and 500 mL of unicorn blood? Yeah, I’m a Harry Potter fan too, but Voldemort’s my favorite character.”
These are concerns that not all couples face. When you’re from the same country, you’re allowed to visit the same countries, or at least you get to apply for a visa together and be accepted or rejected together. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m frustrated that it’s hard to go on vacation with my fiance, but I’ll survive. Where immigration is concerned, couples wait months or years to be together, not to mention the penalties applied to any rule-breaking in this ever-changing game.
There’s a verse from the book of Ruth that’s popular to read at weddings: “Where you go, I’ll go. Where you stay, I’ll stay.” It’s a beautiful sentiment, but sadly a challenging reality for some of us. “Where you go, I’ll go if I can get a visa. Where you stay, I’ll stay after at least a year of waiting for my papers to be processed.”