Green Card: the big dreaded “G” word that has been third wheeling in my relationship for months now. It joins us as the dinner table, goes on dates with us, and lays it’s head on the pillow beside us when we go to sleep at night. I say relationship and not marriage because this process actually started before we got married on January 7. It’s dreadful because it’s been money, time, doctor’s visits, paperwork, pictures, scheduling, and a whole lot of stress. We’re doing this process on hope and prayer; that if/when it’s ever granted to us, it will be a day for celebration!
You know the movie The Proposal? The interview, the investigation, and such? That’s my reality now. And although I am so willing and even thankful to do all of it for my best friend, I look around and see that other newly wed couples are completely different. They get married and deal with the normal new couple problems: money, in-laws, where to live, how to split holidays, where to keep the towels, which toilet paper to buy, which orange juice to constantly stay stocked up in the fridge …
We still deal with all of those problems, but now with the burden of “If our stories of how we met and who introduced us do not match, I might not be able to stay in the United States.” Or “You need to have every piece of documentation ever handed to you from birth (copied and original), your parents documents, social security numbers, tax returns, and a piece of mail with their address on it or we might have to move to Germany.”
So when people look at me and say, “How do you know he is not just using you for a Green Card?” it’s very hurtful. Our married life is just like anyone else’s. We laugh together, we take our dog to the dog park three days a week together, we have date nights, we love doing and figuring out life together, but mostly importantly we love each other. There has never been a question. It’s “I know he loves me because he’s going through this tedious process to stay here in the United States with me, and he knows I love him for signing away my life, future and past, for him to be here with me”. To us, being “used” has never crossed our minds. We fell in love just like two Americans would have, and we like to think of this Green Card process as an outward sign of our love and commitment to one another.
Most people think that a Green Card is “awarded” to an immigrant when they marry an US citizen. That is incorrect. A Green Card is applied for and earned. It is the unofficial term for a permanent residency; “simply” an adjustment of immigration status. A Green Card is a process in which you have to prove you are worthy of, which is understandable, don’t get me wrong. The whole process can take up to a year, and then it is something that will have to be reevaluated and assessed in the years to follow.
Another misconception is that a Green Card is the same and equal to citizenship. That is also wrong. Citizenship is a completely different process. A Green Card will grant my husband access in and out of the country with less constraints and serves as a work permission. In fact, he is not looking to become an US citizen anytime soon. If he was to be granted US citizenship, he would most likely have to give up his German citizenship, which he is very proud of. This bothers some people, but it does not bother me. I love his patriotism, mostly because Germany is apart of who he is.
I had to learn all of these things, too. How are people supposed to know if they have never had to go through it? We love answering questions and talking about it when people ask us how the process is going. I mean, I’ve actually had people say to me, “I thought a green card was just a thing that Mexicans needed to come to the Unites States?” There really are no stupid questions. We have submitted everything to our lawyer and he has filed it. The worst and scariest part now is knowing we have done everything we can and it’s now in someone else’s hands. It has definitely kept our relationship interesting, that’s for sure. We’ve grown together and learned so much about each other during this tedious process. I wouldn’t change a thing about this life of Living with a German in the US of A.
To Be Continued …