Tag Archives: Immigration

Ask a silly question

I’ve been asked some pretty silly questions in my time. Questions that make you look at the person that asked it in such a way as to make them check in the mirror to ensure that they haven’t got a spot the size of a small donut protruding from their nose. The kind of enquiry that makes you roll your eyes so far back in your head that they come back round the other side, like a particularly gruesome Vegas fruitslot machine. You know what I mean.

It all starts when you’re a kid, of course. When you’re asked “who did that?”, regardless of what the ‘that’ is, there are only two possible answers – “it wasn’t me” or “my sister”. You could have been asked who was responsible for the incredible Michaelangelo-esque painting that was brought home from school, or the impromptu shaving of the shaggy-haired dog (left hand side only) – it doesn’t matter…denial is the only option available.

Stupid questions, or questions that have only one possible answer, continue into later life. Whether it’s “fries or salad, sir?”, “do you think we should buy a big flatscreen TV, darling?”, or “do you think that Megan Fox is attractive?”, life is full of questions that just don’t need to be asked.

Of course, a language has emerged to deal with idiotic enquiries. “Is the Pope a Catholic?”, “do bears shit in the woods?” or “does Rose Kennedy own a black dress?” spring immediately to mind, although this generation might develop its own set of rhetorical responses to mindless questions, I guess. Whether “is Britney Spears a nutjob?”, “does Horatio Caine wear sunglasses?” or “is Michael Jacskon alive, well, and running a thriving nail salon in Norwich?” catch on is still unclear at this time.

Thankfully, when it comes to your interview for a green card, the United States has a whole series of brain-numbingly stupid questions to ask you to ensure that you’re not the kind of undesirable that they’d prefer to turn back at the border.

In fairness, some of them I can understand. Asking whether you’ve been involved in immigration proceedings before seems to be a good way to determine whether you’re a romantic soul who just so happens to have had the misfortune to fall in love with an American, or a state-changing chancer who simply wants to ensure long-term access to bagels and deep-fried vegetable products. But please, what kind of answer do they expect to receive in answer to the question ‘do you intend to commit acts of genocide during your stay in the United States?’ I mean, clearly I WAS intending to, but now I’ve signed to say that I won’t, I guess I should put my plans on hold.

Similarly, is there really any point to “will you engage in activities that will lead to the overthrow of the American government?” Some would argue that prior to January, answering ‘no’ to that question could be seen as disloyal to the United States, and possibly lead to your exclusion from the country on grounds of mental instability. But now I just have to accept that my days of political dissent are behind me.

Two questions during the immigration interview particularly stood out though. I know that marriage is weathering, and that I am not getting any younger, but nonetheless being asked whether I was a member of the Nazi party between 1939 and 1945 seems to be a little harsh. And, given that I was sitting next to The Special One at the time, did they really have to ask whether I intended to practice polygamy in the United States?

One look from The Special One should have told them everything they needed to know.

A question of love

If you ask me, marriage is like a steak – they get better with age, and good ones are rare. And to be fair, if you ask some of my less fortunate acquaintances, lifelong legal partnerships can also be bloody, and too much of it might kill you. It works on so many different levels.

Fortunately my marriage is like a grass-fed, properly aged and well marbled porterhouse, and I can’t get enough of it. Having someone you can share the highs and lows with without fear that you will be judged is one of the best feelings you can have, and I’d recommend it to anyone. And, after almost two years of marriage, I still feel as happy as I did on day one.

However, this week The Special One and I have to go prove it to the United States of America, and suddenly I’m starting to be racked with fear that a particularly unromantic immigration officer won’t be impressed by our little notes and wedding pictures, and will instead force us into an impromptu winner takes all edition of Mr & Mrs. Or The Newlywed Game, as I believe they called it over here, demonstrating a peculiar lack of panache in the naming department if you ask me.

The fact is that I know a lot about The Special One, and she knows a lot about me. But put one of us in an isolation chamber, and ask the other one questions about their partner, and I think we’d be a bit rubbish. After all, I love The Special One but that doesn’t mean that I know what her first pet was called. Or that she would be able to tell anyone what my nickname was at school. Or that I would be able to inform the immigration officer any number of things that no husband should really be expected to know. Like the colour of his wife’s eyes, for instance. I mean, obviously I know the colour of my wife’s eyes, but not everyone is so diligent.

Looking online this weekend, we saw a huge number of different questions that could be asked of us, including what colour our bathroom is, how many ceiling fans we have, and what we each bought the other for our last birthdays. Given that I can barely remember what I bought for lunch last week, my chances of getting through this unscathed are slim to negligible.

Of course, we do have the fact that The Special One is sporting a rather fetching bump in our favour, although I will be watching with interest to see if the immigration officer asks her any questions about her friendship with – say – a milkman or tennis coach. But just to be on the safe side, I’m going to be revising my Special One knowledge all week – by the time of our interview, I’ll know everything there is to know. Starting with the colour of her eyes, obviously…

Ticking all the boxes

As you’ll have gathered from my last post, The Special One and I are currently filing various papers to prove that our marriage is bona fide, and not an ill-disguised sham in which I’m using her to gain access to a country with no universal healthcare and no ready access to HP Sauce. I feel like writing on the forms “do you really think I would be associated with such a lifelong duvet hog if it wasn’t for the fact that I love her” but somehow my better instincts kick in, and I dot i’s and cross t’s appropriately.

What I object to is not necessarily the amount of information that the immigration authorities want, or even the pictures, bank statements and lease agreements. It’s the fact that they want to charge me more than $1000 just for the privilege of putting my metaphorical hand in the air and asking “please Miss, can I stay here a bit longer?” And that’s not even taking into account various other forms that have to be filed, or attorney bills that have to be paid.

Bear in mind that this is a process that can take anything from 4-12 months to be completed. And that’s if you’re lucky. While falling in love may have been a whirlwind affair that involved all the speed of Usain Bolt, visas through marriage are very much handled by asthmatic marathon runners with a penchant for chipsfrench fries.

See, if I’m paying a four figure sum for anything, I kind of expect a certain level of service. For $1300, that should include having your tears wiped away by a nubile model, and your forms collected by the sports or musical hero of your choice.

When I am running my own republic, I’ll be offering drive-‘thru’ immigration services, and naturalization tests that include pop quizzes. You won’t necessarily get a higher class of citizen, but anyone who can name three members of New Order is fine by me.