Mabo’s Citizenship Part 4

Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3

We were expecting a letter from the the govt as early as September, and knowing how things can seem to crawl through the system we were surprised when it arrived several days ago, late October. Not too bad… as things can go in “the system”.

This is the letter giving us our interview date. This is the last real hurtle on the journey. This is where they sit us both in an office together with an interviewer and they can ask all sorts of questions to see if we really are a couple. Questions could be specific enough that you might only know the answer to if you are living together.

A couple of our friends who have gone through this said that the questioner was so nervous (because of the same sex thing) that they asked a couple basic things and stamped their papers as quickly as they could…”next!”

Within a few weeks of this interview (if we pass) Mabo will be presented with a GREEN CARD! And two years from now, proving we are still together, he will be given FULL U.S. CITIZENSHIP status.

With his green card, he will no longer be bound to any of his temporary visa restrictions…

Our interview is set for December 01 @ 10:15am! Wish me luck that I don’t forget his favorite cereal or what country he was born in… or something silly like that!

Jimmy

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Mabo’s Citizenship Part 3

Today Mabo lost 3 years off of his life – in stress!

Mabo had an appointment for his BIOMETRICS (where they photo & fingerprint you…a necessary step in the immigration process). The form clearly states,

IF YOU FAIL TO APPEAR AS SCHEDULED, YOUR APPLICATION WILL BE CONSIDERED ABANDONED.”

His appointment was for MAY 2 at 2 pm. Mabo thought May 2 was TOMORROW.

Today at 3:30 pm, as he was working on a form for one of his athletes, he noticed today’s date – MAY 2!!!

NO! NO!!! NO!!!!!! THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING!!!!!!!!

He quickly got out the appointment letter and called the phone number listed. The recording stated that the offices close at 4 pm and NO WALK INS ALLOWED. There was NO option to speak to a live person, so he decided to drive to the USCIS office anyway.

He frantically searched through his stack of important papers to find his PASSPORT, which he couldn’t find right away because he was shaking so much and couldn’t hardly think straight. After what seemed like forever, which ended up being about 10 minutes, he found his PASSPORT along with all the other documents necessary and he ran out the door. The time was 3:45 pm.

The USCIS Dallas-South office is about a 12 minute drive from our house – with no traffic. At that time of day all of the school zones are still in effect…this would definitely slow him down.

3:51 pm – As Mabo drove to the offices there was a police officer stopping traffic to allow the cars out of one of the school parking lots. By this time, Mabo was nearly out of his mind with worry and fear of his application being “CONSIDERED ABANDONED“.

3:59 pm – Mabo finally pulled into the parking lot of the USCIS office.

4:00 pm – Mabo grabbed the handle on the office door and to his surprise,  it was unlocked! He stepped inside and all the lights were off and it was obvious the employees were closing up shop!

Please, PLEASE, PLEASE… I missed my appointment earlier today… PLEASE let me come in!!! PLEASE, OH PLEASE LET ME COME IN AND LET ME GET THIS DONE!!!!

 

4:17 pm – Mabo walked out of the USCIS office, shaken – not stirred, with the official red BIOMETRICS PROCESSING STAMP upon his application!

THIS WAS A MIRACLE!

I think it is because he is so cute that they allowed him to come in and take his finger prints and his photo. I don’t know of any government office that would allow the rules to be bent – especially if it was after hours!

Mabo’s Citizenship Part 2

…continued from Part 1 (Click here for Part 1)

Mabo finally met with the attorney and received some answers.

The BAD news:  The attorney confirmed that the process to finalize the spousal immigration status will take approximately 1 year. We don’t have 1 year – we have only until August 31st when his employer is required to purchase him a one-way ticket to Japan.

The GOOD news:  Before I get to the Good News… Thank God we have an attorney who knows her stuff! And thank God that this attorney is doing this as a favor for Mabo’s HR person at his school!!! It sounded like the attorney was doing this gratis. I am not sure if the school is paying for it, but either way, there isn’t a fee being charged to Mabo for these services.  So, here is the GOOD NEWS: The attorney alerted us that there is a special visa Mabo can apply for that will allow him to work out the time on his existing work visa (June of 2015) and he can WORK ANYWHERE WITHOUT SPONSORSHIP  and the approval process of this application is only 3 months!

So,

  1. Mabo can apply for and receive this special visa before his last day of employment on August 31, 2014 – allowing him to remain in the US until June 2015.
  2. By which time we should be able to, just barely, finalize the spousal immigration papers – giving him permanent residency or a green card or something like that, I am not sure exactly what he will get at that point, but he will be allowed to stay in the US as my spouse.
  3. And supposedly, this special visa will allow him to work ANYWHERE and not have to be sponsored. So, he can begin working for the Sport Med Trainer temp agencies in town (which pay very well) while he looks for a more permanent position.
  4. If all goes as planned, Mabo will be able to stay in the country with me and work during this process!
  5. Halleflippinlujah!

The attorney urged us to get all of these papers filed this week…so, that is what we have been doing!

I will keep you posted. (if you wish to follow this journey and receive an email when I post on it, please find the main page of this blog and FOLLOW it.)

thanks for reading,

Jimmy

Mabo’s Citizenship Part 1

Mabo is a Japanese citizen. He came to the United States to go to school and get his Bachelors Degree in Athletic Training and a Masters in Physical Education, which he did.  Mabo is now working as the Head Trainer of Sports Medicine at a small university near Dallas. He has a work visa that will expire in 2015; at that time, under normal circumstances, he would have to return to Japan.

In 2011, we met and fell in love over a period of 7 months, at which point we began living together. (To read our love story, click on this link: A Country & Western Dancehall Romance. Or find the link, Our Love Story on this blog.)  Over the next year of living together we often talked of getting married and that hopefully, someday, the laws would change that would allow us to do so – affording him the right to become a US Citizen through our marriage – allowing us to remain together in the same country. I honestly thought this was not going to happen any time soon; so I was absolutely blown away when it actually did!

On June 26th, 2013, when the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was overturned by the US Supreme Court, same-sex couples were given the right to marry and have it legally recognized by the United States Federal Government. For the majority of Gay people this was a huge victory allowing them to realize the 1,100+ rights and responsibilities that marriage provides on a Federal level. To Mabo and me, this meant much, MUCH more! This meant that we could stay together – in the same country!

On that day when it hit the news that DOMA was overturned, I spent a good part of the day at work trying to confirm what this meant for us. By the end of the day I had gathered enough sources confirming that the Federal Government would recognize any marriage that was performed in a state that same-sex marriages were legal. And, most importantly, this act would give us the same rights as all other marriages in spousal immigration rights. I was in complete shock! This seemed to come out of left field – I never expected it to come true so quickly. I drove home with the good news and was bursting to tell him in person.

When I got home from work, I pounced through the door and Mabo was in the kitchen preparing dinner and talking to John, my ex-partner and now “brother” of sorts. “It is true!” I exclaimed, “We can now get married and you can become a citizen!” Mabo jumped up and down, which he often does when excited and even sometimes when he isn’t excited, and shouted, “So, when are we getting married?!” “Well, I haven’t even formally asked you yet.” “What are you waiting for??? Ask me!!!”

I looked up at him and said, (mind you, we are standing in the kitchen, I have my things from work still in my hands – and my ex-partner is standing right there – not very romantic!) “Mabo, will you marry me?

YES! YAY!” as Mabo begins jumping up and down, while hugging and kissing me.

John rolls his eyes, sighs and bellows, “THANK GOD!!!!

We had already planned a trip to Provincetown, Massachusetts with my brother and a few friends for the first week in August, a month and a half later. So, we turned that trip into our wedding since our marriage would be legal in MA. I researched online and found out all we needed to do to make it legal in that state and I arranged for a Justice of the Peace to marry us on a secluded beach on August 9th, 2013.

The beach thing never happened because a storm blew in that morning and to get to the beach, you have to take a boat ride. And, I could already see it in my mind,  “…the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed…” So rather than taking the risk of being stranded on a desert isle, we opted to be wed under the safety of the covered porch at our condo complex. It was just lovely and we had instant access to our condo for the celebration to begin afterward.

mabo and jimmy toast

We were joined by my brother Michael Todd and several of my best friends. The rest of my family would have come if they could have. This was all done so quickly, no one who hadn’t already planned to be there for the vacation (before it was even a wedding) could have come – Ptown books solid several months ahead. I also find it quite serendipitous  that the two friends from my past that I would have wished to be there, my growing up gay best friends, had already planned to meet us out in Provincetown. So, we were surrounded by family and friends for that magical week!

Once we arrived back home after the wedding, we looked up all the information on filing for his citizenship. There are two main parts and the total filing costs are around $1500. All of the instructions are right there on the US government site, so we followed them and filed the first petition that proved my citizenship and that we were married and living together. This first part cost only $420. We decided to file this on our own, without an attorney, since we found out it would cost a few extra thousand if we hired one. The second part of the filing costs around $1100 and Mabo had to obtain his birth certificate and other documents, so we were taking our time and saving our money for the fee. Mabo’s visa wasn’t up until June 2015, so we had some time… or so we thought.

In the first week of March, 2014, less than two weeks from when I am writing this, Mabo’s school announced they are closing the campus at the end of the school year, in June. uh oh! Now, time is of the essence. Luckily, Mabo was able to extend his work time to the end of August “to help close the department and deal with all of the athlete’s insurance issues”. But for Mabo, it was simply buying some more time.

If Mabo doesn’t have a job with a company willing to sponsor him (up to $6,000 above his salary), or if he doesn’t have his citizenship finalized before the end of August, the school is required by law to purchase him a one-way ticket back to Japan – immediately.

Mabo also found out that the school has to pay for an immigration attorney to help him out. Luckily, we don’t have to do this all alone. Mabo will meet with the attorney in the next week to get answers as to how long this process will take. If the process will take longer than August 31 – he will need to focus all of his energy upon finding a company willing to hire and sponsor him in his field of study.

I will add additional posts as we go. If you want to follow this journey, please hit the FOLLOW button on this blog and you will receive an email notice when I add to the story.

Thanks for reading!

Jimmy & Mabo