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Immigration headaches

I have been busy filling out forms and copying documents for Vilay to get the greencard. I will say that while in France it is not always easy to get the 10 year card…it doesn’t require quite so many forms or dollars. It is going to cost us a little under one thousand dollars to get it all done. I am not including the cost of copying documents or the passport type photos of myself or Vilay that are required. I am not looking forward sitting for hours and hours at the Cincinnati immigration building as we have in the past. If you don’t have an appointment you will be there for up to four hours. I know from experience! After Vilay and I married in Kentucky we had to go to Cincinnati to file and wait for his work authorization. As I sat in this small room full of people many of which were children, I saw a side of America that I would never have seen otherwise. It really helped me when I took my turn at dealing with the French side of immigration. I was humbled by the fact that I knew that in America it was not perfect either. I never complained about the French fees because I had already had a taste of the American fees. Now that Vilay and I are at it again I am still not complaining. I wouldn’t say I am happy about it either. I was just prepared for the emptying of pockets that was to come.

Another thing that makes me upset is that my father must sponsor Vilay because I currently do not have a job to support him. Even if I did have a job it wouldn’t matter since I haven’t worked in the past three years I can’t show a history of employment. Therefore, if anything happens to Vilay and we are not able to cover it financially my father will be responsible. I am not really worried about this. But, I think it is a bunch of bull that my father must sign for anything to do with Vilay’s right to live in the States. He and I have been married for over five years and have had three children from this marriage…three American children. I, personally, think he has officially earned the right to live in America no matter what. How else am I going to take care of three children? I am tempted to say that no one will sponsor him but me. I really can’t see them not letting him stay and leaving me with three small children. I would be forced to go on welfare and get all the daycare for free…at least I wouldn’t be paying. Doesn’t it make more sense to just let the poor guy stay and work and support his family without all the bull? My dad is not happy about having to be responsible for my 35 year old husband and I really can’t blame him. However, if my dad doesn’t sponsor him what will happen? Dad can’t let his daughter’s husband and the father of his grandchildren go back to France. If that happened then we would have to go back to France, too. We can’t emotionally, mentally or financially survive without Vilay. It just doesn’t make any sense. After five years of marriage and three Franco-American kids and the fact that Vilay is bilingual…Vilay should have the right to be American. However, he has to renounce his French citizenship to be American. Make any sense? Not to me.

My kids have both citizenships and I can have both without renouncing my American citizenship. However, I read online that Vilay must renounce the citizenship of his home country before he can take the American citizenship. He must, also, live in the States for three years (according to the customer service operator for immigration) or five years (according to what I read online) before he can even ask for the citizenship. If I were fluent in French we could ask for my French citizenship right now. I would get it even if I am not living in France. I have the right as the wife of a French citizen and the only requirement that I do not meet is being fluent in French.

What I have learned is that dealing with immigration in any country is no fun.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alison September 27, 2006, 1:34 am

    It’s definitely a hassle. When my ex-husband and I were living here in 1993, I got a packet of papers to fill out so that he could get a green card. It was so daunting! Because we were only here for a 6-month internship he was doing, we said “the hell with it.”

    I went through a lot of hassle to get my French carte de resident and then later, my French citizenship. But it was totally worth it. I imagine you’ll feel much the same way when Vilay gets his green card.

    Hang in there!

  • samantha September 27, 2006, 8:03 pm

    I’m 100% sure that he doesn’t have to give up his French citizenship to become American, I know several people that have dual (or even triple) citizenship, including a friend’s French father who is considered a citizen of France, the US, and Canada.

    And the laws are becoming more difficult in France too. A non-married person still has to wait 5 years before they can ask for citizenship, and a married person will now have to wait 4 years, instead of the two that it was previously.

    Also, I’m sure that when you applied for your first carte de séjour here, Vilay had to provide copies of his paychecks to prove that he could support you…same as my in-laws did for Fab and I when I first moved here, since Fab had been in the US for the two previous years and didn’t have a job or tax returns to show. So that side of it isn’t really specific to the US, it’s probably the same in any country. And it’s only normal, they want to make sure that the foreigner they’re letting in is not going to be a drain on their system.

  • Pumpkin September 27, 2006, 9:50 pm

    Alison, I didn’t have too much hassle in France besides the normal running back and forth to give whatever paper that was needed and I was not told beforehand that it would be needed. However, I do understand that somehow I was lucky in this. I know others have had problems that I didn’t experience.

    Samantha, Vilay never had to provide his paystubs for me to get my first carte de sejour and he didn’t have a job for the first four months that we were living in France. His parents were never asked to provide proof of financial support or to sign any documents stating that they would be financially responsible for me until I become French or had worked in France for 10 years or left France which is the case for my father in regard to Vilay except it is in the US. I understand it is getting harder in France, but it is in my opinion harder than it should be in the US and it is much more expensive than I think it should be. I don’t think it is unfair that a married person should wait four or even five years…Vilay and I have been married for over five years. I was simply talking about the differences. I am not really saying one country is better than the other. I do think that most expats living in other countries don’t understand that it is not so easy in the States and that is why I was talking about the down side of immigrating to the States. I am simply stating the facts. It is silly to submit so many forms which each require a fee of at least 170.00 US Dollars. I looked online and it does state that Vilay must renounce his French citizenship. Vilay called a consul honoraire who told him that it is not CURRENTLY a problem with the French government if he does this but that only 20 years ago it was. Our worry is that if he does this what if it changes again and is a problem with the French government that he did renounce his citizenship even if it wasn’t to the French government but to the US government. I personally wouldn’t renounce my American citizenship to anyone even if it didn’t matter to the US government out of principle. I am American and always will be even if I become French as well. The French government doesn’t ask for this to be done. Here is the Oath of Allegiance if you want to read it http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/aboutus/history/teacher/oath.htm
    And here is a link to read about the process and what is required to become a US citizen http://www.uscis.gov/graphics/citizenship/becoming.htm

    I did read that because Vilay is married to a US citizen, me, he does not have to live in the States for the normal five years but three.

  • samantha September 28, 2006, 8:32 pm

    Are you sure he didn’t have to provide any of that? At least at my préfecture, it’s 100% mandatory, no matter what kind of carte de séjour you are getting. Even for a student visa/cds you have to show that you have a bank account containing 600€ per MONTH that you will be in France.

    I still don’t think he needs to give up his citizenship. I agree that many years ago is was frowned upon, but in today’s day and age it is perfectly acceptable. There are so many people in the US that have dual citizenship that there is no way they could ever change the laws back again.

    Also, a friend who’s married to a Frenchman just spent over 600€ applying for French citizenship, which works out to be about $800.

    And I know you’re not saying one country is better than another – I think becoming an immigrant in any country is a costly and time-consuming process. I was just trying to point out that it can be just as expensive and strict here in France too. And I did go through the whole visa process with Fabrice as well, so I know how complicated everything is, but I’ve also gone through some pretty messy and complicated stuff with my cds here, so I don’t really think it’s any easier in the US.

  • sp September 28, 2006, 9:48 pm

    Pumpkin, the oath doesn’t cause the naturalized citizen to give up his citizenship in another country. The giving up of the citizenship actually has more to do with the original country of citizenship than the USA. Yes, the USA requires this oath to be stated, and I am fairly certain that there are other countries in the world that will strip the new US Citizen of their original citizenship, but this is not the case with most first world countries.

  • Pumpkin September 29, 2006, 12:32 am

    Samantha, We are paying about $1000.00 just for the green card. I don’t even know how much it is going to cost for Vilay to be a citizen. In three years we can ask for this and I am sure it will be at least $500.00. However, if it is not a problem for him and his French nationality then we will go ahead and do it so that we don’t have to keep dealing with this every 10 years.

    I am positive that Vilay didn’t have to show an ability to financially support me. We had no money at all for the first four months and we never had 600 Euro in a bank account I can assure you. I did have to prove that my children were French and perhaps this made an exception…a mother of three French children married to the French father of those three French children is not likely to be denied the right to live in France no matter the families financial situation. I don’t see why it isn’t the same in the States. So, I still have a problem with having to ask my father to be my husband’s sponsor (financially responsible) until Vilay becomes American, works 10 years in the States or leaves the country. I think that is a bit too much. Vilay is my husband and the father of three American children. I personally don’t see the US making him go back to France even if my father refused to sponsor Vilay. Can you imagine me going on CNN telling how Vilay was sent back to France and I am stuck by myself with three children? Yet, I am not going to chance it. We want this to be over. I will say that I could understand that my father would be asked to sponsor Vilay until he could work or I was working for up to six months and showed that I could support him. That would be reasonable. I don’t think sponsoring him for the time period or manner that my father must is reasonable in any way.

    SP, I know that you are right and Vilay will most likely do it…Vilay was advised to call just before he took the oath to check if France still was ok with it. It is the principle of it that bothers him. I know I would have a problem reciting an oath like that in regard to my American citizenship even if it didn’t affect my status with the US in regard to my US citizenship. But, if he doesn’t then my father’s responsibility as a sponsor of Vilay will continue for the next 8 years…since he worked for 2 years the first time he lived here in the States. We are not comfortable with that. So, in three years as long as it is still good to go Vilay will become a US citizen.

    I think it will be funny if I am French before him…we are planning on asking at the French consulat in Florida in a year or so. I should be able to speak French well enough by then. We do want our whole family to be Franco-American in every way. We just like to complain about the things we don’t like or understand. And we don’t want to do anything that we will regret later.

    I do want to add that I appreciate you commenting. If anyone would know the legalities of this particular situation it would be you! I told Vilay what you said and he feels better about the whole thing too. See this is why blogging is so great. Now if we could just get the fees for the green card to shrink I’d be happier :)

    All in all it will work out. That is the only thing I am really sure about ;)

  • Gem September 29, 2006, 12:36 am

    When I got my CdS, I didn’t have to show a bank statement or have Jube (my conjoint) show any either. Also, it was free. Having just gone through 6 months of waiting to get a fiance visa for the US, I have to say that it is MUCH harder (and more expensive) to legally immigrate to America. Not only does he need the visa (which cost about $275), he won’t have the right to work until we apply for another paper which will cost more money. (Sorry, I don’t have specifics right now… I’m too busy celebrating just the visa!) After that he will only have a temporary green card for 2 years–and he can’t leave the country until he gets the permanent one. The rules here are a lot different than those in France, much stricter. As you often say, Samantha, everything differs by region in France, so perhaps it is “just as expensive and strict” to immigrate to Brittany than to the US… but I doubt it.

  • Pumpkin September 29, 2006, 1:52 am

    Gem, I had to wait in the States for months for Vilay’s fiance visa to be approved. It was a happy day when it was finally approved! When he arrived we then went to ask for him to be able to legally work in the US. We sat for hours to ask questions and start the process. I believe that now you can ask for an appointment online or by phone. We had actually just paid and asked for Vilay’s temporary green card status to be lifted (don’t remember the technical name of the form) when we decided to move to France. The notification of approval was sent to my mother’s address months after we had moved to France. Even though we are starting over in a sense I don’t regret having lived in France. I love France and it has helped me to understand my Frenchman in a way that I would never have if I had not lived in France and it is better for my children that their mother knows their other country.
    BTW, I found out later if Vilay had just come to the States and married me that he could have stayed and gotten his approval (after we paid) to work within a months time. They don’t want you to know that. I called and complained because a girl I had met had done that with her husband (don’t remember what country he was from). They told me that I could have done that (don’t know if it is still the same so if anyone reading this is thinking of trying it please do your research first!) but since we had started the process of the fiancee visa it was too late. If he had came before it was approved he would have been sent back to France.

    I think it was much easier and cheaper in France for me to get the French version of a green card. The only thing is that when I asked for the French citizenship in France all my documents originally in English would need to be translated by an approved translator…costing about 1000 Euro. All ten pages of my divorce degree from my first marriage, my birth certificate and both of my parents (I think it was both) would have needed to be translated. When I ask in Flordia at the French Consulate nothing needs to be translated…they do it for you and guess what? It is done for free! We had our marriage ackledged and recorded by the French consulate to be added to Vilay’s birth certificate on record in France. We got a Livret de Famille and after the birth of our first daughter together we sent this to the French Consulate in order to record her birth. All of our official documents were translated from English into French for free. The fact that we had done all of this helped us a great deal when we did move to France and were required to show our Livret de Famille and other documents. Our second daughter was born two months before we moved to France and because she was born in the States we had to send the Livret de Famille to the French Consulate where we had lived to record her birth. It could not be done in France.

    Gem, I would advise that you and Jube do the same thing. Contact the French Consulate in the area you are living when you move back to the States and ask them what you need to do once you are married to make it official with the French. Maybe you already know all of this…but, just in case it will make your life easier if you ever decide to go back to France or for any children that you may have.

    My next post will be about getting Boy Blue’s passport in Paris just before we came and our last few days in France.

  • Gem September 29, 2006, 3:11 am

    Jube is already looking into everything before he leaves France. We found out that the fiance visa is really not the way to go–about 2 months after we sent the forms in. It’s really very surprising how many laws are broken! However, we hope that he’ll have his work authorization in about a month. We’re living in a military city, so I think they make these things a little faster because of all the foreign military spouses!

  • Pumpkin September 29, 2006, 3:47 am

    Good luck in everything. I know it isn’t easy but as long as you have each other that is all that matters. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true. My husband and I have been through so much together but the fact that we overcame and still continue to overcome all the obstacles of being a Franco-American couple it makes us stronger. We appreciate what we have because we have to work twice as hard to get things done. :)

  • Cathy Y. September 29, 2006, 4:34 am

    Pumpkin, I haven’t had time to read all the comments that went before, but does he HAVE to ultimately get citizenship to be able to work here or stay here? I know people who live here who are permanent foreign residents. I can’t remember the precise term, but they weren’t required to get citizenship and renounce their original country to stay.

    I guess I’m lucky my husband French-speaking husband is also Franco-American like your kids, and born on U.S. soil.

  • Pumpkin September 29, 2006, 4:45 am

    Cathy, Vilay doesn’t have to get the US citizenship and can continue to renew his green card every 10 years. My father’s wife is French-Canadian and that is what she does. Vilay will most likely get the US citizenship because it will be easier than renewing the green card and for him it is important to be able to vote in the country that you live in. He has three years to think it over. So, who knows what he’ll decide when the time comes.
    You are right about it being easier when the kids are born with both nationalities. I really hate paperwork!!! :)

  • Jube September 29, 2006, 8:26 am


    It is possible to go to the USA as a tourist, then get married and stay there, but it is not advised to do so. You have to pretend you did not intend to marry when you left your country. And you should get married at the end of your stay for your case not to be suspicious. If the immigration officers find anything in your luggage suggesting that you are planning to get married (like a documents a tourist would never need to bring, for example), or stay in the US permanently, then you’re in for a lot of trouble.
    I don’t think I would have chosen this option whatsoever.

    Apparently, it would have been easier for us if we had gotten married in France. Issuance of a visa would have been faster. Same for a work authorization. But, as Gem said, it was too late when we found out.

    Anyway, thanks for the advice, Pumpkin. I’ll search all this when I have a minute.

  • Jessica September 29, 2006, 1:21 pm

    Hi Pumpkin,

    They don’t tell you this either, but if Vilay has a job with sufficient income before the green card interview, they won’t require him to have a sponser. My husband didn’t have to be sponsered, though we had one lined up.

  • Pumpkin October 1, 2006, 1:53 am

    Jube, You are welcome. Good luck with everything and I hope it all falls into place with no snags. We are mailing Vilay’s paperwork out this coming week and know how you feel dealing with it all. Congratulations on your decision to make a life together :)

    Jessica, We may just try it…the worst they can do is send a letter stating that we need a sponsor.

  • Kate October 2, 2006, 3:01 pm

    Did your husband enter the US as a tourist this time?

  • kim October 2, 2006, 9:03 pm

    so is it better to just come to this country and get married spur of the moment so to speak?? or do the fiance visa???
    basically its all a big pain in the ass huh??
    sorry you have to go through sooo much!! (all of you)

  • Pumpkin October 3, 2006, 1:35 am

    Kate, He entered as a tourist but as long as he entered legally I don’t think they care too much since we have been married for over five years and have three kids. Weare more worried about how long it will take for the work permit. We need him to work! :) When we left France we had no where else to go. Financially we were in a snag and my husband and his parents did not have a good relationship. We had to leave their house due to words that needed to be said. I wish it had not happened but it did. I think the INS will see that. Vilay and I had our children to think of and no where to live while waiting for a visa. My mother told me to come right away and that was that. I hope it all works out because I am so stressed worrying about it.

    Kim, If I could have done it over…I would have had Vilay come as a tourist and then gotten married. I don’t think they would have sent him back. However, that is my personal opinion and I am by no means an expert on this matter. I did have a lawyer tell me later that it would have worked that way too and that the INS wouldn’t have sent him back. I think if you are honest and on the up and up they can see that. But, we wanted to do it right and we did. This time we had no choice but to come straight to the States and do it from here. Really it was not an option for us with our children. We had no where to go.

  • samantha October 3, 2006, 2:28 pm

    Wow, it sounds like it will end up costing you a lot, but hopefully it will all be worth it in the long run. I’ll be crossing my fingers for you that it all works out (and quickly).

  • Pumpkin October 3, 2006, 11:13 pm

    Thank you, Samantha! One thing that I know for sure is that Vilay and I have been through much as a Franco-American couple and we have survived. This is just one more obstacle that we will get over. The next one will be our move to Florida.

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