Last week, my husband was notified of his interview date to be considered for legal immigration. We were ecstatic. After 13 months of digging for documents proving our identities, nationalities, our love, and our marriage, we were about to take the final step to getting my husband a green card.
As a South Korean student at an American college, he had a legal visa already. We’d been living together in Connecticut for years. But the visa was good only as long as his studies. The problem was whether he would find suitable employment after graduating. The illusive green card would be his key to legal employment at the top companies he could qualify for.
But despite his legal status and home address in Connecticut, the interview and corresponding “medical checkup” are to be conducted in Seoul, South Korea, in two weeks’ time.
They will require him to remain in South Korea for at least two weeks. His return probably depends on whether he will successfully get a green card, or not.
Two years ago, my parents were among the nearly 63 million Americans who voted to elect President Trump. They voted partially because of his promises to reduce “illegal immigration” into the country. (They have other reasons for electing him I can do nothing but silently try to respect. While we don’t agree on politics in most cases, they are my parents.)
But since becoming president, Trump’s administration has done more damage to legal immigration, decreasing the number of green cards given to foreigners by 15 percent in two years, enacting travel bans, and attempting to force hundreds of thousands of legal refugees residing under TPS (Temporary Protected Status) to return to the countries they escaped from.
When my parents found out over Thanksgiving, they expressed concern. “That sounds sketchy,” my mom said. She worried that the Korean government(s) would try to keep my husband there for an undefined length of time. I appreciated their concern, but it felt weightless.
Now, I’m struggling to forgive my parents even while their very choices are directly affecting the future of my family and my husband’s life.
Aside from the increasingly higher possibility that my husband’s petition for an F-2 spouse visa will be denied, is the requirement that the interview be conducted in his country of origin, despite his current socio-economic and regional predicament.
This means that although my husband has legally resided and studied in the U.S. for the past 4 years, he now has to interview and wait in South Korea for an uncertain result.
I did everything right on the application to sponsor my husband, and still it feels so uncertain.
It’s silly but I’ve come to realize the amount of privilege I had growing up in an American household, never being touched by fears of immigration status. And now it’s overshadowing our marriage.
It is not his government I’m worried about doing anything sketchy. It’s our own.