When I first came to the USA I was only a visitor and time was running out. We had no set wedding date. Being from Alabama my husband wanted me to “try it out” first, to see how I would like it, knowing how very different this life was going to be compared to living in Germany. I was able to stay for 90 days, during which we found a house. After living there together for a few weeks we got married. That’s when the problems started.
We had about one month to file all of the immigration paperwork and it was overwhelming. We downloaded the package from their website, but quickly felt like we couldn’t do it on our own. After doing some research we found a company to help us with the paperwork for about $800 dollars.
They informed us that our fees for the immigration itself would be waved since not only did my husband serve in the military for several years, but also because we really didn’t have the money to spend on it, since we just started our lives from scratch.
After a few weeks our paperwork came back. We had to pay the fees. According to immigration we still had too much money. With the help of some family members we came up with the amount, sent all the copies of birth certificates, police records, financial records and extensive family history back to immigration.
Again it came back. This time they were telling us that my husband didn’t make enough money to support me so now we had to find a sponsor for me, my husband’s aunt. By now the 90 days were long over but now I was in a limbo status, so I could stay in the country.
After we got married I was not allowed to change my last name since I had no social security number at that time. When we applied for my Greencard we were told I needed to apply in my maiden name, but once I got my social security number, we could call in a service request to change my name. Upsetting at first but at least everything was finally on its way.
I had to get a physical with a specific doctor over an hour away to get my shots updated and have my records sent to immigration. After that we had to drive the same distance to take more pictures and fingerprints. The clerk helping us that day actually put my married name into the system since it was just a matter of time, but when I received my work permit it had my maiden name printed on it – with my married name signature.
I didn’t care though because now I could finally apply for my social security card and change my name. We called, just to make sure that everything would work out as far as the name change when we were told that we would have to redo all the paperwork again AND pay several thousand dollars in fees again. But since we had to redo everything after two years anyways we were told to just wait with the name change. So far this process had taken almost 10 months. My husband was training in a different state, getting ready to deploy when we finally got our interview appointment.
I was very upset. Not only was I still not carrying my husband’s last name but my brother was about to get married and I needed all my paperwork done in time to fly back to Germany.
Instead of my husband, my mother-in-law went to the interview with me. Everything went well and I was asked “What name would you like the Greencard to be in? Your maiden name or your married name?” I was shocked. It seemed that nobody there knew what exactly had to be done but I didn’t have enough time to get my passport changed over anymore, as I had been told to keep all my documents in the same name. I had to pass and get my Greencard in my maiden name.
After 11 months the process was finally done and I had my Greencard. But this was only the first one.