The Interview of a Lifetime

After more than two hours in the waiting room, the employees of the US government called our case. Palms sweaty, we gathered our folders and albums to head back for the interview of a lifetime. The agent barely looked up and reached out for our folder.  

“Sorry for the wait. A couple folks left early today and we’re very busy. 

Name?” she nodded at Billy. He listed all four of his names for her.

“Birth date?”

Billy began answering… and that’s when things began to derail a bit. He started mixing numbers. My birthday, his birthday. It all spilled together and ended up being no one’s birthday. He stumbled. He corrected himself. He sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m just really nervous.”

She looked up and gave a quick smile. “So when’s your birth date?”

He answered with confidence. We looked at each other. 

She was flipping through pages and pages of our file. I held our albums on my lap. She asked a clarifying question. She picked up some of the papers and left the room.

Billy and I glanced at each other and waited in heavy silence. She came back into room and didn’t sit down. 

“Here’s your originals back. I made copies. This piece of paper will serve as your temporary residence card until the real one arrives in the mail. I will need to take your work permit. You won’t need it now.”

Is this over?  But I was ready to wow you with everything I know about my husband!  You didn’t even look at all my photos I painstakingly chose, printed, and organized.  

I guess being very busy and folks going home early streamlined the process.  Billy reluctantly turned over his sole solid proof of legitimate presence in the country that he had only recently received as a result of our petition for an alien relative. He accepted a printed piece of paper and a promise in its place. 

And that was it.  We walked outside of the building and left.

Unceremoniously, our story ends. After a little more waiting, Billy's green card arrived in the mail. It was a joyous relief after immigration being on our minds and conversations for so long. Now Billy was an LPR, or "legal permanent resident," in the United States. I have written in the past how our first move after receiving his green card was to flee the country.

The first green card he received was provisional, which is standard for permits gained through marriage. Basically, if we had divorced within the two years after obtaining the green card, he would have also lost his legal residence in the States. I shudder when I imagine how that could be held over someone's head in a dysfunctional relationship. 

But we made it through the provisional time and Billy reapplied for a 10-year green card. It's a much simpler process and does not require another interview. At this point, now that he has been a legal resident for more than three years, he is eligible to become a naturalized citizen. That's on our list for 2013. (Isn't it interesting how just one year after you apply and pay for the renewed green card you're then eligible to apply and pay for citizenship. Yeah, I thought that was clever, too...)

It would be easy to close the book on immigration now that our story has drawn to a close. In fact, when Billy and I were speaking recently someone older told us that we are only talking about this because it's fresh and soon we will no longer worry about immigration anymore. 

Well, we don't worry about it for ourselves anymore. I am telling this story now, but it all happened about four years ago. But for Billy and me, we made too many friends along the way. I was too affected by Billy's experiences and those others with whom he lived and worked. I want to keep telling the story because there are other Billys and Sarahs out there living it now. 

In fact, after that same talk, a young couple approached us, sharing that they were engaged and overtly hinting that they completely understood where we were coming from and that they had some questions. So, even though Billy will soon be a US citizen, I will continue to tell our story and to blog on the topic of immigration. 

I have been so encouraged by your comments and emails as I've shared our immigration love story. Thank you for following along all these months and thank you for passing the story onto others.

If you want to catch up on the full story of how we met and our immigration experience, click here. To stay up to date on all posts from A Life with Subtitles, please subscribe via RSS or email. Both options can be found in the sidebar. Thanks for reading!


  1. I just read through the entire 23 posts back to back haha (dang cliffhangers!) I love your story and so many parts of it remind me of mine! So nice to find someone with some similarities

  2. I know! I am so glad we connected and are able to share stories. :)


I love to hear from you! Like, seriously. It makes my day. Please feel free to respond, question, or add your perspective. Of course, please keep your words respectful. Thanks for reading and joining in the conversation!

A Life with Subtitles. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.