I’ve always been open on the blog with our immigration story and the process we went through when Billy was undocumented. But I have often mentioned how our circumstances were “best case scenario.”
Every now and then I think about the sweet, young couple who approached Billy and I after a talk we gave and asked for advice. Or I consider those of you who have emailed me asking for more details.
So I compiled a list of things I learned in our process.
Don’t sweep it under the rug.
I know. You’re in love. You don’t want to let pesky immigration details spoil your “made for TV” movie. I totally get that.
But… you don’t want to be cake tasting when you learn you’ll have to live without papers or leave the country for 10 years. That’s an awful time to hear someone say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t sign up for this.”
Make Good Choices
We all love to giggle and the foolish things people do when they’re in love. Drive across the country to bring you flowers? Romantic. Jump up on the couch and shout your love? Thank you, Tom.
But you must keep your head when dating as a mixed status couple. Skip the late night club scene with its higher police presence. Make sure any epic road trip includes research about checkpoints or immigrant-antagonistic pit stops. Listen to Anna, friends.
Image Source: Rebloggy
Hire a Lawyer
As soon as you can hear those wedding bells in the distance, meet with a lawyer. We were sitting in his office practically the day after we got engaged. (And honestly, I think even earlier would’ve been better.)
Lawyers are not cheap and it’s tempting to think you can do it yourself. But if one person is already undocumented, the stakes are high and the mistakes are easy to make. Once you submit that first piece of paperwork, you’ve made your illegal presence known and you can open the door to challenges.
That said, you must find a lawyer through a referral to avoid scam artists. We highly recommend our lawyer, Julio Villasenor. If you need an honest, effective lawyer, give him a call at 626-968-2226. I’m so serious. It’s that important to find someone good. And he worked with us in LA and Atlanta, so you don’t even have to be local. Tell him the Quezadas sent you!
Shut out the noise.
The book U.S. Immigration Made Easy has 624 pages. The simple fact is the system is not simple. Cases vary by every detail, not to mention the mood of the agent who happens upon your file.
You’ll be surprised how many people you know will appear to have detailed knowledge of this complex system. Trust professionals. Smile and nod at most everyone else.
Save, Save, Save
This process is not cheap. It’s thousands of dollars. Every piece of paperwork requires a certified check for one reason or another. There’s doctor’s visits and lawyer’s fees. And if you don’t live in a major city, you may have to travel to one for your interview.
My advice is not fun, but save those wedding checks. In the long run, you’ll appreciate a green card more than new bedding.
Emergency Preparedness Drills
Okay, well you don’t need to run drills per se. But it is a good idea to have a plan for if an undocumented partner is deported.
Do you know how to get in touch with family? Do you have access to bank accounts? A lawyer’s phone number? What about children? Just think through the steps you’d take. Hopefully, you will never need to use them.
Enjoy your dating. It's such a super fun season. And while dating with mixed status does present some challenges, you should totally do it if you're with the right person. I'm a big fan of cross-cultural relationships!