Topic: Overseas

Isabella

Blogger Biography: Isabella is a Brazilian-German college girl with passions for traveling, fashion and animals (especially her two rescue dogs Jake, a Eurasier-wolf hybrid and Yuri, a Finnish spitz). One day she met a handsome man in Germany and little did she know this fascinating foreigner would become her husband and turn her life upside down. She tries to balance between the German and American ways of life and after over three years of thinking she had the hang of it, the Army life. After surviving the extremely long and difficult journey of getting a green card, it is now time for her to finish her career goals of pursuing a job at the CIA and living the American Dream while supporting her husband as best she can.

Military personnel live in countries all over the world, and it is just natural that some start relationships with local nationals. This is exactly what happened to me. I am a Brazilian-German national and lived a normal life in Germany until I met my husband. Spouses in the same situation know that this can be quite the exciting adventure: You have this handsome foreign boyfriend who doesn’t speak your language (luckily you’ve learned enough in school that you guys don’t have to sit there and not say a word), who talks in weird acronyms that you have never heard, and who tells you facts about tanks and all kinds of different weapons and how to take them apart and put them back together. It is something new; something you have never experienced. I was weirded out at first – in Germany, we don’t get involved with guns unless one of our parents works with them. Weapons are something dangerous, and something you want to stay as far away from as possible. And now this becomes a part of your life. You adjust and you get used to it, and you live your happy, lovey-dovey life together. However, there is this big black cloud on the horizon called PCS. You know your handsome, exotic boyfriend won’t be in your country forever. You know it, but you ignore it…until the day he gets his new orders back to the United States. It happens to everyone, and you have to decide what to do. Are you going with him? Will you have a long distance relationship?

I was going the long distance relationship path. A lot of people do it nowadays, and it’s perfectly normal. You love your partner, and you trust him. Distance is not easy but manageable. However, I changed my mind and decided to follow him to the United States. I had been there before on vacation and as an exchange student; I knew what I was getting into. Or did I?

My boyfriend left for his new duty station, Fort Hood, TX in late August 2010. The evening before he left, I hopped on a train to the airport to tell him goodbye, but it was not long before I was on my way to Texas. Though I had been to the United States countless times, I had never been to Texas and yes, I had the typical cliché thinking; I even greeted the immigration officer at the airport with an enthusiastic “Howdy!”. Unfortunately I had to go through immigration and customs during my first layover in Atlanta, GA and the officer was a little bit confused by this tired, jet lagged but happy German girl in front of him.

I was in the United States, and after a short flight from Atlanta, GA to Killeen, TX, I was with my boyfriend again. And a few months later, my boyfriend became my husband. You might think that this is the sweet happy end. It would have been, if the bureaucracy didn’t exist. A lot of people think that as soon as you marry a United States citizen, you get your visa or green card. This is not the case. We were overwhelmed with information. People put so many stones in our way just because I did not have a Social Security number and could not apply for one. Even on post in Fort Hood, we had several problems that ranged from them not accepting my passport as identification because the date used European format (DD/MM/YYYY) instead of the usual United States format, to me not being able to change my last name to the new one. When it was time to apply for the green card, there were more problems. The biggest being that my husband was deploying. I was in a foreign country with a different culture and language, my family thousands of miles away, my husband deployed and me – “out of status,” a nice way for the immigration agencies to tell you that you can legally stay in the country until your green card might be approved, but you cannot leave the country or the entire application process will be void. And let me tell you, we paid roughly $5,000, so leaving and voiding the application was absolutely not an option. Luckily, we had amazing help from a law firm in Dallas who made the process so much easier for me during the deployment mess. My biggest fear was that my husband would not be in the country in time for the immigration interview where they want to see if your marriage is legit. I worried this would give a bad impression to the authorities. Prior to the interview, we were told that the deployment would last only six months, until they closed down everything in Iraq, so there was enough time left for the interview. This was the case, just not for my husband’s unit. While everyone came home around Christmas, they were extended another six months. Again, I was happy for the help from our lawyers.

Shortly after my husband came home, we headed to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in San Antonio for the interview, and my green card was approved right away. After almost two years, I wasn’t out of status anymore; I was a legal permanent resident of the United States of America. I had a Social Security number and a driver’s license – I was finally like everyone else. All the money, all the panic and most of all, all the hate towards our marriage (“You just married for the green card”) was forgotten.

Everything seemed just right and perfect. And the Army surprised us with another great thing: My husband got orders to PCS to Germany. After three long years when I wasn’t allowed to leave the country, I was finally able to go home and see my family again.

And here we are. Our PCS went surprisingly smooth—mostly due to the fact that my husband already knew the area and had already PCSed once, and because I had experience living in different countries and moving my stuff from continent to continent. We have the best of both worlds, and I wouldn’t trade it. Together, with our two rescue dogs from Texas, we are a strong American-German-Brazilian family just waiting for the next adventure.