I can finally sing a new song, for my wonderful Nigerian husband and I were reunited on Thursday, June 19, 2008. The journey was long, trying, and an emotional roller coaster, but the joy of our reunion has wiped the painful memories of our 17 months of separation away from our hearts and minds. Matter fact, just one week after my husband came to America, he received his social security card, and a few days after his third week here, he received his permanent residence card (expiring 2018). Prior to his permanent residence card expiring, he can apply for citizenship, which he will do. God has been with us every step of the way, and for that we are eternally grateful!
The immigration process is not for the “light of heart”, for it takes endurance, trust, faith in your spouse, and a thick shell to ward off the doubtful darts of others who deem you foolish for waiting for such a long period of time or marrying a foreigner in the first place. I am amazed at how many negative, cruel, and rude comments were posted as comments on some of my articles about my marriage to my Nigerian husband. I found it amazing how much negative input someone can give when they do not know anything about you or your spouse. So be prepared, forewarned, and ready to face the “haters”. Focus on what matters to you and your spouse—not on what a negative stranger, relative, or friend has to say about your choice to marry a Nigerian man. Believe in a blessed, bright, and happy future with your spouse. Do not allow others to dampen your spirit, love, and faith in your spouse when spears of hatred are sent your way—believe me, they will come from all directions!
Before I continue, I want to state that I am sharing my “personal experience” of going through the immigration process. There are various types of visas, and the immigration journey will differ depending on what type of visa one is seeking. The visa my husband received is an immigrant visa, so that is the one I am referring to here.
When I wrote “Going through the Immigration Process to Bring Your Nigerian Husband to America (Part I)”, I left off at the point where I was assigned as my husband’s agent, which means I received all of his paperwork from the National Visa Center. Once we completed all of the required paperwork, I received a letter in October 2007, stating that we would next receive a letter from the NVC informing us of when my husband’s interview date and time will be at the Nigerian Embassy. When I called the NVC to inquire how long it would take before my husband would have his interview, I was told some married couples have waited up to 2 years or more. That was very discouraging, for we met May 2006, married January 4, 2007, and the time was steady ticking away; we wanted to be together as husband and wife and start our life together. A representative from the NVC told me that they schedule interviews during the 2nd week of each month, so monthly I called to see if my husband’s interview was scheduled. Each time I called from November 2007 to March 2008, the answer was always “no”. This became very disheartening, for we had been apart for a very long time at this point. As the time ticked by, my husband and I (especially my husband) read many things about the interview process and possible questions that would be asked during the interview; so he could be fully prepared. At one point, we contemplated on hiring an immigration lawyer, for we hoped this would speed up the process. In March 2008, I emailed the NVC asking that they send me a copy of the letter they sent me in October 2007 stating that my husband was waiting to be scheduled an interview at the Nigerian Embassy. To both our surprise, and prior to the 2nd week of the month, we received an email from the NVC stating that my husband’s interview was scheduled for April 11, 2008. The joy and happiness we felt at knowing the last step in the immigration process was soon approaching was indescribable.
My husband’s interview was very successful, and I wanted to list some of the questions he was asked and what he took in preparation for his interview. Now, all of the documents that was required and sent to the NVC during the long NVC process as forwarded to the Nigerian Embassy, so he did not have to take copies of anything that was already submitted. All he had to do was show up on April 11, 2008, but he did take other documents with him to help prove his continued relationship with me during our long separation. He took the following items with him:
- He printed off one email per week from the time we met leading up to the date of the interview (bound in a book with a Table of Contents)
- One email in the bound book was the official “marriage proposal” he sent to me, and my “yes” response to him
- Marriage pictures
- Marriage Video CD
- Police Character Certificate (no more than 3 months old). Note: you will be asked to do this as part of the NVC requirements, but if the Police Character Certificate is more than 3 months old, you MUST get another one.
The following are some of the questions he was asked, but please NOTE that your questions will differ depending on who is asking the questions. My husband’s questions were:
1. How did you meet your wife?
2. Why did you choose her as your wife?
3. What are the names and ages of your wife’s children (this is my second marriage)
4. What is your wife’s phone number?
5. Tell me what you know about your wife? (this lead to other questions, so be prepared)
The Consulate Officer asked my husband to have a seat as she studied the bound, email book that my husband brought with him, and when he was called back up to her, she asked several questions about it. I had written to my husband in his language (Ijaw), and we conversed for months using it (she was impressed with that).
The interview lasted for about 40 minutes, which included the time spent reviewing the bound, email book my husband brought with him to the interview. After my husband was called back up and asked questions about the bound, email book, she gave him a piece of paper and told him to COME BACK FOR HIS VISA in three working days. However it actually took around a week before his visa was ready. In addition to his immigrant visa, he was given a brown envelope, which contained all of his medical examination information. He was told that the brown envelope would be taken from him at his point of entry, which it was. Please note that prior to the interview, your spouse must (or should) have his medical examination concluded. If he has not done this, it will delay his visa from being given to him!
When my husband went through the immigration inspection in Atlanta, Georgia (his port of entry into the United States), his passport was taken, examined, a stamp of “IR1” was put in his passport and his assigned “alien number” was written under that stamp. Please note that when he was given his passport and visa at the Nigerian Embassy, the following was stamped in it as well: UPON ENDORSEMENT SERVES AS A TEMPORARY I-551 EVIDENCING PERMENENT RESIDENCE FOR 1 YEAR. However, he received his permanent residence card in a few days past 3 weeks of arriving here, and it expires in 2018. As was stated, he can apply for citizenship in a few years.
My husband flew in on Thursday, June 19, 2008; and on Monday, July 23, 2008 we were in the social security office applying for his social security card, which was mailed to him in one week. The temporary permanent residence card (stamped in his passport when given to him) was accepted as proof of his being an immigrant.
IMPORTANT: Please note, my husband said it is important to clearly answer all the questions truthfully, completely and with confidence. If you DO NOT UNDERSTAND a question due to the accent of the Consulate Officer, or you simply do not understand what they are asking; please ASK THE CONSULATE OFFICER TO REPEAT THE QUESTION. The interview was held between a glass panel, so your spouse may have to ask that a question be repeated. You will be standing during the interview process.
Your spouse should be on time (well in advance), neatly dressed, and totally confident in his response; for it will be one of the most important interviews of his life. Not everyone was granted a visa on that day, and I am very grateful the Lord blessed my husband to be granted with his. I pray that you too have a successful outcome!
God bless you and your husband!
About Patricia Daboh
Patricia Daboh contributes articles to Nigerians In America and Nigerian Muse and can be reached through her email address here.