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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly



June 1, 2000

Dear ILW.COM Editor

For the last nine months I have been suffering in a living hell. I have been waiting, fighting and waiting some more to obtain a visa for my wife and three children to join me in the states. In the following paragraphs I have described the hell we have lived. This is not a problem that is unique to me, but to thousands of Americans around the US. It is a problem that has created almost unbearable mental, physical and financial hardships for these Americans, but no one wishes to get involved or to correct it.

 

To give you a short introduction, my wife Christine and I met through an introduction in December 1998 by her aunt which I have know for some six or seven years. After corresponding by mail and phone from December 1998 to the first of June 1999, we had exchanged some 180 letters and several hundred photos. I had also exchanged letter with Christine's three small children (Luigi, Hans and Teddy). In May of 1999, I concluded, if I searched the world over I could never find another women that I could love more than Christine. I ask Christine if she would marry me. She agreed, but I was to understand, it was traditional to ask her parents for her hand in marriage. Her parents agreed, so we started to make plans for me to travel to the Philippines.

 

Christine and I were aware there were two types of visas-a fiancée visa and an Alien Spouse visa. Everything we could find on visas indicated that a Fiancée would be easier to obtain that an Alien Spouse, but there was no indication that this would take longer than three months. As we wished to have a traditional wedding and I had no living close family, we chose to be wed in the Philippines in the Catholic Church. I traveled to the Philippines accompanied by Christine's Aunt and on July 17, 1999, Christine and I were married in the eyes of god attended by her family. We chose to be married in the church and apply for the longer Alien Spouse visa (at the time we assumed 3 or 4 months) so that our marriage would start have with beautiful wedding. We could not image that any government especially the American government putting us through the type of mental, physical and finical hardship that it has.

 

Before leaving the Philippines I attempted to file for Christine's visa at the US consulate. It was there we were told that the petition had to be filed in the US and that it would take six months. When I returned to the US, I went to Congressman Saxby Chanbliss' office for help. It was there I was told that it would take closer to a year to obtain a visa for my wife. I was also told that I had contact them they would have recommended the fiancée visa.

 

At any rate the INS received my wife's petition (my wife and three children) for a visa on August 23, 1999. On November 5, 1999, the INS approved my wife's petition and their paperwork was sent to the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC), 32 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801-2909. The NVC received our petition on November 10, 1999. Now the process here is they send a package to my wife and one to me to be filled out. The package to my wife consisted of a list of documents that she will be required to present to the US Embassy in Manila and a form requesting the same information required by the INS. I might add here that my family has been sitting in Cebu, PI with all the documents required and all the vaccinations required for three months waiting for someone in the NVC to move this off their desk. I took from November 10, 1999 to January 10, 2000 for the NVC to send this package to the petitioner (me). The packages were completed by Christine and returned to me by FedEx. I in turned return both packages to the NVC FedEx on February 23, 2000 . The NVC received the packages on February 24, 2000. On April 7, 2000 I returned to the Cebu City Philippines to visit with my family. I spent eighteen wonderful days with my wife and three children. The only hard part was answering my children's question about when they would be able to come live with their new daddy. My youngest boy never left my side. It was so painful when it came time for me to leave and return home.

 

When I returned home I call Congressman Saxby Chambliss' office to have them check with the NVC on when my families petition would be processed and sent to the Embassy in Manila for processing. Congressman Chambliss’ office called me back and told me that my wife's petition had been received on Feb. 23, 2000 and my three son's had not been received until Mar. 23, 2000. The fun thing about this was, all four petitions had been returned to the NVC bound with Acco prong fasteners and a cover letter stating that this package contained visa packages for Christine P. Yuzamas, Luigi P. Perez, Hans P. Perez, and Theodore P. Perez with the NVC case number for each. There was no way anyone could make a mistake, except the NVC. Because they could not read the cover letter, our processing was delayed for three weeks. After contacting the NVC, the Congressman's office called me back and said, “the NVC has said six to nine week delay until process.” Congressman Chambliss' office told me to call back on May 17, 2000, the processing should be complete.

 

On May 17, 2000, I placed another call to congressman Chambliss’ office to check the status. The congressman's office called me back later that day and said the had placed a call to the NVC and had received the same answer, 'it would be six to nine weeks until my petition was processed'. The congressman's office said that after she had talked to the NVC, she began to think. It has already been nine weeks. We were in the tenth week since the NVC had received the petition. Congressman Chambliss' office called the NVC back and ask if the meant what they had said, 'that it would be six to nine weeks until the petition was processed'? They said yes that was correct. The Congressman's office then said, then why haven't you processed Mr. Yuzamas' petition, it has been nine weeks? The NVC then agreed that they had made a mistake, and that she would personally go pull and process our visa then. Congressman Chambliss’ office told me she would call me back on Monday May 22, 2000 to give me the status.

 

I had not heard anything from Congressman Chambliss’ office by the afternoon of Tuesday May 23, 2000. I placed a call to the congressman's office. She told me she would call and check the status at the NVC. I did not hear back from the Congressman's office until Wednesday May 24, 2000, at which time the congressman's office informed me that for what ever reason, the NVC had processed my wife's visa petition, but not my three sons. The Congressman's office told the NVC that they should have processed all four, as this was a family and even using the March 23, 2000 received date, the nine weeks were up. I had been told by the congressman's office that all four petitions should be complete by next Wednesday May 31, 2000. As of this date May 26, 2000, the NVC has not processed this package and sent it to the US Embassy in Manila. From what I gather, it will take another two to three months once it has reached the Embassy. I would hate to think what would have happened if I had not called my congressman's office every two to three weeks.

 

Financially I have spent over $8,000 dollars to form our courtship and wedding. The government has charged me $440 to file the visa petitions. I work two jobs in order to support two households on two continents, because my wife cannot work. It cost me around $600 to $800 a month to support my family. Last but not least my family's visa will cost me $1,300 when issued. I must pay for physicals for all four and because the government can't schedule physicals and interviews in Manila at the same time, I must pay for two round trip airplane tickets from Cebu to Manila for all four of my family at a cost of $120 per person per trip ($960). Why should I have to pay airfare to transport my family to another city for a physical, when there are good doctors in Cebu and there is a US Consulate in Cebu? I might add, it is not safe for a women with three small children to travel alone in the Philippines. Even if they must travel to Manila for the physical, why does it have to be a month between the physical and the interview? Why does my Government create such hardships for American citizens? They are suppose to be they're to help.

 

In March I contacted the NVC to ask for directions on a form. The lady I spoke with at the NVC made the following statement, '”ir you have no idea how screwed up things are here, no one knows what they are doing.” I have been told by INS attorneys that the NVC is the biggest mess there is in government today. Even Charles Swanson of Senator Max Cleland's office told me two weeks ago, that it was a real mess. Congress knows there is a problem, because there is a bill that is on the floor of the Senate. But as usual no one is in a hurry. It does not effect many citizens. We don't carry enough votes.

 

I was once asked if I think I am being unfairly treated by my Government. Yes! Just for a moment image yourself as having courted someone for many months. You decide to marry and on your wedding day a man in a black with a badge that has 'INS' written on it and tells you now that you are married you must separate from you spouse for an undetermined period of time. That you must love from a distance. Can you with a good mind say this is morally or humanly right? Is it right for you to be separated from the one you love for a year or more? How do you tell three little boys that they cannot see the only father they know. Unless you are a victim of the process, it is hard to imagine. I can understand protection of the US from people that would in danger this country such a spies or criminals, but how long does it take to check this out. One or two days maybe.  No the backlog is due to mismanagement. Government offices and representatives are aware of these problems, but are unwilling to fix them. Twenty-one years ago when my wife's aunt came to this country, it took her five weeks from the day her husband applied in Manila for her visa until she arrived in the US. Today with the advent of the modern computer, you would think it would take less time not more. I recently returned from the Philippines to visit my wife. I sat next to a little old Filipino lady that said she worked in the veterans’ administrations office in Manila for twenty-six years. She said the problem is that people are no longer people, just a number. She was appalled that it would take this long. I myself work for the US Air Force. I would hate to think what would happen if I had a general call me and say there is a world conflict and he need some bombs to defend this nation, and all I could say was, come back in a year I will have them. I think the principals are the same.

 

I have talked to thousands of people, they cannot figure out why this is necessary or why it is taking so long. Hundreds have written letters to Congressman Chambliss and Senators Cleland and Coverdell all to no avail. My family's lives have been on hold for nine months because my government cannot do its job. All we ask from this country is to allow us to live together and raise our children to be good Christian citizens.

 

I do not understand why a fiancée visa is so much easier to obtain than an

Alien Spouse visa. The government intentionally makes it hard. Do they do this to discourage foreign marriages?

 

There are thousands of Americans across this nation that are fighting this problem and are getting nowhere. I understand that this problem has always been difficult, but has become unbearable since the Immigration Act of 1996.We are no different than the couple next door, except the partner we choose lives in another country. We have the same feeling and desires as that couple next door. Why is our country punishing us for loving someone from a different country? Should we be treated any different than any other couple? I served my country during the war, I deserve better than this. We need help. Many lives and families are suffering. What more can I do? Thank you for your consideration.

 

Sincerely

 

Christine & Joe Yuzamas

 


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