But as fun and exciting as the newfound freedom can be, there are going to be a few difficult adjustments due to cultural and economic differences, but also due to marriage green card processing.
How Can You Best Help Your Partner?
In 2007 I met my husband Bjorn, a tourist from The Netherlands. Eventually I sponsored him for a marriage green card. Even though I had assisted others in the marriage green card process for years, I had no idea what starting a marriage with a foreign spouse entailed! We learned a lot along the way, and I have also learned even more from my clients, so I am happy to share our discoveries with you.
- CONSIDER YOURSELVES A TEAM
Try not to blame each other during the marriage green card processing for delays, confusion, or how much it costs. Try to take the attitude that you are going on this adventure together, and that you are tackling what needs to be done as a team.
You are going to be applying for a joint bank account, perhaps buying a car together, and along the way there will be setbacks. He or she will not have an American credit history or an American social security card. They will be starting from scratch and without your support it can feel upsetting. But if you approach each task with a "we can do this together" attitude, it will help - after all it is only a temporary situation and there will be many years in the future when this will not be the case.
- ENCOURAGE BANKING FREEDOM
- SUPPORT "TAKING A BREAK"
Talk about how to handle the 3-5 month hiatus from work. Is there anything your partner always wanted to do, but never had the time (learn to play piano? practice their chef skills? learn to surf?). I have seen newcomers be able to live out a mini-dream while they take advantage of this forced 3-5 month sabbatical from the stress of working, which they will face for the rest of their life.
- FAMILY & COMING OUT
If you have come out to your family and friends, take the time to introduce your partner to your friends and family, and spend time with the ones that he/she is most comfortable. Understand that even though your new spouse is happy to be with you, it can be a bit lonely to be separated from their culture, their food, and everything that is familiar. Be patient.
- ENCOURAGE ENGLISH ONLY
Encourage your partner to speak as much English as possible, all the time. Speak slowly and clearly to them, and try to use shorter words. Ask your friends and family to do the same. Take your time to explain things more than once, and try to explain things in different ways, using different words.
Don't correct your partner's English in front of anyone, but when you are both alone, occasionally make polite suggestions about how to substitute words for the ones that are hard to pronounce. Rather than ordering them television shows from their own country, make the sacrifice of watching the level of television shows that they can understand.
- ENCOURAGE YOUR PARTNER TO MAKE CALLS AND TO LEAVE MESSAGES
In order to practice speaking on the phone and get better at it, encourage your partner to call you (and trusted friends and family members) to speak to you on the phone, and call you to leave voicemail messages.
I will never forget when my husband insisted on calling New York (we lived in California) to order some clothing for our wedding. A few days after he called to make the order, I received a call from the clothing distributor (thank goodness he left my number!) and they asked about his correct sizes. The person on the phone had such a strong New York accent, and the American sizes are so different, he had ordered the complete wrong sizes. He was so embarrassed when he learned about it that he avoided using the phone for about three months after that.
- EDUCATE YOUR PARTNER ABOUT "BIG BOX" STORES
Keep in mind that in many countries, "borrowing" something small off of the shelves is often ignored, and customers do not get arrested for such acts of petty theft. I have had clients (one was a high ranking government official of an Eastern European country) that could not resist the temptation of taking something, usually from Costco or Macy's, because it just looked so easy and no one seemed to be watching.
Patience, Teamwork and Understanding
|Danielle Nelisse, Immigration Attorney|
Questions? Danielle Nelisse can be reached via Email or call her at (619) 235-8811 during her office hours. www.daniellenelisse.com
Other Immigration Questions Concerning Same Sex Married Couples:
Exactly what happens at a marriage green card interview?
How does a person get married in the USA?
What if my spouse entered the USA legally, but overstayed their visa?
What if my spouse is HIV positive?
Is "coming out" important to the Immigration Officer who conducts the marriage green card interview?