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Immigration: The Long Wait

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York, PAKen Iman married his wife in July, 2005. Little did he know that they would have to live apart for the next 13 months. "You don't realize how few rights you actually have as a U.S. citizen until you marry a foreigner," says Iman.

"I believe that there were so many sham marriages and scams years ago and in order to correct that, immigration punishes the innocent along with the guilty," he says.

Immigration nightmare"In January 2005, I went to Manilla and first met Maria Cristina," said Iman. "I returned in June for a three month stay, during which time we were married. I foolishly thought I could just go to the US embassy and bring her home with me. To my surprise, I couldn't even start the paperwork until I returned home to Pennsylvania.

It took just over 13 months before my wife was permitted to join me in the U.S. According to other people I talked to, it should have taken less than nine months, but I made a tactical error. I should have brought her over as my fiancé and married here. But you can't apply logic to the government - I assumed she would have stronger legal standing because she was my wife.

And here's the icing on the cake: if my wife wants to bring over her mother or brother, the average wait is 20 years. Check out the immigration website! When I called my congressman to find out how I could speed up the process and get my wife over here sooner than nine months plus, all he could say was 'We are monitoring the situation'.

I was delusional. I thought it was my constitutional right to have my wife live with me - you know, life, liberty, pursuit of happiness and all that jazz.

Next up, I physically went to my congress representative's office to meet with one of their drones. 'The government's right to bureaucracy ends where my sex life begins, I said to Ms Weaver.

'I am offended at your remark', Ms Weaver replied. Then I said, 'I am offended that I don't have a sex life.' That was pretty much the end of the conversation.

I wrote to every human rights organization, politician and media personality I could find, from Oprah to Hilary. Even waiting nine months was unacceptable to me. I thought that as soon as I brought this to the attention of my congressman, it would be cleared up and my wife would be united with me. Talk about naive! But I am not completely nuts; I know there are some legitimate reasons for lengthy delays. According to immigration, there are 80,000 visas processed each year.

Even with that knowledge, by the tenth month I began to go insane. I handed out flyers at the local mall and went door to door, asking my neighbors to call Congress and help speed things up. (I couldn't visit her in Manilla for several reasons, including my dying mother.) After two months, she was approved - I think my stirring up the public voters may have got a call through to congress.

A year of my life was in limbo while immigration pushed paper. It is also very expensive - every time you file a form it costs minimum $150, up to $325. Maria Cristina is with me now but I know that some people have got it worse - if they try to bring family over here, say their kids, by the time they get here it may be too late. People have had loved ones die waiting for their paperwork.

I am a psychology professor and have read studies showing that the first few years of marriage are stressful, even for people in love, and to inject a one-year separation after just getting married is ludicrous. It is my constitutional right to have my wife here - I am not a complete nut case, let's be reasonable and say within 90 days. Apparently immigration has no time frame.

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