I don’t think I realized how much happened during the course of my relationship with Hannah. I honestly expected to dedicate 1 post to our story but here I am writing my first 3 part blog and, what I promise this time is, the final part.
Where I last left off Hannah had flown to Virginia with me preparing to fly out 2 weeks later for 3 months so that I could help with wedding planning ahead of our May wedding but unfortunately things didn’t go according to plan for us. And looking back I now realize how much we didn’t know about the immigration process .
I boarded a plane to America at the start of August with a plan to be there for 3 months to help Hannah prepare for our wedding, which we were planning to have in May 2014. I spend about half a day travelling and finally landed in Washington D.C. where Hannah would be picking me up at the airport. It was a 2 hour drive from where we stay but it was a cheaper flight to finish my journey there.
I went through the initial customs and was asked to sit in a side room with other travelers where I expected they wanted to ask me some more questions, kind of like they had done to Hannah. I waited for about an hour before I was finally called up to the desk where they asked me a number of questions including where I lived and where I worked in Scotland. I told them I was currently living in my parents home and had just left my job. They asked why I was coming over, I told them I had a fiance there and we were preparing for a wedding and they asked me where I was staying and the money I had, I told them with my In-Laws and had about $300, all the money I had to my name at the time.
I was asked questions such as what money was I living on and what happened if my in-laws kicked me out during my stay (who honestly plans for that) and proceeded to check my bags where they found my birth certificate (left over from some previous time I used my rucksack) which they found suspicious.
And when it was all said and done, they told me I didn’t qualify for the ESTA I was traveling on anymore and although they didn’t say it in as many words, they were worried I was a flight risk and would get in the states and disappear. I then waited 4-5 hours while they wrote up paperwork, gave me some food and readied a place on the plane for me.
All this time Hannah had been told I would be right out and has been waiting, then is told I am being sent back and had to drive 2 hours home without me. The one good thing is I had Hannah’s engagement ring with me which was back from it’s 2nd repair job and the immigration worker took the ring through to her in the arrival lounge so she would at least have the ring.
I was then escorted to a specialized seat on the plane where I made my return journey to Scotland 3 months early. I was put on a plane to Paris Airport which due to emotional exhaustion and the fact it was now late and I had traveled all the previous day, I slept through and was then escorted from the plane to a processing room in the airport. I realized later that the person given my packet of info on the plane was likely a sky marshal and these security officers (who were armed) in Paris were incase I tried anything stupid. So after they stopped treating me as a criminal, they spat me out at Paris arrivals to find my own way about an airport where the majority of people speak French and NO ONE I met spoke English and all the signs are also in French. I eventually found I had to go to the arrivals exit and to the front of the airport and completely check in all over again to get to my flight (I wonder if the considered I could have just disappeared into France and absolutely no one would have been the wiser or would have stopped me). I eventually got to talk to Hannah via Facebook and make sure she was as OK as could be and had made it home safe him sound. She had told my parents so someone would be there to pick me up and I let everyone know via Facebook that I was on my way back. I did buy Hannah a Paris T-Shirt from Paris, so at least that came out of it. About 24 hours after leaving I landed back in Scotland and went into a depression for about a day and had the most heart breaking and somber conversation I had ever had with Hannah over Skype.
From there Hannah put in the immigration forms in September and honestly we spent so long just waiting. We had to let the US Government do their process while I helped Hannah plan the wedding as best as I could an ocean away from everything. I honestly at the time, and afterwards I knew that God had a plan and was doing some amazing stuff in our families and in our lives. I know Hannah struggled more than I did, but we both came through this process stronger in the end.
While in Scotland I continued with life although not quite as it was. I didn’t return to work as I seen it as pointless as I was heading to America to get married in May and any job I was in would be for about 6 months or so. I did return to the youth group in my church where I worked and decided in the months I had left I would help to build up and train the youth and the new leaders to take over the roles I had once had in the youth group and ready them so there wouldn’t be a gap when I left.
But overall my energy had gone and I could feel the tether in my life tying me to Scotland beginning to loosen and I was ready to take the next step and head to America. I could see everyone I had been close to starting on a path that branched out in a different direction from me, and more and more I was ready to start the next chapter in my life.
For about 5-6 months we hadn’t heard anything from Immigration and a friend of Hannah’s mom knew someone in a Governors office and asked if they could look into our case and found out that for about 6 months our application had been sitting on a desk and absolutely zero processing work had been done on it. She then managed to get the ball rolling on it and by the end of April it was sent to the US Embassy in London where I would have to go to interview before being awarded the visa. We thought there was a chance that it could come through and I could make it for the Wedding in May, but we realized later that there was no chance of it processing quick enough for me to get there. The problem was my parents, my pastor, my best man and groomsmen had all traveled to Virginia for the wedding and were there along with all of Hannah’s family and friends for a wedding that was missing one thing… the groom. That was a rough week because I felt so alone, a thank you to my friends still in Scotland who tried to console me but I just wanted to hide away when that happened.
During the Non-Wedding Week (what we have come to know that week in May as) there was something amazing that happened. Our families grew so close in the midst of something so horrible having had happened. Honestly, I would never change the amazing closeness grown between Hannah’s family and mine during that week and it is something that has become such a blessing for us throughout our marriage.
After the Non-Wedding Week I eventually got a letter to go to London for my medical visit before I was allowed an interview at the embassy. This medical check-up was basically to ensure I wasn’t going to be a drain on American resources and was physically fit to transition to America. They made sure my vaccinations were up to date, I got some X-Rays taken and they did a physical which I passed with flying colors. The hardest thing was getting my medical records from my Doctors office sent to London (so glad to be away from them. They were an awful Doctors office).
I finally got my letter for the embassy interview and I was to be there really early. I had to do an overnight train to London, which by the way are the most boring trips ever. 8 hours of nothing much to do, it’s as bad as flying to and from America and the UK. I thought as it was an early appointment that I would be one of a few people there and be out in no time, how wrong I was. The line outside of the building was massive as there was a line to get paperwork, then a line to go through security to get past the fence and to the front door. After getting through that I was sent to a massive waiting room where I sat for about a total of 4 hours with a couple of trips to the windows to speak with people. First time was a basic information talk and then the second was to go over the details, talk about how we met and our plans once I got to America and it took a total of about 10 minutes, and it was the longer of the 2 talks.
I actually left worried about how easy it was in case I was meant to wait for another full interview or I hadn’t said or done enough and was in shock it had actually happened.
While I was waiting for my Visa to arrive our 2nd Wedding date for the end of July came and went. This was a little bit of a blow but not much compared to what happened in May. God honestly blessed us so much during this time though as the venue were absolutely amazing and allowed us to move the reservation from May to July and again from July to August without any extra fees and charges and also my parents who had traveled to Virginia in May were able to get the money to book a new set of tickets for August and get the time off of work in order to be at the actual wedding, even if it was just for a couple of days.
My visa came in at long last. 11 months after we started the process I finally had my visa in hand and I couldn’t believe it. I immediately went online and booked myself a flight allowing a little time to say goodbye to my friends and family before heading to America and on 13th August 2013 I flew out of Scotland for a brand new adventure in the USA.
It was strange to be heading to the airport and knowing deep down that I wasn’t coming back in a few weeks. I was staying for good and would only be coming back to Scotland to visit. But I was so excited as I was finally going to be with Hannah, to marry the woman I love and go where my heart had been for the last year. I said goodbye to my parents at the airport and finally landed in the USA and went through customs in Philadelphia. I was taken aside as my name flagged up after being sent home at the border last year but a couple of minutes of processing and my passport was back in hand and I was let through for my flight to D.C. I let everyone know I was safely through and finally… FINALLY, arrived in Washington D.C. and was met with the most Beautiful woman in the world.
Hannah’s parents were on vacation in Italy at the time, so we had to wait a week for them to come back to the States and then Hannah and I finally became Husband and Wife. And y’know what? It’s been the best 2 years of my life so far and I can’t wait to see what’s to come next!
Thank you so much for joining Hannah and I on this journey through our story and I hope you enjoyed reading all about it.
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