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Author: a_foreign_affair Subject: The 90-Day Fiance Visa - From a Female Point of View
a_foreign_affair
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Registered: 01-27-2014
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posted on 02-14-2014 at 11:31 Reply With Quote Report Post to Moderator
The 90-Day Fiance Visa - From a Female Point of View

Huffington Post does it again - another great article on the 90-Day Fiance topic: A female perspective and a Valentines twist.

My husband and I fell in love essentially at first sight. And although we did not marry until a year and half later, we became engaged within weeks of meeting. To make things even more interesting, he was Tanzanian, I was American, and we had to decide where to live.

On our first Valentine's Day, we were living in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. It was our first "holiday" together, but I figured it would pass without mention, assuming it was just a commercialized American holiday. And while certainly, most Tanzanians are not exchanging diamond tennis bracelets or Vermont teddy bears, my husband, Frank, surprised me by telling me they celebrated Valentine's Day. That day, couples dressed in red, and it was fun to watch matching red pairs walk together through the tropical city.

This made me feel better about celebrating Valentine's Day. I have been excited about it ever since, glad to have my husband and welcoming any opportunity to celebrate it. For us, as a multinational couple, it took a lot of sacrifice and love to get to this point. We have both spent years away from our family and homelands, been on the other side of the world when loved ones passed away, missed our best friends and mama's cooking and native language. And to be together, we had to fight. We had to apply for visas and passports and stand in hundreds of long lines. We spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on lawyers and visas and phone calls. We encountered flat tires and grief, corrupt policemen and confusing legal documents, long flights and long waits. There were language barriers and all the miscommunications that come with that. We had friends and family on both sides question our motives, our sincerity, like we had to prove to them, too, that we truly fell in love, that our motives were sincere. It was not nearly as glamorous as I'd pictured it, but man was it worth it.

I heard recently about a show called "90-Day Fiancé" on TLC. This perked my interest, as it is always interesting (if not amusing) when your life coincides with a reality show. The show focuses mainly on American men and foreign women, of course, and plays up the idea of "mail-order bride." But it also brings into light the fact that it isn't easy to have an international romance.

When you meet your fiancé, you don't get to immediately bring him home to meet Mom and Dad. In fact, my husband and I had been engaged for a year before we were able to get to the United States. My parents flew to Africa twice to get to know him, which was a huge sacrifice of time and money, but it was ultimately worth it, so that when Frank and I finally flew to the United States, there was a relationship between son-in-law and parents-in-law. We, too, filed for the K-1 visa ("fiancé visa). We were ecstatic when Frank received his visa, which came within days of me delivering our first child; I gave birth in Tanzania because we did not get the visa in time to get to the United States for our daughter's birth. This meant that my family was not there for the birth, that my mom had to quickly buy a last-minute ticket to Tanzania when I had to have an emergency C-Section, and arrived a few days later (as it takes two days to fly to East Africa). And when we finally did get to the United States, as required by the law of the visa, we had to marry within 90 days. And while we certainly were grateful to finally get married, it is not easy to plan a wedding with a newborn.

So this Valentine's Day, we get a break from working on citizenship and job searches, and instead of being parents, students and employees, we get to be Katie and Frank. We love Valentine's Day because it is understood across cultures and needs no translation. People may not always understand how or why a Black African man and a white American woman fell in love, but these days, we don't worry about others. We are mostly past the stage of having to document our relationship to prove to our love is real and that we should be allowed to be together to our respective governments. We have finally settled down, planting roots in North Carolina, in a city with a great international community, where our multinational family and biracial daughter can find a place. That matters; finding a community that lets our relationship grow and flourish is essential.

So this Valentine's Day, I will continue rolling my Eyes at Kay Jewelers' commercials, but I will not disparage the holiday itself. I value love more than ever these days, because I understand fully how lucky I am to have my husband, to be allowed to be with him and have a home together. Not only was it a great blessing to have met my husband, but also after all the sacrifice it took to get here, we look forward to taking a day every year to celebrate the power of love.

Katie Mgongolwa is a writer and teacher living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and her daughter. She holds a Master’s degree in English Education from Boston College and is currently working on a memoir about love, parenthood and Tanzania.

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