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What can your fiance do once they get here?

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Filed: Country: Peru
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Hey all,

My girlfriend and I are starting to think about getting engaged and are trying to plan things correctly. My girlfriend does not speak English very well, and I am nervous about this. What have other people in my position done to help their significant other assimilate to American culture? What did they do to learn English and to find a job? What did they during their first months here while they weren't working and were dependent on the USC? It just seems like those first few months are critical to the success of a relationship with a foreigner...Any advice or experiences would be great.

Thanks,

Derek

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I have a friend whose wife came here from Ecuador. She had the equivalent of a BBA and already spoke English a bit, but then as soon as she got here, he put her in a 4-week intensive English class through the local university. (Maybe it was 6 weeks?) I mean, she arrived on a Wednesday and started classes Monday—eight hours a day, five days a week.

As soon as she got her EAD, she was able to get a job working in a bank, doing substantially the same work she'd been doing in Ecuador. That was 4 years ago and she's now pretty high up in the bank.

I would look to see if your local university has any English classes for immigrants. I think most large universities do. Seriously, I think she would have been much less able to adapt to the US if she hadn't gotten such a grounding in English right off. And it gave her something to do for a month or so while she was unable to work.

Bethany (NJ, USA) & Gareth (Scotland, UK)

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The local community colleges often have ESL courses and would be cheaper than a university per se. As for assimulating, get her out there to meet your friends and as she gets more confident with her English see if she would like to join some kind of activity, swimming club, art class or anything similar that is within the community. Coming from England, I obviously did not have a language problem, but still found it very hard to settle here to start with. What helped me was meeting my husbands friends, who we now go out to lunch with every Saturday. Being dependant when you are used to working and being out regularly is hard too, so I think the key is to make sure that she doesn't feel isolated, especially if you are at work all day. Also, I would say not to expect it to be plain sailing, there might well be times when it seems really hard, but if you have faith in each other, you'll get through those times.

Best of luck to you

Kate

AOS TIMELINE

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Filed: Country: Belarus
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While I cannot help you with the English advice (my wife was an English teacher), I can tell you what we did before she got her work documents and Green Card.

Yes, your wife will be totally dependent on you for many things and you will have to be her mentor for quite a while. The first 6 months was the toughest for us. My wife and stepdaughter (then 18 years old) had never owned or driven an automobile. That was one of the first things we worked on since we live in car dependent Houston. Public transportation just plain sucks in our city.

Fortunately I already had ties to the Russian speaking community in our city and they were always available to give advice. We also live in a district with Russian grocery shops near our house. These things helped in the transition and assimilation.

There is a huge learning curve involved on both sides. I spent a lot of time learning what I had to do get them driver's licenses, Social Security Cards, employment authorization, Green Cards, etc. I found that I could get my stepdaughter her driver's license, put her on my medical insurance, and enroll her in our local community college without needing a Social Security Card. My K-1 fiancee applied for a Social Security Card before we were even married, but my K-2 stepdaughter couldn't get her's until she got her EAD after we filed for AoS. What a headache!!!

The transition was more difficult for my stepdaughter because she left all of her friends and had to make new friends. It took her more time to get adjusted. However it was her choice to leave and come to America with her mom. She was already graduated from high school there and her mom offered to give her their apartment in Belarus.

Just keeping them busy and occupied until they could legally work was a chore at times.

After more than 2 years in the USA they both have driver's licenses, jobs, Green Cards, friends, etc. We're cool.

So my advice would be to try to live in a city that has a significant Hispanic community, enroll her in ESL, and help her to get all the documents and tools to assimilate into American life. It will take a lot of your help and support to accomplish that. Believe me...it is not easy and will take a lot of extra effort on your part to make it happen.

"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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