My wonderful Texan, Kyle, found me online in the summer of 2002. The usual stuff followed - Emails, then IMs, then phonecalls. I went to visit him for the first time that Autumn and we had a wonderful time together. Everything just seemed to be so natural between us. I'm self employed (and Kyle changed jobs soon after we met), so I travelled as often as possible, by choice, I hasten to add. I spent a lot of time with him and his great family & friends over the last couple of years... we slowly but surely fell in love and I've never been happier.
Unfortunately Kyle's workload made it tough for him to get away for more than a few days at a time. However, I'm glad to say that he was able to visit England twice and met my immediate family both times - they all heartily approve of him! :o)
Kyle was married more than once before and he was pretty gun-shy about doing it again. However, he plucked up the courage to propose in late spring 2004 and I was absolutely thrilled. I now proudly wear a beautiful engagement ring that we chose together at the end of 2004.
The tales of ordeals and delays that we read on VJ.com really put us off applying for a visa for ages. Being forced to be apart for months on end was too depressing to think about - so we just ignored the problem and continued to play house whenever I could get over there. Unfortunately our rose tinted specs got badly scratched on my last journey into the States...
Despite the fact I've never overstayed and simply try to do my bit to support the US economy - emptying my UK bank account into the various shops, restaurants, etc, etc - my last 2 visits almost didn't happen - The USCIS officers I encountered at the airport fussed about the number of visits & the amount of time I'd spent in the States since 2002. The first time it happened I was kept waiting in the USCIS office for a about 15 minutes and then let in, but advised to stay away longer next time.
I stayed away for 5 months and it was awful being apart for so long. Handing over my passport on the next visit (my last, in late '04) I was confident everything would be fine ... I couldn't believe it when I was told to go to the USCIS office again. I sat there trying to behave like a swan - calm above the surface but flapping like mad underneath. After a while a little USCIS officer (who looked and sounded about 16) called me up to stand in front of her while she asked some questions - Was I working in the USA? Studying there? Living there? etc, etc. I stuck to short, truthful replies and did my best to look calm. The girl sent me back to sit down again and proceeded to call Kyle on his mobile while he was sitting in his car just outside the terminal. She asked him all the same questions and, since he doesn't have the highest opinion of the USCIS at the best of times, I was praying he wouldn't lose patience with her and give her a mouthfull! Luckily he held his tongue... When the girl finished with him, she was joined by 2 'grown-ups' and all 3 peered at my passport, inspecting every page, muttering away to each other while the girl tapped away on her computer - I'm assuming every detail of my passport stamps went into the computer, along with our replies.
Eventually I could see they had come to some kind of decision. I was still trying to maintain the swan-like behaviour while pooping myself... One of the 2 older officers called me over to the desk again, opened up my passport and stamped something in it... To my utter relief he then handed it over and told me I could enter the US this time, but that I need to spend longer out of the States and that I should apply for a Fiance Visa before returning again! Phewww, I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear that!
Considering neither I nor my Texan had been asked about engagements, or mentioned being engaged, I decided I might as well risk asking what the rules were about visiting the USA if there's a visa application in the works. The USCIS Officer said that once a visa application had been filed the applicant could NOT enter the USA until the visa was approved. I thanked him for his help and scuttled away from that office as swiftly as I could!
Anyway, the stamp in my passport proved to be the normal 90 day one, thank goodness. The initial shock soon wore off and for the next few weeks Kyle and I tried to ignore the issues, having fun together as usual. I had originally planned to leave in mid December, but as the time drew nearer, we forced ourselves to discuss all the options once and for all. We decided to go for the K1 as the best of a bad bunch. Knowing it was going to be a looonnngg time before I could return, I stayed until my 89th day - just before NY '05.
I'm thrilled to update the story to say I got my K-1 and we got had a lovely wedding on 23rd Oct '05 in Texas! Woo Hoo! Then we finished the AOS process via the Dallas DORA pilot scheme... Yippee!
It's mid 2012 as I write this last bit... The conditions on my green card were lifted about four years ago and I've had the full ten year card since then. Not sure if I'll ever bother to get citizenship - I doubt I'll ever want a federal job and hate all the political nonsense that goes on for years between elections... Never say never tho! :o)
I was frequently worried, irritated and confused by the immigration process, but thank Gawd we found VisaJourney.com - It proved absolutely invaluable! We found so much useful information here, received all sort of help and reassurance and I've been able to 'pay a bit of that forward' here and there (if I'm sure I know I'm right about the answer!). VisaJourney saved our sanity! :o)