Holding Hands and Praying for Change
Richard and I met in February 2002 in Calgary Canada. I am Canadian and Richard is American.
Initially, Richard was going to move to Canada to be with me, Canada has same-sex marriage and gay couples have all the same rights as straight couples. But Richard wanted to keep his job in the U.S., so he was “commuting” between the U.S. and Canada. This became very stressful, especially in the winter, when flights to and from Canada are often canceled die to the weather.
In 2005, I found a job in Sacramento, California. I was under the TN visa (North America Free Trade Agreement). While I worked for this company for 7 years, the company had no intention of sponsoring me for a green card. While I was able to travel in and out of the U.S. on the TN visa, immigration officials often informed me that I should get permanent resident status because they told me that the TN visa could be “dismissed” at any time.
"I don’t think the U.S. government and its current immigration system even understand how forcing us to separate at a time like this is damaging our lives."
During this time we tried to live our lives as normally as possible, Richard retired from his job and we bought a house. I kept looking for employment that would lead to a green card and in 2012 I thought I had found this. I started a new job in Southern California working on a project that seemed to have a lot of potential. We put our house up for sale and planned to move to Los Angeles. But – after 5 months, the project ended – and I was without a job and the promise of a green card.
I have now been told that I must leave the US in 30 days, if not I will become undocumented.
My plan is to return to Canada, re-establish my residency and then come back to the U.S. as a visitor in order to complete the sale of our home.
Meanwhile we are living off Richard’s retirement income. It is a very difficult time for us right now. I don’t think the U.S. government and its current immigration system even understand how forcing us to separate at a time like this is damaging our lives. We have been together for 11 years, overcoming many obstacles, but this is by far the most difficult.
We are holding hands and praying for change – the inclusion of same-sex binationals in immigration reform – which would allow Richard to sponsor me as his partner and keep us together in America.
Are you a same-sex binational couple? Do you have families / friends affected by this issue? Please contact us at http://bit.ly/O4ICountMeIn if you are interested in sharing your story.