NOTE: This is the email I sent out to many friends and family yesterday. We have received many replies of support, all of which I will answer within the next few days. There are quite a lot of them. Thanks, everybody.
Yesterday Xianyi and I went to the US Consulate in Guangzhou for her immigrant visa interview. We got good news and bad news. The good news is that we passed; her application was accepted and the officers saw that our marriage is legitimate. The bad news is that they didn’t issue her a visa yet.
They said that because I have been living in China so long, have no property in America, never held a job in America and have not been offered a future job in America, I am not “legally domiciled” in the US and therefore cannot sponsor her as an immigrant. I had expected that the domecile issue might be a problem, but thought that we had offered proof of intent to move back to the States: the guidelines stated that one should show that he has kept up his American bank accounts (I offered ample proof) and kept a residence in America (I used my mom’s house, which is listed as my address on my checking account statements). Apparently, this is not enough.
It would have been helpful if they had said somewhere, clearly, that this would not be enough. On the letter of denial, the Consulate wrote that if we return with evidence that the sponsor (me) “intends to return to the United States and establish residence there and relinquish his residence overseas.” Bit of a catch-22 and quite ridiculous, if you ask me. Sponsoring your wife for a visa to the US is apparently not enough evidence of an intent to return to the US.
Anyway, all we have to do now is get me a job. Should I be offered employment in America, I only need to get a letter from the company stating their offer and mail it to the Consulate here in Guangzhou, who will then issue Xianyi’s visa. Not ideal, but not an outright denial, either.
So the job search is going to intensify, and we are going to be in China a little while longer (which we planned to be, anyway). Our lease in Shanghai runs out in July, so clearly we’d like to move on by then – but we’re still not sure what will happen. Once I am offered a job, it could still take a little time for the paperwork to clear, which makes it difficult to plan a move. It’s just extra added trouble from Uncle Sam that seems rather unnecessary to us. I’ll probably have to fly back to the States for job interviews, which means I’ll have to leave Xianyi here while I do so, something I never wanted to do, but have been forced to by these onerous regulations. I may even have to start working in America before Xianyi is totally cleared to enter the country, thanks to the bureaucrats who make the rules.
That is the extended explanation of what happened. Feel free to respond to this by leaving comments on the blog; we appreciate everyone’s support and even though we’re disappointed not to have the visa yet, we’re happy we’re going to be around the good people of Shanghai a little longer.