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An Intro: My Real 90 Day Fiancé

This is the story of my real 90 day fiancé: the timeline, (some of) the associated expenses, the legal hurdles we had to jump, the frustrations we encountered, and the reality of our new lives together as a young couple with not only all the issues relationships themselves bring, but with the compounding weight of his culture shock, and then all the legal processes we had to endure in order for him to gain permanent residence in this country.

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Before the 90 Days

…many folks watched the TLC show and followed it weekly to keep up with the drama as it unfolded. Maybe those couples were real, I don’t really know, but the way they framed those stories couldn’t have painted a more skewed (fake) picture of the process and its requirements. Petitioning for your international fiancé is a highly scrutinized process and a pain in the ass–such that if you didn’t really like that person, or weren’t 100% committed to whatever fake story you’ve crafted (if that’s what you’re trying to do, though I wouldn’t try and defraud the gov’t), then it really wouldn’t be worth your time, money, or energy.

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Day 1 – 2: The First 24 Hours in the U.S.

Today has been a whirlwind of emotions. It started with the nerve wracking drive to the airport. Over the past 10 months I’ve dreamed of this momentous occasion when I would watch him walk through the airport gate, heavy with anticipation of his facial expression when he recognized me holding a sign with his name on it. I thought my dream was going to be shattered when I got on the interstate and two lanes were shut down causing traffic to be completely stopped.

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Day 2 Through..: Cleaning House

I was pretty proud of the job I did cleaning and making space before Efrem got here. I turned my bed around and created two night stands, I moved furniture and cleared space to construct and fit an external closet rack for his clothes, I cleaned top to bottom. Clearly I was deluded to think that was sufficient.

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Day 3: Eating Donuts

But by Thursday, he was looking at me like, ‘okay, you keep talking about these donuts, when am I going to eat one?’

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Day 11: Getting A Social Security Number

I’ve been making myself nervous to go to the social security office, fearing that they would give us a hard time, not understanding his status and his paperwork. I looked up what I would need on the social security website for a noncitizen, and whether he would be eligible, and when that got a bit confusing, I finally went to our godsend page, Visa Journey.

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Day 12 (prologue): Culture Shock, or How to Pump Gas

…but when I filled up in preparation for our return trip to New Orleans, he got out and studied the process…

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Day 12: Meet the Parents

Throughout our two years of dating and these last 10 months of paperwork to obtain the fiance visa, my parents still had never met Efrem. Sure there was kind of a phone call here, and a skype conversation, there, but Efrem had never come to the US and my parents had never gone to SA. It’s a terribly interesting order of operations: boyfriends/girlfriends usually meet the parents before an engagement occurs, but nothing has been “normal” in this relationship, so why would this be any different.

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Day 14: Watching TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé

Both of us sat there, eating our “tacos,” shaking our heads, knowing how contrived these stories  were. But we couldn’t stop watching the train wreck. It’s already difficult enough to explain the K1 process to people who’ve never gone through it, without getting looks of skepticism or overhearing the whispers that the foreign citizen must be faking out the US citizen (or they’re plotting together) in order to thwart the immigration process and get a green card more easily.

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