“A Life Lived in Fear is a Life Half Lived” – Dealing with Visa Issues

-Written by Cady, a current graduate wife

The dreaded visa. If you or your partner/spouse happen to be studying in another country then you will know what I am talking about. Just thinking about it conjures up all sorts of images of evil border officers, mountains of paperwork, hundreds even thousands of dollars spent, and a fear so paralyzing and gripping that I just want to curl up in a ball and cease to exist. I mean, what else could be worse than the fear of someone preventing you from living with your husband/partner?

To give you an idea of why I have such an adverse reaction to anything remotely related to visas, here’s our story in a nutshell. As the spouse of a citizen from Country X, I have the right to reside in Country Y by law. However, when we applied for my residence card in Country Y, it wasn’t granted. And worse yet, no one would tell us why. Our second application wasn’t acknowledged (it should have been by law), and the legal processing time was exceeded. Thirteen months after not being able to leave the country, paying to translate every document we could think of, guessing at what was missing, spending hours on the phone, and writing complaint letters, I finally received my card. I am a free woman now (at least for the time being).

Usually the Graduate Wife blog inspires me and gives me lots of tips to get through any rough patches along this journey. However, I’m afraid this post may not be of much practical help to you if you are having trouble with your visa situation. Sometimes there is nothing else you can do but wait and have faith (in God, fate, Buddha, chocolate, whatever floats your boat). I just wanted to share a bit and let you know you are not alone.

While you’re waiting, though, remember two things:

  1. A life lived in fear is a life half lived.  (Yes, it’s a quote from one of my favorite movies, Strictly Ballroom. Watch it if you haven’t seen it; it’s amazing!). Try not to let the impending doom affect your day-to-day life.  If you let the fear get to you like I did, you might miss out on all the little good things that are happening to you. (Obviously, this is a lot easier said than done; don’t give up!)
  2. Of course you should let your partner or spouse know how you are feeling, but remember he/she has a lot on her/his plate already. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my husband was very affected by me being so upset. He probably felt guilty he had dragged me to this new place, and that I was so violently distressed. Looking back, I wish I would have been able to put on a braver face for him so he wouldn’t have been so worried about me.  I should have turned to friends more or other ways of venting about the situation to try to shield him from the brunt of it.

Hopefully my story will remind you that things can work out eventually.  So if you are having trouble with your visa, remember you’re not alone.  If you’re not having visa woes, watch for those wives/partners in your community that might be suffering silently.  Reach out to offer a shoulder to cry on, or perhaps invite them to fight the fear for a night by watching one of the best movies of all time together! (And on that note, Strictly Ballroom is where the picture comes from at the top of this piece in case you are wondering.) :)

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One thought on ““A Life Lived in Fear is a Life Half Lived” – Dealing with Visa Issues

  1. Visa issues are obnoxious. :( I dislike the paperwork, and standing in the line, and paying to keep extending it. For my husband and I, we’ll be here only two years, so we will need to do this only temporary, and for that I’m forever grateful!

    Good for you for getting a green card though- no more concerns of visa issues! :)

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