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Adventures in Immigration


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This thread is going to be my documentation about my adventures with marriage & more specifically with immigration.

 

First, some background. I met a woman from Ecuador on an on-line dating site. One of the things about dating women from Latin America is (besides the cultural differences) a lot of them are looking for a green card*. Not just my opinion, but I have a friend who is an Ecuadorian & someone I had previously a relationship with, & she tells me the same thing. So I had to be cautious.

 

It is usually easy to spot the green card hunters: I am 45 & would get bombarded by women in their 20s, telling me how much they will love me, etc. While there seems to be a cultural bias in Latinas in regards to relationships with older men (my friend was married to a man 15 years older than her, & now has a relationship with a man in his 60's...she is in her late 40's), the likelihood a relationship with a 20 year old is not good. Besides, I cannot have more children. Likely grounds for divorce or green card* hunters.

 

Anyway this woman is different: same age as me, already has a son, in no way wants more kids, & when I told her about my ambition to retire to Ecuador one day, sent me information on housing costs there for us, when that day comes (FYI much cheaper than the US, which is why Ecuador is an attractive retirement destination for gringos**). Many other points as well convinced me she is not after a green card, but specifically she is looking for a husband. The culture is a little different there...

 

Anyway, after 3 or 4 months of "dating" she dropped the bomb on me & used the words "te amo" with me. For those that do not know, in Spanish you have two different terms of endearment: "te quiero" can mean either "I like you," or "I love you," but not in the "I want to marry you" sense. The other it of course "te amo" which is a Big Deal, the sort of thing you say to your mother, your kids, or to your spouse & future spouse. So it was a big deal to hear those words. She wants to marry me one day. So we started talking about it & making plans.

 

Some of the difficulties with this plan. There are 3 different strategies to achieve our marital bliss:

 

1. Apply for a K-1 Visa. This is the Fiancee visa. If anyone has ever watched the program 90 Day Fiancee, this is what they are talking about. The advantages to this one are that we do not have to get married immediately; we would have 90 days in which to get married in the US (hence the name). The disadvantages are that we would need to "prove" there is an actual relationship (in the Latin community some people try for a "marriage of convenience" in order to get around the laws for immigration...my Ecuadorian friend had a Colombian working for her illegally & was considering using marriage as a way to stay in the US;  his visa was an educational visa only so he could not legally work), & it is much more expensive. To "prove" a relationship exists is that we would have to meet in person at least once in the past 2 years. Currently that is challenging (because of COVID), though there are ways to do it, I have found.

 

2. Apply for a K-3 Visa. This is a spousal visa. This is different because you have to be married FIRST before you can apply for it, & is meant to naturalize the foreign spouses. The advantages are that it is a bit cheaper & easier to apply for. The disadvantages are that it takes longer (averages 9 months right now, but sometimes it can take up to a year; the Fiancee visa averages 6 months but right now it is averaging 9 months, so no advantages to that at the moment), & you have to be married first, so you have to navigate the laws in the country you are getting married in to pull it off.

 

Right now we are looking at Option 2. It has always been my intention to marry in Ecuador. For one thing I really want the legal status in Ecuador so there are no problems when I decide to immigrate in the future. But also because her family is there; I am asking her to leave her family behind in Ecuador to live with me in the US. This is only fair to her. As a bonus, Ecuador is a beautiful country with many old & magnificent churches. The only problems are that there are a limited number of places we can actually marry (she is from a coastal resort city called Manta): Guayaquil, Cuenca & Quito (the capital). The other problem is that I would need to be a resident there for 75 days before the marriage; this is impossible for me because of my kids & because of work.

 

I should also clarify that in Ecuador there are 2 processes to getting married: you need to have a Civil Marriage before the Church wedding. This is just the legal process to indicate you are married in the eyes of the government. Later you can have the church ceremony so you are legal in the eyes of God (unlike in the US where the process is simultaneous; you just need a marriage license first, though I have never been married & may be incorrect in the details). While Guayaquil is relatively close to her (3hr drive by car down the gorgeous Pacific coast), & both Cuenca & Quito are lovely cities, it is just not practical to have the civil marriage there given the rules.

 

As an aside, these rules were put in place (so I understand) by Pres. Correa. He is a Chavista (follower of Hugo Chavez of Venezuela; the current president of Venezuela is a Chavista as well), & has just been convicted & sentenced for bribery; he is supposed to serve a term of 8 years in incarceration.

 

So option B of Plan 2 is to instead get married in the Dominican Republic. The advantages here are that it is closer (& cheaper) for me to fly down there, there are no onerous laws there for foreign nationals to marry, the quarantine is less restrictive, her sister has a lawyer friend there who can help us, & plus her sister (also married to a gringo for 10 years now, & has a kid with him) used this method & lives here in the US with her husband & kids. Neither I nor her need special visas to do this. Plus we can do this sooner rather than later. ***

 

The other component of this is that we are planning on having a church wedding in February in Manta, Ecuador. The marriage in the Dominican Republic will only be a civil marriage to establish the relationship for the visa. She is religious so a church wedding will be important for her.

 

Right now I am talking to an immigration lawyer about this process, & the documentation I will need to marry in the Dominican Republic. She is also talking to a lawyer locally in Ecuador for the same. Right now, target date is sometime in September.

 

By the way, I have not told my extended family about this yet, just my kids. This should be interesting...

 

Damon.

 

* for those that don't know, especially outside the US, a Green Card is a type of identification card immigrants get when they have legal status in the US.

 

** A term Latinos use specifically for Americans. Maybe Canadians too. It is not a pejorative either.

 

*** For a bit more detail of the troubles she had: one of her daughters was not born in Ecuador, but rather in the Dominican Republic. Because of this it took 3 years to complete the documentation to bring her daughter here. I do not wish that torture on anyone.

 

Edited by Lars Porsenna
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A picture for why I am doing this. Ysabel & I on the beach in Manta, Ecuador.

I haven't updated this thread in a while. So here's some general news...   I flew down to Ecuador the day after Christmas to spend the new years with my wife. The travelling sucked, but my t

I am currently sitting near the gate for my flight. In an hour I will be on the plane & on my way. My adventure is about to begin.   One thing I should note is that I have never travelle

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Short update: She wants me to travel to Guayaquil & then go together to the Dominican Republic. I can't blame her, & it would be a nice time to get to know each other. The only problem is that as soon as I step off the plane, they will do a COVID test. The other problem would be more money. I have a budget for this, so hopefully it all works out. Whether I test positive or negative I am still required to go into quarantine for 14 days before entering the country. SHe is going to call the airport in Guayaquil & explain what our plans are, & see if I still would need to go into quarantine. 

 

The other thing is that I checked on the marriage laws in the Dominican Republic. We are required to have 2 witnesses at the civil marriage. Her sister's lawyer friend (abrogada, new word for me) is going to make the arrangements, so that is a huge relief. 

 

Today I looked at rings. I have not formally proposed to her due to the Quarantine, & we are throwing this together as we go. I sent her a picture, she is enchanted with it. I picked out one for me too, much, much simpler & cheaper (because yo soy un hombre), still made of gold. It should be nice.

 

Damon.

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I recently talked to a lawyer in Ecuador about marriage laws, as they impact foreigners. The good news is that the law that says I must be in residence in the country for 75 days has been revoked, so there is nothing stopping me from getting married there. Well, except for the Coronavirus & the quarantine. But still, this will be significantly cheaper for me, as well as being better for me in that I marry under Ecuadorian law, get indisputable spousal rights under the law, & will probably be easier when I decide to immigrate in the next 7 years.

 

Damon.

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22 minutes ago, Lars Porsenna said:

I recently talked to a lawyer in Ecuador about marriage laws, as they impact foreigners. The good news is that the law that says I must be in residence in the country for 75 days has been revoked, so there is nothing stopping me from getting married there. Well, except for the Coronavirus & the quarantine. But still, this will be significantly cheaper for me, as well as being better for me in that I marry under Ecuadorian law, get indisputable spousal rights under the law, & will probably be easier when I decide to immigrate in the next 7 years.

 

Damon.

 

Sounds like good news!

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On 7/26/2020 at 6:38 PM, Lars Porsenna said:

Short update: She wants me to travel to Guayaquil & then go together to the Dominican Republic. I can't blame her, & it would be a nice time to get to know each other. The only problem is that as soon as I step off the plane, they will do a COVID test.

 

Just a thought: stop off in Texas, do a one day layover. That would give you time to get the oral COVID test. It is a spit-in-a-tube procedure and the results are available within hours. That way you either have high confidence knowing you will test negative in country or you can scrub the 2nd flight and get medical attention as required.

 

Doesn't stop you from catching it on the plane though.

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19 hours ago, TGP said:

Doesn't stop you from catching it on the plane though.

 

That's the reason for the 2 week quarantine in country of course. I would be flying out of Newark though, so I would think they would have COVID tests available there? Also, most flights to Ecuador seem to organize out of Ft Lauderdale FL rather than going overland to Texas. There might be exceptions of course.

 

Damon.

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2 hours ago, kristof65 said:

Good luck and best wishes in your journey, and I can't wait to follow your adventure here. 

 

Thanks. It is definitely different & exciting. With several problems that need to be overcome...

 

One of the things you need to make a marriage happen of course is an engagement ring. I found a very nice one on Amazon that wasn't an outrageous amount of money.  It also comes with the wedding band too, which I will need at some point as well. I had an inscription put in, "Te amo." Appropriate.

 

The only downside? It was made in China, & I just read an article about how COVID has been found in packages in New Zealand & (ironically) on shrimp imported into China from Ecuador. So the plan now is to open the packaging outside the house & clean the rings with alcohol. I assume no, but does anyone know if alcohol (I have 91% in my house I use for airbrushing) has an impact on white gold?

 

With all that said, & that the only obstacle to getting married in Ecuador is the quarantine, the current plan is to wait & see what happens. If the quarantine is not lifted by November, we will do the civil ceremony in the Dominican Republic rather than in Ecuador. We sill see what happens in November, though.

 

As an aside, this has always been my dream. When I was young (teenager) I always imagined myself marrying someone from another country. I always thought it would be Italy or Argentina (I have a thing about Argentinian women), I lost track of that dream when I decided to settle with the partners I have had over the years, but my last relationship. also with an Ecuadorian, made me remember this dream & want to pursue it. So here we are...

 

Damon.

Edited by Lars Porsenna
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6 hours ago, Lars Porsenna said:

Also, most flights to Ecuador seem to organize out of Ft Lauderdale FL rather than going overland to Texas.


I only mentioned Texas because they recently rolled out the Oral/saliva based test here (which is not widely available) because it offers results in hours Instead of days (like the nose swab tests). Also it is less of a pain. 


Maybe by your timeframe it will be more widely available ?

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4 hours ago, Lars Porsenna said:

 does anyone know if alcohol (I have 91% in my house I use for airbrushing) has an impact on white gold?

 

My brother-in-law is a jeweler, I just sent a text asking him. I'll let you know when I hear back. 

 

Update- His response: "Alcohol and ammonia are fine. Chlorine is a big no no."

 

Huzzah! 

--OneBoot :D 

Edited by OneBoot
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16 hours ago, Lars Porsenna said:

 

The only downside? It was made in China, & I just read an article about how COVID has been found in packages in New Zealand & (ironically) on shrimp imported into China from Ecuador. So the plan now is to open the packaging outside the house & clean the rings with alcohol. I assume no, but does anyone know if alcohol (I have 91% in my house I use for airbrushing) has an impact on white gold?

 

Alcohol will be just fine on the gold.  I use it all the time to degrease stuff here in my jewelry lab (Takes the beeswax off the gold and silver after drawing).   If it does react, then you likely got cheated and it is not made from a mix of Gold, Copper, Silver and Nickel as it should be.

My caveat to you, be very cautious buying gold and silver from China.  China is very lax about ensuring that their jewelry smiths use the materials they should be using.  They also often miss-mark things as gold that are only plated or a lower karat weight than marked.  The first thing you should do when you get it is to put a magnet up to it.  If it sticks, you got robbed.  They often use a cheap ferrous core plated with gold.  The iron gives it weight so it feels heavy enough in the hand, but it will be almost worthless.  With gold at over $2000 an ounce, be ware of people selling it to you for less than double the gold weight value of the item.  That would be a pretty good sign that shenanigans are taking place.

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1 hour ago, VitM said:

Maybe I missed it, but have you decided whether you're going to emigrate to Ecuador or she is going to immigrate to the US yet? 

 

The plan is still for her to come to the US. In 7 years, once all my kids are adults, I plan to emigrate to Ecuador. There is a large expat American  community that lives there & they use the US dollar. Plus it is a beautiful country. On the upside, for my kids they do not need a visa to enter Ecuador (US citizens fill out a visa form at the airport), & can stay for 90 days plus another 90 days with an extension. So while my kids are in college, they can spend the summer break with us!

 

First thing to do when the ring comes is clean it with alcohol. Second is to magnetize it. THird is to send her a photo if everything checks out...

 

Ring is currently in Alaska...

 

Damon.

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