A friend of mine has a son who has serving in a branch of the U.S. military. While stationed at a base in another country, he met a young woman. One thing lead to another, nature took its course, and they got married. Shortly thereafter, they had a baby daughter. Then his overseas assignment ended, and he was ordered back to the United States. That’s when things got complicated.
I finally got to meet this new family yesterday. The wife is lovely and a terrific cook, the daughter is very cute. They had a lot of stories to tell about life in the military and in a foreign country. The wife is from a third country, which is where the marriage ceremony took place, and they had interesting stories about her family and culture.
They also told some rather depressing stories about the bureaucratic difficulties they encountered trying to get the family into the United States. (And it is to avoid bureaucratic vengeance that I’m leaving out so many names and locations.) They ended up passing around a lot of paperwork between the U.S. Military and the State Department, and there were a lot of delays. It got so bad that my friend’s son was repremanded by the military for not returning to the U.S. on time. He could have left on time, but he would have had to leave his wife and daughter behind in a foreign country.
I can’t remember all the details, but a few of the problems stand out. For one thing, he had to pay for a criminal background check on his wife, to assure the U.S. immigration folks that he was not bringing a criminal into the country.
The State Department also demanded proof that his wife was not carrying infectious diseases. However, the local hospital used by military dependents was not on the list of hospitals approved for this testing by the State Department, so their records of her clean health were not acceptable. She had to be tested again at an approved hospital, and since this testing was an immigration requirement, not a medical necessity, it wasn’t covered under the military’s family medical plan, so they had to pay for it out-of-pocket.
At one point in the process, related to establishing the status of their daughter, my friend had to get an official transcript from her son’s schools in order to prove that he, a natural born citizen, had been resident in the U.S. for at least five years.
Even after all this, on their last day in that foreign country, they got the runaround at the airport to take care of some last-minute paperwork that nobody had told them they would need.
I can understand the reasons for some of the individual bits of bureaucracy, but taken as a whole, there’s something wrong when a serving member of the military has to go through all this trouble. What really gets me is that this is probably an immigration best-case scenario: The young woman is married to a natural-born U.S. citizen who’s serving his country, and the child is his legal and biological daughter. My guess is that this was probably as easy as immigration can be.