Monday, 22 August 2011

Grey matters

As you may well know by now - the USA raised its debt ceiling in a curtain-call deal, Standard and Poors downgraded the USA's credit-rating and the stock market has been in fluctuation ever since. Amongst all this financial blustering our little life package is still sitting on a desk gathering dust somewhere in California, as yet untouched.

In a previous entry I mentioned that Mr and I try to see each other every few months, yet we'd been worried that we wouldn't be able to meet up at all during the visa process. I'll explain:

It is not illegal for me to visit the USA. I can theoretically visit the USA any time I want during the next year.

However, while the law is clear for citizens from VWP countries (Visa-Waiver-Program: that is, folks like Brits who don't need a visa just to visit the US), the practicalities are not so clear.

When Mr touched down in his home state in June after our wedding/honeymoon, he asked the immigration officer who served him what those practicalities really were. The answer, unfortunately, was the one we already knew but had hoped was only hearsay.

The officer stated that it was at the discretion of whoever served the 'alien' at the passport desk whether or not said alien would be allowed to enter the USA. If there were any doubts at all about the alien's intentions to return to their home country, they could be questioned for hours and sent back on the next plane home at their own expense and without even a peak at their spouse.

It is not likely, but it is not desirable. I have read and heard of many couples who have and do visit regularly with visas pending. But the possibility of two long-haul economy flights interspersed only with a terse interrogation with immigration at US border control is something this alien just can't afford. Two airplane meals in the space of 12 hours would play havoc with my digestive system and the airport air con would be unbearably drying to my complexion - it just wouldn't be worth it. Plus there's only so much those baby-wipe wash-downs can achieve and I would feel terribly sorry for the olfactory system of the person next to me on the return flight. And as I couldn't afford to fly home short-notice with Virgin then not even my socks or teeth would be clean. It would be pleasant for nobody.

Not to mention, of course, the emotional to-ing and fro-ing of discovering that I'd definitely-maybe-absolutely-not be allowed to see Mr Husband's face, as he stood on the other side of the screen waiting fruitlessly for his jetlagged 'non-resident alien relative' to appear. It's an experience that neither of us hope to have.

But Mr will be with me for Christmas, Queen's speech bingo and Corrie omnibuses - snuggling up over Quality Streets and Coronation Streets. And so 'til next time, Mr and I are both being kept busy as usual. Mr is closely tracking the 2012 caucus marathons (by which I mean US politics and not the Olympics). Later this week I'll be at the Edinburgh TV Festival to talk and learn about our digital fictional/factual futures, Jersey/Mersey/Geordie/Essex shores, and to likely listen to a 'eugoogly' from Google on analogue telly as we know it. I really need to patent my Queen Speech Bingo app idea.

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