When I first traveled to Peru only needing a passport which is simple for most Americans to get and travel about anywhere in the world, I fell in love with Peru not only with the country but with a special women I met named Shirley. We were only able to spend a few days together on my first trip to Peru before I had to return to the US but after much thought and contemplation I decided to return to Peru. On my second trip to Peru Shirley and I had a wonderful time together and we decided to apply for a tourist visa for her to visit the US and I could show her around the US like she had showed me her country of Peru (see previous posts). I was in for a rude awakening as I had no idea of the prejudice involved in the process of acquiring a visa. After a ton of paperwork and paying many fees she was scheduled for an interview at the US embassy in Lima, Peru. When we arrived at the embassy it was crowded with a line of people waiting to get in for their appointments. When we finally made it to the representative outside of the embassy I was told I could not go inside with her which surprised me. I’m an American citizen and this is the American embassy but after a short conversion I was told by a guard to go wait outside of the embassy property and since the man had an uzi he was pretty convincing. As I waited for Shirley I thought a lot about the people in line and how most of them just wanted better opportunities in life, education, work, or medical attention only American hospitals could provide. After about another hour wait Shirley exited the embassy and I could tell she was upset. As she walked toward me she had tears in her eyes I gave her a big hug and she said that they denied her tourist visa. I was upset and wanted to go into the embassy but I would only be refused entry and probably end up in jail. Shirley expressed that the man who interviewed her was rude, belittled her, and said she had no intension to return to Peru if granted a tourist visa which was absolutely not true. To say the least, I have never been so disappointed in my country.
We drove back to our hotel and continued traveling throughout Peru and even to Aruba until it was time for me to return to the US again. Once back in the US I made plans to propose to Shirley and apply for K1 Fiancé visa. After returning to Peru, having more adventures, (see previous blogs ) and living in Puerto Maldanado for awhile we traveled to Cusco. I then proposed to Shirley in the Sacred Vally at Ollantaytambo after which time we returned to Puerto Maldonado and celebrated Shirleys birthdays and then e I returned to the US once again. Once back in the US I began to work and apply for a K1 visa (see previous posts for more details). After much researching, I found an attorney in Pittsburgh who specialized in immigration and could help navigate the complex process. Once I had established a better job, I submitted payment and all required documents to the USISC including all social media correspondence which is a requirement. Then Covid hit and everything was postponed due to the lockdowns including the processing of all visas and interviews at the embassy. So, after a very long wait of over two years we finally received confirmation that they received our information and were processing the first part of the visa. Then Biden was elected, and immigration became a hot subject since immigrants started pouring into the border. I have spent over two years applying for our visa and have paid alot of money for my fiancé’ to come to the US. To say the least, it irks me that people are just coming across the border and being given entry with no oversight or control. But it also irritates me that people don’t understand that a lot of the people just want a better life like our ancestors did coming from Italy, Ireland, Poland, and many other countries. Maybe if the process was not so ridiculous and expensive less people would feel the need to try to illegally cross the border.
On Sept. 29th, Shirley was finally scheduled for her visa interview and she was extremely nervous. We had to jump through many hoops including government fees, three different background checks, extensive medical exams with vaccinations of which only four doctors in the entire country of Peru are authorized to give, and an extensive list of documents and paperwork. Shirley flew to Lima and was able to stay at her friend Ginos condo which was greatly appreciated. Her interview was scheduled for 7:00 AM and she arrived early but had to wait over an hour before being interviewed of which the interview only lasted only 20 minutes. The interview went well and the woman who interviewed her was kind but Shirley was told the visa was denied pending an additional birth certificate which was frustrating but after the interview we both stayed positive but we were concerned. The consulate assured her the visa would go into administrative processing and once the additional birth certificate was received her visa would be issued. So Shirley stayed in Lima an additional week submitted the additional birth certificate and returned to Puerto Maldonado.
Two months had passed and still no word from the embassy about the visa and I was told by our attorney that administrative processing is the black hole of visas and it was hard to tell how long it would take. There is no one to call or e-mail you simply are at the mercy of the embassy and can only wait. But finally in December we received notification that Shirleys visa had been approved and was ready to be picked up at the US embassy in Lima. We finally got the news we had been waiting over three years for and were overwhelmed with joy. During this time Peru had fallen into a state of emergency due to the conflict between factions in the government. The president tried to dissolve the congress and then the congress impeached the elected president at which time the vice president took control. But now it was time to make the final plans for Shirley to come to America so we could finally be together. We wanted to be together before Christmas but due to a nasty Storm and extremely cold weather that delayed many flights across the US we scheduled her flight for 1/12/23. She booked her flight from Puerto Maldanado to Lima and I booked her flight from Lima to Pittsburgh with a 2 hour layover in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. Shirley flew into Lima a few days early in order to pickup her K1 visa at the embassy and Gino was gracious enough to let Shirley stay in his apartment again. After picking up the visa at the embassy it was only a matter of navigating the airports and immigration. On the day she was to fly out her flight was delayed 2 hours which meant she would miss her connecting flight in Ft. Lauderdale to Pittsburgh. I was anxious and I know she was nervous too but Fernando the flight attendant at the counter in Lima booked her the next flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Pittsburgh but it meant a 15 hour layover in Ft Lauderdale. There was no other option and we were both so happy that she was finally coming to the US, so we took it in stride. Shirley finally boarded her flight at 2:15 AM in Lima. When she landed in Ft. Lauderdale she had to go through immigration and waited in a long line for over an hour until she reached the counter and two immigration officers escorted her into an office for a brief interview and to receive her documents. The process took a lot of time but went smoothly and most likely the 2 hour layover on the previous flight would not have been enough time for her to go through immigration and she would have missed her connecting flight to Pittsburgh anyway. After spending 15 hours at Ft Lauderdale airport she boarded her flight to Pittsburgh at 9:45 PM and at the same time I got in my truck and headed to the Pittsburgh Airport to pick her up. I was overwhelmed with joy and excitment we had been waiting to be together again for over three years. The drive to the airport was an adventure as we got snow and black ice. I arrived at the airport and parked in the long-term parking then walked through the Hyatt hotel to the arrivals near the baggage claim. I continued to check the arrivals until I saw her flight had landed. I waited eagerly in anticipation at the bottom of the escalator for Shirley’s arrival. After about another 30 minutes I saw her coming down the escalator and my heart jumped with joy as she reached the bottom. We ran toward each other as I handed her flowers and we embraced one another. It felt as though we had never left each other and I was immediately content. We walked to the baggage claim to pick up her luggage and continued to my truck as she was about to experience cold weather and snow for the first time. I also had special plans for us in Pittsburgh that weekend and I was excited to spend time together. Stay tuned for our adventure in Pittsburgh and many more to come.
Please check out Shirleys blog at: https://tambopatafootprints.wordpress.com