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Immigration Sob Story

Love is in the hay!

Love is in the hay!

These are, by any account, extraordinary times to be an American.

After 8 awful years, we have a president open to progress with respect to individual human rights, gay, straight, or transgendered. The GLBT community should be, by any reckoning, celebrating with wild abandon.

The most recent victory: The HIV travel ban will be lifted by the end of the year.

Admittedly this is not strictly a GLBT issue, it is one of significance importance to the community and I am ecstatic. I’m also thrilled because, from my perspective, gays in the military will probably happen within the next four or five years. Furthermore, and far more importantly, same sex marriage is legal in enough states and in enough ways that DOMA is now set up to fail—all it needs is the right test case.

And, for 30,000 people who have had the fortune of falling in love, internationally, with the fall of DOMA, will come the right for the US citizen for spousal sponsoring.

All of this brings me to a Twitter interaction. A couple days ago I got a new follower on Twitter—and, much to my surprise, it wasn’t one of the regular horny sluts wanting me to click through one of her updates to a Horny Naked Sluts website (only $24.95 a minute to view her left nipple).

It was @GayIPhoneApp, one John Clevesy from Boston, who wants me to spend 2,39€ (USD price unknown) on the “GayIPhoneApp”, which is an iPhone App delivering pieces of gay history to iPhones.

The money will go toward helping American John Clevesy get reunited with his husband, British Damien, from Bristol, UK. Exactly how the money will be used is not explained.

Here is the basic timeline, as I have understood it from his website:

  • Guys meet on Facebook, meet in real life; start living together with Damien going back to the UK every 90 days to see his family and renew his visa for visiting the USA.
  • Damien proposes on Valentines Day
  • April 2008, they get married in Boston
  • August 2008: Damien overstayed his visa by five days due to illness
  • December 2008: Damien is denied entry to the United States due to previous violation of US law with respect to VWP tourist visa.

John makes the following claim:

Damien can not even apply for a green card to gain access into the US because our federal government does not recognize our marriage.

Of course this is blatantly false: Damien could get a green card if he had skills that were in need in the USA—that is, a work sponsored visa. I suspect, however, that it would be tough for him, even if sponsored, to get a work visa because of his prior immigration violations. The Visa Waver Program clearly states:

Some travelers may not be eligible to enter the United States visa free under the VWP. These include people … those who have been refused admission into, or have been deported from, the United States, or have previously overstayed on the VWP. Such travelers must apply for special restricted visas. If they attempt to travel without a visa, they may be refused entry into the United States. (US Embassy, UK)

If you want to extend your stay in the United States, then you must ask for permission from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your authorized stay expires. Proof that you are willing to obey U.S. immigration laws will be important if you want to travel to the United States as an immigrant or nonimmigrant in the future. If you break immigration laws, you may also become subject to removal (deportation). (USCIS website)

John believes that if the US recognized same sex marriages that he and his husband could live together in wedded bliss in Boston—that the problem would magically go away.

I suspect not.

Let me be clear: US immigration rules regarding legally married same sex partners is wrong. The laws must be changed so that legally married spouses in same sex marriages can immigrate to the United States. I’m all for this. I would prefer that this be accomplished legislatively, but I’m convinced that within five years the courts will mandate it. DOMA is clearly unconstitutional and should, with the right Supreme Court justices, be turned over in the blink of an eye.

What this really needs is a married same sex couple with a proven track record of following the law. John and Damien are not the right pair.

Overstaying a visa, without permission is breaking the law. I’m willing to bet that neither John nor Damien made any effort whatsoever to notify the USCIS that Damien was sick and in hospital, recovering from illness. I’m willing to bet that they blindly took the advice of immigration agents without consulting an immigration attorney with experience in the field, which suggests a certain amount of naïveté:

It wasn’t until returning from our Christmas with his family that we had any issues. After I had made it through customs and collected our luggage Damien came up to me and I could tell he was upset. We then sat in the customs room for hours explaining that we were married, his mother sends him money that he needs, I worked outside of classes, we had a roommate so rent wasn’t an issue. Nothing, however, could convince them that we had the means to get by here in Boston. This all happened because when we pushed back our flights in August, it meant Damien was staying 5 days too long in accordance with his visa.

The customs officer told us that all we needed to do was have Damien go home to the UK where he could apply for a greed card and return to the US. This was told to us by the head of the customs office! I knew that obtaining green cards was a difficult process but I had no idea at the time that Damien would not be allowed to even apply for one thanks to the D.O.M.A. which allows the federal government the choice to ignore our legal marriage.

It’s all bullshit and donating to their specific cause is throwing money down the drain.

Even if the laws changed tomorrow, I strongly suspect that Damien would continue to be denied a visa. Even though I (might as well) believe that John and Damien’s love is true and honest, the behavior of Damien is suspect and the INS is right to question whether or not any marriage, heterosexual or homosexual, is legitimate.

It’s hard to convey deep thoughts in 140 Twitter characters, but John and I had a discussion (argument) last night on Twitter. Be aware that I (TQE /Adam) come off as a cold, heartless asshole and he (GayIPhoneApp) comes off as a whiney bitch:

TQE / Adam: Should I block “gay” iPhone App Twitter account trolling for suckers willing to pay $€ for a program updating gay history? Or ignore it?

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu i’m not looking for suckers willing to pay it is a real app & i am really not allowed to b with my husband. http://alturl.com/grxg

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu Also helps sprd wht our cmmunty hz bn thru. Thos who dnt no histry allw th pst 2b repeatd. Jst thot ud b intrstd in an imprtnt app

TQE / Adam: @GayIPhoneApp your husband overstayed his visa. There are consequences- married or not. Why don’t you move to the uk?

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu Do plan 2 move there but expnsive. The overstay isn’t what is making it impossible4him2b here. Cuz we r gay he cn’t apply4greencrd

TQE / Adam: @GayIPhoneApp US law is wrong bit your husband overstayed his visa. Consequences apply for that. I follow German law in order to stay here.

TQE / Adam: @GayIPhoneApp your husband could apply for green card or get work sponsored visa; but with immigration violation he can forget it.

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu they said he was livng here&needed2apply4a grncrd frm UK he isn’t allowed to…they lied to us&the overstay has nthing2do w/grncrd

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu US Federal Gov doesn’t allow same-sex couples2apply4green card. Please know ur facts we obvi looked into that.

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu http://alturl.com/8773 please read up b4 lecturing me on what I have been researching for the past 6 months. #gay #immigration

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu Not trying2go off on u. They said he entrd too mny times on visa waver program & needed green card. He isn’t allowed a green card.

TQE / Adam: @GayIPhoneApp I know US disallows same sex marriage based immigration. Law crap. But your husband broke the rules. Your case is very weak.

GayIPhoneAppCan Some1 plz explain 2 @elmadaeu that #gay or #samesex #immigration in the United States DOESN’T EXIST http://alturl.com/grxg

TQE / Adam: @GayIPhoneApp I know same sex immigration rules don’t exist. It sucks. Rules should change. Regardless your case is weak.

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu THE IMMIGRATION OFFICERS LIED TO US PERIOD. THANK U FOR AMAZING ME WITH YOUR LACK OF COMPASSION. I AM UTTERLY BLOWN AWAY!

TQE / Adam: @GayIPhoneApp i’m compassionate but blunt: even if law changes I doubt your husband will be allowed. Move to the UK. You’re allowed there.

GayIPhoneApp @elmadaeu again..iPlan2mve2thUK but its xpnsive&Im tryin2make $ w/ a relevant&important iPhone app. Please sprd the wrd if ur rlly compsinat

Meanwhile with his last whiney complaint: “iPlan2mve2thUK but its xpensive”—bullshit. I bet round trip plane tickets from Boston to London could be had for less than $700—with just a minimal amount of research. (Hint: throw away the back half of the ticket.) My main piece of advice for this poor guy is that he check with British immigration first and makes sure that he follows British laws—I know that the UK frowns on spouses showing up at immigration without having filled out the paper work in advance. Beyond that I don’t foresee any real issues with the two of them reuniting in the UK; its my understanding that the UK has pretty decent respect for same sex marriages once the relationship is proven.

(Random aside: how on earth did Damien pay for his plane tickets to and from Boston? Can’t Damien help pay to move his husband to Britain? On that front, something seems fishy. It should cost Damien roughly the same to move to the US as it would cost John to move to the UK.)

I also suggest he check out the rules for moving their Chihuahuas (Talula & Bacardi) to the UK. They’ll be cooling their heels in pet quarantine for quite awhile.

Also, and this is really petty of me, but John is/was a graphic design major at Northeastern.  He earned an A for his flash graphic you can see on his homepage.  However the program must be of low quality as evidenced by his website.  He links me to the “About Us” page — there are three links at the bottom, one to his Twitter, one to his iPhone App store in iTunes, and a broken link. If you want to see his A-earning Flash, you have to enter the URL manually. I’ll leave it at that.

By the way, this is a form of coping through carping.

I feel better now.

22 comments to Immigration Sob Story

  • G

    I actually have first hand experience with this and I think that the shadings of what you are saying are wrong.
    My husband had an H1B visa and yes, could have applied for a green card through his firm after, I don’t know- 6 years or so. In that time he was tied to his single employer and they would have had him sign a contract tying him for the multi-year process and then some. As my spouse, he was eligible for a green card immediately. We didn’t get around to applying for 4 years because we were lazy, so it was a pretty easy process- when we went in we had been married for quite some time and had 1 child with us while I was pregnant with number two.
    But if he had even been my fiancee, there were special visas designed to prevent him from being deported and to allow him to work while we waited for his provisional and then permanent green card to work through.
    Yes, this man is correct. If his husband were a British woman, there would never have been a problem. And to be told that he could apply for a GC from the UK: that’s the lottery )yes, it’s called the Green Card Lottery). Be real. It’s akin to really winning the lottery.
    I’m not going to send money, I think he should move to the UK, but I do feel for this guy and I do think that you are being harsh. Does his job hold him in the US, or perhaps other ties? It’s not so easy for some people to uproot: they may actually have roots that need their native soil.

  • Michele J

    If anything you came across as a rational realist. I do sympathize with them but I totally agree with your take on this, Adam. Surely they would have a problem even if they were a hetero couple. And I guess it makes me a bad person to suspect he will spend the cash on hookers and blow. I’m sure he’s properly reporting and taxing this income too.

    • So few iPhone Apps make enough money to buy more than a Happy Meal… Hookers and Blow are unlikely in this case.

      • Michele J

        Yeah – it was just a metaphor actually 🙂 to point out the problematic lack of transparency.

    • I won’t be spending it on hookers and blow… i am spending it on my visa application and moving expenses to get me to the United Kingdom. Also this will be taxed since its on apple and i want it to stay there. I’m not trying to commit fraud on top of losing my husband…..

  • J

    There are separate issues here, and I agree with Adam. I don’t think it was because they are gay.

    1.Can they support themselves?
    2.Did he commit an immigration violation?
    3.Would a straight couple get a visa in this situation?

    #1 is obvious: No. One is a student who presumably works part time and the other get money from his mother.

    #2 is obvious. Yes. He overstayed by 5 days.

    #3 is not obvious. G’s hubby got to the US on a highly skilled workers’ visa, so her experience is quite different. Had Mr G had a visa violation, then they would have been more similar. Also, G’s hubby entered with a visa, not on the VWP.

    “A person entering the United States under the VWP cannot request an extension of the original allowed period of stay in the U.S. (this practice is allowed to those holding regular visas). Additionally, a person who entered the U.S. under the VWP may not request a change of immigration status while in the U.S. (e.g. one is unable to change status from say a tourist to a student). Moreover, if one seeks to enter the U.S and is denied at a port of entry, no path of appealing the denial of entry is allowed.

    Travelers can leave to contiguous countries (Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean), but will not be granted another 90 days after reentry in the United States.”

    Granted, the US immigration officer mislead them, but they should have done their homework first.

    Adam, I do hope you invite him/them to your blog to watch it hopefully be debated by expats and others that have had to go through immigration.

    • J, you managed to distill the 3 important facts that I lost in my rant.

      There’s something rotten about their claims–I suspect that we haven’t been told all the pertinent facts–but the ones we know are disturbing enough. If I were an immigration agent I have to confess that it would have been heartbreaking to do so, but I would have deported Damien last December.

    • check out articles on the Defense of Marriage act and what it means for gay immigration…..

  • G

    J is correct. But the spouse could have gone home and then re-entered with either a spousal waiver or a fiance’s visa. This is common stuff. I assure you I know many “mixed” couples like myself. In addition, I now very many folks who “overstayed” by 1-7 days and no one ever cared. Although I am sure that that Homeland Sexurity was teed off to the max by the way they were handling the VW: going back and forth can result in denial even when one doesn’t overstay if HS states that one is using VW to evade getting a residence visa.
    My husband entered on a student visa, btw. Then he went to Canada to return with his H1B. This stuff is esoteric, it can be changed at the whim of the border authorities and there is a lot of rudeness and arrogance and flagrant abuse that goes on at borders. I see it when travelling and am shocked by it.

    • Your husband had multiple legal ways to remain in the United States–first student, then work, and as a spouse.

      I won’t deny that John and Damien should be together, but for Damien to flout the rules of the VWP and then expect sympathy is stretching it… As soon as Damien violated the rules their case became hopeless.

      Donating money to John and Damien is throwing good money after bad, and, I might point out, there is no accountability for where the funds are spent. If this was fund raising for a legitimate charity, then I would consider it, but in this case the lack of transparency is troublesome.

      • I don’t know why i am bothering because you clearly don’t understand this still. 36,000 couples in america are being kept apart because of the DOMA. GAY PEOPLE CAN NOT GET GREEN CARDS AS SPOUSES. Will you pay for him to go to school here? Probably not so that rules out education. And not having special skills in a job market like ours is today rules out a working visa. PEOPLE ARE GETTING LAID OFF NOT HIRED.

        Thanks again for all of your support!

  • G

    Man- sorry for typoes. Kids are all over me this afternoon. I have to get out of here to their summerfest.

  • Love the photo. Ah, memories…

  • Also how is spreading history of LGBT people either a Charity or Money down the drain? Did you never learn the importance of history? And it’s only $3 I don’t know how long ago you went to college (if you even did go) but thats a hell of a lot cheaper than a text book on the subject. Also, i never claimed it was a charity in the first place i said that buying the app would help me get to see him again (ie me moving to the UK which as you can probably imagine costs a lot).

    • Adam

      John, your generic cause is legitimate.

      Your specific cause is a farce. I might note that despite what you say here, your tweets and your website imply that there is some charity case here and it wasn’t ever clear to me whether or not you are trying to change US law (which needs to be changed) or fix your situation (which I wasn’t clear whether you wanted him to move to Boston or you to move to Bristol). Since it wasn’t clear to me, I could only assume that you were some how illegitimate.

      And I might note that you continue to implicitly imply that by buying your iPhone App, one is helping the movement against DOMA, which, according to your comments here, isn’t true. You need to stop implying that buying your App is helping to overturn DOMA. It’s not.

      Moreover, if your husband’s mom could pay for his multiple plane tickets for him to visit you in Boston, then she could surely pay for a plane ticket for you to Britain. Other than that, I’m not sure what makes moving to the UK expensive–unless you count your dogs. If you are thinking about moving furniture, books, etc… then if you truly love him, leave that stuff behind. Take your clothing, shoes, and sex toys, and give the rest to Goodwill. There’s no need to bring furniture from America. Really, you only need a plane ticket–and the patience to fill out the UK forms correctly.

      Good luck with the move.

      • If you weren’t sure why didnt you ask me? And when i say “Help me see my husband again by buying the app” i don’t intend for it to sound like “Get rid of the DOMA by buying this app” that’s just ridiculous. And yes i do count the dogs… they are our babies and one of the four appointments it takes to get them there is over 1,000 dollars let alone their flights (WE KNOW ABOUT QUARANTINE AND IT IS AVOIDABLE). also i don’t know if you realize this but you have to pay over $300 just to apply for the uk visa in addition to visits to doctors and getting fingerprints, etc.

        I JUST THOUGHT YOU WOULD BE INTERESTED IN THE APP AND THOUGHT BY SHARING MY STORY WITH YOU, YOU WOULD BE MORE INTERESTED. AND YOU REALLY CROSSED A LINE WHEN YOU SAID WE DONT BELONG TOGETHER

        THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH FOR KICKING US WHILE WE ARE DOWN! YOU ARE TRULY AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING AND SOMEONE SHOULD PERFORM EXPERIMENTS ON YOU TO FIND OUT WHY YOU ARE THE WAY YOU ARE. I mean I feel for you, but I guess compassion is a hard thing for some. For example it does make me sad to see that $3 would make such a sizable hole in your wallet. Maybe if you stopped spending the 25 dollars on naked sluts??? I hope all goes well for you.

        • Where did I say you don’t belong together?

          Quite the contrary early on I asked why you didn’t just move to the UK. That clearly suggests I think you ought to live together.

          • Lela

            I don’t know i kind of agree with John. You are telling people not to help them when they need it most. I spent the $3 and i think it was well worth it. knowing that i helped him out as well is just an added benefit.

  • Lela,

    I am telling people to not help John.

    Last time I read his material, the implication was that buying his product would help a movement to overturn unjust laws in the United States. However, I read between the lines and realized that there was no accounting for where the money went, and it was later that he revealed that its actually to help pay for his moving expenses to the UK. That said, the overall tone was still framed as if to say that buying his iPhone App would help change US Law.

    He’s also never really explained why his Mother-In-Law was/is willing to pay for his husband to come to the US for 3 months at a time, multiple times, and to wire living expenses, but is unwilling to pay for him (John, that is) to move to the UK.

    Something fishy is going on here.

    • Lela

      You should check out the app anyway. The $3 was worth it whether it helps DOMA or brings these boys together or even if it is just putting money in his pocket. Any intelligent person can see the value of history. Maybe if enough people learn about gay history and everything our community has been through already along with stories like John’s, it really will help people think about what they are voting on when things like same-sex marriage are on the ballot. For $3 I’m willing to give that a chance. It isn’t like he’s asking for 300 – he’s not even asking for $5! I think I can spare the $3 – having the app for it, i know it wasn’t wasted in any way.

      John, I hope you get to see your husband soon. Sane people support you and know the value of history. Good work on this – it’s an amazing app! The flash project was great too, I only wish it had as much info as the app!

      • I’ve only seen the version posted on John’s website, and I think it’s reasonable to say that he’s not a historian–he’s assembled a series of facts from uncertain sources and thrown them together inside an iPhone app. Now he’s trying to sell it–wrapped up in rhetoric about defeating DOMA, but in reality trying to fund his move to Britain.

        If you’re looking for history of same sex marriage that is well researched, documented, and reputable, may I humbly suggest Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe by John Boswell. For a more recent take covering the modern era, I would start with Andrew Sullivan’s Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con. I would probably also read Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry by Evan Wolfson. Wolfson and Sullivan are two of the most respected names speaking out on this issue in the United States today–and I remember reading materials by Evan Wolfson back in the mid 1990s–the first time I dealt with the issue of same sex marriage.

        Meanwhile there are a plethora of books on gay history–I’m not familiar with what’s available right now, but I think for a reasonable amount ($15-20) one should be able to find a decent history centered on GLBT issues. I would make sure that any book I picked up included a list of references and appeared to be well researched.

        Finally, before I close this, I want to make explicitly clear that I have absolutely no interest in the sales of the books linked to in this comment. I am not an Amazon.com (.co.uk or .de) affiliate, but rather I link to the Amazon site because its the most widely known name in the business.

  • […] Adam’s opinions can get him into arguments, like that argument with the dude with the gay history i-Phone app, but hey, the man has a […]