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The Outside Looking In

View of American Immigration from an Expat

Stockholm City taken June 15th 2018 

Politics are not usually an area I talk about unless it's with my closest relatives. However, seeing all the recent news coming from America makes me realize how little people know about immigration to the country. I feel like some background is needed to understand my view point.  A little over two years ago I moved from the USA to Sweden. It was one of the toughest choices in my 20+ years. The choice also didn't happen overnight. My husband and I weighed our options between him moving to the states and me moving to Sweden. 

Cue the weeks of research and contacting immigration lawyers in the USA to gain as much information as we could. I found two ways to go about moving my husband to the states, I could fill in and file all the paperwork along with paying the fees on my own or I could hire a lawyer to do it. I spent a few days looking through the paperwork before realizing that I just couldn't figure it all out. Add on top of that, that if I made any mistakes I would have to refile and repay the fee and I knew I couldn't go down that route. Hence all the phone calls and emails to different immigration lawyers to get price quotes and timelines from them. Every quote I received from the lawyers told me that lawyer fees would be $5,000-$12,000 plus the fees for filing the paperwork which was another couple of thousand dollars. That meant it would cost us around $7,000 to $14,000 just in paperwork and lawyer fees. That didn't include paying for a flight over to the states or extra fees if we had to refile any paperwork. Then add on that it can take two to four years for it to get approved, well the outlook was bleak.

Then, in May of 2014, I made a fateful trip to Sweden (I have a post already on that story). When I got home I started to research what it would cost to move to Sweden in terms of fees for a residency permit and the time it would take to reach a decision. I was shocked to find out that it would only cost 1,500 SEK or about $170 US Dollars and the timeframe was a max of 18 months to get a decision. My jaw hit the floor. I talked with my husband, my family, and my friends about what I was thinking. I spent the rest of 2014 coming to terms with the fact that I would be applying to leave my country for another. I would be leaving behind everything I had ever known for the unknown. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time.

That brings us back to today and the fighting over immigration in the states. It's a subject that I'm torn on. I agree that people should immigrate to another country legally. At the same time, I realize that the US immigration system is broken. People can't afford the steep prices to immigrate to the US. Add into that the long time frames to receive a decision, some are 20+ years, and people lose hope. America is a country built on people of different nationalities and countries coming together to form one country. A country where people could be free and have the life they wanted. I feel like, somewhere, that got a bit lost. Instead of fighting in the media and building walls, the US government should put its energy into fixing the immigration system. This is, of course, just my view and everyone is entitled to their own view. That is the beauty of the right to freedom of speech and our First Amendment Right.