Dear guppy of doom,
You mentioned the phrase, "sister-in-law" in Board Question #92477. Did you get married?! DETAILS.
So it’s complicated.
**Below is a long, complicated explanation about the US immigration system that you can skip if you're lazy.**
The story starts back in 2017 when minnow graduated from college. He had been looking desperately for a job across the U.S., primarily focused on Utah because yours truly lived there and he wanted to end our long distance. But there was a problem. minnow is not an American citizen. And for those who don't know, the process of getting a permanent work visa in the U.S. is really stinking hard. Basically you have to submit your name into a lottery. The government chooses a certain number of names, and then those people get the option of applying for a permanent work visa, which would lead to a green card, and even that process is hard to do. You can only submit your name into the lottery once a year for three years (varies for people), at which point your authorization to work in the US legally would expire. If that happened, minnow would be sent back to India, the country of his citizenship but where he's never actually lived and is basically a foreign land to him. So basically it's real hard to get authorization to stay and work in the US past a few years. minnow's roommate a few years ago was an engineer and applied for the lottery every year but got sent back to India because he just never won the lottery. American companies know this and are thus very unlikely to hire immigrants, because it's a real risk that they'll lose a valuable employee they spent training and money on. This sentiment has only increased with the current administration. So while minnow had interviews with companies around the country, the only company willing to hire him was a small manufacturing company he interned with in college.
Fast forward a year. minnow and I applied to graduate schools. minnow realizes that if he doesn't get into a graduate school near me, he has to find a job near me. And guess what makes that even harder to do? BEING AN IMMIGRANT. And he only has one year left to win the lottery, which is unfortunately very unlikely, which means he'll be sent to India. And let's make this even harder: as an immigrant who graduated from an American college, you have three years at a job to win the lottery, OR you can be unemployed for so many days before you get sent back (or in minnow's case, just sent away). So not only does minnow need a job near where I live, he needs to find it relatively quickly so he doesn't get deported. (If you think you're sensing a lot of anger I have with the US immigration system, you're completely right.)
**Legal explanation done.**
So how do you ensure the love of your life isn't deported and is legally allowed to work in the US?
If you answered "you marry them," you got it completely right.
Now, this marriage wasn't just for legal reasons. I sincerely love minnow and couldn't wait to start a life with him. My parents were extremely uncomfortable with the fact we'd been dating for several years and were begging us to get married ASAP. minnow's parents wanted him to wait until he was 28 but understood the horrors necessities of the US immigration system.
So in March 2019 we walk into our local court and ask for a marriage license. After we fill it out, we ask if we can have a court marriage done. We're instead handed a piece of paper that has different clergymen's names and numbers on it, as apparently our district doesn't do court marriages.
minnow and I walk out, a bit disappointed, trying to figure out who we should contact. But then a brilliant idea comes into my mind -
"Why don't we just get a friend to be ordained by the internet and marry us?"
And that's what we did. We asked minnow's friend to do the honors. We held a very small marriage at our pastor's parents' home (who we are also friends with). While we told them it would be very low-key and we'd order pizza after the ceremony for everyone, his parents disagreed. They set up a small area in the backyard, ordered Olive Garden for everyone, gave me a small bouquet, and got us a beautiful white wedding cake from the local grocery store. It was the sweetest thing ever.
We had about ten people attend. We wrote our own vows (where minnow vowed to help me smash the patriarchy and I vowed to laugh at all his corny jokes), had our pastor's dog as our ring bearer, and had my parents Skype in. Honestly, it was the perfect marriage.
But here's where things get weird. We couldn't say we were married online or make a big deal of it because then all our family and friends would be confused and heartbroken that they weren't invited. We also didn't really view it as our final official marriage because our families (and all of my friends) weren't there. At first we asked those who knew to regard it as our "only for legal reasons marriage," but then my mom started telling everyone that her daughter was married so that plan went up in smokes. And then I got into Stanford, minnow got into UCLA, our lawyers advised us to not be separated during the green card application so I deferred for a year, and whenever anyone asks why I deferred I have to explain that I'm married, and all my friends freak out about why they didn't know that I was married way back in March.
BUT BASICALLY we're having an official wedding next summer and if you were wondering why you didn't get an invitation to my first wedding, that's why!
Because "pics or it didn't happen" is unfortunately all too true with immigration officials:
-guppy of doom