So today was an interesting day in my little teacher world.
I have a student whose brother lives in the US. He moved there legally on a work visa and is now in the middle of the green card process. While living in the US, he met a lovely Mexican woman who was also living and working legally in the US under one of the live-work visas offered under NAFTA.
So the student's Brazilian brother and his Mexican girlfriend decided to get married. While planning their wedding, the girlfriend lost her job (the one that was providing her visa). She still has a tourist visa for the US, so she stayed in the US with that, and the two of them consulted American lawyers. These lawyers told them to marry in Mexico, and then file at the US Embassy in Mexico City, that the boyfriend could declare her as his spouse from there and they'd be able to come back no problem. They said that the process would only take one day in Mexico.
However, I have a feeling that these lawyers were specialized in marriages between Mexican citizens and American citizens, because, as you guys can imagine, their advice was wrong and things didn't exactly work out as planned.
After their wedding in Mexico City, the couple went to the US Embassy, bringing all the paperwork that the lawyers had told them to bring and expecting something easy peasy. But when they got there, the employees in the embassy informed them that the Brazilian husband was, in fact, NOT allowed to declare her as his spouse and bring her back into the US, especially from a US Embassy (because he is Brazilian, not American). They said that the work visa he has does not permit him to bring a spouse from a US Embassy, and that he can't add her to his green card process this late in the game. The US Embassy employees told them that it was best that they go to Brazil, because the husband is a Brazilian citizen, and try to figure something out in the American Embassies here.
The wife could legally go back to the US on her tourist visa, but (a) she could only stay for 60 days and they'd still have to solve this problem; and (b) she's worried it would look suspicious if she goes in on a tourist visa and says "yes, I'm here to visit my husband!". So now she's here in Brazil.
Because of his job and their budget, the husband is back in the US. They just spent a lot of money on a wedding, and the husband doesn't have the money or vacation days to hang out in Brazil indefinitely while they try to work things out. So she's staying with his in-laws here in our small town, and he's working until the end of the year, when he'll have more vacation time and can come down to Brazil.
They're trying to figure out what they can remotely (well, the wife and the in-laws here, and the husband in the US). They know (well, they've been told) that they have to make an appointment at the US Embassy in Rio to get their marriage certified and see what they're options are, but that's all they know for now.
So that's where you guys come in! I know that some of you have been in similar situations, so I'm reaching out on behalf of my student's sister-in-law to see if any of you have any information. I mean, it's a unique case because the husband is not an American citizen, but he's allowed to live there legally and everything. I mean, even if you guys can just recommend good websites or blogs or lawyers, I can pass on the information to them. (I moderate my comments, so if you want to put up an email address or anything, I can write it down without publishing the comment, thus keeping any private information private.)
But can I just say how super super great it is to have this student's sister-in-law in town? I mean, she's been in the US for a while, so her English is practically fluent. She also has heard of where I grew up and therefore doesn't think it's strange at all that I'm an American who speaks (well, spoke) Spanish and knows lots of stuff about Mexican culture. So it basically feels like having one of my own around. She came to class with her sister-in-law (mostly to get out of the house, I think). Her SIL's English is pretty advanced, too, so we had a great time just chatting and ignoring the book. But I have to say that it IS an extra challenge teaching an ESL student and an EFL student at the same time. Both their needs and their errors are totally different. (Well, because Spanish and Portuguese are so similar, some of their errors are the same.)
I also realized how lazy I've gotten teaching students that all speak the same language. I used to have all kinds of creative ways of explaining English things to classes with mixed native languages. But here in Brazil, I just explain things in Portuguese, (a) to save time and (b) to assure that they're getting the right translation. So if this girl keeps coming to class, I'm gonna have to step up my game a bit!
But yes. The 3 of us will hopefully go out a bit. My student's SIL and I are similar in that we're strangers in a strange land (though the land is less strange for me now), and that we both need to get out of the house a bit more.
But in the meantime, if you guys have any information or advice about her visa situation, it would be greatly appreciated!!!!!