To listen to some politicians, you would think the world is flooding our borders without so much as saying “Howdy”! Well, if they come in legally, that simply isn’t true, at least not from my experience.
We began this process in early March. I went to my estate attorney and while revising my will, asked him to help provide an acceptable guardianship letter for me to look after Ben while he is in the US. Apparently that got pretty complicated as it took about four weeks to obtain the document, and at considerable cost.
While talking with the woman who was creating this document, she suggested that I contact the central office of the school system to see if the document was acceptable, and also to apply for the needed visa. Once I had the guardianship letter, I wrote and asked the “visa guru” at the central office if it was acceptable. That is when I learned that unless I went through the court system and actually legally took Ben on, I was subject to paying the full cost of his tuition. All the property taxes and other taxes I pay here count for nothing if Ben doesn’t “belong to me”. We weren’t even sure what country we would have to have the judge adjudicate such a decision, so we opted out of that. Thus, I’m stuck with paying nearly $10,000 for this privilege. Still, I look on it as an investment, and I think a good one. So, we proceeded.
I went to see the “visa guru”, and together we completed the F-1 visa application. Of course he had to have evidence that I could afford to pay the tuition, food, clothing, activities, fees. He was pondering how much Ben might eat, and asked me. I said, “Do you have children?” His reply was “Oh-h-h.” We agreed on an amount that I needed to show by bank statements, etc.
Finally the application was complete and he pressed “Submit”. The website said it had been submitted and accepted. The next thing was that Ben’s parents should hear from the American embassy that he was cleared for a visa. That was a month ago, maybe six weeks. There is still no word from the embassy. This kid is not on a banned country list, so I’m not sure what the hold up is. Further information was that although the school system had applied for four F-1 visas, no students had ever come. There’s a problem somewhere.
The “visa guru” assured me that Ben would NOT be allowed to graduate from Bearden, despite my paying the tuition. I wasn’t clear on why that might be, but he seemed very definite. He encouraged me to contact the Curriculum and Instruction people, which I eventually did. If Ben could not graduate from here, we were running into some significant problems. I’ll go into those in a separate blog post, but let us just say, graduation was a deal breaker.
In talking with the Curriculum and Instruction lady, I learned that YES, he COULD graduate. She had already checked on his school (5th best in Kenya), and if we brought his transcript, they would give him all the credits they could for the work he had done. It might require him to do summer school to get in the extra credits that are required here, but he was well on the way to having everything he needed. I had his first two years of secondary school and sent that to her immediately! What great news!!!
In Kenya, Ben’s parents are currently applying for the visa from their end. We hope this will break the silence from the US embassy. I’ve sent another letter assuring them of my financial viability, my intentions to look after him and even a photo of his room. Ben’s school has given them a letter permitting him to transfer schools. So, we wait with eager anticipation for the next move.
So, just to say, in case you are one of those people who think people just waltz into the US on a whim, think again. It takes months of paperwork to get folks here. That is my experience, and as they say, “That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!”