By Christopher Donker…
I am a UK citizen from Scotland who moved to the United States to meet my boyfriend Ryan, who I met online.
After meeting, we got along extremely well and decided to think about our future together. We got married in Virginia in October 2016 and decided that it would be best for me to apply for permanent residence in the US as opposed to Ryan seeking residence in Scotland, given his past convictions.
I have applied for permanent residence in the US and am currently going through the immigration process. To do this, he needs to sponsor me in order for me to get my green card, however due to his criminal background, he is ineligible to sponsor me and my case with USCIS will ultimately be denied because of this.
The issue that US immigration (USCIS) has with his criminal record, is the fact that he has a sex offense from 2008. The Adam Walsh Act is preventing him from sponsoring my green card. This makes our future together uncertain as we are constantly fighting the government to stay together. The issue with the our case is that USCIS thinks Ryan is a threat to me, given his criminal record. In order to successfully get my green card, we need to prove to USCIS “beyond reasonable doubt” that he poses no risk. This standard is near impossible to meet as you cannot prove a negative. The next best thing we can do is prove ‘within a certain degree of medical certainty’, that he will not reoffend or pose a risk.
The purpose of this law is to prevent sex offenders from abusing their immigrant partners children after they immigrate to the US. However I feel that it should not apply in our situation as we are both fully grown, gay men with no intentions of having children in future.
We do have a lawyer who handles legal matters and advises us, and we have met with several psychologists and medical professionals for evaluations to get a clear picture of his mental state. We are also seeing a marriage counselor over the long term to evaluate the validity and health of our marriage.
The purpose of these evaluations is to submit them to USCIS to support our stance that Ryan poses no threat to me and has not physically, mentally, or sexually abused me. We have been living together since 2016 and are still going strong. It has been almost 3 years since we started this process and I have never had any concerns regarding my safety, yet USCIS are still adamant that he is a threat. What I find it difficult to comprehend is the fact that my experiences since being with Ryan are not taken into account. If I were a US citizen, we would not have to fight this fight. Yet this country continues to punish him 8 years after his offense. When will this punishment end? He has already carried out his prison sentence and sex offender therapy successfully and has bettered himself since then. He’s a hard working man who works 60+ hours each week between two jobs – his dedication to our marriage is evident.
I cannot currently work as USCIS have revoked my work permit after denying our case. We are in the process of refiling the case with more supporting evidence than the first time we filed, and in a few months I should have my work permit again. Between legal, medical and filing fees, finances are tight. This whole immigration situation we’re going through is unconstitutional and unnecessary in my opinion.
We aren’t asking for much, we just want to live our lives together, plan for the future and be happy, but the government insists on making to insanely difficult.