This post is part of Small Planet Studio’s monthly #MyGlobalLife Link-up.
That all so annoyingly Irish phrase “it’ll be grand” or “be grand” is, in fact, the only way I know to describe my visa process in Ireland. After being in Dublin on a 90 day tourist visa for about 50 days, we finally got our documents together and geared up for the nightmare that we thought would be the GNIB (Garda National Immigration Bureau). I have quite a bit of experience with the GNIB in dealing with my student visas, so we expected to be queuing at 6am in the cold and rain; finally getting a number and a time to report back; killing time in town/waiting around all day for your number to called; and explaining your situation and documentation to an administrator or officer all the while suppressing nerves, exhaustion, and the knowledge that this is only the beginning of the year long process of obtaining a marriage visa. It didn’t go down like that at all. We arrive a bit late (7:15 as we missed the earlier bus), and queue around the corner for about 20 minutes before they start letting folks into the warm building. Around 8am the many people, students, and families ahead of us in line start approaching desks and receiving numbers. By 8:20, we approached Desk #3, sit down, and say we are here for a marriage visa. We hand over our passports and the officer asks us a few light-hearted questions: “Sarah, do we know you?” “Yes,” I respond. “I went to grad school in Dublin and studied abroad in Limerick prior to that. So I’m in the system” —Silence/Typing— “I see you got married in Maryland,” the officer says glancing through the glass partition at our official certificate of marriage (still in my folder on top of the stack of other legal documents, bank statement copies, cover letter, proofs of address, photos, and more information that was needed to provide evidence of the relationship). We reply that we did and then he goes on to chat about Baltimore a bit (he has been), mention the Inner Harbor (he loved Phillips Seafood Restaurant), and discuss Amish Country in Pennsylvania (where he also enjoyed). He then says, OK, we will need to fingerprint you today. So that will be in about 20 minutes. We thank him and go back to wait. I get called to give fingerprints a few minutes later. Very standard stuff. Five minutes later my name is announced to come to Desk #1. I sit down to a woman looking at me puzzled while handing over my passport and immigration card. “You’re all set,” she says. Now I am the one who looks puzzled. “What is the next step?” I ask expecting to set up appointments for interviews, handing over documents, whatever. “You are finished. Your passport is stamped and visa processed. You will need to come back in in a year to re-new,” she says. Dermot steps in, “I’m sorry, Sarah has the visa? She is able to stay here? She is legally able to work here?” “Work, study, whatever… Bye-bye now,” the officer replied rather abruptly. Just two hours after we entered the queue, we were skipping out of the building with smiles on our faces and pure joy in our hearts. For the first time in our (mostly long distance) 5 year friendship turned relationship, we are not operating our lives under full on ambiguity. It’s a feeling like no other.