Obama owes me over a million dollars. I’m not suggesting that he should pay me tomorrow, but I want my money back and I want it sooner rather than later. His ‘dictator’ like behavior towards immigration has left me annoyed, frustrated and out-of-pocket with seemingly no recourse and very little hope of ever being able to recover a single cent of the money I invested to become a LEGAL US citizen.
In 1992 I came to America seeking my fortune. The UK had been good to me, but like millions of others, the USA had an allure that just wouldn’t go away. My cousin, who ended up being the biggest shit that I ever met, was going through a divorce in LA and he suggested we set up a joint venture together. He was a CPA at the time and I was looking for a way to become a US citizen, it seemed like forming a new venture in the USA would not only give him the fresh start he craved, but would also give me the springboard to citizenship of a country I always enjoyed visiting and craved to reside. Like the tens of millions who had walked this path before me, I was informed from day 1 of the process involved in firstly obtaining an H1 work visa, then a green card and then eventually a US passport. This process was laborious, expensive and so overly complicated that it made me sick to my stomach and bored to my brain every time I visited an attorney, paid off an attorney or had to wait to see an attorney. On the subject of attorney’s, I eventually found one that I could trust but in the process of getting to that stage, I went through at least two who ran off with my money and one who had no idea what he was doing. Costly, to say the least.
The first attorney told me to send him a check for $10,000. He was from Lebanon, and had taken up residency in the USA around 1980. He was confident that after receiving my H1 visa, a visa that he applied for on my behalf, then investing X number of dollars in the US corporation I would have no issues getting a green card and then eventually citizenship. Well, $10,000 later, H1 Visa stamped neatly in my passport, he vanished! Took my money and ran. His reasoning was simple. “I got your Visa” he said, “it will cost another $20,000 to get your green card and you must invest $1 million in a US business or I will walk” He walked.
Attorney number 2 took a similar stance, but not before charging me another $4,000 to become the beneficiary of his tame and often limited advice. He was from Russia, and he should have stayed there. I have to tell you all that these two men came highly recommended by both friends and family, most of whom had either utilized their services or had known someone who’d done the same. Who needs friends or family like that?
Some two years had now passed. I’d conned my way into receiving a Social Security number and therefore a Drivers License, but my H1 was running out, along with my bank balance and my patience. Errol H, as we will call him, a South African and attorney number 3 then came along and tried hard to save the day. Errol was blunt, honest and made it clear to me from day 1 that the easiest way to get a green card would be to marry a US citizen! He said this half-joking of course, but underneath his wicked sense of humor I could see that he more than half meant it. He pleaded with me to pay him the same day he did anything remotely connected to my immigration status and it got to the stage where he and my cousin would openly fight over the issue on telephone calls that became outrageously incoherent. You see the business I’d formed in the US with said cousin was paying the legal bills, and that very same business never had any money. (I wonder why?) Every time Errol wanted money, and wanted it that same day, my cousin would say, “where’s the fire drill?” And he was often right. Years later, once everything was resolved and that business no longer existed, I asked Errol why he’d always been such a stickler for quick payment. His response? “I never trusted your cousin, and he was signing the checks!” Well join the club Errol!
Moving on. The H1 ran out and Errol got an extension. I met a woman, a US citizen, she got pregnant, we got married Vegas style and Hallelujah, a green card soon followed. It was my right by law that with a wife and child on the way, I had to get a green card. Errol suggested that to speed up the process we should apply through the US embassy in London where the wait time for an interview was only 6 months. In the US, the wait time at any office was 2 years. I took his advice, paid him another $10,000 and waited. What happened next was fascinating.