Always read the fine print.

Early in May, for some reason, it occurred to me to check the expiry date on my English husband’s permanent resident visa, previously called “green card.” Good thing I looked — expiration, May 28, 2015.

Ten years ago, we had a nice day trip to Charlotte, NC to renew both his card and his British passport. This year, a trip anywhere is an ordeal, so I did a search to see if USCIS is doing on-line registrations. Yes-s!

There was a stumbling block on the very first page. Peter couldn’t remember the year he came to the U.S, but he knew he was 28, so he added that age to his birthyear, 1938, and came up with 1966. (I was pretty sure he “got off the boat” eight years before we met in 1974.) The month and date, port of entry, and other necessary details like his alien registration number were lost in his fog. Finally, I broke the code of alpha/numerics on his passport and deduced he arrived in New York City on Wednesday, November 9, 1966.

Over several days I filled in the six pages. When, I called Peter to read over the document, he stumbled over his mother’s first name, Mabel.

“Everyone called her Doll,” he argued.

“Yes, but that was her nickname,” I reminded him. “Her given name was Mabel.” After some discussion he agreed.

When he read through his own physical characteristics he said his eyes were not hazel. “What color are they then?” I asked, deleting hazel.

He went to the mirror and after studying his eyes for some time, he said, “I’d call them bluey/browny/green.”

I typed h-a-z-e-l into the blank again.

After he’d read the fine print and signed electronically, he asked, “Am I good forever now?”

I told him he’d have to renew in ten years. “But, you’ll be 87, so they probably won’t chase you down.”

“You mean without the card, I could’ve…”

Peter with his favorite pint, London Pride.

Peter with his favorite pint, London Pride.

“Oh, darn,” I laughed, picking up on his thread, “yes, you might have been deported if I hadn’t realized your card was going to expire. You could have been shipped back across the pond to spend the rest of your life in the corner pub… singing your bawdy songs…and…”

“Playing ‘arrahs’,” he said wistfully. [Arrahs = arrows = darts to my Englishman.]

“Sorry, I already I clicked ‘send,'” I said. “But in 2025, if immigration still wants you, you can go back ‘ome.”


Header photo: Peter enjoys the gardens, Isles of Scilly, England, 2009.

2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist. 

10 thoughts on “Always read the fine print.

  1. So glad P will be with us for at least 10 more years!! By then, maybe none of us will give a hoot where we are!!!!

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