Help my friend and her long-distance boyfriend.
June 21, 2005 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Ok, this is a long one. I have a friend (let's call her Rose) who is 18, and lives in England. Her boyfriend (let's call him Bobby) is also 18, but lives in Arizona, US. They want to be together.

Rose has already discovered that she could get an M-1 visa, which is apparantly a non-academic student visa, meaning that she could study a vocational course there. Trouble is, she has no idea what she would like to study. She has currently applied to do journalism/broadcast courses at university in the UK, but now isn't really sure that it's for her, especially with the Bobby complication. She is also interested in horse riding, and if she could train to be a riding instructor or something at somewhere approved for getting her an M-1, that would be pretty cool.

So I suppose the main question is: where could Rose study vocationally doing something she likes that would qualify her for an M-1 visa in Arizona? Any other insights into stuff like this would be useful, saying "you're just kids, don't be silly" would not.
posted by Lotto to Education (17 answers total)
Especially if she's already enrolled in a liberal arts program, I would recommend applying for an F-1 and enrolling in a 2/4-year school.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:30 PM on June 21, 2005

Embry-Riddle, one of the best-known flight and aeronautical schools in the country, is in Arizona, but it looks like they require an F-1 (academic student) visa, not an M-1. Why doesn't she think she could get an F-1 visa, or is she just more interested in vocational schooling?

It seems to me the thing to do is look at what's available in the area she wants to live in. "Arizona" is pretty broad — it's a big state (twice the size of the UK, Google tells me). There's probably a community college nearby, which will usually have a fairly broad spectrum of vocational courses. There may also be vocational schools which specialize in a particular area, like culinary school or the like.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 5:35 PM on June 21, 2005

I think Arizona is about twice the size of England, so you may want to be more specific on the location. Tuscon in the southern part of AZ has a therapeutic riding center which may have an instructor training program that qualifies.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:43 PM on June 21, 2005

how much do they want to "be together"? IIRC, getting married to an American citizen gets you into the country.

(at least thats the way it was in 1988 or so, when I almost married an English woman)
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 5:54 PM on June 21, 2005

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. But I have successfully imported a fine specimen of purest Canadian femininity through the many dangers, toils, and snares of the immigration process.

You^H^H^HRose need to be careful -- BCIS/ICE are not paid to be nice. If they get wind that Rose is "really" going to Arizona to be with her beau, Bad Things could happen because they might then assume Rose had immigrant intent and tell her to go home and to reapply for a fiancee or spousal visa. BCIS/ICE do not like people skirting the rules, even when they're not likely to find out.

So anyway, Rule One, or even Rule Zero, is


The main component of this is:


What that means is that if you enter with an M-1 or F-1, fine. But if they ask where you're going to be living, and the truth is "With my boyfriend," you've got to tell them that. Being turned around is much better than a permanent or 5-year ban on entry to the US.

Rose can already stay for 90 days under the normal visa waiver, unless Rose can't use that for some reason. This would get her here for a while as she looks for something to do, at which point she could (probably) adjust her status to F1 or M1.

Getting a normal student visa would be preferable, especially as it would let Rose do limited work --but-- Rose should be prepared for steep tuition and little or no financial aid (beyond unsubsidized loans and maybe a job).

There are two normal ways that international couples who want to be together deal do so in the US. One way is with a fiancee visa. Here, Bobby would apply for a K-1 visa and do some rigamarole with BCIS. When BCIS was done with it, they'd send it to the US embassy in the UK (or a consulate), and Rose would do more paperwork for them and go to an interview. Then she'd go to the US and she and Bobby would marry within 90 days, and then file for Adjustment of Status to get her a green card. At some point in this process Bobby (or others who agree) would have to solemnly promise that Rose won't go onto (most) welfare programs and that if she did, the gummint could come after him for the money.

The other way is to marry abroad and then Bobby would file paperwork to get Rose a green card and spousal visa. This usually takes a lot longer, but there are ways to expedite it through a process similar to the fiancee process.

Both ways take months to years, cost ~$1000+, and involve being married. Yes, they do check to see whether people are for-real married or only married out of convenience.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:06 PM on June 21, 2005

I'd suggest looking into state community colleges. Relatively, the tuition is cheap, they're easy to get into, and they do F1 visas all the time.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:24 PM on June 21, 2005

Others have given good advice so far. I hate to be a downer, but you say both of these folk are 18... one in the UK, one in the USA.

18 is very young for a commitment like moving into a whole new country for a relationship. VERY young. How long have these two known eachother? I hope this isn't two people who met online and have spent a week or so in eachother's company. That is a recipe for disaster. I hope both of your friends have thought long and hard about this.
posted by Justinian at 7:01 PM on June 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

Following from mcgillicuddy's comment (reefs?) about comunity colleges...

I don't know about AZ but here in in California the costs for an international student are five times higher than for a local student. At our local community college: CA resident $41 per unit; international student $207 per unit. Twelve or more units per semester (i.e. twice a year) are "full time" which i think (could be wrong) is the requirement to get a student visa.

With a student visa you can NOT work except for very limited college jobs, nor can you get any grants/loans. I was stuck in this situation for a number of years with my son, who was over 18 when I got a resident visa so was not eligible for a green card, and he had to get a student visa (at RIT) for himself. Painfully expensive.

It is NOT easy if you are not married or have some other "umbrella". And again, yes 'they' check quite efficiently whether the marriage is real.
posted by anadem at 9:18 PM on June 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

I think that the most apt advice is to tell them to look closer for potential mates. 18? This thing's temporary.
posted by angry modem at 10:47 PM on June 21, 2005

Wow, ROU got some good points.

Now, are Rose and Bobby completely sure they want to be togather for good? They've lived all of 18 years on this planet.

Does Rose have any skills that she might be able to utilize for $$ if Bobby decides that he would rather go with some waitress from Wichita?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:01 PM on June 21, 2005

I'm sorry - didn't parse the original question thoroughly - you're asking what Rose might be *able* to do; does Bobby have any apirations? Is there a common ground where *both* of their aspirations could be sought (or do neither of them have "aspirations" of the "old-fuddy-duddy-kind")?

The office that issued the M-1 should be able to answer the question on what Rose would be eligible to engage in.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:16 PM on June 21, 2005

think that the most apt advice is to tell them to look closer for potential mates. 18? This thing's temporary.

If Rose comes to be with Bobby on an F1 or M1 and they break up while she's in school, they'll both have had a good adventure, and the world won't have ended.

Even if she comes on a fiancee visa, they have 90 days before they must marry, and if things don't work out in that time, no harm, no foul, just an adventure (but a more expensive one).

Even if they marry and end up divorcing, that's not the end of the world for 19-year-olds any more than it is for anyone else, though that process is itself expensive.

They're no more irrevocably shackled together than any other couple. Which is to say, like any other couple, legally married or not, they'll be together as long as they both want to, and only so long as both of them want to.

Does Rose have any skills that she might be able to utilize for $$ if Bobby decides that he would rather go with some waitress from Wichita?

If Rose is in school, she can finish her schooling and go home. If Rose finished school or they marry and she switches status, she can still just go home to her family, assuming they're not horrible people. As far as that goes, their circumstances aren't any different from a pair of 18-year-olds from two distant cities in the US who both have families to fall back on.

Will it work out for them? Well, the odds are always against it, but there are lots of ways for them to break up, if needs be, without any more tears than is customary.

Assuming Bobby isn't a hitter, etc.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:13 AM on June 22, 2005

They should both try to find work in Poland. It's a nice country, it's not expensive... plus, knowing each other in a foreign country will be a good bonding experience.

WARNING: As you know, and tell Bobby and Rose, relationships are often destroyed by stress and inconvience as much as anything else. You have to protect them ferociously. So beware while navigating government indifference... don't the bastardos wear you down.
posted by ewkpates at 10:51 AM on June 22, 2005

Relatively, the tuition is cheap, they're easy to get into, and they do F1 visas all the time.

Make that most of the time. They must offer an academic program with full course of study (at least 12 credit hours).

With a student visa you can NOT work except for very limited college jobs

Partially true. In order to get the visa in the first place you must prove that you have the funds to cover your first year of school and living. After 12 months, if on-campus jobs are not sufficient to meet your needs you can apply for permission to get an off-campus job. You can always work as an intern for an International organization for as many hours a week as you can stand (as long as you still go to school).

ROU_Xenophobe is pretty much right on track otherwise. One thing I would advise in addition is to make sure that you are constantly maintaining your status on whatever visa, but particularly a student visa. You do not want to accrue unlawful presence on a student visa. Just being out of status on an F-1/M-1 can lead to a 5 year bar, unlawful presence can mean 10 years!

Also, look into J-1 programs. The stade department has some really good web links on exchange and educational programs, plus check out their EducationUSA site.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:18 AM on June 22, 2005

That would be the State department in case you were wondering.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:21 AM on June 22, 2005

Ok, the following is what Rose emailed me in reply:

Location – Phoenix

As far as “Bobby” is concerned. . . he is currently doing a BA in animation and plans to get a job in the field, after earning some money to pay back his loans in Arizona.
As far as

“18 is very young for a commitment like moving into a whole new country for a relationship. VERY young. How long have these two known each other? I hope this isn't two people who met online and have spent a week or so in each other's company. That is a recipe for disaster. I hope both of your friends have thought long and hard about this.”

Both of us have thought very long, very hard about this, and actually tried very hard to be apart . . . but we’re completely head over heels. We met when we were 14 (he used to live in England), he moved away and we got back in contact xmas 2004. We were friends for a long time before anything romantic happened, and spent 3 weeks together since that happened. We are due to spend a month together in July. If I am to apply for a visa I will ensure that we spend more time together (with me over there on a visa waiver. . .which I am eligible for). I understand fully the implications of applying for a visa, emotional and financial, and will not go ahead with it until we have spent a good deal of time together.
Its not easy to explain the inner workings of any relationship – they are all very very different, but as far as this one goes, it has been put under extraordinary amounts of stress even at this early stage. Simply being apart, with the expectation of seeing one another soon etc., has shown how much trouble can exist within a long-term relationship. We argue a lot but somehow, no matter the severity of an argument we have been determined to see it through until we have lived with one another, free of all the difficulties that present themselves with a long distance relationship. Other issues within the relationship which have caused conflict can be eliminated, and we both feel so strongly for one another, we refuse to give-up on it before we have had the opportunity to give it a real try. The fact that we have survived such a long list of complications, which need not be explained now, shows how serious we really are about each other.

“I think that the most apt advice is to tell them to look closer for potential mates. 18? This thing's temporary”

Be careful about making generalizations – every relationship is different. . . every 18 year old is different! Its quite careless and dismissive to assume that you cannot find love at 18. I’m not a hopeless romantic, by any means, but my boyfriend and I feel very strongly for each other. In a perfect world we could forget about each other and ‘look closer for potential mates’ – unfortunately everything isn’t perfect, and its really not that simple. At the beginning of the relationship we tried to ignore our feelings for one another. However, when you are in love, nobody else in the world, no matter how near by, good-looking, wealthy OR convenient – will ever be good enough. Loneliness is not an option for either of us, we’re stuck together, whether we like it or not!

The opinion that we do not have to be together even if we do commit to living together, is one I welcome! Somebody mentioned supportive families. Home life is not exactly perfect for me. Whatever happens in life I have absolutely no intentions to stay in London. My father will, at some point, be living in America half the year on some sort of international press visa or work visa. I have been visiting the united states since I was young and have family in Florida. If we do part ways and I have already been living in the states on some kind of visa, I am still likely to pursue a more permanent visa.

The reason I have aims to apply for a non-academic visa is because I am not in any way, inclined to pursue my academic education further. I believe intelligence cannot be measured on academic achievement alone, and do not cope well with the methods used within academic study. I would like to be given an opportunity to embark upon a career path which I enjoy. I have been raised in a fairly affluent environment; however, I do not feel the need to recreate the environment I was raised in for my children. High-earning is not top on my agenda. As a result I feel vocational study would suit me. Horse riding is the only real interest I have, which is why it’s the obvious choice for my vocational study.

Thank you all for your opinions, I hope I have been able to give you further insight into the situation, should you choose to offer much welcomed further advice.
posted by Lotto at 3:18 PM on June 23, 2005

OK, sounds like she needs an M-1 visa then. The first step is to find a DHS approved school near the boy from this list (PDF). And contact the school to begin the application process.

After her time is up (usually 2 years is all you get on an M-1) then she will either have to return home or make some big decisions.

Incidentally, citizens of the UK don't need a visa to visit the US for less than 90 days, as long as they leave before 90 days, don't work and aren't criminals.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:44 AM on June 24, 2005

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