Jenny Farley can identify somewhat with the plight of Sandra Bullock’s character in the hit film “The Proposal.”
The Gulfport resident has never been faced with the prospect of being banished from the United States to her native Canada within a single weekend, as was dramatized on screen, but she has experienced some hassles when crossing the border. Those problems will be no more since, as of Sept. 6, she is officially a U.S. citizen.
She went through a visa process in 2006 when she moved to California to begin college. While there she needed a job, which meant another visa.
One summer she got a job at a camp in northern Michigan. She went home for a weekend due to a death in the family, and when she came back a few days later, U.S. officials would not let her into the country despite her having a contract to work the entire summer. Fortunately, she was not delayed in returning to college in the fall.
When she moved in 2011 to Florida’s east coast to begin her career as an elementary school teacher, the school hired an immigration attorney, but there were still some bumps in the road.
“I don’t think they would ever hire a foreigner again because it was such a mess,” she said.
After meeting through a mutual friend, Jenny and her husband Chad wed in 2018. Even that did not go as planned: The wedding that was planned for July had to be done in late May or she risked having to wait a year because of visa requirements.
For most of her adult life she had never seriously considered U.S. citizenship.
“It was a ton of money and a ton of work. I wasn’t interested,” she said. But when considering the documentation that had been required for her marriage visa and green card, she changed her mind. “I didn’t want to go through this every 10 years.”
She started the citizenship process in March.
“It’s relatively very little paperwork compared to the initial marriage visa and green card,” she said. Part of the most recent documentation is proof of her current life in America, from bank statements to her children’s birth certificates.
Then there was the citizenship test. It has 100 questions, although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services only asks the applicant 10. Officials administer the test orally, and she had to answer six questions correctly to pass the test. Jenny only needed seven questions to reach that mark – she answered six out of seven questions correctly. Some of the questions can be tough, while others are as simple as, “Which ocean is on the west coast of the United States?” Of course, all of the questions can be studied on YouTube.
Could you pass the U.S. citizenship test? Take a look at the questions.
The test and the interview took place Sept. 1. Chad went to the interview as well so that USCIS could confirm their relationship was the real thing. Jenny learned that day she had passed and her new status was a done deal.
Five days later she returned to the USCIS office in Tampa to take the oath and complete the process. Her husband did not make that trip, because no one is allowed in the room except for those taking the oath (and interpreters, if needed.)
Now she has dual citizenship. She will have an easier time with employment in the future, although she expects to remain a stay-at-home mom for a few years.
“The biggest thing, honestly, for me is that the border will be so much easier,” she said, referring to future visits to her hometown where her parents still live. “It has stressed me out so much in the past. Now I can go and come back just like any American.”