Piotrus Klis and Sheifalika Bhatnagar
Immigration has become a polarizing debate in America. The process of immigrating to the U.S. can be complicated and expensive. However it applies to everyone, including immigrants from England. One Jacksonville couple fought to be reunited after a vacation abroad tore them apart.
Sam and Morgan Wick first met in 2013 as college students, studying at a local Starbucks. Over the next two and half years, their friendship blossomed into a committed relationship. In December of 2015, Sam took his girlfriend Morgan to England on a romantic vacation to visit his hometown of Cambridge.
“We kinda joked about the fact that he wouldn’t be let in, back into America, because he was on a student visa at the time,” Morgan Wick said. “But we never thought that it would actually happen, and come true.”
Upon their return flight to America, Sam was detained at the airport and denied access to board the plane.
“The gentleman came out, and we did a bit of back-history to see where it was all going…to see if he can help us,” Sam Wick said. “He went away for five or ten minutes. Came back, and he put his arm around me, and he just said, ‘I’m just gonna be honest, you’re not gonna be flying today.’”
At the time Sam Wick was on an international student visa, but time was running out to renew it. Having recently graduated from one institution with an Associates degree, he had decided to return to school the following year. Sam had been accepted into FSCJ to continue his education. With only a few months left to renew his visa, there was an unseen loophole in his eligibility to return home to Florida. The expiring student visa was still in the process of being renewed. The result was that Sam Wick was denied reentry into the United States. He was left behind as Morgan flew home alone, in tears.
“We were away from each other from 2016 January til October 2016,” Sam Wick said.
This unfortunate occurrence spurred an arduous battle, which lasted nearly a year for Sam and Morgan. The couple hired an immigration attorney to help get their case approved, but it turned out to be more difficult than either of them anticipated. After being denied twice, the couple discussed applying for a K1 Visa, also known as the Fiancé Visa. With the support of both of their families, the couple made the commitment to fight for their love across an ocean of obstacles.
“So after all of his failed attempts of him trying to get back into the country. We talked to our families, had long talks with each other and just decided that we’ve been together for two and a half years – Let’s just get married,” Morgan Wick said.
The K1 Visa requires intensive research into each couple that applies, and they must meet multiple forms of vigorous verification. If approved, the two must get married within 90 days of being reunited. The process of proving their love to two different governments, immigration attorneys, and international embassies had begun.
With the help of signed affidavits from family members and close friends, the couple began making a case for themselves. In addition to testimonials, they submitted photos, phone records, proof of living arrangements and even Morgan’s income, which would be needed to prove that she could support Sam upon his arrival, until he could legally gain employment of his own. During the process, Sam and Morgan’s case was used as a training example for new immigration officials, bestowing them with a new hope for a possible reconnection.
Later that Fall Sam was approved to return to the United States. That day, love conquered all. Any obstacles in Sam and Morgan’s path was finally gone.
The moment Morgan saw Sam walk through the gates of his homecoming flight, she jumped into his arms, and the two have not looked back ever since. Within two weeks, they were legally married. Several months later, they enjoyed a formal ceremony to celebrate their love’s victory with family and their closest friends, who supported them through this process.
“So Sam and I have now been married for two and a half years. We are expecting our first baby in June and we live in Atlantic Beach, Florida,” Morgan Wick said. “We can look back now and laugh at what happened because it was so long ago, but we’re happy now and we’re excited to be parents.”
Sometimes the American dream requires a lot of paperwork, and an indomitable love that spans the globe.