General discussion


Its official. America is now a police state!

By GuruOfDos ·
Summarising the background as quickly as possible for those who don't know: Me Brit. Wife American. Live in UK. Have 4 month old baby.

Wife has two children from her 'previous' life, 14 and 15, both have been resident (adopted, even) by wife's parents since birth. As wife's parents have needed help from the state (NY) with benefits, NY state decided to take wife to court last year for back support.

No issue with this....a parent is obliged to support her children. I do with my children from my former marriage.

But....the judge decreed $50 a month and backdated the support to 19** and the arrears instantly total $7500 odd.

The court order states payments from now on of $50 a month ongoing, plus $25 a month towards the arrears. Not much, but it's based on my wifes income which is precicely zero. The law states that the minimum support is $50 a month, whether you have $50 a month or not!

Here's the deal. At arrears of $450, they revoke your recreation and drivers permits. No problem there...she had her NY licence revoked years ago and now has a full UK drivers Licence which they can't touch. Above $500, the account is handed over to the IRS so that they can intercept Federal and State tax returns and refunds. No problem there...she doesn't pay taxes in the US or live there anymore! They also report to credit agencies....fine, but US and UK agencies do not have common files or share information. Her credit is good here at 'home'.

Now, should the arrears exceed $5000, which they do (did I mention they slapped her with $7500 instantly?!!), they then automatically notify the US State Department and prevent renewal of or application for a passport. Not only that but if you attempt to enter or leave the USA, your passport will be taken from you there and then. The idea being, to prevent you skipping the country if you owe support.

So....we want to visit family in NY. I'm a Brit and can come or go as I please for 90 days on an IA-94 visa waiver...I have a machine readable UK passport. Our daughter is also British and the same rules apply. The wife however, will have her passport revoked the minute she sets foot off the plane. She has nowhere to live over there (the parents don't have room), no job, no belongings other than what she can carry on a plane, and no money to speak of. I'd then have to return to the UK with my daughter.

Now the US government's idea is that by detaining her in the country and preventing her from leaving, she will somehow 'magically' be able to pay off her support. Meanwhile I have to return to the UK, minus one wife and mother. The fact that I'm paying off the arrears...stipulated by the court at $25 a month some $75 a month (I'm not made of money...I have to pay my own support and support 'my' family!) is neither here nor there. If she was 'detained' (trapped would be a better term), I'd then have to come back, and funnel what I'm paying towards HER support obligation, AND SOME, into childcare for my daugther while her mother is unable to return to the UK.

Does it not make logical sense that someone residing abroad, and who IS complying with (and bettering) the court order should be allowed to travel freely and return to their home, rather than prevent her returning and actually LESSEN her ability to have her support paid by me??!!!

I have tried EVERY source I can find and even telephoned the CSE agency and State Department in the US, and no one can find any rule or law that covers this scenario.

It seems we have two options....either wait to travel until the arrears are cleared (5-6 years maybe?!!) OR she has to apply for British Citizenship (which she is eligible for as she is married to a Brit and has been resident here for over three years). That takes time and costs about ?214 (US$350)...perhaps 8-10 months for naturalisation then another month for a British Passport.

When she does finally get a British Passport, because it will not be biometric (the UK won't introduce those until at least 2006) she will have to apply to the US Embassy in London for a visa, costing ?64 ($110).

In the mean time, the parents can't get to see their daughter, son-in-law or new baby grand-dauhter, and we can't visit family who we haven't seen for over a year.

I know the US polices it's own citizens to death (that is the purpose of the Social Security Number!), but isn't this going a little 'too far'?!!!

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any chance?

by Cactus Pete In reply to Actually

that your wife can take a part time, stay at home job?

Maybe she can translate English into American English?

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by GuruOfDos In reply to any chance?

I nearly wet myself! American English is her second language....she's a New Yorker!

Here's the rub...there ain't much in the way of 'home work' for someone with her skills, or lack of.

Under new UK legislation, all childminders have to be registered with the local authorities. Not only does this mean that they need to be trained and approved, but they need to earn UK minimum wage. As my wife has no qualifications to speak of, she's pretty much restricted to not much above minimum herself. As she says, why work 8 hours to pay a childminder for 8 hours and have perhaps ?5 ($ left. She had a perfectly good job in a local supermarket, and they are very supportive of new mothers. She COULD in theory work evenings or weekends,but that would mean looking after a baby all day, then having to go to work in the evening. When she first came over, I was working 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm and 9am to 6pm at weekends, PLUS running my own repair shop, and that was no life at all.

We did consider this angle, but the fly in the ointment is my job. I may have to work away at a moments notice and perhaps be away for a few days. Unfortunately, most employers will not accept this situation. They are hardly going to want to keep changing shifts around at perhaps less than a day's notice, especially when they can get part-timers like a dog gets fleas! Besides, it will cost her whatever she makes to tax, insure and fuel a second car.

As soon as GuruJr enters full time education at 5, she will return to work, and her current employers WILL give her a job then. Until then, it looks like it's down to me to cover the bases.

For now, it seems to be pay as much as we can as soon as we can to drop the arrears down to zero. However, within 6 months, she could get British citizenship. To get round the issue of dual nationals having to enter the US on an American passport, then leaving on a British one (and then the immigration service going ballistic because they can't find an entry stamp or IA-94 slip), she will simply go to the US Embassy in London and give up her US citizenship. Not my preferred scenario, but if that's what it takes that's what she'll do!

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Travel Solution

by Oldefar In reply to Laugh...

Direct flight in and out of Toronto or Montreal, and let Bestefar and Bestemor drive over to Canada for a visit.

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You may have a point!

by GuruOfDos In reply to Travel Solution

Seeing as the 'outlaws' often holiday up near the St Lawrence, which is only a spit from the Canadian Border. I'm sure something could be wangled so that they hop across to visit us.

The downside, is that we'd end up having to shell out for a hire car or taxis and a motel, as opposed to staying at the family homestead for zip, nit, nada and gratis, with a pick up an drop-off from JFK thrown in.

Still, it is a very sensible suggestion and one that is certainly worth considering. To my way of thinking though, I'd rather put the extra money for that option onto the support arrears and knock a month off the delay.

Having found that the waiting time for naturalisation for a married partner of a British Citizen is now down to about 5 months, we are going to go with that angle.

Of course, once she is a British Citizen, the issue of her US passport revocation is irrelevant and so long as she can get a UK passport issued before October 30th this year, there is no need to get a visa...all MR passports issued before 30 October this year from the UK do not need to be biometric. If she can't get one before then, she'll just have to pay the fee at the US Embassy and get a visitors visa.

So now it's a as much as I can afford each month then go through hoops to get a formal letter from the State Department stating that the arrears are below 5k and the revocation order has been withdrawn (and I won't accept a verbal statement!!!), or see if the British passport arrives first! Either way...six months is do-able!

Every problem has at least one solution, but these usually involve time, money or both. That said, it still doesn't fix the fundamental problem that the regulations on support enforcement within the US have no provision for ex-patriates who are doing their best to comply with 'long-armed' enforcement orders and exceed the court stipulations, but still get caught up in this situation if they want to visit relatives.

Thresa actually has 4 children in the USA...not only the two who have lived with her parents since birth, but two others. One is with the father and we are ordered to pay support for him, and another who is a ward of the State because of mental health problems and we have to pay nominal support for him too.

Yeah I know.....why did I marry a damn foreigner with so much 'previous' and baggage, when I could have found a local girl with no ties? why!

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You could always

by Oz_Media In reply to Laugh...

Why don't YOU move to America?

apparently everyone wants to live there anyhow, you could take a lower paying job with more competition and be a proud new American.

But then I'd only ended in flame wars with you too. Somehow I don't think you'd take offense as easily though.

OK guys, I'm out, no more Yankee bashng!
(I do feel better though)

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by GuruOfDos In reply to You could always

We had a choice...I live there or she lives here.

For me to go, green card, work permit, 5-6 years of farting around with paperwork and several thousand dollars worth of 'filing fees' before it's all done and dusted. Her needing to earn 125% of the state poverty level for two people to qualify for importing me as a spouse. Her being a single mother at the time (youngest child at the time was with in father's custody since she came to UK). Me only having finalised divorce proceedings and settlements for previous marriage in late 2000. Her being homeless and having no income at the time. Her parents having to 'sponsor me' for ten years if wife cannot. And as they retired last year and need state help (hence us paying support) with the older two children....I think not!

Me having a place to live in the UK, steady job and the fact that a spouses visa costs NOTHING and there is only one simple form to fill in and NO interviews. The fact that as soon as she had the visa, she could work with no NHS medical care, the fact that she could get a UK driving licence after 10 lessons and one test (NY licence revoked years back and not allowed to re-apply for 8 years). The fact that the UK tax and National Insurance system is simple and administered by the employers without having to file tax returns every year. The fact that almost every aspect of day to day life (banking, shopping, utilities, etc.) is so much easier and straightforward here. The fact that the beer here is so much better and that Europe is only 45 minutes away for cheap weekend breaks and cheap ciggys and wine.

Add to that the fact that she hate's the 'American Way' and the 'system' and having visited Britain, fell in love with the place, and I feel that America is OK to visit but I wouldn't want to live there because the 'system' is infinitely more burocratic than ours (which is bad at best!), I think that explains why!

If I lived in NY (or anywhere else in the USA for that matter), it would be a **** of a way to go just for a pint or two of decent cask ale! That's really what swung it!

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GOD what if

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Its official. America is ...

You're wife renounced her US citizenship and became a British subject?

I know it isn't the prefered option but it is probably the only one left open to you.

Yesterday the USA threw out Ian "Molly" Meldrum an Australian citizen who has only visited there a few thousand times as they where not satisfied with the Visa that he had. Seems that he was handcuffed and held as a prisioner on the International side of the airport and then put on the first plane out of the place luckely it was Australia bound but he could have ended up anywhere. And here I was thinking that before you went through Customs you where on international land and since this guy is such a threat to everyone as he Interviews Music Industry people he was treated correctly in being handcuffed and held as a priosner.

At first he thought it was a joke but in reality it was a major overreaction on the part of those involved as if they had just refused him entry he would have been quite willing to leave again without all the fuss and unnecessary BS that he was exposed to.

I can just see the travel adds now come visit the good old USA and be welcome but don't expect to get into the country as once we have all you're bookings paid for we are only too willing to treat you as a criminal and throw you out of the country before you even get past custome. But who cares we already have you're money so we don't get hurt.


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understand your problem

by maecuff In reply to Its official. America is ...

Of course, ours isn't quite the same, however, my husband can't get a passport right now because he is over $7000 in arrears for child support. The reason is because my step-daughter elected to stay with us permanently after a summer visit (She was 16 at the time) Her mother didn't balk but insisted we still pay her child support. (I still don't understand her logic). The problem is, their original agreement was made in one state, they had moved to another and we live in yet another state. Two years later, we still haven't gotten it sorted out, and while the powers that be agreed that we could cease paying child support, the arrearage accumulated in the first year she lived with us is still hanging over head. Mind you, her mother didn't pay a dime of support between ages 16 and 18 and we've been told we have little hope of collecting. At this point, we don't care, we just want to have the arrearage cleared up. Over the course of these two years, we've paid almost as much in attorney fees as the back support amount. And it's not that we are devastated at not being able to travel outside the country, what is aggravating is that it is taking so long to clear this up.

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So the lesson here is

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to understand your problem

The wheels of justice turn very slowely and need constant lubrication with cash to prevent them grindiong to a complete halt.

This is not a US thing but a general observation from most Western Countries. Recently my wife served on a jury where the accused was found inconent but by that time he had already spent 3 years in jail on remand had not seen his child that was born after his arrest except from the other side of a reinforced glass window and listened to her over a telephone. But of far more impo4rtance had lost the property that he was buying as because he was in jail and couldn't work and make the payments the bank forclosed on him and sold the property for less than its real value which covered what the bank was owed but left nothing for his wife to live on. Actually in evidence the court was told that the crop that he was growing on the farm was worth more than what the farm was sold for.

Then because he was a "Property Owner" he was not eligable for Legal Aid talk about the Law being an ARSE.


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First of all GURU

by Oz_Media In reply to Its official. America is ...

I'll start by sayig I was ALMOST in a similar siuation as I raised my son until he was 18 and had tremendous problems travelling AT FIRST.

I ended up reapplying for my UK passport (old one was dead) waited the 8 months, did the British Consulate in BC, more waiting and finally was 'released.'

Upon returning to Canada, I was hit hard by Social services because my son was applying for welfare while on his own, as he lost a roomie and was broke and without a home. He wouldn't attempt to contact me (was on tour with the band and could have easily sent money back)as he figured he could sort it out.

A year later, I was off to Japan (tour again)and had similar problems except this time, they wanted me to repay all of my sons welfare debt back before allowing me to leave again. I finally was able to arrange payment through a Canadian account setup with an automatic deposit from a Canadian company that I worked for (friends company, I just sent him money to stick in my account) and withdrawl for social services.

It turns out that there ARE credit agencies that operate internationally. AIC-Allied Insurance Corporation is now global, your debts will follow you practically ALL over the world if they get a hold of them.

I know this doesn't resolve your issue but hopefully you will realize that this is not unique. In your case it is not at all logical but I would retain a lwayer and poke around with some ideas. I don't see how a court order would not be able to resolve the issue with payments directly made to an independant collection agency on their behalf. you may end up payng MORE, LOTS more in the long run but I'm sure the costs is trivial when compared to having your family together.

As i have attorneys in the family, I will poke around and see what comes up, unfortunately this is Canadian law and not US, where things may not have the same loopholes.

My heart goes out to you all, I know this must be the hardest and most nonsensical thing you've had to deal with.

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