US immigration law change for troops’ foreign spouses

- Posted in America by Visa Bureauon 19 November 2010

The amendment bill, titled the Marine Sergeant Michael H. Ferschke Jr. Memorial Act,  was drawn up in responce to the case of Hotaru Ferschke, a Japanese woman whose US Marine husband was killed in Iraq.

Despite the two having a child together, Ferschke has been unable to immigrate to the United States to raise their son because of a legal loophole, as the pair had not consummated their marriage.
Hotaru and Michael Ferschke met while he was stationed on Okinawa, Japan, and got married by phone in July 2008 after he deployed and the couple discovered they were expecting a child. A month later, the 22-year-old Marine was killed.

This US bill would exempt those married to American troops from having to consummate their marriages to qualify for US residency, the first step in gaining US citizenship.

The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the US Visa and immigration process, denied Hotaru Ferschke’s application, arguing that the couple was not legally married under US law because the union was not consummated.

It was the wish of Michael Ferschke that their son would be raised in his home town of Maryville, Kentucky. After her husband’s funeral Hotaru was able to stay with the Ferschke family for almost a year with their son Mikey, but was forced to return to Okinawa when her US Visa ran out.

The bill now must clear the Senate. 

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their ESTA applications to the US Embassy.