Our immigration shows at Zee Companion are our most popular shows and understandably so. When we have parents, husbands, wives or significant others who are kept away from us because of border controls, it can be really tough.

I recently received some wonderful news from a close friend of mine who lives in Australia. His girlfriend lives in San Diego, California and for a few years he would visit her on a tourist visa. He would stay the full three months at a time, then he would go back to Australia and after a break of only a couple of weeks go back to the US again. Unfortunately, he got caught by US Immigration and was banned from entering the US indefinitely. This was heart breaking for him and his girlfriend, and because of her full time job, it meant that he could only see her a few weeks a year, outside the US.

But my friend is an amazing guy, and he really made peace with his situation. He decided to make a new life for himself in Australia and actually found a profession he really enjoyed. He spent more time with his immediate family and he discovered the power of technology – he talked to his girlfriend every night on Skype! He chose to focus on the positive aspects of his situation and not allow his visa situation to bring him down.

Well, I just got an email from him telling me that he was back in sunny San Diego with his girlfriend on a fiancé visa. It had been three years since he had been banned from the US, and now he was back there again! I feel so happy for him, and just thinking of his situation made me realise that anything is possible, and a delay is not a denial.

Another friend of mine was deported from the UK a few years ago because he had overstayed on his visitor visa and had also worked ‘under the table’. He was back in his home country in Africa and got a job with an international company which he was very happy with. However, a few months after starting his job, he had to be posted to London to start a new project. At this point he panicked because he hadn’t told his employer that he could not re-enter the UK. He spent several days pondering what to do and eventually he realised he just had to tell them the truth. Well, they weren’t in the least bit concerned! They told him they have the best lawyers in town and that they would figure it out. And that’s exactly what happened! He is now in London on a work permit having the time of his life!

And that reminds me of a dear Greek friend of mine in the US who had studied there at University, returned to Greece and then reapplied for a PhD. But he was refused a visa because he had been involved in some protests while at University which put him on the US Immigration blacklist. He was stuck in Greece and didn’t know what to do. But he was also an accomplished athlete and one morning he woke up with the idea to meet the Greek Ambassador to the US. He had no idea why but he followed his impulse and, through a personal connection, made the call. To his amazement, he discovered during their conversation that the Greek Ambassador was also an athlete and supported those who were in the profession and therefore was delighted to meet with my friend. They connected so well that my friend felt comfortable to share his difficult story of being refused a visa to study his PhD. To cut a long story short, the ambassador contacted the US Embassy in Athens and immediately arranged for my friend to get his US visa!

I know immigration is a complicated and scary area, especially because it feels like someone else has the power to choose what happens to you. But these stories of my friends truly make me believe that just because the ‘powers that be’ tell us “No!” doesn’t mean we have to believe them.  I know it can be hard to have that faith, but it sure is worth building, anyway you can. I do it by celebrating stories like the ones above. What’s your way?