Over the next 18 months, USCIS and State Department officials examined every aspect of their lives, including checking for criminal records in the Netherlands, Denmark and the United States. The Dekkers submitted more than 10 years of tax returns and bank records to prove that their money was earned legally. A doctor gave them and their children drug tests and a Breathalyzer exam and evaluated their mental health.
Over an afternoon cup of coffee, Rene Dekker, 51, hoisted a copy of his visa application onto his kitchen table. It was nearly 12 inches high and landed with a thud. “Our whole life is in there,” he said.
In addition to the $500,000 investment, Dekker said he paid $84,000 for his lawyer, the advisory company, the regional center and visa application fees. But, he said, all the expense and aggravation was worth it when the family’s green cards arrived in the mail on Nov. 1.
They are provisional for two years. At that point, if the Marriott project has created the promised 10 jobs, their green cards will become permanent. If the project fails, the Dekkers could lose their green cards and their $500,000. But if it prospers, they could receive their $500,000 in principal back, plus interest, perhaps in about five or six years, Brunner said.
The arrival of her green card meant Susanne Dekker, 18, could legally get her first job — a minimum-wage position working at a car-rental office at Michigan State University, where she is a freshman.
“I plan on living here for the rest of my life,” she said, noting that she has been here since she was 3. “So it’s important that I actually belong in this country.”
Bart Dekker, who will turn 21 next year, said he is relieved that he can stay in the United States and keep studying animal science at Michigan State, so he can eventually take over the family farm.
“I’ve got nothing anywhere else,” he said. “I’ve got everything here.”
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