How can I reunite with my partner?
Here are successful stories from couples separated by travel bans
These stories are individual experiences, not official guidelines
Kayna and Ján
Slovakia to United States of America (California)
Third Country ?
September 8, 2020
Slovakia 🇸🇰 to Croatia 🇭🇷 to Los Angeles 🇺🇸 (starting Sept 2020 until now)
My fiancé 🇸🇰(eeeee I love saying that!) and I 🇺🇸 were able to finally see each other after 6 months apart. He spent a beautiful 3 months in the US but had to travel back to Slovakia so that he didn’t violate the Visa Waiver Program in the US.
We had planned on both going to Croatia from the US for the month of December but 3 days before our flight, Croatia banned tourism. So we scrambled to get a “business trip” exception and then tried a “personal/family” but it didn’t work out. Traveling and making plans is so difficult right now. 😓
But every hassle was worth it to be with him for these past 3 months. And we feel better prepared to know what to expect and how to make it more possible. 🥰👍🏼
Here are some things we learned:
🎫 - He checked in from the airport (not online) on his way to US from Croatia so that his ESTA wouldn’t be cancelled right before since we had heard of this happening to others
📑- He had all paperwork printed and ready to show the border control officer (for example: letter of invitation from US citizen stating why US citizen is inviting the partner, where they are staying, and for how long; or Airbnb proof /receipt; copy of US citizen’s drivers license and passport; copy of travel health insurance, see below for more info). **make sure the paperwork is with you in your personal item (backpack/purse) not your carry-on because they might have to check your carry-on if the flight is full and then you won’t have the documents before you see border control**
🧾- additional paperwork: copy of return flight itinerary (if you don’t know when you want to return, you can “rent” a ticket on onwardticket.com — you pay a minimal fee, like $12, and they get you an actual seat and receipt but then it is cancelled some time later but it stills gives you proof)
📆- he stayed 16 days in Croatia just to make sure we didn’t calculate the 14 limit wrong (or the time zones wrong) and that it was obvious to the border control agent he had been there over 14 days.
✈️- flight from Turkish Airlines from Croatia to Istanbul to LAX was good and easy choice
🏨- travel health insurance coving covid: diplomatamerica.com: plan c $250,000; it cost $125 for 6 weeks but now there are so any more options out there that cover covid, and for cheaper. This helped with border control to prove that he was not going to be a financial burden on the US if he got Covid (or other sickness)
👩❤️👨- for the emotional aspect: we made a plan to manage our expectations of seeing each other again after so long *and* reminded ourselves that the stress and pressure of travel/being together again after so long/ living together after being on our own for 6 months/the trauma of the pandemic/etc would cause us to feel a little weird and that it didn’t mean that it was our relationship that was feeling weird. We also made sure to continue seeing our individual therapists — super helpful!
🧑🏽⚕️- we also had struggles with refilling his prescriptions here, so if anyone wants to know about that: basically you have to see a US practitioner (either doctor or a psychiatrist depending on what kind of prescriptions) and pay out of pocket. We had hoped that his travel health insurance would cover it, but because it was “pre-existing condition” they didn’t. Knowing this ahead of time would have saved us so much time from running around from urgent care to urgent care (even though the urgent cares said on the phone they would accept his Rx refill 🙄😒).
👍🏼- if you’re in the US on the Visa Waiver Program (aka “tourist visa” for 90 days) and can’t (don’t want to) travel due to covid, you can request Satisfactory Departure to extent your time for an additional 30 days. I’ll provide a link in the comments below for a helpful guide on this.
💃🏻🕺🏻- fun part: I was working (in my home office, on client calls) when he arrived so I couldnt see him immediately but I wanted him to feel like a special welcome home even if I wasn’t able to come out of my office in that moment. So I had the whole place decorated and food set for him in the fridge and a little welcome home basket and fresh clothes for him to change into after a hot shower. The hearts (in the video) were little notes to him about the things I missed and how many days we had spent apart. When I wrapped up my client calls I was able to hop out into his arms!!
Ultimately it was a wonderful (although incredibly difficult) experience because it help us see how we handled some really hard situations. We saw each other at our worse and still loved each other. If anything this has strengthened our bond even further.
And for those of you still waiting to see your loved one — I hope you will be with them soon and I’m sending you warm hug and ease during these really tough times. I know how hard it is 🙏🏼 but this group helped so much!