Oneida retired Army sergeant works to bring German wife to Tenn.

Oneida retired Army sergeant works to bring German wife to Tennessee

Posted:
Bobby Joe and Maria Hughett met in Germany where he had been stationed for many years. They married last fall. Bobby Joe and Maria Hughett met in Germany where he had been stationed for many years. They married last fall.
Sgt. Hughett did not file a 1-131 form, which he says his wife needed in order to leave the country and return. Sgt. Hughett did not file a 1-131 form, which he says his wife needed in order to leave the country and return.
Maria Hughett speaks to her husband on the phone daily, which Bobby Joe Hughett says is a lifeline. Maria Hughett speaks to her husband on the phone daily, which Bobby Joe Hughett says is a lifeline.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Reporter

ONEIDA (WATE) -  A retired U.S. Army sergeant from Oneida has run into a roadblock with immigration services while trying to have his wife return from Germany.

Bobby Joe and Maria Hughett met in Germany where he had been stationed for many years. They married last fall.

The couple left their jobs in Germany to make a new home in Scott County where Bobby Joe grew up. 

Maria Hughett is a German citizen who speaks fluent English, and hopes someday to become an American citizen. However, that is all on hold right now.

She is entangled in a bureaucratic quagmire with U.S. Citizenship Immigration Services that began with a return trip to Germany.

"Two months ago, her father died. Not knowing the process at all, I got her a plane ticket and sent her home to be with her family," said Bobby Joe Hughett.

While attending her father's funeral, Maria stayed with her mother and sister. When she went to fly back to the United States, the problems started.

"When she tried to return they stopped her at the airport, would not let her board the plane, and told her she would have to contact the USCIS office in Frankfort. And basically they said she has abandoned her process for the 485," said Hughett.

While following immigration rules, Sgt. Hughett paid nearly $1,100 dollars for Maria's I-485, which is an application to register as a permanent resident.

However, he did not file an I-131 form, which is an application to travel overseas, which Hughett says his wife needed in order to leave the country and return.

"I went online and read it. It says it is a $395 fee and takes 7 to 10 days to get approval,  which if you are going back for an emergency, a death in the family, that would not work," said Hughett.

Sgt. Hughett followed all regulations during his 22 years with the U.S. Army. When he brought Maria to America, he knew immigration rules would be complicated and tried to follow them.

He has pleaded with immigration in Germany, saying he did not know about the I-131 form.

"When I talked with the lady in Frankfort, I said why can't you do her one now, and give her 90 days.  Well, she said, 'We're afraid she might try to stay in the United States.'  I said, 'Well, that is the purpose, she is my wife. We're trying to do it your way, the right way.'"
     
Hughett, however says the "right way" is complicated and filled with many different applications and confusing numbers.

He says he could return to Germany to be with Maria, but they have no home there and his job is in Scott County.

He has now appealed to Sen. Lamar Alexander's office for assistance. The process, however, is difficult.

Maria Hughett speaks to her husband on the phone daily, which Bobby Joe Hughett says is a lifeline. She says she has not heard anything new from immigration services.

"I'm waiting for an answer or something so I can go home to my husband," she said over the phone.

Due to her circumstances, that is not likely anytime soon.

A few days ago, immigration services wrote to Sgt. Hughett, denying his wife her application as a permanent United States resident because she failed to file the I-131 form allowing her to travel to Germany.

Despite the fact that Maria went there to attend her father's funeral, immigration says she has to start all over again.

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