“I just want my wife,” Newlyweds caught in immigration nightmare
SALT LAKE CITY — Joshua Hedges says he and his wife have only been married a couple of weeks, but now they’re fighting to stay together.
In 2013, Hedges met Elizaveta at the Provo Missionary Training Center.
He was preparing for a mission trip to Russia, while Elizaveta was visiting friends who taught at the center.
For two years, the pair stayed in touch before becoming engaged.
“I don’t know why she said yes,” he said with a smile.
The couple was married July 3 before heading for a four-day Mexican cruise.
Last Thursday, the newlyweds prepared to head back to Nevada when they were confronted by a border agent.
“He asked us why we were standing together, and I said, well, we had just gotten married,” he said. “He said, ‘Well, you’ve filed to change her status haven’t you?”
However, Hedges said he had not.
He said he called United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and was told that wasn’t necessary.
“I tried to do what I knew was right,” he said.
Border security determined Liza’s tourist visa was invalid and she was sent back to Russia after hours of interrogation.
“It was hard to see my wife go through that,” he said.
Attorneys say the problem was when the couple left the country. Liza had just a tourist visa under her maiden name, so she couldn’t return to the U.S.
“It’s looking very much like this couple’s going to be separated for about a year now, all because of essentially a bureaucratic rule that they didn’t understand,” said Sharon Preston, an immigration attorney.
“I just want to see her,” Joshua said. “I just want my wife.”
Until then, the family has set up a Facebook page and GoFundMe account.