She’s in Windsor; he’s in Huntington Woods. Seeing each other is tough.
When Brian met Jordanna, the international border between them was not an issue.
After connecting on JSwipe, a Jewish dating app, three years ago, Brian Kirsch, a structural integration (Rolf Method) practitioner from Huntington Woods, and Jordanna Cheifetz, a digital marketing entrepreneur from Windsor, Ontario, had no problem getting together on his turf or hers. Their only hassle was possible long lines at the border.
They got engaged in January and opted for a very simple, small wedding March 8 at Congregation Beth Ahm, with only their immediate families present. “We’re low-key people and we decided we’d rather put our resources into working on our house,” Brian said.
They took a short honeymoon trip to Miami, but as soon as they returned they knew something big had happened. Both Michigan and Canada were in lockdown, and the border between them was closed to all “non-essential” traffic.
Brian, who turned 31 on Aug. 1, was in Huntington Woods, where his parents, David and Sandy, live and where he now owns a house. Jordanna, 27, was living with her parents, Barbara and Stephen, in Windsor, hoping to attain “green card” status to live in the United States as a resident alien.
Jordanna couldn’t even apply for green-card status until after the wedding. She applied in April. In May she received a receipt from the U.S. State Department, but since then she has heard nothing. Immigration authorities initially told her the wait could be six to eight months. She’s afraid that the coronavirus crisis may make that timeframe even longer. “I have no updated information,” she said.
Immigration attorney Elisheva Mosko said Brian and Jordanna’s plight is not unusual.
“The consulates have been closed and have not been processing immigrant visas,” said Mosko of Mosko Law, PC in Huntington Woods. “Consulates are slowly starting to reopen, but this situation is pretty standard.” Her clients include several couples who are either separated or stuck in a foreign country because of the circumstances.
Spouses of US citizens may be able to enter for a visit in an exception to current travel restrictions or they could be denied entry, she said.
Jordanna said she didn’t want to do anything that might jeopardize her visa application and thought it better just to wait. So that’s what she and Brian have been doing.
Jordanna works from home running her own social media consulting firm, JAC Digital Inc. The couple have relied heavily on technology to keep their relationship strong.
“The technology is really great,” Brian said. “We FaceTime every day and text a lot.”
Brian was unable to work at the start of the Michigan lockdown, but his employer, Studio4Bodywork in Birmingham, reopened in June. In mid-July, Brian took some time off and went to Windsor to visit his wife. He had to present his marriage certificate at the border to prove he had a close relative in Canada and agree to self-quarantine for 14 days. Breaking the rules could result in a fine of up to $750,000 and imprisonment for up to six months, he said. Canadian immigration authorities called more than once to check up on him.
Jordanna’s parents have a pool in their yard, so staying there hasn’t been too much of a hardship, said Brian. But during his two-week quarantine he could not leave the house even for a walk.
When his quarantine ended Aug. 1, Brian and Jordanna planned a weekend trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, after which she’ll return to Windsor and he’ll return to Michigan. They don’t know when they’ll see each other again in person. Canada recently extended the quarantine rules until Aug. 21, so if Brian chooses to visit before then, he’ll need to quarantine again for two weeks.