Travel, find the love of your life, and get married in Vegas

Episode Description

From Vancouver, Canada to Las Vegas, USA. Traveling, meeting the love of your life, and if he or she is from a different country, then you have to decide where to live. Lisa and her husband Mason were planning to move to Hawaii, but their plans changed when Mason was deported from Canada for overstaying. He had to move back to the US, and she joined him six months later once her visa was processed. They now live in Las Vegas, where they got married by Elvis.

Get in touch with Lisa


Tips and key takeaways


Episode Transcript

Daniel 0:03

Hi everyone and welcome to episode number 10 of the Emigrant's Life Podcast, where we share stories of people who left their country to chase a better life. I'm Daniel De Biasi, and my guest this week is originally from Vancouver, Canada. She met her husband Mason when they were traveling, they got together and were planning to move to Hawaii. Their plan changed when her husband got deported from overstaying in Canada. They now live in Las Vegas in the US where they got married. In this episode, she shares her traveling experience and immigration process to get her fiance visa. So please enjoy this episode with Lisa.

Hi, Lisa, welcome to the show. Thanks for being thanks for being here.

Lisa 0:43

Thanks for having me.

Daniel 0:44

How are you doing?

Lisa 0:46

I'm good. It's hot here in Las Vegas right now.

Daniel 0:49

How hot is it?

It's in the 40s like Celsius this time of year but it's a dry heat so it's not like you're not sweating. It's just feels like you're in an oven a little bit.

Okay, I mean 40 and dry is not actually too bad. I was talking to my family in Italy and they were like a 42 and then usually 100% humidity.

Lisa 1:08

Yeah, now that's too crazy.

Daniel 1:10

I'm so I'm so glad I don't live in Italy anymore. So you're live in Vegas now, right?

Lisa 1:18

Mm hmm.

Daniel 1:20

And you are from from Canada?

Lisa 1:22


Daniel 1:23

Where specifically, from Vancouver?

Yeah, Vancouver area.

Okay, sweet. And what age did you leave, did you leave Canada?

Um, so kind of a long story because I did some traveling. So when I was 20, I went down to the Cayman Islands and I lived there for a little over a year. So that was kind of the first leave of Canada. And then after that, I spent some time in New York. My brother was living there. And then me and my best friend from Canada decided to do a backpacking trip through Thailand, both through Greece and Thailand, actually. And then that's where I met my husband who's from California. So we ended up going back to California together. And then we went back to Canada. And then we were there for like two and a half years and we were like engaged almost like right away when we met, but we hadn't gotten married yet. And so we were in Canada for like two and a half years and somehow they found out that he was there. And so he actually got deported from Canada. So we're like, okay, we'll move back to the States.

Oh, no.

Lisa 2:21

Yeah. kind of funny.

Daniel 2:23

So moving to the States was kind of like a forced decision?

Lisa 2:26

No, we actually had planned on move - we were planning on moving back, we were already in the process of like applying for a fiance visa. So we were planning on moving to Hawaii, and that was kind of always like the end game, but um, he had to leave a lot sooner than that. So it was really funny like, I have never been to Las Vegas he's been a bunch of times because he grew up in California, but it's like I mean, at least back then it's still pretty cheap place to live, like cost of living is pretty low, and then you can make good money here so, and he was really into poker at the time. So he's like, okay, well, let's just I'll go to Vegas, we'll live there for like a year and then we'll go to Hawaii. I was like, okay, so yeah, we landed in Vegas. Well, he had to go and then I was able to meet up with him six months later, because I had to wait for the fiance visa to go through. And then you know, we just pushed it back like another couple years to Hawaii and then we just kind of got settled here and like now Vegas is home and we've been here 10 years now.

Daniel 3:24

Oh, wow.

Lisa 3:25


Daniel 3:26

Okay, so I've have a few questions for you.

Lisa 3:28


Daniel 3:28

Let's go back, so you said you you travelled for a bit so I guess when you travelled, your idea was just to travel and visit the world and not really to go move away from from from Canada. It's not - the idea was not to emigrate at that point right?

Lisa 3:41

Right, it was just travel at that point.

Daniel 3:43

And you were talking about the visa, the fiance visa. How easy was it to get that visa, well kind of like what what was the process to get to that one?

Lisa 3:52

Um, it was I went actually through a company called Visa Pro, which is its lawyers, but it's cheaper than hiring like a, like one lawyer just for you. And my friend Miranda had used them previously because she had emigrated to Florida like a few years before. So yeah, that it wasn't too hard. It was just a whole lot of paperwork. And I think they like in total for the fiance visa and then for like, the full, like green card visa was I think around like $4,000 Canadian back then. So, but that was over the course of like, two years. But yeah, I was definitely they - I just filled out all the paperwork, and they kind of did all the, like, lawyer work and stuff. So it was easier, I didn't have to worry about making mistakes or anything.

Daniel 4:40

Okay, but at this point, you guys were not married yet right?

Lisa 4:43

Right, yeah but we were engaged. We were planning on moving - when he got deported we were already planning on moving back to the States like about six months later, cuz that's how long the fiance visa takes, according to Visa Pro, and that's about how long it did take. Yeah, and then I think the full thing - so visa, I got in on a fiance visa, we got married here in Vegas. And then I immediately applied for the green card visa and I think that took about another six months after that. So the whole process was probably about a year,

Daniel 5:12

It would have been easier if you guys weren't married when you apply for the visa or it will be no different?

Lisa 5:18

Um, so I mean, we just wanted to do it like the correct way so no one like we wouldn't get easily denied or anything because we were not already living in the States so I know that if you're living in the US and you're like on a visitor visa or like a student visa or something, and then you find someone and fall in love and you're already living here, then you would just get married and apply for like the regular green card visa. But because we weren't living in the US at the time and if you know that you're going to get married, you have to apply for that fiance visa. I mean, or you can be shady and like just go in and be like, oh yeah, we met here but I didn't want to like lie or make any like thing that they would have deny me or not allow me in. So we just did everything by the book.

Daniel 5:59

And why you guys stayed in Vegas because at the beginning, it was just an idea to stay there for a little bit and then go. Why, so what make you stay in Vegas?

Lisa 6:07

Um, well, I know Hawaii is like a lot more expensive to live there. So we were like just trying to save up a bit more money. And then we moved into like a couple different places. And then I don't know, I just like, I really got like a really good core group of friends here. And I don't know, just Vegas, it's so easy to live here because it's easy to fly anywhere. Well, it used to be. And then just like the cost of living is really low here and you can make good money so there you can just save more money and it's just easier to live here. You can work in a normal city you'd be paying, like well over $1,000 for like a tiny apartment. We had like a small house for $1,000 of rent. And now we have we bought a house for like 320,000 and it's like 2000 square feet. So that's a lot more expensive in like most other places, like you can't even live in California anymore it's like so crazy. So yeah, it's just easy to live here and like we just kind of settled in and met good people and yeah, it just kind of happened and we kept pushing back the day and then finally we're just like maybe we should have like put roots down here. Like okay, we'll do it

Daniel 7:14

And about your marriage in in Vegas because every time you hire somebody get married in Vegas I mean, most of all I heard in the movie they got married in Vegas because they're drunk.

Lisa 7:23

Yeah yeah

Daniel 7:24

I guess yours was like a proper proper wedding. Was it like a kind of weird to get married in Vegas?

Lisa 7:31

Um, yeah, like I said, I've never been here before so I was just like, okay, whatever but we did definitely did like the whole Vegas thing we hired them like a mobile Elvis to come. We basically did it kind of it's like this lounge but Mason was doing club promoting for that place. So we just basically got in a two hour window to have it just to ourselves. So it was like the very top of Mandalay Bay. We'd have the back room all to ourselves for a couple hours so we hired this like Elvis impersonator who does weddings and he came. And so it was basically like, we just kind of had a party. And like all our friends and family came and it wasn't really like a seated thing. It was just like, catered food, but like no one was sitting anywhere. So we did the wedding kind of party got married in the middle of it, and then we just kept partying. And at 10 o'clock, we had it from 8pm to 10pm. And then at 10 o'clock, it opened to the public. So like as a nightclub, so we just stayed there. And yeah, it was really fun actually. Fun and easy.

Daniel 8:29

Nice, yeah. Because as I said, every time I hear somebody getting married in Vegas, it's always it's usually like a mistake. And-

Lisa 8:38

Yeah yeah

Daniel 8:39

Or something even my cousin got married in Vegas if - but they were like traveling around the US. Oh, why not get married in Vegas? They went back to Italy. They haven't gotten married yet. So it's it's not valid so they are technically not married in Italy. But becuase they were very lucky like, why not, it's something-

Lisa 8:58

Its kind of something that people do in Vegas. It's about the little chapels and like it's just like such a thing here, you know?

Daniel 9:04

Yeah, exactly its kind of like a tourist kind of thing they send they send a picture to their mother like my aunts and they say like, mom by the way we got married they don't dread like normally they would just got married because that's something you normally do in Vegas, right?

Lisa 9:04

Yeah, we even have drive thru weddings you can drive through and get married at this one chapel.

Daniel 9:23

Oh, really?

Lisa 9:24

Yeah. It's weird.

Daniel 9:25

But that's actually I mean, if you live in the US that's totally legal right? So you're legally married?

Lisa 9:30

Yes, you do still have to go to the courthouse and get the I can't even remember what it's called, like the marriage papers that people have to sign in I think. I don't think it's as fast as it used to be I think you have to like wait a day or something but still pretty fast. But yeah and then you just go through the drive thru and you're done.

Daniel 9:47

Okay, so if you go to the drive thru where you get married there that doesn't, it's not technically married?

Lisa 9:53

Yeah, I think you still have to get well you have to get the marriage license ahead of time and then they sign it like there but I think it seems like 24 hours to get the marriage license.

Daniel 10:03

Okay, so it's not like in the movies, you get drunk and go to the chapel, you get married the next day you're married?

Lisa 10:08

I think it used to be and then they switched that up a little bit.

Daniel 10:13

I think that was a smart move.

Lisa 10:15

Yeah, yeah probably.

Daniel 10:19

And do you have any regrets about leaving Canada?

Lisa 10:21

Um, my, probably only regret is like the health care system because it's stupid down here. And it's like, really expensive. And like, I think I was paying like regular health care like $55 when I was in Canada, and then like, here, I feel like $205 every month and they don't even ever use it. Yeah, and then I also miss like, the green. Like, I feel like I went from one extreme of like the Pacific Northwest rain forest and like to the dry desert, like there's some beautiful nature here, but it's like every time I go home in the summertime, I'm just like, oh my god this is what trees look like and green and its so pretty. So I do miss that but I like the not like the warmer weather. Definitely.

Daniel 11:06

So is your husband now, is he able to move back to Canada? Or at least visit in Canada after being deported?

Lisa 11:11

Yeah, he can visit. Yeah. So I mean, I think he just wasn't allowed back for two years. Its different, I feel like when you get deported from the US like you're never allowed back like Canada, they don't really care. So basically, when whenever we go back together now, they just like asking questions like, oh, did you have something on your passport or like a red mark or something and so you just have to explain what happened and then prove that he has a plane ticket back, this kind of thing.

Daniel 11:38

Okay and what was your biggest upside about immigrating, about moving to the US?

Lisa 11:45

Um, probably well, I mean, for me, probably the weather I just like love the sunshine. In Vancouver it doesn't get a whole lot of that most of the year. And so yeah, definitely the warmer weather and then just the ability to like, I work in In the service industry, so it's pretty good money like working on the strip. And then the cost of living is low so that's a nice bonus were able to like save money and now we bought a house which we would never have been able to buy in Vancouver. Like I can barely get like a shack in Michigan probably for what we paid for this house. So yeah, definitely that.

Daniel 12:22

Sounds like the old process like for you to move into the to the US was fairly easy, but did you have any like a big challenges or anything?

Lisa 12:31

Um, I dont think so, no, like using the visa company I know it like probably cost a lot more than just doing it myself. But it definitely took a lot of the worry of like filling something out wrong or something. I was just like really nervous because I had to have an interview before they officially like accepted my, my visa. So I was like so nervous. I was like shaking like crazy. And then the guy ended up being so nice. It was an American guy, but he was working at the consulate so that's where I had my interview in Vancouver and he was so nice he's just like I love young love and bubble loves like you're so nice why was I so afraid of you.

Daniel 13:10

Talk about the interview for the for the visa for them to prove that you were a couple?

Lisa 13:14

Yeah yeah they interviewed to make sure that like to feel you have to make sure that you're not like lying just to get a visa yeah.

Daniel 13:21

It was only one time interview or was like a multiple session?

Lisa 13:24

No, it was that one interview in Vancouver that was just me because Mason was already in the States and then at our two year mark when I went - at two years you go from having like a temporary green card to like the full green card the last like 10 years which I need to renew actually in a few years. But yeah, at the two year mark, you have another interview together and they kind of assess you again, and make sure that you're still like a legit couple and everything, yeah.

Daniel 13:51

So, you both of you had to take this interview or just you?

Lisa 13:56

Both of us had to do the second one. But it was just me for the first one. Cuz Mason wasn't-

Daniel 14:01

Okay, so they didn't even check your partners to see the answer were the same, they're just trusted you?

Lisa 14:09

Yeah. Well, I mean you, he was just kind of interviewing me and asking our story, but like at that point Mason was deported. So maybe if he was there still he would have come with me or whatever, but he wasn't able to. So I can't remember if he was if they wanted him to come or if yeah, I honestly can't remember. But he wasn't able to come because he wasn't allowed in Canada and I wasn't allowed in the States really.

Daniel 14:32

Okay. So I thought maybe one interview would happen in in Canada and well, maybe from somebody else in, in the US from from his part.

Lisa 14:40

Yeah yeah. The second one was definitely both of us just so they can see that we're a real couple.

Daniel 14:45

Sweet, awesome. Do you feel lucky to be an immigrant?

Lisa 14:49

Yeah, I do. Definitely. Um, this day and age, you know, you see, like, all the crazy stuff that Trump's doing like with the Mexicans and like deporting people back there like I I can't even imagine what that feels like. So yeah, I definitely feel very blessed and lucky that I got through this process. Don't have to worry about getting kicked out, you know.

Daniel 15:10

And can you after - so you you say you have to renew your green card? At some point can you become like a fully US citizen?

Lisa 15:19

Yeah, I think I can now I've been I think you can after five years. I just haven't. I should probably look into that too. But I just would never want to give up my Canadian citizenship. So I think someone told me who went through the process that like, they don't ask you to give it up. But they just don't really talk about it so yeah. I think you can have dual it's just not like officially you have dual. But yeah, I would never give up my Canadian. I want an escape plan.

Daniel 15:50

Fair enough.

Lisa 15:50


Daniel 15:52

But would it be - I mean, that only difference if you become a fully US citizen, it will be that you don't have to renew your visa or your green card every 10 years, right?

Lisa 16:01

Correct. And also, as a as a green card holder, like a resident, I can't vote. So I can't vote. And then the other thing is, I can't leave the country in the US for more than six months. Because if I do, then I lose my status. Like if I live somewhere else for six months-

Daniel 16:21

Oh, okay.

Lisa 16:21

As green card holder, yeah. But if I was a citizen, it wouldn't matter.

Daniel 16:26

Okay. I mean, yeah, six months in a year would be a big holiday. Unless, you'd have plenty to do like here or-

Lisa 16:35


Daniel 16:36

Six months of validity, I think its more than enough.

Yeah, for sure.

And if you could go back in time, is there anything that you would have done differently?

Lisa 16:44

No, I don't think so. I think everything kind of like worked out as it was meant to. Yeah. Yeah. I feel confident about that.

Daniel 16:52

Okay. Yeah, pretty much for another question. I thought it was the longer but no, it was pretty straightforward. So is there anything else you want to add to that?

Lisa 17:04

Just that I don't know it was it was funny because I always wanted to live in the States like when I stayed with my brother for a while and then you know then we went traveling me and my friend and you just like never know when you're gonna find love it's like you find it when you're not looking for it so it's just like everything just worked out so funny.

Daniel 17:22

And for how long have you've been traveling?

Lisa 17:27

Probably like two and a half years, two and a half to three years.

Daniel 17:33

Like two and a half years, like a fully traveling, now got like you left Canada you traveled for the for the two and a half years or like on and off?

Lisa 17:40

Yeah, like on and off. Well, I went to the Caymans. And then I went to New York for a while I was gonna go back to Caymans, but then there was a, there was like a big hurricane, hurricane Ivan and it kind of destroyed the island. So um, so I went back to Canada for a little bit and then back to New York and then to, went to Thailand well, Greece then Thailand and then California and then back to Canada.

Daniel 18:05

Okay, at this point, you were just traveling or you're working and traveling at the same time?

Lisa 18:10

I was working in the Caymans, but the rest was just kind of traveling. Like I used to DJ. So I would DJ here and there as well.

Daniel 18:18

Okay. Where's the where's the Cayman?

Lisa 18:22

Oh, Cayman Islands, it's in the Caribbean. Like kind of like Cuba. It's a really tall island and it's like British owned, I believe or it's part of the British Commonwealth.

Daniel 18:33

And why did you decide to go there?

Lisa 18:35

Um, so a friend of ours, um, but like, who is a DJ, he moved down there. And then he invited me and my other friend Landon to go down there to DJ and then like bartender in the nightclub he was working on and we were both just kind of like, okay, like we're planning on just like going for a year and then coming back and then he ended up staying a lot longer. Then I kind of like never really fully came back. Once you catch that travel - like, I mean like 20 years old and you're like living on a beach and paradise like that was pretty life changing.

Daniel 19:14

Yes. Yeah sounds, sounds pretty good.

Lisa 19:16

But it was also nice having like friends so it was like there was like a piece of home it wasn't like completely by myself. So like I had quite a few friends that were down there so that was nice.

Daniel 19:26

Yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely. At least you have some friends around it feels more like at home.

Lisa 19:31

Yeah, yeah, it was really fun.

Daniel 19:34

But did you need a visa to go to the - to work there? Or you just-

Lisa 19:37

Yeah, so I I applied for that before, before I left Canada. So everything was like good to go by the time I got there

Daniel 19:44

Was it was an easy process just apply for a work permit or was a working holiday visa, what kind of visa was it?

Lisa 19:50

So basically, you kind of apply for the jobs first and then whatever place hires you, they they do the permit for you. So you just send them whatever information that they need I think you need like police background check and stuff like that and and then they take care of it for you

Daniel 20:06

Sounds pretty easy.

Lisa 20:08

Yeah it's a it's a pretty, it's like one of those places a lot of people from around the world go to so I definitely recommend anyone that wants to like go live somewhere awesome for a while like check out Grand Cayman because it is relatively easy to work there like if you work in the service industry or something and then it's you just have a blast. It was so much fun. Yeah, highly recommend it.

Daniel 20:29

Is there a specific time of the year where you should go or not to go?

Lisa 20:34

Oh, no, it's kind of just gorgeous all year round. They do have like the rainy usually hurricanes don't hit that island but I mean that the rainy seasons like in like around this time like end of summer like in the fall, but I mean, it's gorgeous year round, so you can't really go wrong. And usually the work permit they do, I think they do like six months in one year one so definitely check that out.

Daniel 20:58

Yeah, okay. And just, just to remind me when you went to the Cayman Island, you already had a job or somebody offered you a job or you have to find it?

Lisa 21:07

Yeah, no, I already had a job lined up. It was through our friend that we used to DJ with. Okay, so my friend Jeremy, he went down there first. And then he - the place that he worked in was like a nightclub where he DJ there and bartended so he set up the job for me and Landon.

Daniel 21:25

Awesome. So if anybody wants to ask you any question, or want to get in touch with you, is there any way they can?

Lisa 21:32

Yeah, probably the easiest is on my Instagram, which is just @Lisa923. Sure, that's right.

Daniel 21:40

Lisa923. Yeah. Okay. I'll just put that in the show notes for anybody that wants to reach out to you.

Lisa 21:48


Daniel 21:49

Awesome. It was a pleasure to have you on the show today. Thank you.

Lisa 21:52

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Daniel 21:54

Awesome. All righty. Bye.

Lisa 21:57


Daniel 22:00

Thank you so much for tuning in this week. Hope you enjoyed this short episode with Lisa. You can find the links to follow Lisa on Instagram and immigration company she used to get her visa on the show notes and on our website. Do you want to be my next guest? Visit a story. and if you'd like to support the show, you can share this episode and you can leave us a review. Thanks again for listening. Talk to you next one. Ciao!