Visa denials separate Solon Springs woman, Nigerian husbandBerneta Dandison of Solon Springs will celebrate her second wedding anniversary alone. Her husband remains in his home country of Nigeria, denied a U.S. visa for the second time.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Berneta Dandison of Solon Springs will celebrate her second wedding anniversary alone. Her husband, who fought back tears as they exchanged vows, remains in his home country of Nigeria, denied a U.S. visa for the second time.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I never expected anything like this,” said Dandison. “I can’t imagine that anyone gets married to live alone.”
The couple spends hours on the Internet together every day. “We have to use words,” Dandison said. “We can’t hold hands.”
Six years ago, Berneta Dandison met her husband-to-be, Collins Dandison, online through a sports chat room. Both were big basketball fans. But that wasn’t the only bond they shared. Both had lost spouses and each placed high importance on faith and family.
Berneta Dandison said Collins Dandison reminds her of her late husband, Joe Kansy.
“I see so much of Joe in him,” she said. Collins Dandison frowns on gossip and looks at each new day as a blessing. She can get her normally serious husband to smile by asking him to “show me those pearly whites.”
The Solon Springs woman flew to Nigeria in 2005 to meet Collins Dandison. She returned for visits in 2006 and 2007. On Jan. 4, 2008, the two married in a small ceremony in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.
After their first face-to-face meeting in 2005, the couple began the process of getting Collins a fiancé visa. He got a criminal background check and physical; she photocopied and submitted her “whole life,” including an exhaustive financial summary proving she could support her husband.
But Berneta Dandison claims the Las Vegas lawyer they hired took their papers and money and did nothing. The official denial for the visa didn’t show up in her Solon Springs mailbox until this year.
In August, Collins Dandison applied for a spouse visa. After a short meeting with the U.S. ambassador, he was told his visa would be denied.
Official confirmation has not yet reached Berneta Dandison’s mailbox. The reason for the denial, the Nigerian man was told, was because the relationship appeared to have been for immigration purposes only.
Berneta Dandison disputes that hotly. Despite their age difference — she is 67, her husband 42 — she says their marriage is based on love that has survived long-distance separation.
“They don’t know me; they don’t know Collins,” Dandison said. “Love is love.”
Although Marilu Cabrera, spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said she couldn’t comment on any specific case, typical reasons for denial of a spouse visa include a spouse with a criminal background, an invalid marriage or when fraud is suspected.
“Marriage fraud is very common,” Cabrera said. “We see it all the time, people getting married just to get a visa.”
Cabrera said there is no limit to the number of times someone can apply for a visa. But each filing costs money. Berneta Dandison is also considering appealing the denial once she receives it. But that, too, comes with a cost.
The Solon Springs woman has an alternative — the “For Sale” sign in her front yard. She said if her house sells, she will fly to Nigeria to be with her husband. It would mean leaving behind her children, grandchildren and community to start anew, but it’s something she’s willing to do.
Dandison said she hoped to pass on her tale to let others know that international marriage can be a lengthy process. One that, she hopes, will have a happy ending.
“Good things come to those who wait so I’ll wait,” Dandison said. “He’s worth it.”