DENVER — When Bo Ramsey accepted a job in Denver and moved back to the United States, he never imagined he would still be waiting for his wife to join him nearly a year and a half later.
His wife, Riza, is among hundreds of thousands of people waiting for their chance to move to the U.S. legally.
Bo moved to the Philippines in 2016 for work, and met now wife Riza in 2018. The two got married in 2020, after Bo fell in love with both Riza and his new Filipino life. They didn't plan to leave, until the country was hit particularly hard by the pandemic. At that point, the Ramseys decided they wanted to move to Bo's home of Denver.
"We figured we would have a better quality of life if we came back," Bo told Denver7. "So in September 2021, we started to process to get an IR1 visa, a marriage visa. It started with me petitioning to sponsor an alien relative."
Bo accepted a job with Frontier Airlines in Denver, and was given a deadline of July 2022 to relocate back to the United States. With Riza's immigration process started, Bo was hopeful it would move quickly enough to not separate them for an extended period of time.
"We didn't think it was going to take that much longer. And so I came back, left her there," Bo said.
That was July of last year. In the time since, the Ramseys have been told that Riza's petition has been approved and all of her documents are complete. However, she can't move to the United States until she has had an interview with the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines. The Ramseys have learned the hard way just how long the wait for an interview appointment can be.
"It's just been waiting," Ramsey said. "And you know, during that time, trying to find answers. How long is it going to take, right? Because you can't really make any decisions. You can't move. You can't buy a home. You can't do anything permanent."
Denver7 reached out to the U.S. State Department to find out why these backlogs for interview appointments are happening. A representative said they are looking into the topic, and would reach out when they learn more.
Publicly available data shows a large and widespread issue, with just under 39,000 applicants with completed documents scheduled for interviews in October of this year, and more than 273,000 eligible applicants left waiting.
"U.S. embassies and consulates abroad provide routine visa services to thousands of applicants daily," the U.S. State Department states on its website. "We are committed to resolving the immigrant visa backlog and transparently sharing the current status of our worldwide visa operations."
Bo said his requests for more information on his wife's status have yielded frustratingly little information, leading to "hopelessness" for both of them. He is now starting to regret his move back to the United States, and is considering returning back to the Philippines so he can be with his wife full time again.
Though he understands the immigration vetting process, Bo said he expected more clear information about how long it would take.
"I am a citizen of this country," Ramsey said. "I think I deserve something more than just an automated response saying, 'We have what we need. You need to wait.'"