The story of Jazmarae

From New Orleans to the Netherlands: ‘love goes beyond borders’

In the heart of New Orleans, a city that lives on music and bubbling energy, the love story of Jazmarae, from the United States of America, unfolded. She had never thought that a coincidental meeting with Thomas, from the Netherlands, would bring her a trip across continents, all the way to the Netherlands. That trip ran via the IND, about which Jazmarae is more than satisfied. She considered the provision of services here very pleasant. ‘In the USA, paperwork is usually very confusing and you go from a rock to a hard place. But here I was able to send my application once only. Very nice!'
Photo of Jazmarae
I’m very happy here. We are married and expecting a baby.

Bumpy application

Jazmarae and Thomas came in contact with the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) for the first time when they started the application process from New Orleans. ‘We found the rules at the IND pretty strict’, Jazmarae explains. ‘We had to prove that our relationship was real. For this purpose we had collected photos, receipts and travel tickets. We also had to set out a full account of our meeting and the further course of our relationship. But this did not surprise me much. People who want to move to the United States also have to do that.’

Understanding and sympathy

The decision on the application was supposed to take between three and six months, Jazmarae was told. But that too became tense for a while. ‘We had been waiting almost six months when the person who was handling our case resigned. And because someone else took over our application, the waiting time was supposed to start again from the beginning. That was scary, of course. We had already waited so long! Luckily we were able to contact the new person quickly who was handling our case. She was very friendly, and understood and sympathised with our story. We ultimately heard within a week that I was allowed to immigrate.’

Personal services

‘I found the services provided by the IND really good and very special’, Jazmarae continues. ‘I knew that the IND was a large organisation and I had expected the contact to be stiff and impersonal. Moreover, I was of course used to the United States and there paperwork is very confusing. You are sent from a rock to a hard place and back again. But I did not experience that at all here. I was able to send my application once only and directly approach the person handling my case. Very nice and personal.’

Definitely live together

The life-changing decision was dropped in the mailbox when Jazmarae was on a visit to the Netherlands. 'That was fantastic,' she tells beaming. 'We were immediately able to celebrate it together. After all that time travelling back and forth, we could now definitely start living together. Looking back we were luckily just in time, because the pandemic broke out not much later. Then it might indeed have taken longer.’

Passion for music

Back to New Orleans, where Thomas and Jazmarae, who is a photographer and singer, met each other. Their passion for music brought them together. 'A friend of mine played in a band and asked me to take photos for them. Thomas was also in the band and we started talking after the end. We did feel a connection, but that was it, because Thomas lived in the Netherlands,’ she says. 

Where the spark flew over

‘Luckily fate had other plans’, Jazmarae continues. ‘In 2017 I as a singer was part of a rock duo and we went on tour in Europe. We were also supposed to perform in Amsterdam. By coincidence, Thomas also had a few jam sessions in Amsterdam. I went to watch him and after the end he asked me out on a date. That is when the spark really flew over.’

Leaving her home country

In the following period, Jazmarae and Thomas dared to start a long-distance relationship. ‘That was not always easy, but we were faithful to each other and our bond became stronger and stronger. In 2019, that ultimately brought us to the discussion of which of us would move. Would Thomas go to the US? Or would I go to the Netherlands? That second option was more logical. I am a sailor’s daughter and I had already lived in different places all my life. So I was used to a whole lot, made new friends easily and was well able to adjust to new cultures.’

Safe in the Netherlands

In the meantime, Jazmarae has lived together with Thomas in the Netherlands for about four and a half years. They are married and expecting their first baby. What does she like most of all about her immigration to the Netherlands? ‘In the first place of course that I can be with my husband. But, in addition, the quality of life is really much better in the Netherlands than in the United States. And there is also more trust in the government. I realise only her how scared I actually was in the United States. I felt a lot safer in the Netherlands. A simple example is that I now dare to walk down the street alone in the evening. In the United States it is normal that someone from your work accompanies you to your car in the evening, because otherwise it would not be not safe. Really sad, actually.’ 

Becoming a Dutch national

The future looks rosy for Jazmarae and her husband. They have a nice home and cannot wait for their baby to arrive. Moreover, Jazmarae recently obtained her civic integration diploma. ‘A great first step towards Dutch nationality’, she says proudly. ‘I now focus first on my family, but in addition keep on integrating into Dutch society. I work here as a self-employed person and I am learning and practising Dutch. Afterwards I want to apply for naturalisation, so that I can officially become a Dutch national. So then I will be back to the IND again!’

More stories

The story of Jazmarae

From New Orleans to the Netherlands: ‘love goes beyond borders’ In the heart of New Orleans, a city that lives on music and bubbling energy, the love story of…

The story of Amjad

Amjad stayed in an asylum seekers’ centre (AZC). 'On some days it seemed as if the whole world had forgotten me.' He once stayed in an asylum seekers’ centre himself. He now helps companions in misfortune via the…

The story of Manizha

‘I feel at home in the Netherlands’ Manizha Kodirova comes from Tajikistan. She came to the Netherlands for love, where the openness…