Pai Promsiri left Thailand in 1971 to join her husband in the US, along with her two young sons, Andy and Kevin. Pai’s husband, also Thai, was in the States on a student visa. However, that relationship wasn’t to last and, in 1975, Pai, divorced her Thai husband and later remarried Paul Ciesiolka from Colorado. Now married to a US citizen, Pai was entitled to a green card, so she returned to Thailand to apply for it from the U.S. Embassy; a mere formality. She duly got her green card, along with residency for her sons; the latter which she secured upon her return to America.
Pai’s sons went through the US educational system and effectively regarded themselves as US citizens, in all but name. When Pai’s second marriage went the same way as her first, the family continued to live in the States; a process which necessitated them having to renew their green cards every ten years. Everything went well until Andy Promsiri decided to apply for full US citizenship in 1983. After so long in the US, he had no problem in passing his citizenship exam, but, surprisingly, heard no more about it.
After further period of 10 years, Andy reapplied for US citizenship, but was telephoned the day before the citizenship ceremony and told not to attend. Not to be put off, the whole family, Pai, Andy and Kevin, applied for US citizenship, in 1998, but heard no more until exactly ten years later, when they received a deportation notice. Devastated, they made enquiries and discovered that there was a problem with Pai’s original 1975 divorce certificate. After initially accepting it, the U.S. immigration authorities now said that they didn’t recognize its validity and what’s more accused her of bigamy!
Then ensued a complex court battle, but eventually through a combination of pressure exerted by legal advisors and the media, specifically an article from The Associated Press in May, 2009, the government capitulated and granted citizenship for the whole family, though not until they had put them through a further ordeal of having had to have their fingerprints taken and having to endure several interviews. It was a hard contested battle, but one that had a happy ending.
After a period of more than three decades, the whole family was able to attend the citizenship ceremony on 25 September, take their oaths and pledge their collective allegiance to the Stars and Stripes at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. All three were now fully fledged US citizens.