‘Love Is Not Tourism': Engaged Couple Separated by COVID Travel Restrictions Fight to Get Married

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Kana Ishii and Jarran Muse were friends for years before they fell in love and decided to get married.

The fact that she lived in Japan and he lived in new jersey was never a problem before, but then the coronavirus pandemic happened. Suddenly, their plans for Jarran to travel from Sparta, New Jersey, to Tokyo so they could get married were halted.

"I try to figure out what we can do to get him here, but there’s no way," Ishii tells NBC New York.

"There’s absolutely no way. I tried to book a flight and they’re like, you are restricted from purchasing a ticket blah blah blah," Muse said.

They have not gotten married as they planned ad they haven’t been able to see each other in person for the last 7 months.

"I’m feeling angst. I’m feeling incomplete, I’m feeling drained," said Muse.

Couples like Muse and Ishii say they're very frustrated over the travel restrictions and they believe governments should make exceptions. The frustration turned to desperation that sparked a Facebook group and a website with tens of thousands of members called "Love is Not Tourism."

Immigration attorney Sylvia Montan says she’s been trying to help couples with the same problem since COVID-19 started spreading.

"An alternative would be to determine whether they qualify for an exception so we work with them to figure out if there is a basis for an exception," said Montan.

Exceptions can include medical necessity, proof of prior work history and a student Visa. But Ishii and Muse don’t meet any of those requirements. They say they understand the safety concerns and stopping the spread of the virus, But if spouses can travel to be reunited, they think they should be able to also. 

"It’s actually more important than business, it's more than tourism. It should be the most important thing. Family and love," Ishii said.

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