having gone through the immigration process once to get my residency, i can tell you there is nothing simple or cheap about it. and the odds are stacked against you from the get go.Continue Reading...
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i am paying the INS, BCIS, USCIS, Department of Homeland Security, whatever you want to call them to be inefficient and as an anal retentive planner, that just pisses me right off.
i`m currently living in the US on a K-3 visa; which allows for the spouse of a US citizen to regularise their living situation while the await applications in process. currently we have my change of status application in process for me to become a permanent resident. my K-3 visa was issued last March and is valid for two years, which means it expires in March 2006. keep this date in mind, there will be a quiz later.
according to the receipt i received when my application to change my status was received, this application takes between 120 -180 days to process. so if my math is correct, my application should be approved some time between September 7 and November 30, using a 5 day work week plus a couple of days for holidays in between, which means i should need to renew my K-3 visa or the attendant work authorisation right?
i wish, nothing related to bureaucracy is ever simple. i had to call to make an appointment for biometric services; read photographed and fingerprinted; and asked what the current processing time was on my application; as of March 25, 2005, the Memphis office is processing applications received on September 13, 2002. that`s a two and a half year backlog. which means i have to apply to renew my current visa and work authorisation.
and now it`s going to cost me at least another $310 in actual fees and who knows how much in time and just sheer frustration to get this done and all over again. all thanks to the bureaucratic inefficiency. isn`t there someone i can sue for this?
vic and i have been going through a process since January 2002 to begin our lives together.
we had two applications in the works, an I-130 which is an application for an immigrant spouse and a K-3 which is an application for the same spouse to enter the US while waiting for the I-130 to process.
after much back and forth; my application initially got sent to the wrong office; in Monterey when it was supposed to be sent to Santo Domingo; had to be sent back to Barbados, that process alone took 12 weeks; mail to and from embassies travels via APO, which goes to DC to process first before being sent on. my K-3 got approved in January 2004 and i finally arrived in the US in March, i was given a packet from the embassy in Barbados that issued my visa to give to the immigration officer when i landed, this contained all the paperwork processed by the Barbados office. About a week after i arrived, we got a letter from the USCIS office in TX, which was processing our I-130 that we need to submit more information, including proof that we had been living together since we`d been married; at that point a week; we had joint bank accounts; impossible since i had no social security either; copies of our wedding and divorce decrees; which they already had at least three copies of; and letters from friends and landlords etc. we prepared a packet after we found and apartment , signed a lease together and submitted that an all the other info they asked for back the TX office.
In August we got a letter from the National Visa Centre and the USCIS office in TX that my application had been approved and they were forwarding my paperwork to the Trinidad office to allow me to enter the country. bearing in mind i had entered the country legally 5 months before, been in contact with them on more than one occasion by mail; because i had to notify them when we moved into our new apartment, required by law and when i applied for my work authorisation, also required by law. they didn`t know i was in the country.
the saga isn`t over yet, we now have to apply to change my status, which requires that i take another medical; i took one in late February which is supposed to be valid for a year, i have to get fingerprinted; again i got fingerprinted in February when my application was approved, i got fingerprinted when i entered the country, i got fingerprinted when i applied for my work authorisation.
and because a change of status application currently has a two year processing time in TN, i will have to take another medical if my application is to be processed, plus i`ll have to pay to apply to renew my K-3 visa and work authorisation if my status change is not processed in time.
to date we`ve spent over $3000, not including airfare and we don`t even have a lawyer and can probably look forward to at least another $1000 before we`re done.
sometime in the next coupe of months we have to shell out another $500 to the USCIS, to begin my green card application process, this doesn`t include a medical which becomes invalid after one year; bearing in mind that the processing time on this application is two years, i`m going to have to spend this money twice. i also have to apply for advance parole which will theoretically allow me to leave the country; but which they also don`t advise because i may not be able to re-enter the country should i leave anyway.
is anyone sensing a pattern here? good.
in the interim, i`ll probably have to renew my current visa and work authorisation, more money, isn`t this fun, my passport also expires next year, which opens the possibility of having to start a whole new set of applications when i get it renewed.
i`m thrilled to be able to be here with vic. there is no amount of money in the world that can be used to put a value on the joy of being able to share my life with vic, but the bureaucracy just frustrates me so. that and the needless expense. vic and i would like to buy a house in the near future, we have debt to clear up, we don`t need to be throwing money at the government, if we don`t have to.
we got our official notification notice on saturday in the mail, two of them actually. what`s interesting about this approval, upon reading it, i get the distinct impression that they are unaware that i`m currently resident in the US.
this frightens me a great deal, this is the department of homeland security, the people responsible for keeping borders safe. we have filled out multiple copies of the same forms, i`ve been photographed and fingerprinted at least four times at their behest and our expense in the last six months. we provided them with copies of our lease agreement, insurance policy and letters from friends not more than three months ago and they are talking about sending a copy of this notice to the consular office responsible for the beneficiary [me] to process. i`ve done everything legal and above board and they`re clueless, what does this say for the people that don`t want to be seen?
the stark realism of dealing with the USCIS is clearer after a day of digging through the website, trying to find out what we need to do next.
the bureaucratic behemoth that is the USCIS thrives on the magic words `one more thing,` so now that this particular hurdle has been leaped there is another set to get over.
apparently the approval only means that i am now clear to apply for a change of status. so having gone through all of this, this change of status should be straightforward right?
guess again, i have a 35 page application form, which includes copies of forms that we`ve submitted on two different occasions thus far. i also have to do another medical, i wouldn`t be so irritated by that except i had to find money to do a medical less than six months ago to get the visa i`m currently on. oh and i missed one of the important factors, we have to shell out another $385 and that doesn`t include the cost of pictures and the medical.
i think the thing that irritates me about this is that there are at least two different sets of paperwork floating around with all the information that they require and now i`m about to start another batch. i thought the whole reason for throwing billions of dollars, revamping and renaming the INS was to make them more efficient.
and it gets better, i just checked the website for the processing dates for this particular application at the Memphis office; they are now up to applications with a receipt date of March 2002. and people wonder why there are so many illegal immigrants.
edited with the revised cost after a conversation with NCS help line and the hope that the medical i did will still be valid.
i know i promised to get back with all the details of my bureaucratic hell, but you know what… fuck it, fuck them. i’m not going to let these people upset me.
i spent 20 minutes on the phone spelling and respelling my name, before being told by some functionary that they don’t know it’s me, so even if they weren’t severely understaffed and could be troubled to look for my application, they couldn’t tell me if they had it.
i haven’t done a lick of work all day, just sat around and pretended to be busy. i’m waiting on copy, i could probably write my own but i don’t feel like.
vic and i discussing her moving here (trinidad) at least temporarily, i think a lot of her misgivings about trinidad are my fault, i’m not; as sam pointed out when she called to gloat about going to see the matrix this evening; the poster child for this country, i’m not happy here and it shows.
but it’s all about compromise, i’ve been married almost 18 months and seen my wife less than 10 days, there is something inherently wrong about that. this is not a voluntary seperation, it gets harder and harder with each passing day. it doesn’t help when people ask “why you still here?” or “you don’t miss your wife?” what kind of stupid insensitive shit is that?
i hate having to explain this shit to people over and over. i’m still here, my wife isn’t! what the fuck do you want from me, blood?
i’m going to the canadian embassy tomorrow in the hopes of trading on my father’s migration shortly after my birth. there is something almost comical about trading on the legacy of a man who i barely know, almost 32 years after his departure from my life. this has to be some major karma.
i’m hold on tenuously to the joyful thoughts of how happy vic makes me and the beauty and intelligence of my children. that should be enough shouldn’t it?
so now i’m not longer blinded by rage, i’m just quietly angry, it’s just a dull throbbing in the back of my head, i’ve secluded myself at work… looking for images. i can’t actually work, i am so unfocussed right now it isn’t funny.
i’m tired. i feel beaten. i would cry if i thought i would be able to stop or if there were enough tears in the world. i wont ever consider giving up because i don’t think i’d ever be happy again if i did.
but i don’t know what else to do. i do actually, the anal retentive in me always has a plan B thru F.
the question is how viable are these plans and how much longer do i have to wait.
all i really want is to fall asleep next to vic every night, for us to be safe together, i don’t care where, just as long as we’re together.
is that too much to ask? is that so difficult?
a friend told me that i’ll be able look back on this and laugh at some point, i’d just like to know when.
what also pisses me off is the fucking attitude of these people – we own your lives so we can treat you however we like and because of sept 11 we don’t have to answer to anyone, fuck you very much.
i am so angry right now. and what’s worse there is no focal point. my head is throbbing. i’m supposed to go in to work now, but i don’t know if i can, i need a room with padded walls where i can scream and throw stuff and not injure myself.
why? why is this so hard?
there is only one reason i have not just given up is victoria. i have never been happier or more complete and no amount of fucking bureaucracy and moron employees is going to take that away from me.