Archives For USCIS

back in the saddle again

April 6, 2009 — 1 Comment

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.

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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?

following two epic drives and a whirlwind three full days in the Capitol, we are returned, there is a more detailed posted above, so i`m editing this cover the stuff that occurred while we were away, mostly and the getting to and fro.

i got home to mail from the Department of Homeland Security, who informed me that my application to change status had been received and deemed fit to process. one less thing hanging over my head, however i was greatly amused to go to their website and read two completely contradictory statements; according to the information listed with my receipt number, the application should take 120 to 180 days to process, but according to the processing dates for the office in Memphis where my application should be processed they are currently dealing with applications received in September 2002, either way i`m not going to stress it.

my other piece of good news was a letter from my doctor`s office, which read as follows:

The purpose of this memo is to inform you that the ultrasound result showed a benign mass in your liver which means that this is NOT cancer. This type of mass is called a hemangioma which means a collection of blood vessels. You should not expect to find any problems related to this finding. Also, the ultrasound did not show a fatty liver pattern.

there`s more but it`s just about scheduling a follow up appointment for my doctor to explain it to me in more detail.

about the trip; specifically the getting to and fro, we broke up the drive both to and from DC in two stages. stage one on the way to DC involved an overnight stop at my mother in law`s and then stage two was a drive from east Tennessee to DC, which took about eight hours including a couple bladder relief stops, lunch and one refuelling. before i continue i have to say how happy i am with our gas sipping Neon; 35 – 42 miles a gallon on the highway and zippy too. we spent more money on food for the entire trip than we did on gas, which considering that the median gas price for the duration of the trip was in the $2.30 vicinity is a pretty good deal.

i`m not big on touristy stuff, so my primary motivation for going to DC was food. DC has a fairly large Trinidadian populace and thus; a number of things i`ve missed dearly like; roti and doubles. that said we did manage to fit in a number of things in our short visit. which brings me to my major beef, DC politics and DC tourism are remarkably similar; if you`re not part of a group, you don`t get access to anything. the national monuments are barricaded for security purposes and what limited access and immediate parking there is, is consumed by the fleets of tour buses disgorging the carefully managed masses.

i must however take this opportunity to thank our hosts, my long time friend, e.b. and her lovely and talented husband, e.g. for housing us, feeding us and making the trip fun and entertaining.

there are pictures and as soon as i have them, they will be available in a gallery.

as part of my change of status application to the USCIS i had to do a medical, not at a doctor of my choosing, but at an authorised `Civil Surgeon`.

i called the help line on Friday  to get the list of doctors i could go see and this is where it started to get surreal. for my zip code there are only three of these civil surgeons and one of them is actually an hour`s drive away. that was just out of the question, so i decided to try my luck with the two in my immediate vicinity.

i called one office and started to make an appointment, but thought it would be prudent to check the cost first. it`s a good thing i don`t have heart problems, the cost of the medical was more than the cost of filing the paperwork. the second doctor wasn`t much better but it was less, but there was a reason for that, i had to go somewhere else to get an x-ray which was another charge.

now what`s criminal about this is that this isn`t the soul source of income for either of these doctors. and if they find anything wrong with you all they are supposed to do is recommend you to your regular physician for corrective measures.

as for the medical itself i`m still livid. i spent more time driving to and from the appointment and getting x-rayed. i get there ready to pay and am told, we don`t take credit/debit cards, so i have to go find and ATM take out an obscene amount of cash and bring it back. when i return a nurse takes my blood pressure; which for some reason is high, go figure and draw a vial of blood to be tested; but not before i am forced to sign a document stating that if i test positive for HIV, i`ll give them another $100 for mandatory retesting. the incompetent nurse then jabs me in a way that has my upper arm numb for the rest of the afternoon and sends me in to the exam room, where the doctor; and i use the term loosely; spends more time making idle chit-chat that conducting an exam. this is no lie, if the exam lasted 90 seconds i would be surprised. do you know the pre-exam the nurse or intern gives you when you go to a doctor for the first time; check for pupil response, check your throat, feel your abdomen, your breath sounds and have you cough? that was it. how many hundreds of dollars for an exam that could have been done by a nurse practitioner.

what the fuck? that`s criminal and they can get away with it because they are sanctioned by the USCIS, there is no way to opt out of the medical. these people are worse than the vultures that traffic people across the borders, at least you know what kind of lowlife you`re dealing with there. these people are hiding behind sanction and recognition and robbing you blind.

did i mention that if i don`t get an appointment for an interview within a year, i`m going to have to go through this process again. nice scam they got going there isn`t it? and the odds of my getting an interview in a year, not fucking likely. below is the processing time for Memphis office where my application will be processed.

I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status June 30, 2002

the date in bold is the date from which applications are currently being processed. you do the math.

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.

trip from the forebrain

September 7, 2004 — Leave a comment

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.

firstly, happy father`s day to all the parents on js; the fathers that are there for their children; physically, emotionally, however they can, the mothers doing the job of both parents, because they have to or they want to. happy father`s day to you all.

in news of parenting, it appears that our resident morality maven has taken leave of us; either fed up of our wanton and debauched nature or licking his wounds and planning for another course of attack; whatever the result, his journal in it`s last form is no more. i`m not celebrating, i`m not gloating, because that was never my intention, i`m just relieved.

today we cleaned the house top to bottom, including the boychick`s closet; he`s eight and his idea of organised and our ideas are radically divergent. we`re exhausted and we still have to tackle lunch and vic is planning on making bread and granola before the day is out. the boychick, a friend of his and vic`s mother are with us this coming week and operating on a limited budget, making what you can from scratch is always cheaper.

and finally my good news, on Friday i was supposed to trek out to Memphis in the wee hours of the morn to apply for a temporary employment authorisation because the USCIS hadn`t issued my employment authorisation after the prescribed 90 day period, however on Wednesday night, i came home to find and email stating that my application had been approved and mailed out to me. so no trek to Memphis and i`m soon to join the rank and file. that just leaves the somewhat miniscule task of finding a job. i`ve been sending out resumes since i got here, but i`ve been unable to follow up because i couldn`t work legally, well all that is over now, look out Nashvegas.