Archive for the 'authorities' Category

The visa interview

It was an average Tuesday morning on which husband and I took off for a trip to the local US Consulate. We’d been ‘camping’ in our home since the weekend, because all our stuff had been picked up and moved to people in need. Not that we didn’t throw things away, but compared to the boxes and boxes of plates, pots, knives, and the bags of pillows, blankets and actual furniture, we really only discarded the most used up things.

So, we got up off our mattress on the floor, used our two remaining knives to make some breakfast, grabbed seven inches of paperwork and left.

We were early. When we arrived, no one else was there yet. Fifteen minutes later a long line had formed, and by the time the consulate opened, there were some 30 people present. They let me in first (preparation is key: bring your appointment letter, bring _NO_ electronics and prepare to take your shoes off and leave all your bags at security) and I entered a tiny little building. There are no private interview rooms. First, you get called over to one window, for fingerprinting, passport checking (you won’t get it back) and general red tape. Then, another window, for the actual interview. The consular officer was done with me in five minutes, after asking me about Beloved’s name, our wedding date, where we’d move to and what I’d do there and the story of how we met.

A passport lighter (and about half a gallon in sweat because I was nervous), I stepped back out, wishing some people still in line the best of luck.

The next day, the mail man arrived and asked me to sign for my passport and the notorious brown ‘envelope’  (it’s the size of a street tile and weighs about as much).

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Names and IDs and little bits of sexism

Photo by Brian Suda, under a Creative Commons License

My driver’s license was about to expire. And my passport was only valid for a few more months – not long enough to be able to get it stamped with a visa.

And so I went off to city hall to get that stuff renewed. Beloved came with, also desiring a new driver’s license. When I signed, gave finger prints and handed over a passport photo, the clerk asked me if I wanted my partner’s name added onto my new license and passport.  This may need some culturally oriented explaining.

I decided that, yes, please, I’d like my partner’s name in my passport on the line below my own name: the line  for ‘spouse’. Mostly to have a little visual proof for those not accustomed with people keeping their names, but also because of the fun tickly sensation of, you know, having found my Favourite Human and being able to have this verified by Powers That Be. (I acknowledge that this is a form of privilege that many people do not have, by the way.)

Much to my chagrin no one gave Beloved the option. So now I have two official documents listing Beloved as my spouse and he has two new documents that totally fail to acknowledge my existence.  Hello?! I’m here! I married this one! I know he has a penis, but why does that imply that he doesn’t need _my_ name all up in his business? Hmm?

*grumble*

Case complete and a place to stay

The week has been eventful. First, the NCV sent us a checklist asking for a police certificate. Seeing as that it is impossible to obtain a police certificate here and NVC seemed – based on the text of the checklist – to be aware of this, I called them to ask for more information. We wer told that the checklist should not have been sent, were promised that the case would be reviewed by a supervisor, received apologies for the mistaken checklist and were told to expect a ‘case complete’ soon. Just for confirmation I called again yesterday. We’re now in a queue to be scheduled for an interview. I hope to be able to go to an interview in the next six weeks.

We received more great news. The university at which Beloved has been admitted has a residence area for students with family. This area has apartments that can be rented at prices far below the average for an equivalent place in the area.  Seeing as that the university is enormous and we only registered two months ago and have no children, we assumed that the chances would be very slim that they’d let us lease an apartment. However, just two days ago they informed us that they have an apartment available for us. We’ll start the lease six weeks from now, even if we can only move in a few weeks later. *Squee*!

Seriously – I live in a country where housing is expensive. I live in an expensive city. But the prices in the SF Bay Area are just insane. I’ve seen totally normal, modest apartments without ritzy details or many extras that cost $2500 a month (and about $1000 more than what we’ll be paying now).

Just for fun: I’ve looked up the purchase price per square feet of living space (not counting yards, just usable space in the home) for the town we’ll move to, and then calculated the same for the city in which I live. I haven’t been able to find the same for monthly rent per square ft, but I think the difference should be close to the same. See my calculated prices below.

city I live in: $288 per square ft

city to move to: $428 per square ft (off of trulia.com).

Seeing as that I’ll be the only one making money, I can only be very, very relieved that the university has decided to let us live in a ‘subsidized’  place. That way maybe my income will cover more than just the rent, meaning that we won;t need to pay for health insurance or food out of our savings.

Love is… translating pay slips

It’s time for us to send in what, in visa terms is the AOS package. Not AOS – Adjustment of Status, but AOS – Affidavit of Support, aslo known as form I-864.

This means giving the immigration authorities an in-depth look at income, assets and tax status of the US citizen. Seeing as that he has worked abroad for a long time now, that means foreign bank accounts, foreign annual statements and foreign pay slips. Not to mention a tax return the size of a decent novel.

All of which needs to be copied at least twice and, whenever not in English, it needs to be translated. So, that’s what I’ve been doing.

Has anyone taken a good look at their pay slip lately? Could you, even in your mother tongue, give a layperson an explanation of what each item means? No? Neither can I. Still, there were six of them that needed to be made understandable to English speakers. I think I did a decent job. Not stellar, because whenever there was an English term on the pay slip, I did not check to see if the cultural or financial referent of said term was fully equivalent, but close enough.

I really hope they’ll let us pay the bill for the Immigrant Visa package soon, too. After that, a ‘Case complete’  should not be far behind..

The holidays are officially over

and life seems to have gone back to break-neck speed. The pictures of our holiday are sorted and organized, we went to the zoo and I even sorted the pictures from that (a selection of those soon to come) and last night the realtor came to discuss the lack of interest in our house. I plan on fixing it up some more and then take new pictures and have an Open House Day in early spring in the hopes of getting some people in. Tomorrow I start volunteering at the local pet shelter. Today I have the official goodbye-party from my job. Life is brimmingly full with all matters of work and opportunity

Then, last night, close to midnight I received an e-mail from USCIS. It was our e-mail version of NOA2, the notice that means that our petition has been approved and we’re allowed to start on the second part of the visa process. Woahoooooooooooo!!!

I’m restraining myself from typing in all caps, okay.. I’m kind of excited, right now. Couldn’t really sleep, last night.

That’s way faster than we could ever expect. Our petition was handled by the National Benefits Center, an office very newly appointed to help out with all the petitions. For those who care about such things: the average wait time between NOA1 (acceptance of petition) and NOA2 (appoval of petition) is easily three months. For some service centers (places where they  handle petitions), the wait can be up to five months. And that’s only if you managed to file this massive pile of papers absolutely flawlessly. If you made a mistake, you can receive an RFE (Request for Evidence) and need to resend papers, or even send in more proof of the ‘bona fides’ of your love for your partner. If you get an RFE, add another 4 to 6 weeks to your processing time.

Our dates? We received NOA1 on November 8, 2012. And NOA2 on January 2, 2013. It’s insane. We’re so, so lucky!

The next weeks will now be filled with a considerable amount of scrounging for paperwork. But, maybe, if we play it right, we could be all done in April, or so. That would give us five months before having to be in the US. Oh, the places we’ll go!

Excuse my while I do a silly dance.

With thanks to funnyordie.com

Package is under way

Today a courier will carry our I-130 petition over the ocean to deliver it to USCIS on Wednesday November 7 at the latest. I’m relieved and nervous at the same time. Hoping all goes well!
I’d like to think we ‘front-loaded’ the petition reasonably well, without sending a huge monstrosity of a file.

Here’s what we sent:

– G-1145, so as to be notified digitally of progress

– cover letter with table of contents (2 pages)

(subdivision petition)

– check for filing fee

– I-130 petition

– copy of Beloved’s birth certificate (front and back)

(subdivision page biographicals)

– G-325A for Beloved

-passport-style picture of Beloved

– G-325A for me

-passport-style picture of me

(subdivision marriage)

– marriage certificate (or rather ‘international extract from local government database, proving marriage’)

(subdivision cohabitation)

– international extract from local government database proving residence at home address since (date) for Beloved

– international extract from local government database proving residence at home address since (date)for me

(subdivision commingling of financial resources)

– statement from tax preparer with summary of jointly filed taxes (3 pages)

– signed notice of consent for electronic filing of taxes

– statement from online banking software showing joint account (+ translation and certificate of translation)

(subdivision affidavits)

-affidavit from my mother

-affidavit from my father

-notarized affidavit from Beloved’s parents

– affidavit from friend 1 (the one who introduced us)

– affidavit from friend 2

– affidavit from friend 3

(subdivision joint travel)

-8 pages of travel documents showing purchases of plane and train tickets for both of us.

(subdivision pictures)

22 pages with pictures, dates and descriptions of pictures showing narrative of our relationship. (app. 30 pictures)

 

 

USCIS here we come!

Aaaaaah.. An exciting time has begun.

Beloved has returned from a trip and we’ve officially started gathering all the paperwork for the visa petition.
We sat down, grabbed the visa guide and started ticking off what we still needed and what we already had. We started out ahead since I already downloaded all the mentioned forms and filled out what I could. Beloved only needed to help me complete things.

All the forms are filled out aftre one evening’s work, with the exception of one date (to be confirmed tonight after a dive into my personal archives) and two birthplaces (answer has come in earlier today). We’ve sent the first requests for affidavits and have divided tasks about who contacts what authority for certain pieces of evidence. If all goes according to plan, we should have everything ready for filing the I-130 petition within the week.

I’d like to think that no small amount of being able to do all this so quickly, is me doing my homework. *gloat* *brag*

I look forward to compiling the file of ‘additional evidence’ of our marriage, especially. People we love will write about out relationship, we get to make a timeline with pictures and maybe plane tickets and.. well.. we get to prove our marriage is ‘bona fide’, a word with which am entangled in an inexplicable love affair, only enhanced by once watching the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” which is brilliant.

Seriously, though, even if you thought this post was total blabber, you should really watch that movie.