Personal Self,  Reflections

An Immigrant’s Journey in Waiting: 17 years and counting…

I was 20-years-old when I first stepped foot on American soil. Metaphorically speaking, of course. This was nearly 17 years ago. Visa Status: F1 Student

I was 24-years-old and working full-time on an OPT (Optional Practical Training status). At the end of my “training”, I was “let go” from my full-time job because they found a “qualified” US citizen to do my job. Except, I was single-handedly doing the job of 3 people and the woman they hired was entirely unqualified. Proof in the pudding – she was way in over her head and quit after 3 months or so. Without a sponsoring employer, I had to attain dependency on my then spouse. Visa Status: H4 – Dependent Spouse  I was 25-years-old when I started my PhD program. Visa Status: F1 Student I was 29-years-old when I accepted my academic position as a professor.
Visa Status: H1B

I was 30-years-old when my employer started the process for my permanent residency. And I waited. And waited. And waited…

I was 33-years-old when I remarried. On the advice of my employer’s General Counsel, I restarted the permanent residency process, this time with my US-citizen spouse petitioning to sponsor me, his wife. I was told the process would be quicker. And then we waited. And waited. And waited…

I was 34-years-old when we finally got our immigration interview date. At least now, my permanent residency or green card was in sight. Or not. And then we waited. And waited. And waited…

I was 35-years-old and after a tedious wait that even according to my lawyer was unreasonable, I did get my GC. Except, even after having been married over 2 years by then, I STILL got a temporary conditional GC valid for 2 years (when you apply for permanent residency based on marriage, they give you a conditional GC to make sure your marriage wasn’t a scam).

I was 36-years-old and on my lawyer’s advice and even though she was no longer my official lawyer, us having moved to California earlier that year, I applied for a removal of my conditions citing that the government had mistakenly sent me an incorrectly valid GC and that I should have been given a 10 years GC because we had already been married over 2 years by then (and had a kid). And then we waited. And waited. And waited… Meanwhile, we had another kid. And then we waited. And waited. And waited…

Nothing. I mean nothing happens after that. Oh I did get a letter saying that I needn’t give any fingerprints this time since they already had mine on file but then…dead silence…no status updates..nothing. And so we waited.  And waited. And waited…for 11 months. Still nothing. Then, a few weeks ago, I get a letter saying I need to start applying for a renewal. WTF! So..what do I do now, withdraw my previous renewal application and re-apply?

Of course, this time I would have to pay the over $500 which we already did the first time around when they messed up. Do I also have to pay another some $100 for fingerprinting even though they already sent me a letter saying they have my fingerprints? – Should I attach this letter with my application? If everything is online, there is no place for me to NOT pay the additional $$$.

No thanks to the Department of Motor Vehicles, my driver’s license (DL) was also issued to expire the day my GC expires which means I have a few more weeks within which to apply, get the 10-years renewed GC, and seek a new DL.

Eventually, I decided to start making calls – something I should have done months ago. I did make a few calls perviously but accepted the status quo when I was told that things were still in process. I should have escalated my case and asked to speak to a supervising agent as I did this time.

After weeks of calls and escalated cases and speaking to an agent, all he tells me is that my case is awaiting some kind of a check. What check? What do you need? My marriage is legit. My kids are legit. Ask any professional woman who could have had her GC through her employer but decides not to while sacrificing what would have been a definite ego-boost to get it on her own merit and decides to get “sponsored” by her US-Citizen spouse even though he has lived in the country half the number of years that she has, and then resigns from her job and follows him across the country, giving up perhaps forever, her own career…just how frikin’ legitimate that marriage is!

Anyway, so then I make an appointment with our local Field Office to figure out what was going on but more importantly to get a stamp on my passport to continue my legal status. At that appointment, the agent was all ready to hand me back my passport without stamping because apparently, you can’t get that stamp on your passport if you are reapplying for removal of a conditional status attained via marriage. I said, hold on. Let me explain. To her credit, she let me. I told her how my reapplication was based on the fact that the government had screwed up. She understood. She stamped my passport that helps maintain my legal status in the country for 1 more year. Then, seeing my exasperation at the ridiculous system and my even more ridiculous wait for what is my due, she decided to investigate my case.

Finally, after staring at the screen for what seemed like all of 5 minutes, she said, “Oh, they need you to send them your original green card.” I was like…that’s it!! That’s the hold up! Why didn’t they write to me before? Why didn’t someone at the call center tell me this like months ago? And worst of all, why wasn’t this mentioned on the online form when I was filling it out or did I just miss it? From what I understood, since I was completing my form online, I just needed to send a scanned copy of my GC. I mailed my permanent resident card within 2 days of this appointment.

I am 37-years-old…and this is what I see on my USCIS case update page now:

And we wait. And wait. And wait…

Update: A week later, I did indeed get my Permanent Residency Card, the coveted Green Card.

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A former Communication Studies professor turned a somewhat reluctant stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I blog about my adventures raising two multiracial kids, a toddler and an infant. I write about parenting and living a multicultural Indian-Canadian-American HinJew life with honesty, a few tears, lots of laughter, and gallons of coffee. Blogger at: www.thephdmama.com Follow me: @thephdmama

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