Blogging is supposed to be about ‘writing what you feel like writing about’, right?
Well. Let me tell you what I feel like writing about: How NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE it is to stay hopeful/positive/optimistic/”insert happy word here” while trying to finish (start?!?) your USA permanent resident process. And yes, I’ve used a lot of CAPS and bold and italics to make my point because all of this is just too drama-ful for regular ole’ plain text.
Let me start by saying that you would think that being an educated Canadian woman who is MARRIED to an American (and has been for 362 days by the way — happy smile :D) would make this process a little easier. You would think they would look at the 200+ photos, 25 letters, affidavits of support from friends and family, scores of financial evidence, bla bla bla that we’ve submitted (to prove we’re a legit couple) and say, “damn, we want this woman to be an American”, but no. Nope, nope, nope, not at all. And yeah that’s a little conceited, but sheez-louise I am so FED UP with this paper game I can’t even explain it.
(Pause for deep breath and gratuitous Brio picture)(Okay, here we go…)
But I’m going to try! 😉 I’ve been whinging (<– a very good Australian word, pronounced “win-jean”) about it for the last six months and really just need to vent, so here’s the nutshell of how it’s gone so far:
- Get married. Get copies of marriage certificate. Collect evidence of ‘bona-fide’ relationship. Hire lawyers ($3000). Submit everything.
- Receive notice that we’ve submitted everything (Nov 30th, 2012)
- Wait. Wait, and wait, and wait, and check the ‘visa journey averages’ and wonder why everyone else is getting to “step 2” in 4 months and it’s already been 5 for us…
- After 7 months (quite a bit over that elusive 4-month average) receive notice that we’ve passed step 1 and are moving on to step 2. Submit more paperwork. Get a police clearance, visa-sized photographs, records of every trip I’ve ever taken to the US, new 10-year Canadian passport, and submit everything to our new favourite friends: The National Visa Centre (in caps). Pay them some more money ($400), and hope they receive everything (June 28, 2013)
- Wait. Wait, wait, wait. Read lots of idiotic quotes online like ““Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” Wait some more.
- Receive the dreaded checklist. A checklist is basically a list of everything that you forgot to submit. In this case, our first checklist was something relatively simple: they wanted a copy of Jon’s business license (August 26, 2013)
- Submit the business license. Assume all will be good now. (August 27, 2013)
- Kick self for ever assuming things would be so easy.
- Receive 2nd checklist: “Please submit a copy of Jon’s business license” (<—except it’s never as plain as that. Instead it’s this computer-gobbly-goop that requires about 10 close reads to actually make sense of). (September 24, 2013)
- Call our favourite people at The National Visa Centre to tell them that we already submitted the business license! Be told that “it can take up to 30 business days (aka 6 weeks) to process documentation” so we should wait a little longer. Also get told that we haven’t submitted form DS-260. This becomes important later. Because we have submitted DS-260, did so in August in fact, so I make the NVC lady check, and she acknowledges that I’m right and they have it, so it’s just the business license that’s missing. Hang up. Sigh. Cry. (September 24, 2013)
- Wait the $#@$-ing 6 weeks they told us to. Call again. Be told “oh no, we never received that package you mailed” (and have a scanned copy of, and have a tracking record showing it as “delivered”, etc, etc). Scream. Yell. Kick things. Sigh. Cry. (October 11, 2013)
- Re-send the frigging business license. (October 12, 2013)
- Call. Wait on hold. Enjoy 20 minutes of National Visa Centre canned voices telling me “my business is important to them”. Eventually get told that they have “received mail” from us, and that it is being processed (good sign) (November 4th)
- Ready for it folks? Here comes the kicker. Today: RECEIVE OUR 3RD CHECKLIST. Not for the missing business license (they’ve finally processed and accepted that one, woo-hoo!). No, no, instead they’re on to saying that we never submitted form DS-260. The same DS-260 that I submitted on August 25th, have a confirmation number for, an electronic copy of, and essentially every other form of proof for (the best part is that this DS-260 is like a 12-page online survey that LITERALLY asked me if I “intended to set up a polygamous commune”, “had ever committed an act of terrorism”, or “intended to commit a crime” while in the US.)
- Call my super favourite people at the National Visa Centre. Get told that yes they see we submitted the form, and yes they know we called about this already in October, but no they can’t do anything about it, other than “put a note” on our case, and “have a supervisor” review everything, and that we need to allow another 30 business days for this to happen (= another 6 weeks).
- Hang up. Sigh. Cry. Cry a lot, actually.
Because the thing is that even after we get the elusive ‘case complete’ (that thing we’ve been fighting for since July), we still have to wait 6-8 weeks for my alien-interview in Montreal. Because why would they ever interview me in Vancouver? That’d be wayyyyy too straight-forward. Nothing like a visit to Montreal in the middle of winter anyways, right??
And in the meantime, we’ve made and broken and re-made and re-broken plans so many times that I’m not sure I even remember how to make a plan any more. It’s become a bit of a 4-letter word actually. And poor Jon is literally packing up the house that we rented for the Fall (“our first married house” <–ha!) today, so that he can get on a plane and come here this weekend so we can at least celebrate our first anniversary** together. This is like the biggest exercise in patience and frustration and tenacity that I think I’ve ever experienced, and let me tell you friends, seeing your husband twice in 6 months is just not cutting it.
The one funny part though is that all of this reminds me just a little bit of cruising. Of those days that we set off on long passages, full of plans and hopeful schedules, fueled with a little dread and fear of the unknown (and broken engine bits), but knowing that no matter what happened, we would figure it out. Broken fuel lines, mis-aligned engines, wiggly rudders, leaking lazarettes, whatever, we would overcome the frigging last 5% and make it work.
So yes, dear friends, we do plan to return to Brio one of these days, and I am still hopeful that there is light at the end of this immigration tunnel. We’re just not quite there yet.
**Dad says we have to put asterisks on our “first anniversary” because we’ve spent so much of it apart. I told him to shush, that our first 6 months of living on Brio 24/7 more than makes up for the last 6 months of long-distance marriage. Rest assured, we will be celebrating in some serious style. That was my first ‘wifely demand’ actually: that we absolutely must celebrate our first anniversary together. As in, from the same city. So Jon arrives at 10:35 pm November 9th, and our anniversary is the 10th. Squeaking in, but I’ll take it 😉