memories

Going Back in Time – Immigration Interview

Paul went to the Licence Commissioner’s office today to get his driver’s licence address changed to the new rental address. This office is incredibly efficient, and usually has you out the door within 10 minutes, so it’s the preferred place to go for replacements, address changes, and anything that doesn’t require a road test. Only it turns out, he couldn’t get his changed there, and was instead directed to the larger, much more crowded office a few miles away. Why? He’s a foreign national. He’s been a legal permanent resident since 2012, but for whatever reason this became relevant again, and he had to go sit there for a couple of hours for them to do the same thing he could have done at the first office if he’d been a US citizen.

It’s rare that this even comes up for us, but every so often he gets an annoying bit of red tape thrown at him, and we are thinking it may be time to start looking at getting that process started, just so it won’t be an issue anymore. Plus, we are kind of looking forward to throwing this damn dirty liberal foreigner into the conservative Alabama voting pool!

I went to print out the N-400 paperwork, and decided to check the guide on VisaJourney since they were so helpful when we were doing the Adjustment of Status process. Did you know the application for citizenship is 21 pages long? Costs aside, the sheer volume of paperwork associated with anything involving the USCIS is insane. Anyhow, as I printed forms and document lists, I kind of fell down the rabbit hole of reading over old posts from when we were going through his immigration stuff, and stumbled on the post I made regarding our interview. Posting it here so I don’t lose it, and for anyone curious what an immigration interview is like. (May sound odd I named the interviewer, there were others interviewing at that time so we usually shared who we interviewed with.)

Our interview experience, FINALLY! It’s been such a crazy week with the kids and Paul starting his new job! ๐Ÿ™‚

We got to the Atlanta USCIS building in Atlanta at 7:20, our interview was scheduled for 8am. Only a couple of people in line for security, and it was JUST like going through for airline security. Checked in downstairs, and they sent us to the 3rd floor waiting room.

There were about 6-8 other couples in there with us, only one of them had a lawyer with them, another had one show up who introduced herself to the couple, must have been someone else from the firm they used. Two couples seemed to have their whole family with them(5+ people sitting together). Some people were in jeans and tshirts, a few in suits, most in business-casual type stuff(think church clothes). Couples were being called back pretty steadily, and we got called somewhere around 8:05.

Our officer was an African-American man in his 40’s(?) last name Singleton. He was VERY stern and serious, and stayed that way pretty much the entire time. It made me nervous, because I am used to people who are more personable, and this guy never really smiled at all.

He told us our interview would be in two parts, one for the marriage and one for the i-485. He took our ID’s and Paul’s i-94. He asked me to confirm my name, address, and daytime phone number. He asked Paul his full name, daytime phone number, and asked why he didn’t have a driver’s licence yet(AL won’t allow since he is out of status). He then asked for anything additional we’d brought with us to prove the marriage. He made a comment about ‘but I’ve already made up my mind about you two’ that I was curious about, but let slide because I was so nervous. We handed over the joint bank statements, statement showing him as a non-driver on my insurance, father’s day cards from my kids, and an envelope of pictures. He really just kind of glanced over most of it, and started flipping through the pictures. Then he did the standard yes/no’s, sort of pausing and clairfying about Paul’s weapons training(he was in the Irish army for a few years) but it wasn’t an issue.

He then told us he wanted to approve our case, BUT…He needed a new translation of Paul’s divorce papers because he’d done them himself. You guys know LOADS of people on VJ have done their own and had no problems, but for whatever reason they were not ok with this there. He said it could even be done through Google Translate(the person doing it didn’t have to speak Danish) but they just needed someone else’s signature on the papers other than ours. He reccomended going next door to an immigrant services office that had set up there, they did translations, notary, etc, and gave us until 3pm that day to get it back to him, otherwise we’d have to mail it in.

He mentioned again how if it were up to him we’d be approved on the spot, and said again how he’d already made up his mind about us. I was making a joke and said ‘Oh, don’t believe everything you hear!’, and he said no, it was the pictures of the tattoos. About a year ago he and I had gone and gotten similar themed tattoos together with each other’s names, our wedding date, and his family motto. I ended up sending pictures of those in because I figured it has to be pretty sure proof we are really in a relationship, right? Paul now says it was the best $500 we ever spent…LOL. The officer asked were we drinking when we did it(no), and said he thought it was crazy, but it definitly convinced him. We just needed the translated doc and we’d be approved.

We went to the place next door, and once we explained what we needed, they got us fixed up pretty quick. Paul ended up re-typing his divorce document because of all the weird Danish characters, and the guy working there just ran it through Google Translate for us and put it on their letterhead and signed it and we went back to USCIS.(Yes, we did get charged $20 instead of $30 since Paul did most of the work! LOL!)

We checked in downstairs again, and she had us sit and wait while they tried to get hold of our officer so he could come down and get the documents. We waited a bit, and then realized it was 10:40, and checkout at the hotel was 11, so Paul said why don’t you run back over(hotel was literally around the corner, 45 second drive away) and get us checked out and come back. So ran and did that, and as I was leaving the hotel again, Paul called me. It’s done! Approved! LOL! I missed the whole thing because I had to go check us out of the hotel! He said the guy was nice and more relaxed and almost smiled even, so I’m really sorry I missed that part ๐Ÿ™‚ I picked him up outside the building and we headed back the 6 hours to Mobile ๐Ÿ™‚

So Meta, But I Don’t Care…The Best Thing About Blogging

loveI was musing over my post yesterday about my 35th birthday, and I got the idea to read over old birthday posts I’ve written, and see how they were in my past life.

Paul was honestly surprised when I made the comment yesterday that it was the best birthday I’ve ever had, but I don’t think he understood that birthdays for me as an adult were practically a non-event. A search of the word ‘birthday’ on my blog pulled up only a few posts, and only one of them pertaining to a birthday of mine, which involved me making cupcakes with the kids for my own birthday, because I never really had the kind of cake I wanted (I always ended up with something everyone else ate). To be honest it kind ofย made me sad to read that post. No one should have to settle for someone else’s idea of birthday cake.

I was quickly cheered up however by the discovery of this old post where I talked about Damian’s reaction to his fourth birthday. It was a story I had completely forgotten about, probably because I was in the midst of my divorce at the time, and there was so much
negativity it was easy for the good stuff to get lost by the wayside.

But I blogged it, and so it is there. He will be 9 in January, and 5 years later I was able to go back and have a laugh and re-live the indignant righteousness of the 4 year old who thought I lied to him about his birthday gifts.

Thoughts and stories and little snippets of life fade from memory as time goes on, but being able to pull them back out like a photo album and revive those memories is absolutely priceless.