How To Renew A Green Card
September 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
I haven’t written about American Immigration stuff for a while, mostly because I was enjoying the two years I had between receiving my first green card and having to renew it. It was a blissful state of knowing I had done everything I had to do at that moment, but now I’m back at it! This time around is much easier. Last time we used an immigration lawyer because we were in a hurry, but this time, I filed all the paperwork myself.
And paperwork I did file! The USCIS forms were only a few pages long, the rest is “proof of relationship”. This means credit card and bank statements, insurance forms, wills, emails, photos, documentation of trips taken together, health insurance, leases, letters, wedding invitations, and anything else you can think of that ties you to your American significant other. I even had two good friends write letters on our behalf, stating we’re a real couple. (Thanks, Annie and Kate!)
Just a few weeks after sending this in, I received an appointment to have my “biometrics” taken, which was this morning. Biometrics, as I now know, is a very fancy and intimidating word for photograph and fingerprints.
Because I live in Brooklyn, I’m always assigned to have this done in Borough Park, which is SO FAR from where I live. Three subways and nearly an hour and a half, and I step out of the subway to pouring rain and gusty winds. (Oh good! I wanted to look wet and disheveled for my new green card photo ;)
The application center is in a very old strip mall. The sort of place that is only still open because the place you’re assigned to go to is in it. Luckily, the trip to these offices takes about 30 times as long as the procedure you go through. A very pleasant lady takes my photo and fingerprints and sends me on my way. She also tells me they have new computers which read fingerprints much more accurately, so my smudgy, almost non-existant fingerprints are accepted instantly this time. Hooray!
Now I just wait to be approved for my new permanent resident status, and then for my new green card to arrive in the mail. Thanks, America!
P.S. Visit Immihelp for help renewing your green card yourself, it helped me.
Two Thousand Ten
December 31, 2010 § 3 Comments
2010 was a really monumental year for me, even if I did spend a good part of it in the suburbs of Toronto, waiting for the next stage of my life to begin. Here’s an in-depth recap that I hope you’ll enjoy.
– I made several New Years’ resolutions (and completed them all!)
– I dealt with many frustrations with fielding questions from friends and family about my immigration situation, missed Nick terribly, and slowly adjusted and worked on expanded my patience even further to be able to live in the suburbs with my parents, working as a part time web manager and vowing to go to Toronto every weekend to keep my sanity.
– I got my beginner’s drivers license for the second time and drove a total of three times
– After weaning myself off of working for The Agency Group for 6+ years, I stopped doing their website updates
– Tracked down my lifetime vaccination records from three different areas of Canada I’ve lived in to prepare for my Visa Medical
– Spent a great Valentine’s Day with Nick in Whitby – made a bunch of great food and watched The Hurt Locker
– Watched way more of the Winter Olympics than I expected to and even held a torch in the Eaton Centre!
– Had my Visa Medical in Toronto. It was much less intrusive than I thought it would be and I managed not to faint after having my blood taken by eating a banana right up to the moment I got poked
– Dappled in Chat Roulette with Eli
– Bro’d down with former Smashing Pumpkins’ bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur while she was in town for CMW. Stayed in the same hotel and rode in a cab to the Horseshoe in between her and Nick. Talked about ’90s Canadian rock with her. Definite fan moment.
– Spent a remarkably warm St. Patrick’s Day with my family at my parents’ cottage
– Got fed up with Twitter haters and those ignorant of it and wrote this entry that got my blog more hits than anything else I’ve ever written
– After bargaining with the immigration gods, I received my long (and I mean LONG) awaited visa interview date at the American Consulate in Montreal for May 20
– Enjoyed Summer-like weather in Toronto with friends the first weekend of the month
– My camera bag fell off a crappy Union Station bathroom hook and my lens busted. This led me to finally buy that 50mm lens I had been talking about for months
– Went back to New York on the 12th for one last “visit” before my visa was approved. Had a way better time getting over the border without harassment.
– Met Brooklyn Brine’s Shamus and wrote my first Greenpointers entry while actually in Greenpoint
– Took a roadtrip with Nick to Pennsylvania to visit his family, a chocolate factory, and saw Foxy Shazam
– Methodically and obsessively prepared for my Visa Interview
– Flew back to Canada with Nick, right into Montreal for my May 20 visa interview and NAILED IT
– Went back to Whitby to wait for my visa to come in the mail; finally started to plan our wedding
– I was so happy I got to attend Adam and Dana’s wedding in Toronto at the last minute!
– My visa finally came, a week and a half later than the man who interviewed us told us it would come. I missed seeing Conan O’Brien in New York, but got to go back for good on June 14!
– I took an online photography course from 503 Photography and learned how to use my camera on full manual
– My brother got married! Unfortunately, I missed it because I had to come back to New York, but it was a great day nonetheless
– Was glad I wasn’t in Toronto for the G20, but sad I wasn’t there for my sister while her husband had to work it
– Spent a great 4th of July with Nick at a Yankees VS Blue Jays game, then had rooftop seats to see the fireworks over the Hudson River
– Fell in love with Mad Men
– Couldn’t believe I was finally allowed to marry the love of my life
– GOT MARRIED at New York’s City Hall on July 22!
– Visited San Francisco for our honeymoon
– Had yet another medical exam for immigration purposes – this time it was the Greencard Physical where they determined I do not have tuberculosis. Phew! I was really worried about that. (Not).
– Attended Lollapalooza in Chicago
– Started Want Font with Courtney
– Had my Biometrics taken for my greencard application. Survived the trip through the scariest part of Brooklyn I’ve ever been to to basically have a photo taken and my fingerprints put into a computer.
– Helped set up and promote the Insound Design Store
– Had the best birthday surprise I could have asked for with Nick flying my sister to New York to hang out with me for less than 24 hours!
– Visited Nick’s best friend Rod and his family in Fort Collins, CO. Got altitude sickness in Denver.
– Prepared and gathered many, many documents for my Greencard interview
– Took a four week writing course from Mediabistro. Vowed to write a blog entry a day from then on.
– Had my Greencard interview. Got freaked out I wouldn’t be able to travel in time for Christmas.
– Turns out, I was an easy Greencard case. I received it in the mail two weeks to the date of my interview.
– After being approved for my Greencard, I got my social security number and was immediately hired on a contract for Insound!
– Enjoyed working full time for the first time in a year and a half. Also enjoyed the non-existent commute of a 10 minute walk between my apartment and office. Sweet!
– Pretty much worked my butt off until it was time to go away for Christmas!
all photos by Christina Storch except July’s wedding photo by Jesse Brown
A guide for new immigrants
November 30, 2010 § 5 Comments
After all that worrying right after my greencard interview, my greencard showed up at my door two weeks to the interview date! They were even kind enough to include “A Guide for New Immigrants” pamphlet for me. That’s right, I’m technically an immigrant. Also, an alien. Or maybe not so much anymore, now that I’m accepted by the United States government. Either way, I am now required by law to carry this most-coveted, very hard to duplicate, hologram-packed plastic ID card with me wherever I go!
I boarded Platform 9 3/4
November 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
Yesterday was my last day off during the week for at least a few months, as I have been taken on for the Christmas season at Insound! To celebrate, I made sure to take full advantage of the glory that is week days off by doing a large holiday grocery shop, before heading to the city to finalize our wills with Nick**, then I headed down to Union Square to see the new Harry Potter movie. As I’m a huge fan of the books, this was really the highlight of my plans for the day, even overshadowing the Bob Dylan show Nick and I went to afterward.
Going to the movies alone is quite an experience. It was only my second time doing this, but I did it up right. After I got my ticket, I headed over to Toasties and got my favourite veggie sandwich and a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie to eat during the movie, both because the movie is 2 1/2 hours long and because this would likely serve as my dinner.
The movie did not disappoint. I am still deciding, but I think yesterday The Deathly Hallows just kicked The Order of the Phoenix right out of my personal top HP movie’s spot. I almost want to brave the horrendous New York City movie crowds*** to see it again. Almost.
Coincidentally, the subway stop my theatre was closest to has been subtly Harry Potter-ified: some creative fan slapped a 9 3/4 sticker on top of the now-defunct W line in Union Square! Photo above from NY Daily News.
**Immigration note: did you know if you’re not an America citizen and you live in America, even if you’re married to a person and they die, you are entitled to nothing? Get a will made!
*** New York City inhabitants: when did you lose all your common courtesy when it comes to other people at the movies? When the real previews start, that’s when it’s time to stop talking. Whispering is tolerated, but when the movie starts, you had better shut up. Also, stop checking your cellphones. When it’s totally dark, we can easily see your iPhone flicker back on. Just relax and turn yourself off for 2 hours. You paid $13 to do so, afterall.
Officially a Permanent Resident
November 22, 2010 § 6 Comments
Even though he lived in the time of pre-9/11, John Lennon went through a lot to get his greencard. He was eventually granted one though, and in the next three weeks, I’ll have one too!
I just received a letter from the government in the mail today formally welcoming me to America. They even used the phrase “it is with great pleasure“.
What a relief it is to know that I will be able to go home to Canada and visit my family and friends for Christmas without having to worry about whether I’ll be let back into the country!
Greencard interview: the review
November 16, 2010 § 5 Comments
Fear not, I wasn’t deported after my Greencard interview yesterday, Time Warner, NY’s least competent cable provider, just went down and broke my a blog-a-day streak!
If I had internet access last night, my report of the day would have sounded something like this.
Nick and I got up at 6 am to make sure we arrived early enough – but not obnoxiously early – to our 8:15 am appointment in downtown Manhattan. We went through the usual government building security and headed up to the 8th floor where the Adjustment of Status rooms were. Our lawyer told us he’d send an associate to meet us and sit in with us during our interview and he’d meet us there at 7:45. We waited until 8:05 before we went ahead and checked in without him, assuming he wasn’t coming. He showed up 45 minutes late, telling us “it’s the government, OF COURSE their meetings aren’t going to be on time”. Yeah, because Greencard interviews are no big deal and nothing to make sure you’re punctual for.
The three of us sat in the waiting room with a bunch of other people. The family in front of us was talking with their own pompous lawyer and seemed grossly unprepared for their interview, telling him they didn’t bring any proof of having joint bank accounts, credit cards, rental agreements, life insurance, nothin’. The lawyer kept himself amused by correcting their grammar.
About an hour after that, extremely parched and hungry as you aren’t allowed any food or drink in the waiting room, we were called for our meeting. Our officer was fairly pleasant, but rocked a very thick Puertorican accent and it was really hard to understand her questions. Turns out, her questions were totally inane and unrelated to our situation. She asked us each our full names, birthdays, and where we lived like three times each. She was confused when we said we didn’t bring a copy of our lease, because only Nick’s name was on it, so it was irrelevant to proving we both lived there. She didn’t even look at most of the documentation I brought, which the appointment letter said to make sure I brought with me. At the end of the interview, she asked if we had any questions. I asked if we were approved. She said we had to wait up to 60 days to find out. Nick asked if it was still okay if I left the country for Christmas. She said “just wait for the greencard, just in case”. I insisted that we really wanted to go to Canada for Christmas, as I haven’t seen most of my friends and family in 5 months and asked why I should have to wait if I already had my Advance Parole documents. She didn’t seem to really know what she was talking about, so kept repeating “just wait, just in case”.
We left the room feeling irritated and ripped off, mostly because we didn’t get the immediate gratification that came right after our visa interview. Our case is such an open and shut one because we already were granted a visa and there’s nothing more to really discuss, except for maybe proving we are a real couple in love, and she didn’t seem to care about that. I called my lawyer as soon as I was back in Brooklyn and he insists that she’s a nut who doesn’t know what she’s talking about and I can most definitely travel while my greencard is processing. This still makes me nervous because I do not want to get stuck in Canada again!
Hopefully this worrying is for nothing and my greencard comes in the mail in the next few weeks, as everything has been coming together quickly lately.
All in all, nothing bad happened, it was just not a pleasant experience.
(print above by Music Philosophy)
The importance of smiling
November 14, 2010 § Leave a comment
Nick and I head downtown early tomorrow morning for my greencard interview. I have spent a couple weeks gathering and organizing all the documents they’ve requested on my appointment letter (and then some) and we have an associate of our immigration law firm meeting us there, so I’m not too concerned about what will happen, I just hope we get an officer who smiles.
I’ll be sure to write all about it tomorrow afternoon/evening, but in the meantime, I leave you with something that made me smile and I hope it will amuse you too (and future immigration officer – if you’re out there, enjoy this and I can’t wait to meet you tomorrow!)
from Chloe Someone
Serious American Progress
November 5, 2010 § 3 Comments
So what have I been up to the past few weeks?
Preparing for my Greencard interview, obviously!
Although it’s not as nerve-wracking as the visa interview was, nothing is as therapeutic as collecting government forms, emails, photographs, birth certificates, insurance documents with both our names on it, and other items that “prove our relationship” and putting them into a folder, dividing them by type, and labeling them with their corresponding copies.
The interview is next Monday the 15th, and this time, it’s not just about me. Nick and I will have to prove we’re a real married couple who aren’t just together so I can live in this country. (I also have to refrain from making any remarks such as “why the hell would I go through all this trouble to live in this crazy place if I didn’t really love and want to be with this man?!”) I kind of hope they ask us questions and test us like in The Proposal where we get to play a sort of Newly Wed Game because I think that would be fun.
After the interview, if all goes well, I will be granted “Permanent Resident with conditional status”. In a year or so, I can apply to have the conditional status removed. In about three years, if I want, I can apply for citizenship. So to answer your questions, no, this isn’t the end, but it is a huge step towards settling into a real life.
One year ago today…
September 28, 2010 § 4 Comments
Today is the one year anniversary of the start of my Immigration Quest.
At approximately 5:30 am, September 28, 2009, I encountered the most intrusive customs officer I’d ever come across. He asked me questions about how much money I had in my bank account, how I earned it, and other questions you aren’t really prepared for when traveling. When my responses failed to meet his expectations, he sent me into secondary screening where I told them I was engaged and learned shortly after that they don’t like to let Canadians into America with the intention of marrying the loves of their lives.
The best things in life don’t come easy and instead of drowning in our complicated situation, we rose above the obstacles and now we’re together for good and stronger and happier than ever.
September 27, 2010 § 2 Comments
On Friday, I traveled all the way to the USCIS office I have apparently been assigned to, and although it’s in Brooklyn, it took me three subways and an hour and a half to get there. Located in what my Not For Tourists guide tells me is desolate and dismal Borough Park, the office was tucked away in an anonymous-looking white plaza and the only thing identifying the place was a black and white sign that simply said “Application Center” in helvetica.
Contrary to the appearance of both the building and the area, the office was filled with some of the nicest workers I’ve encountered in my immigration journey. There was no line and the guy I gave my appointment letter and ID too thanked me profusely for thinking ahead and bringing my marriage certificate since my ID and letter had different last names on them. The lady who took my biometrics (fingerprints and photo) kind of reminded me of Laverne from Scrubs. She patiently tried to scan my fingerprints into the computer although, as I learned on Friday, I apparently don’t really have fingerprints. Sure, they’re there, but my fingertips are so smooth that she got a hundred error messages before finally saying “That’s as good as it’s gonna get!” Maybe years of bass playing wore down my fingertips? But then that doesn’t explain my right hand. Oh, the things I continue to learn about myself while going through these things.
Thankfully I got back on the N train and out of Borough Park unscathed and rewarded myself with some window shopping at Crate & Barrel.