A few days ago we finally got a piece of good news. After months and months of endless paper work and back and forth between the Department of Homeland Security, my immigration attorney and myself and my wife we got two letters in the mail.
Before I go any further I want to address a few things. I’m often asked why I continue to put myself and what many consider rather personal information out there for the entire world to see and read.
The answer is simple. This isn’t about me. The immigration system in America is a shambles and needs a total and complete overhaul not just for the sake of the millions of undocumented immigrants already here in the United States, but also for those currently in the system in varying stages of process, however they got there.
Why I now suddenly have a pathway to eventual citizenship simply because I married an American and first came here ‘legally’ but others do not is just wrong.
My hope is by sharing my experience with the current immigration system and how absurd it truly is, I can shed some light on what is no doubt a complicated issue and process, but also one that is surrounded in myth, disinformation and many untruths.
To that end on we go.
The first letter we received, dated ironically on my birthday states:
“An initial review of evidence submitted with your Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status determined that form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, has not been submitted or has been submitted and is not sufficient for the following reason(s):
The version of Form I-693 submitted is no longer in use. Note: As of July 27, 2015, USCIS will only accept Form I-693 with edition date 3/30/15. Therefore, an updated Form I-693 with edition date 3/30/15 is required if you submit Form I-693 to USCIS on/after July 27, 2015.”
Are we all following? To recap: As an immigrant applying to stay here I must submit myself to a medical to make sure I don’t have any nasty diseases (totally irrelevant side note, as someone born outside of the US before 1984 I am not allowed to donate blood).
The medical cost me around $118 and had to be administered by a doctor from a list of specific doctors approved by Homeland Security who ironically happened to be a German immigrant. I was required to go and get up to date on some shots I got at Costco for $56.
It seems, however the form used, in this case Form I-693 was not the correct Form I-693 as it was not marked with edition date 3/30/15.
The letter continues;
“You will be required to submit a valid, completed, and signed Form I-693 at a later date. Please follow these instructions:
- If you receive an interview notice in the mail, you must bring your updated Form I-693 to your interview appointment.
- If your case does not require an interview, you will receive a Request for Evidence for Form I-693 with instructions on where to send Form I-693.
DO NOT MAIL DOCUMENTS AT THIS TIME. Mailing documents before receiving one of the notices referenced above may result in a delay to your case.”
Genius! After reading the letter once, followed by a rather stiff drink, sitting down and reading it again, I was fairly confident I was to do absolutely nothing, except of course wait longer.
At this point we are no closer to knowing whether things are looking good, bad or indifferent. If our Request for additional evidence was satisfied or if I can now be considered a ‘legal permanent resident immigrant’? There is a website one can go and check ones status which rarely changes other than to say “stuff has been received, keep waiting” or words to that effect.
A few days later we got another letter which this time contained not only real tangible good news, kind of, but also proof of solid momentum, kind of.
The letter, itself Form I-797C, Notice of Action, has the following emblazoned across the top of the letter:
“THIS NOTICE DOES NOT GRANT ANY IMMIGRATION STATUS OR BENEFIT.”
I guess that’s just to stop us from getting too carried away or too hopeful. The letter goes on to reference it is specifically regarding my “APPLICATION FOR EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION”.
I’ve been living and working in the United States for the past 13 years, have tax returns, social security statements complete with my name and social security number but now I have the opportunity to actually be authorized to do all of the above. The letter continues:
“Your application for employment authorization has been approved (yay!). The Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, was sent under separate cover to the beneficiary. (Am I not the beneficiary?)
This card authorizes your employment in the United States. Show this card to your employer to verify authorization to work during the dates on the card.
THIS APPROVAL NOTICE IS NOT A VISA OR EVIDENCE OF EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION, NOR MAY IT BE USED IN PLACE OF A VISA OR FORM I-766.”
Again you can’t make this crap up. To be clear the letter the Department of Homeland Security just sent me, on its very official paper with my name, address and some barcode thingy is only a letter informing me the above good news but is not deemed sufficient evidence in providing said good news is accurate as stated in the same letter. Brilliant!
In all seriousness this is awesome news. It is more weight off my shoulders. I am deliriously happy I can now legally work in the country I consider my home.
I can continue chasing the dreams I tentatively started chasing a few years ago no longer held back by my status. But after dealing with such an absurd system you can understand my sarcasm and see the humor I see (hopefully).
This is a huge step forward for me personally. As I mentioned earlier most have no idea what going through this system can be like. The stress and strain it puts on those closest to you and the effect it can have on you professionally.
As I have repeatedly stated in previous blogs, I know I am one of the lucky ones. There are millions of decent hard working immigrants all across America still trapped and constrained by their status. I will continue to fight for them and advocate for reform as much as I possibly can.
Clearly the current immigration system desperately needs reform and with the November elections looming your vote could have huge ramifications on whether that reform takes place. Listen to what your leaders and your community are saying and really think before you cast your vote.
I am off to find a job, preferably one that doesn’t require foreign travel, as I still cannot travel out of the United States, that is my next battle.
I always welcome constructive dialogue. Please reach out to me with any questions or queries through my Contact page.
Thanks for reading.