5 Things I’ve Learnt About the US Immigration Process

I picked up my visa from the courier now so I’m ready to book my flight! Now that I’ve been through the US immigration system and I’ve been approved I thought I’d write a post about some of the things I’ve learnt during the process.

 

It’s Expensive

The Visa process is not cheap, and that’s before you even factor in the costs of a long distance relationship. There are filing fees; $420 for the I130, $88 for Adjustment of Status, $230 for the IV phase and $165 for ELIS. Then there’s the other costs, £240 to prove your gentleman vegetable isn’t riddled with syphilis at the medical and £40 for the “Police Certificate”- a piece of paper that says you are not a criminal (unless of course you are).  Fiancé Visas cost even more. I understand why these things cost money of course and it’s admirable that USCIS is largely user funded but I’m willing to bet if the system was more efficient then the costs wouldn’t need to be as high.

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It’s Extremely Frustrating

You know the scene, you’re in the car and the right hand lane is closed for roadworks so everyone queues in the left hand lane. There’s always one (99% of the time an asshole in a BMW or Audi) who just has to drive in the closed lane until the end and push in front of the queue. That’s how the Visa process often feels. Someone who files three months after you gets approved before you or the USCIS ignores spousal visas while fast tracking the petitions of children of illegal immigrants. It’s immensely frustrating but the frustration is with the agency not with your fellow filers and it’s something that you have to get used to or the process will seem very long indeed. The best way to not get frustrated is to use the wait productively, whether preparing for the next stage of the Visa process or putting pressure on USCIS over its latest backlog.

It’s Bad News For Trees

Although some parts of the process are done online, there is an awful lot of paper being used for the Visa application. When you see the folder they open with your file inside at your interview you can’t help but notice how thick it is.  There’s the initial I-130 submission which is a lot of paper and then copies and photocopies of original documents. Added to this, things have a habit of getting lost during the process so a lot of people print everything in duplicate or triplicate just in case.  Hopefully in the future everything can be done online and people will have digital copies of everything they’ve filed rather than printouts.

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It’s Stressful

The desire to be with your loved one is so strong that the Visa process turns normally rational people into nervous wrecks. I’ve seen people read about some of the medical issues they check for at the medical and convince themselves that they have it. Although some of the questions for the medical are silly, like “have you ever had leprosy?” Damn I was going to hide it but when my fingers came off when we shook hands it gave the game away! When it came to my interview date I must have checked that I had everything 50 times and I left so early that I got to the Embassy before 7AM. There’s also the fear of being denied at the interview and you convince yourself that your case has more red flags than the minefield between the two Korea’s when actually your relationship is genuine and you have huge amounts of proof. As soon as you have finished the interview it’s a huge anti-climax after such a long process.

It Was All Worth It

I had my interview earlier this week and in a month I’m emigrating to the US to live with my wife. It’s been a long, stressful and emotional 11 months but now we can be together it’s definitely worth it. Luckily we won’t have to go through this again, unless we ever decide to relocate to the UK! 

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