Immigration, Immigration, Immigration…I feel like Mel Brooks’ character Comicus, fishing for a way to salvage his impending implosion, after calling the Emperor Nero “a big fat pig”.
Well…the Big Fat Pig is in the room, accompanied by the endless bleating calling for simplification of our “broken” immigration system.
It may be awkward, and less-than-streamlined, but let me assure you…you drop into the hopper…the crank turns…and Voila! You do come out the other end. It is far from broken!
Based on my own recent experiences…I met a young lady from Vietnam a number of years ago, through the Facebook page of a mutual friend.
One thing led to another, and our simple relationship developed into something more. Meo expressed an interest in visiting Japan, and
Australia (which is a common destination for those seeking work outside of Vietnam). At some point, I suggested that a short holiday in the US
may be possible, to which Meo responded that the cost was prohibitive. I later suggested that I was overdue for a vacation, and that if it was
possible for her to act as a tour guide, I would be willing to visit Hanoi.
Long story short, I visited 3 times, enjoyed myself immensely, met Meo’s
entire family, and experienced some of Hanoi.
We continued developing our relationship, corresponding through email,
skype, and Facebook chat. The next year, I returned to Vietnam and
Three weeks later, I returned to the US (and having previously been through the immigration rodeo with my ex-wife, and both her sister and mother),
I decided to engage the services of an Immigration Attorney. I had learned that, with any governmental beaurocracy,
the format of all documentation must conform with the expected, and never deviate.
The process involves 3 steps: 1. Petitioning the US Government for a visa slot. 2.Undergoing an interview at the Consulate/Embassy to ascertain eligibility. 3.Executing a timely entry into the United States and fulfilling the remaining conditions of the Visa. Knowing that much of the process would take place in Vietnam, untangling the government-speak locally with the help of a US based attorney, rather than long-distance, made more sense.
(For those of you who are unaware)…One doesn’t merely waltz into the
local US Consulate or Embassy, and request a Green Card (Immigrant Visa).
There is more to it that just that.
There are several ways to be granted an Immigrant Visa. The simplest is
to either marry, or become engaged to, a US citizen (not a Permanent
A US Citizen, has the right to petition the U.S. Government to make
available an Immigrant Visa for your beneficiary, ie. Fiance/Wife/Child,
with certain conditions. The rest of humanity must apply for an Immigrant
Visa, and be prepared for a long wait. There are Congressionally mandated
limits based on either Country-of-origin, or geographic region.
It may take a (very) long time, but eventually, an applicant will emerge from the end of the pipe. Certain employment-based Visa Classes are exempted from these Quotas – which is a current topic of political discussion. But no matter…the crank turns, and you are spit out the far end, slightly mangled, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
And so our odyssey began. The process up to the issuance of the Immigrant Visa (which then entitles the recipient to apply for Permanent Resident Status with certain conditions) took about 12 months.
I, through my attorney, filed a number of forms, establishing my identity and immigration status (citizen), my marital status, employment history, criminal background check, and of coarse, the application fee.
I also had to provide a binding affidavit that Meo would not become a “public burden”, failure to fully comply would open me to prosecution and jail time.