It’s about 4 months since I completed the citizenship process and immediately started the process of getting my wife here through a process of getting her a CR1 (Conditional Resident) visa by filing a form called I-130 or Petition for Alien Relative to the Chicago Lockbox. I wonder if there is a lockable box, or the reason behind the lockbox term 😄😄. There are 3 filing centers around the country based on where you live.
I sent in the paperwork to USCIS aka Immigration. You pay a filing fee of USD 420. They acknowledged a few days later they’d received the paperwork. But I got a response from a filing center called Potomac. I didn’t know where that was until I did a bit of research online, and learnt they’d recently opened a new center because the other 3 are overwhelmed with applications.
They send you a priority date. It’s the date USCIS formally acknowledges receiving your stuff, and more importantly it’s a date used to determine an immigrant’s place on the visa queue. There are limited visas available if the petitioner who is the person filing is a green card holder. This means first-come first-served. When the available visas for a particular country are quickly used up, you wait for the following year.Luckily for citizens there are unlimited visas available throughout the year.
Then the wait begins. A loooong wait. Nothing happened on my end. Who knows what they do on their end. More like our AirForce “hurry up and wait” philosophy. There is nothing you can do to speed up the process unless you are being deployed then maybe they might consider it on a case by case basis ; or there is a life and death situation going on. Pregnancy doesn’t count by the way.
Then out of the blues about 5 weeks ago there was some ‘action’ taken notification. USCIS had finished their bit and had approved the application. They were forwarding the case to the NVC (National Visa Center). Yeah, another of the government agencies that does something else that the other agency doesn’t do..
But..wait for it. It takes time to send the paperwork from that agency to the other one..Reminds me of Kenyan government bureaucracy, being tossed from office to office. I kept following up by calling the new agency but apparently it takes 2 weeks from sender to receiver confirming they got the stuff.
Finally they received the file..Yaay..or so I thought. Nope. It takes another two weeks to sign a case number. Common on now..wait, wait, wait..call..yea, we receive the file but haven’t assigned a case number. Wait for 2 weeks then holla..wait.wait.wait.
Finally they assigned a case number and an invoice number. Phew, at least I can move on with the process. But..wait for it. I have to assign an agent who will receive the correspondence with the NVC. What agent. I’m the petitioner and the wife is the applicant. No, no..choose an agent first. Fill out this DS261 form confirming you are indeed the agent. I did and sent it back..but..but..I have to wait for 2 weeks for them to process this new form.
No, like seriously. I’m not even joking. So I have to wait for 2 weeks before I move on to the next step, which can’t happen until they ‘process’ my ‘agent’ who happens to be me :roll:. And I’m lucky my application was approved by USCIS after ‘only’ 2 months. Some people wait for seven or even nine months or a year before they move to the NVC step. I’m grateful despite the hurry and wait mode I find myself in.
It reminds me of the refugees who I used to work with before in Kenya and the Sub Saharan Africa who would wait for years before they could be united with their relatives who were stateside.
Patience is the name of the game.