Our long immigration journey is slowly coming to a close. Ysmaille finally received his 10 year permanent residence card this week. The only other immigration decision we will have to face is U.S. citizenship, but he is not eligible for that yet. It has been a three year journey to get us to this place. For those of you curious of how U.S. immigration works read on. For those of you who get bogged down with the details you may want to stop here. Before I continue I would like to answer a question that I get ALL the time. Q: "Isn't Ysmaille automatically a U.S. citizen because he married you?" A: "No!" As I've said it was a three year process that was somewhat costly, extensive, and often a little ridiculous.
Here is our journey:
March 2006 Ysmaille and I moved to PA from Haiti and promptly met with an immigration lawyer in Lancaster. We began completing paperwork for him, although we couldn't technically file the paperwork until Ysmaille had lived here for three months.
June 2006 We made the costly mistake of assuming our paperwork was sent out as agreed upon by the immigration law office; however, it sat for three months in a filing cabinet until we became curious of his status and called the office.
November 2006 We finally received word that we had an interview in Philadelphia so they could either approve or deny our case. The letter said bring any proof of your relationship.
January 2007 Mom and Dad drove us to Philadelphia and we met with an immigration officer. We literally carried in a duffle bag of "proof": letters and cards written to one another, plane tickets, calling cards, photographs, utility bills, letters from friends who attended our wedding, etc. The man took a brief look at our wedding photos and sent us on our way. We had been approved! Although I was delighted, part of me felt a little annoyed that I had gone to all that trouble for nothing.
February 2007 Ysmaille got his S.S. card, two year permanent visa, driver's license, a car, and a job all within a few weeks of each other.
November 2008 We had to reapply for a ten year card.
July 2009 Ysmaille recieved his ten year permanent resident card (green card).
Of course this is the shortened version. There were visits to York for biometrics, hours spent making phone calls to the U.S. immigration office and filling out additional paperwork, more visits to the lawyers office, etc. I am so glad that phase of our life is drawing to a close. From what I've seen after becoming a resident alien, citizenship should be pretty painless.