This past Thursday, my husband and I had our interview for my Green Card or Permanent Resident Card. That was very nerve wrecking! Or actually the interview was not— it was more the months leading up to the interview that caused me sleepless nights and stress.
I can be a bit a bit of a perfectionist, sometimes bordering on OCD if you ask my husband (I don't agree of course), so you can imagine that I spent a lot of time and energy in preparing for this interview.
We initiated the process last year June, by scheduling an appointment with my lawyer from Masliah & Soloway. They have helped me in the past with the various Visa's that have allowed me to be in the United States until now. We paid good money for it, but I was glad they were there to facilitate the process.
The application itself is rather arduous and involves the collection of various documents and completing a total of some 10 different forms. The documents that need to be submitted with the application include copies of pay stubs, tax returns, birth certificates, passports, employment authorizations, visas, marriage certificate, and court and arrest records.
I had some challenges with getting my birth certificate and proofing that I was not a dangerous criminal, but in the end we had everything that was needed to petition for my Green Card. On August 26 the lawyer sent in the application and that's when the real work started.
A number of other things needed to happen before we were invited for the interview. First we had to collect all sorts of documentation to demonstrate proof of our committed relationship. These include joint bank account statements, leases or contracts in both our names, shared utility bills, photos, christmas cards sent to both of us, relationship support letters, etc.
Relationship support letters are letters from fiends and family attesting to the life that we share together as a couple. This was one of the fund parts and everyone whom we asked was pleased to help us with such a letter.
It is so wonderful to read how our friends feel about us and our relationship. I can definitely recommend anyone asking some friends to write such letters — even if you are not applying for a Green Card, but just want to feel good about yourself :).
Second, I had to undergo a medical examination by a Homeland Security designated civil surgeon. This is to test for communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis, Hepatitis, and HIV. I'm in the clear on that front, but the civil surgeon is officially not allowed to share that with you and the examination is sealed.
Third, in September, Homeland Security sent me a notice that I had to appear at an Application Support Center to capture my biometrics. Basically this means that they took my picture and fingerprinted me. Not such a big deal.
Then there was a lot of waiting while we were still collecting documents as evidence of our relationship. In December, I received a temporary employment authorization card which allowed me to work, but also to travel abroad and re-enter the United States.
Finally, in the first week of January, we received the invitation for an interview to take place on February 5 at 1PM. I was pretty nervous the weeks before the interview and felt uncertain whether we had enough documentation. I kept going at it and collected even more pictures and any piece of paper I could get my hand on that had both our names.
Problem with being a perfectionist in this case is that it is not very human to not make mistakes and the interviewers know that. They become suspicious when everything is too prepared and you answer all questions perfectly. It then appears too rehearsed as would be the case with a fake marriage, just to get a Green Card.
Fortunately, we made a lot of mistakes during our interview! My husband could not remember the date that we got married! Although the interviewing officer did not hold that against us, I did and he received his punishment after we got home - just kidding. On my part, I did not remember where my husband was born and I was not too clear on my altercation with the Dutch judicial system.
It all worked in our favor! The interview itself lasted no longer than 10 minutes! Our lawyer who was present said that this was because the interviewing officer was very experienced and knew exactly which questions to ask and what documents to look at.
The officer let the lawyer know that we were well organized for the interview, which I strongly believe helped our case (or am I trying to justify my OCD tendency here?). At the interview they usually do not tell you right away, but in our case immediately after the interview, Homeland Security sent an email to our lawyer that our case was approved and that the Green Card was ordered!
I want to thank all of our friends and family who supported us in this 6 month process. Perfectionist or not, it is a stressful period for anyone who wants to stay with their loved one. Knowing that friends and family have our back is a big deal and it makes me feel welcome to America!