Monday, January 15, 2018

So you want a green card...

This past week we have been celebrating that we finally reached the end of this road- David has his visa! That means we can move back to the U.S.!

Why yes, I did waste some time photoshopping this.
I wanted to elaborate a bit for those who are curious about what type of visa he has and what the process was like. I knew absolutely nothing about American immigration before going through this, so it was all a learning curve for me.

David has a CR1 immigrant visa. The CR stands for "conditional resident," and applies to couples like us who have been married for less than 2 years. When he enters the U.S., David will become a permanent resident. This means he is allowed to live and work in the U.S. for the rest of his life. He will be able to start working right away, and should receive his green card in the mail a few weeks after our arrival.

Two years from now, we will have to apply to remove the temporary/conditional status from his green card. After that, he will be a permanent permanent resident. This extra step for those who haven't been married for a long time is an attempt to weed out fake green card marriages. That means we'll need to send in more paperwork (yay!) and provide evidence that we have a real marriage (joint bank accounts, house ownership, family photos, etc.)

A year after that (so after 3 years of living in the U.S.), David is eligible to become an American citizen! This will mark the true end of the road immigration-wise. Of course, that process involves more paperwork and a lot more money. Technically, he could just remain a permanent resident and not become a citizen... but we all know David's already made his choice. He's already started studying for the civics test.

Here is a rough timeline of what the CR1 process was like for us. We were told to expect it to take 10 months, max 12. It ended up taking 14.

September 2016: We got married. Good times.

October 2016: We moved to France. It took a few weeks to get official copies of our marriage license. After that, we were able to start gathering other documents and filling out forms with the help of an immigration lawyer.

November 2016: We submitted the first big batch of paperwork (form I-130) to USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), along with a fee of about $500. The information in the paperwork mostly included every address we've each lived at in the last 5 years, every job we've each had in the last 5 years, other general biographical information and information about our marriage. USCIS knows more about me now than most of my friends ;)

August 2017: Our case was finally transferred to the NVC (National Visa Center). This was the longest wait during the whole process (9 months). We were very happy when we advanced to this step.

September 2017: We submitted another big batch of paperwork (form DS-260) and another $500 payment to the NVC. The major new chunk of information we had to provide this time was an Affidavit of Support. If the American spouse (i.e. me) isn't currently working in America, you need another sponsor to agree to be financially responsible for the immigrant until they become a citizen. I find it silly that they seem to expect spouses to live apart (spoiler alert: we got married because we want to live together) during this long process, but I digress. Thankfully, my dad agreed to be the sponsor.

December 2017: David had his medical visit and interview at the Paris embassy. Everything was fast and easy besides the fact that he didn't have the correct form of birth certificate they wanted. That delayed things a bit because it took a few weeks to get it and mail it in. 

January 2018: The visa was issued!!!!! David may have played the Hallelujah chorus when he received it. It was a long wait. Yes, we got to do a lot of great traveling in the mean time, but it's not fun to be waiting for something and not have control over when it happens. For example, it's made it pretty much impossible for me to look for a job in France or America without having any idea when we're moving.

As I said in my previous post, David's last day of work is January 31st. We will move out of Cannes the next day and then spend about a month tying up loose ends, spending time with his family, and traveling before we make the big move home.

I'm happy we were able to be together throughout this process. I'm happy it went smoothly besides a delay of a few months, and I'm thankful for my family's support. I'm so happy for David that he is about to live his dream of moving to America permanently!

Congratulations to future American citizen David Rubino- I'm excited to start our life together in Wisconsin :)

My previous post about immigration- So you want to live with your husband -about the frustrations of starting my French immigration and his American immigration simultaneously.

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