1.) Go and look up www.uscis.gov Here you’ll find everything you need to know about becoming a legal resident of the United States of America. It’s easy, really.
At least that’s what they tell you. That and that prices are going down to make it more affordable. Both of which isn’t true, of course. You better calculate with at least $1,500 to get the GreenCard. You also won’t find all the information you need there.
2.) Apply early. Processing times vary.
“Vary” is a good word here. Actually they say it’s up to six months. Realistically it’s at least that much. Don’t make any plans if you’re planning to immigrate. In the meantime just abate your time sitting at home and waiting. If they let you stay in the country that is (see step 3 and 4)
3.) Be prepared. Have all your documents with you and be sure to do exactly what the friendly people from the USCIS tell you too. Expect to be sent back to your country of citizenship for interviews or other appointments at any time.
At this point you might be seriously considering getting an attorney. The quetion is a) do you have the money to afford one and b) will that actually be effective, because in order to actually help you’ll have to find an attorney whose main field of action is immigration. Have fun with that one. And in the end they might still want to send you home for random reasons.
4.) Don’t expect to receive any useful information when calling their phone support. 4. a) If you don’t have your receipt number for the forms you’re filing you’re screwed. 4 b) If you don’t have a receipt number yet because you’re still waiting to hear back from them you really have a problem.
Note: Do not expect that the information they give you on the phone is even remotely accurate. They will tell you that fees apply when they actually are being waived. They will tell you to send forms in seperately that should actually have been submitted together to prevent you from being sent back to your country of citizenship. Oh and they might choose not to tell you that by entering the U.S. on a visa waiver program you also waive all your rights to be able to talk to an immigration judge if your application is denied for whichever random reason, nice eh?
5.) You’ll be requested to submit a bazillion of forms once, twice, thrice and a fourth time and a fifth….in short: be srue you have access to a good copy machine.
6.) Your forms will be sent to a bazillion places all over the US of A. Don’t expect anybody to know their exact location and status at any given point.
7.) When you finally are invited to appear at an interview appointment, be prepared to get nervous. Bring anything that might serve as proof of cohabitation that you can get your hands on (i.e. leases, credit cards, bank statements, health insurance cards, utility bills, your hubby….and no used condoms or a live demostration of acts that might requirea condom aren’t appreciated. Don’t try it.)
8.) Just because you’ve received a receipt for submitted forms doesn’t mean they’ve been approved. Another term of eternal waiting will take its course. Be patient.
9.) You might get lucky and finally be able to talk to someone (an actual human being!) at an interview. You might be lucky like me and get someone who’s actually understanding and willing to help you out. Or you might not. Hey, life’s is one giant lottery!
10.) They will tell you it’ll take another 2-3 weeks till they have received your wayward forms and found time and mental stability to approve them. They’ll tell you not to worry, because there shouldn’t be a reason to incline them to deny your application. You hope. They’ll tell you that you’ll receive your Card in about 5-10 business days after approval. You hope more.
Only problem remains: You’ve already been going through immigration hassle for 7 months. You are a nervous wrreck. You’ll worry till you get your hands on that damn thing.
Good luck and strong nerves, man.
Welcome to the US of A.