U.S. to tighten visa restrictions

This post on BBC news makes me glad that I already managed to immigrate to the U.S.A. though I’m sometimes not quite sure how ‘happy’ I am to live in a country that seems to get more and more paranoid than it already is.

Maybe it’s my German background, but honestly even with the visa-waiver program that has allowed me to visit Stephen for three months without a visa last year, coming into the United States faintly reminds me of pictures I’m too young to remember: of people trying to cross the border to the DDR (German Democratic Republic).

Okay, this may sound a little polemic there, but as an immigrant I can only shake my head at the way how people are being treated just trying to come into the country for a freaking visit. Honestly things like this, making people apply to be able to visit friends or relatives here or even just going for a holiday has nothing to do with being afraid of terror acts, but everything with paranoia. This makes me wonder how far we’re still away from George Orwell’s Thought Police etc. Brave New World indeed…


Driver’s License

Can I just state how ridiculous the tests to obtain a driver’s license here in the U.S. are? Seriously if you can’t distinguish a stop sign from a yield sign, you do have a problem.

Anyway, two hours, one written and one road test later, I got my Utah Driver’s License for $25 instead of the 3 months of theoretical and practical lessons and not to forget the EUR 1665 = $2,497) that it cost me in Germany. Talk about cheapskates ūüėČ

I still have my German license too which is a good thing because i tend to hang on to this kind of stuff.

If you are a Communist wanting to immigrate to the United States, you definitely have a problem…

…and I don’t hint at ideology and irreconcilable economical views, I’m explaining a fact. I mean you know you’re supposed to answer every question in your immigration forms truthfully, but this has been one that made me think. It’s somewhere in the vast “Adjustment of Status” package when they ask you if you’ve been a Sex-offender, felon, convicted for dealing in drugs etc. when they also ask:

[quote]Are you a Communist?[/unquote]

This is where I stop and think: Well, I wouldn’t say I am a Communist, but I certainly share certain Communist point of views. So does that make me one? Are they throwing Communist in the same pot as Democratice Socialist? Hmmm….

Well in the end I check the “No” box, because no, I’m not a Communist, in other words: I’m not a member of a Communist party whatsoever.

So at my interview appointment my interviewer (who is Russian himself, rather to my amusement) he’s asking me that question again and here Steffi’s deciding to be a little bold.

Me: No.

Him: Ok then.

Me: Well let me ask you a question. Hypothetically, if I were a member of a Communist party I wouldn’t be able to immigrate to the United States?

Him: Exactly. We need to make sure that you believe in a democratic system. Communism is not a democracy.

Me: Well, alright, but what about being a member of a party who believes in Democratic Socialism? (emphasizing the “democratic” because I don’t believe in any system that wouldn’t be a democratic one)

Him: That’s no problem. Socialism is different. Socialism is democratic.

Me: Ok…. (Thinking: Hello??? WTF are you making of the DDR? That’s not been a democracy!)

Him: Anyway, you’re fine as long as you’re not a Communist.

Me: Sure.

So he moves on, and I’m thinking I’ve stranded in a land full of historical retards. Anyway, taking a deep breath, trying not to let him notice what I’m thinking and just going on with the spiel. After all it might have been good that I’ve left my jacket with the Jusos badges and the little red star at home along with the Marx and Lenin books…Man… Welcome to the US of A…Land of the Free and very funny attitudes towards what is a democracy and what is not…

“Welcome to the United States of America”

This is the header of the notice that I received from the USCIS yesterday. It was titled “Welcome Notice”, so fitting. Truly, it amused me.

But anyway, hey I DID it! I fought my way through the overwhelming load of dead trees and masses of mainly hispanic immigrants waiting with me at the immigration center. I’m a conditional permanent resident of the United States of America now. My Green Card will be sent to me within 3 weeks and I’ll be able to remove my conditional status if I apply a couple of months before my conditional Green Card expires. Standard procedure.

In other words: Yay, nobody can send me home now ūüėČ I’ve also been given an alien registration number (A-number) that I’ll have to remember, but they also announced that they’ll tatoo it onto my arse, just for my very personal convenience…eh…maybe…not.

Anyway, hurray for being legitimate, finally ūüėČ

How to get a Green Card for Dummies – A guide in 10 easy steps

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.