A MAJOR RANT about Immigration!

OMG I am SO MAD right now I would punch an Immigration Officer if I had one handy! I will not swear/cuss but just imagine this post liberally covered in words beginning with 'F'!

So I called the United States Customs & Immigration Service (aka. USCIS), my call got escalated from a minion to an Officer and this is the gist of it.

I sent in my application to Remove Conditions on Residence (I-751) to the Texas Service Centre (TSC) on March 8, 2008. My mailing receipt told me they got it on March 14.

On April 18 I got the notice with a date for biometrics (fingerprints) in OKC on May 16

On May 13 and then May 21 I received the SAME NOA-1 letter - so twice, telling me my receipt date at the TSC was April 11. So in other words it took them a month to get my application from the mailing room into the system!

Then our application got transferred to the Vermont Service Centre (VSC) on April 11 from the TSC

I have just been told today, that it was received at the VSC and entered in their system on JUNE 20!! So it took more than 2 months to go from the TSC to the VSC - WTF!

Then in January 2009, the VSC realised they'd lost my biometrics and requested them again from the OKC office. They received these on February 22, another month later!

So the Immigration Officer has told me I should wait another 2 months before calling again, that will be nearly 15 months after applying and paying $545 for this stellar service!!!

But by then not only will my extension stamp in my passport have expired, but so will my Drivers Licence and I can't renew it without that stamp. So this means yet another 6 hour round trip to the (insert bad swear/cuss word here) OKC Field Office to beg them (and that's no joke) for the stamp to keep me legal.

She did however give me one piece of good news! On April 7th I can apply for Naturalization as a Citizen, as that's 90 days before my 3-years here. I thought I had to wait for the full 3 years. So on April 7th we will shell out ANOTHER $685 (to add to about the $2,500 already spent) to apply for this, even though I will still be waiting on my 10-yr card!

This is good news as the processing time on Naturalization is ONLY 6 months and so I may get that before I get the other and then that $650 will have been for nothing!

WE ARE SOOOO MAD...no wonder there's a problem with illegal immigrants here, when people like us try to do it right and get this level of service!

!%!&*^8^*)*&%^&@^$#%!#$#!*&$&$@%%^)*& (still not feeling better!)


Mary said...

I would send a letter to your congressman, senator, any representative with all the info you wrote here. Good grief!

Daryl said...

SO its going to take 90 days for that 'early' filing to be processed .. imagine if you wait til the actual 3 yrs to be up?

There's no excuse for things taking this long to get done ... when everyone got incentive checks last June we didnt. At end of July I called and reported the check 'missing' .. I spoke to Agent George at the IRS who spoke so slowly I thought I was going to die before he took all the info .. AND then he slowly told me that he was sending in an inquiry so I needed to wait til end of August .. and if check still hadnt arrived, call back .. it didnt, I did and it took another 2 months before we actually got the check.

Interestingly the IRS usually moves fast when they want something from you .. so I guess Immigration is just taking it slow too .. annoying the say the least

britoutofwater said...

The whole lot of them can *bleep*ing well go and *bleep*ing shove their *bleep*ing bureucracy and petty *bleep*ing paper pushing up their *bleep* *bleep* as far as I'm concerned!

Sarah (JOT) said...

On the flip side, how easy is it to become Brit naturalized? Just a question out of curiousity. I feel terrible that you are getting a major fookin' runabout with this. It's ridiculous, as you said, when you do it the right way and you get it up the arse. I'm so sorry. I'm still glad to have you here in America. Your blog is so much fun to come by and visit.

Sherri said...

OMG Sarah that is horrible!!!! What in the world!! I agree with Mary I would send a letter to your congressman, senator, etc. I would explain in the letter too that maybe this is why there are so many illegal immigrants because of the time, money, frustration etc. they have to go through to become a citizen. How absurd!! Sorry sweetie about this. Good Luck!

Limey said...

I won't go in to my extremely frustrating USCIS experiences - needless to say, they are just as frustrating and extended as yours so I can definitely sympathize. I don't know anyone who went through the process with ease!

I received my greencard (based on marriage) a few months ago, but they'd cocked it up enough that my old visa ran out and when my very beloved grandmother died they wouldn't issue me an emergency travel visa so I couldn't go home for her funeral. Not to mention the driver's license, passport etc. etc. And that every person I spoke to at USCIS (when I could actually TALK to someone!) told me different information which ended up causing the processing of my card to be delayed for months!

So, is your greencard based on marriage or employment? Once you get it, isn't that it? If not, then I am dreading dealing with mine in the future. I thought once you had it (if based on marriage), that was the end of it.

So sorry - I know it's amazingly frustrating and every time you have to call USCIS you get a pit in your stomach about it - I do, too. Sadly, there's nothing that can be done. I think that's the most annoying thing - that there is no one to go and shake your fist at and kick up a fuss.

I've spent HOURS in the OKC USCIS office by the airport and I can attest that they don't take kindly to people who get pissed off and shake their fists in frustration.

Good luck, Gal. Just take it as it comes and remember that it is their fault, not yours.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Limey - so sorry to hear about the cock up and you not being able to return for your grandmothers funeral.

Mine is also based on marriage and yep once you get the 10-yr card you are done until it needs renewing.

But we have had it with them and want to be done for good, so citizenship is the only way to go ASAP.

In the meantime I have called my Congressman and am sending him the information.

Limey said...

Oi vey! I had no idea about this renewal business. Dreading that!

Keep me updated on your progress - I'll be intrigued to see what happens. I'm sure it'll arrive just in time it'll be OK :o)

Star said...

Hello Britgal, I am putting in for my conditions to be removed in April. I do sympathise with what you have been through and are still going through. I know what it is like! I could write a book about it. I have been told it takes 3 months to have the conditions removed from the Green Card, but even then, when you have the card for ten years, I believe you still have to go back and forth every six months to keep it activated. So wish me luck! I need it to be done in 3 months, I really do...
Blessings, Star

Sarah said...

I got my receipt notice today.They received my payment of $545 and now I gotta wait for my appointment for the finger prints and all that.. My visa has cost about $2000 to with the cost of the medical and the fist lot of forms. They really dont hurry up either.I hope mine dont take aws long as yours. My letter says I am extended for a year. I am waiting to to have the conditional resident took off to. Hope it all works out for you x x x

Mog said...

I sympathise with immigration cockups, I think they must be the same the world over.

Canadian immigration lost our police documents, but never thought to tell us until we chased up our permanent residence application. So that was 4 months lost!

I gather when we apply for citizenship the wait is years! So that's years we get to live here without a vote. grrr

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Star & Sarah I hate to tell you both this, but all applications start by going to the Vermont Service Center, or are transferred there from where you send it. They are currently 11 months behind, so expect a long wait.

Unless you get lucky and are transferred to California, in which case it's curretnly 6 months!

About to fax our Congressman after a conversation with his office!

Its Just Me - Daring to Dream said...

Wow...I am so sorry. Thats got to be frustrating...

Polish Punk Chick said...

Really, its Oklahoma...how much could imigration have on their plate there that they are really that busy?

Just change your name, informally, to Juanita Gonzalez and you'll be fine. They may just not want any more white people in Oklahoma, ya never know.

Limey said...

Polish Punk Chick - You are misguided and mildly offensive in your comments. There are many illegal immigrants in southern states, as we know, but certainly there are thousands of immigrants from all over the world living in Oklahoma and applying in the legal and correct way. USCIS is swamped due to chronic under-staffing and bureaucracy. There is certainly no reflection of race in decisions. Just want to make that clear.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

PPC - also every application in the country for I-751 goes through Vermont, regardless of what state you're in!

SweetLollipopShop said...

I feel your frustration, it took almost 3 years for our immigration paperwork to be complete and get our green cards (also a Brit).

We did everything through a lawyer hoping it would go through easier, no such luck! My oldest daughters paperwork got sent to CA by mistake and lost and she had to wait an additional 6 months for them to locate it!

I have to give the Manchester, NH immigration office kudos however, we began the process in Massachusetts and went through Boston and most of them were so rude and unhelpful. However when we moved to NH almost 4 years ago and began to use the office here, it was such a difference, they actually treated you like a human being and not a nuisance.

Good luck

Snippety Gibbet said...

Geeeeeeeeeeeez. I'd be cussin' a blug streak too, if I was you.

I agree with Mary. Write a letter to your politicians. Things often do get moving when you do that. I've done it before and seen results.

What a way to spend your days off!

Anonymous said...

Well we're about to lodge our Canadian Permanent Residence Application, so we'll see how that goes.

In the UK, my OH had no problems with "Permanent Leave to Remain" - gathered all docs, went in to the office in Putney and 45 minutes later left with stamp in Passport. After we were married, sent off forms and payment and received date for test, passed and got date for Swearing ceremony and all done and dusted in 3 months and we headed off to Spain using new Brit Passport for a 2 week holiday to celebrate. It was a pleasure dealing with the Home Office.

pamokc said...

It is just so much more complicated than what we went through. All I can say is be glad you aren't coming in through Baltimore. Be very glad. This place down here is a cakewalk compared to there.

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Geez, what a story. Sorry.

Winifred said...

That sounds like a real horror story Sarah and a bit of an expensive one at that. Bad enought o have the aggro but having to pay that amount is horrific. Have to say it makes a nice change to hear someone praising the Home Office here.

Good idea to contact you political representative. When the Passport Offices here were understaffed and in a total mess a few years ago, my daughter sent her passport just to have her married name added. It took months and we were due to go on holiday so we contacted our MP and by gum they moved fast.

I used to work in the Civil Service here and all hell used to break loose if we got an enquiry from an MP! Might be the same in the USA. Best of British as they say!

Kay said...

I'm so sorry, Sarah. My nephew married a girl from Japan and found that all kinds of immigration rules had changed. It was now much much harder and MORE expensive to gain citizenship for his wife. His wife is still unable to get a job because the papers are held up somewhere.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I'm so sorry, Sarah... This country has alot of problems and it begins with our government.. I don't know why people think the government is smart enough to take care of us. HA---I don't know of ONE govt. agency in this country that is doing a good job.

Makes you want to be illegal--doesn't it??? Those people have more benefits and rights than the rest of us who are living her legally. GADS---let me get off of my soap box.

Hope you get it worked out.

Star said...

Thanks for your reply Sarah and the warning! I am in Tennessee and we are doing the paperwork through a lawyer so I have every confidence that things will go through smoothly (?)We'll see won't we. I have deduced that all the time wasting is a money making exercise, designed to make the process last as long as possible and generate as much cash as possible. I am resigned to it but it makes life very difficult. I have already had my biometrics done once, so why should I have to have it all done again? When we had our entry interview, we had to go all the way to Memphis, a 7 hour drive there and back, when it could have been done in Knoxville. The interview itself lasted 20 minutes! Like I say, it must be deliberate - designed to put you off and make you go away - blow you off as they say over here. Throughout the process I have felt like a criminal, which is different to what we experience in England. Oh well, onward and upward. I have learned from your posts that the important thing to do is to put in for the extension at the same time as the request to remove the conditions.
Blessings, Star

Troy said...

If you just knew how awful the political and economic situation is now in the UK you could apply for political asylum and get in free. But I suppose now it's too late for that. I'm tempted to try it though.

Jill of All Trades said...

Oh my goodness. You know that explains a lot to me. One of our employees is married to a girl from your neck of the woods and he was trying explain all this to us one day. I was a little confused and at the time was questioning. I'm a little more understanding now. Sorry you have to mess with this stuff.

Expat mum said...

Oh god it makes my stomach churn to think back. The Ball & Chain had to come back to the States without me as they'd lost our initial green card (spouse) application. My father-in-law got his Senator involved and the paperwork magically appeared at the Embassy in London, although no one bothered to phone me to tell me.
I think someone (I would offer but I'm a citizen now) should start a Facebook campaign to complain about the system. Everyone's jumping up and down about illegal immigrants but they don't make it easy!

Limey said...

Can someone explain to me something: I got my Greencard (based on marriage) last year and in two years need to apply to go from 'conditional' to 'permanent'. When I get that permanent card, will it have a ten year limit? After those ten years do you have to go through the application process all over again as if it is the first time? Can you not just get an extension? Why is it so complicated? Surely they can't send us back to our home countries?? This is all making me very worried!

pamokc said...

I think once you have the permanent card for a certain amount of time, then you can apply for citizenship if you want. This was a fairly easy process for my husband, but certainly a lengthy one.

Limey said...

pamokc - thanks! I don't think I want to become a citizen, but maybe in ten years, I'll change my mind! Hopefully it won't be any more complicated than the greencard was first time around! Much appreciated!

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Limey - right now you have the conditional 2 yr green card (gc), 90 days before that expires you send in your application for the 10-yr GC, which is what I am waiting on right now. The delays are a year to get the 10-yr GC currently and have been for the past 2 yrs!

Once you get the 10-yr GC then you are good until 90 days before that expires when you have to renew it. I do not think that you have to go through quite as much as you do the first time, but I'm not certain.

Ok - Naturalization/Citizenship - if you are here due to marriage to a US citizen, you can apply for this 90 days before the AOS stamp in your passport is 3 yrs old. My AOS was approved and my conditional GC was dated July 7 2006. So I can apply for this on April 7 2009 and will be doing so immediately. The current processing time for Naturalization is 6 months, so by the end of this year I should be a citizen.

Now as to why would you not want to do this? If at anytime you are on a 10-yr GC you are deemed to have committed a felony, they can deport you permanently should they choose to do so. Now I know that's highly unlikely for either you or I, but there is such a thing as a miscarriage of justice and I for one do not want to leave any doors slightly ajar!

Plus as a Brit' who can hold dual nationality, I really do not understand why you would not go ahead and take citizenship. It means you can vote, the IRS deal with you differently, you release your spouse from their I-864 (I think) monetary obligation to maintain you. You cannot be forced out for any reason, you can bring family members in here if you ever need to and it gives you peace of mind and no more dealing with the USCIS! This is exactly why on April 7 my application will be mailed in.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

Limey - btw they also put the cost up on July 30 each year, right now it's $685 so god knows what it will be in 10 yrs!

Limey said...

Sarah - it's so complicated and stressful!! I hate the USCIS! Thanks so much for kindly explaining this all :o) It is so expensive and stresses me out so much. I have a knot in my stomach just knowing Ill have to deal with this again in about 18 months! And then in another 10 years! You make good points about the citizenship justification. I think I'll revisit that a few years down the road!

Limey said...

Also, if you have to wait a year to get your 10-yr GC because of delays, I suppose there is a travel visa form you need to fill out to travel abroad?

Anonymous said...

Yep, looks like it's happening everywhere then. It's about time the authorities got this immigration lark sorted out properly so that honest citizens can live freely.CJ xx

George said...

I'm so very sorry you're having all these problems. There is really no excuse for such inefficiency.

Star said...

To Britgal and Limey, The citizenship, as I understand it, is like this...If you live in the U.S., you can apply for citizenship after 3 years (so long as you have the Green Card). However, if you keep going back and forth to England (like I do), then you have broken your stay and you have to wait 5 years. The periods out of the U.S. cannot exceed 6 months. My house in England didn't sell, and now I don't want to sell it because the value has gone down drastically, so I go back and forth because it needs maintaining etc. If you need to be out of the U.S. for more than 6 months at one time, then you have to apply for an extension to the Green Card and you have to do that before you leave the U.S., so you need to know beforehand that you are going to be gone for more than six months. It is a very complicated system and we need to help each other on it, I think. Thank you to Britgal for bringing this up.
Blessings, Star

Janet said...

You have my sympathy Sarah. I'm with brit out of water on this issue, but I wouldn't bother with the bleeps.

We spent 7 years jumping through hoops to renew visas until we got our green cards. Surprisingly it seems it is much simpler, and less costly, if an employer sponsors you for your green card than if you marry an American citizen!

Mick got his green card because his employer sponsored him, and I got mine by default of being married to him. The whole process took about 16 months.

I'm afraid I can't tell anyone what the renewal process is like, but I'll find out in 2012. :-(

Prisstina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Prisstina said...

Sorry to hear about your immigration drama. That is bloody ridiculous. I'm going through the K1 process at the moment and am over the whole process and all the red tape, and I haven't even got my final interview yet. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear all this crap you (and others) are going through, I heard everything with immigration got much, much worse after 9/11 but that shouldn't be used as an excuse to try to explain their inefficiency either. My GC's came through in 14 months and they even gave us the opportunity of going back to the UK to have the medical exam and the interview with the American Embassy in London as they weren't as busy! That alone took 6 months off the process.

On the other hand, about three years ago they decided to implement a new computer system and discovered that in 1998 Northworst Airlines hadn't removed a temporary 3 month Visa I'd had to get (long story, my brother passed away and I had to leave the US quickly), when they should have when I went home one Christmas. The new computer system decided to flag it up 10 years later that I'd overstayed my Visa in 1998! The first time they spotted it I spent over an hour being "interviewed" by an immigration officer.... when I asked how was I supposed to remember one tiny detail from 10 years ago I got a lecture about the importance of National Security etc, etc, so I'm afraid I shot back with (a very frustrated) "Well just how important can it be when it's taken you 10 years to even ask me about it?" Never, ever, under any circumstances argue with an immigration officer!! Trust me! I now get pulled into "the office" every single time I come back into Detroit. Last year when I came back from the UK I cleared immigration at Baltimore and took an internal flight back to Detroit just to avoid Detroit Immigration! My God, what a difference! The Officer in Baltimore was polite, he actually smiled at us, asked us no tricky questions and didn't see any thing flag up on his screen about my dodgy status as a security threat and welcomed us back to the States hoping we'd had a very pleasant vacation. I was so shocked at how nice he was I stood there and stared at him with my mouth open! My husband was digging me in the back telling me to get a move on before he changed his mind, lol.

As someone else pointed out though, we don't know what the immigration process is for folks wanting to take up UK residency.... and before I left England I'd suffered many times with local government bureaucracy in one form or another. I don't think anyone is immune to it.

BRICKBABE 2500 said...

Hello my fellow brits I can more than empathize with the immigration horror stories.
I am a 27 year old lass from leeds and I have run into every possible hurdle you can imagine when it comes to immigration.
I was brought to America by my parents at the tender age of 12 months old. I was raised here in the U.S. At the age of 10 years my parents seperated and my mother decided too return to England for moral support with myself and My american born little brother.
upon returning too our home country we quickly realized How bleeding god forsaken freezing it could be. Not to mention the less than enthusiastic welcome home from family that viewed you as a stranger.
Eventually my mother packed us all off to Hawaii, to reside with a person she had met through trans-continental correspondence.
yes acctual written letters instead of computer chat.....
Here's were the story gets complicated.
Now back in the U.S i AM A 15 YEAR OLD TERROR WITH REBELIOUS tendancys and a ferverant lack of respt for my mum. I leave hawaii to live with my father , he was married to an american and thus no longer illegal. At the age of 16 my father began petitioning for my immigration through sponsorship by his wife. He paid a British lawyer $2000 to complete this task. However immigration has been slow as mollasses for the past 12 years or more. When I received an appointment for INS interview I had turned 18 less then 4 days before interview. WELL @##$ ME RUNNING, I was now ineligable for sponsership beacuse of my adulthood.

I continued to live in California during my early teens always struggling beacause of my alien status. No drivers license, no form of decent legal employment and no patiants with federal bollocks.
Eventually my father once again attempted to aquire legality for me. Another $700 dollars and 3 years later I received another approval letter, which stated that homeland security was backloged and I would receive additional instructions for processing within 365 days.
I continued on with my young totally alien lifestyle and met a handsome police officer. This gentleman And I were married. On my wedding day as I dawned my lovely white gown I received my immigration approval interview. Sounnds like good news ay.. WELL it was exactly the opposite. The day I married my Californian born husband all immigration procedings from my past were null and void . Back too square 1 and now $2700 down the shitter with nothing to show for it.
Now I am currently going through procedings too receive my 10 year green card, but I filed the I-751 2 months late due to the economical strife of most recent months.
Sorry for the long story but its the truth..... All that bollocks to discover on my own that I was getting the shaft from previous immigration consultants. Any one with determination and half a brain can file their own petetions for half the price I was being charged. I took me 10 years to become so patiantly observant of the alien laws and forms HOWS THAT FOR {@#$%^^& UP}