What a flurry of activity and information the last two weeks have brought us! And the emotional roller coaster has just gotten that much more intense!!
A few days after getting our fiance visa approval letter in the mail, we talked to Nancy, our immigration contact at Rep. Vern Ehlers’ office, who informed us that the Adjustment of Status process (i.e. the process by which an immigrant obtains Lawful Permanent Resident status) had changed yet again. Now rather than being handled through regional consulates and requiring a 90-day wait from time of application, AOS for the entire country is being handled through the National Benefit Center and because of the backlog, can take up to a year. Because employment authorization (EAD) and freedom to leave and re-enter the country (parole) are typically tied to AOS, this means that after we get married it could take up to a year before James would be allowed to get a job or leave the country. Bad news. Nancy did give us some reason to hope that because of this change in the timing of AOS processing, the USCIS may make it easier to get EAD and Advanced Parole separately from AOS. We don’t have solid information on that yet. So whether or not James will be able to go to Greenbelt is still uncertain, as is when he’ll actually be able to work.
Just before James came over two weeks ago and as we were starting to panic because of USCIS’ speedy processing as indicated by their website, James looked up the list of documents that he will need to provide at his American Embassy interview (where he gets the actual visa). The only thing he didn’t already have was a Police Certificate listing all of his arrests and convictions. (That list will be pretty short…) He filed for that immediately on April 13. The information he was able to get at the time indicated that the certificate could take up to 40 days to arrive – which would put him at May 24. And he needed to have it in his possession before he could let the Embassy know that he was ready to schedule his interview. Not really what we wanted to hear.
And then things started happening dramatically more quickly than we could have ever hoped.
The letter from the Nebraska Service Center indicating that our application had been approved and forwarded to the National Visa Center was postmarked April 12 and received by us on April 16. We were told that the NVC processing usually takes 2-4 weeks to process. But on April 26 we got a letter from them (dated April 22) that they had received our information and would be forwarding it to the American Embassy in London. So now we were just waiting for the Police Certificate and word from the Embassy.
I brought James back to O’Hare on April 26 for his flight back to England. It was a really hard goodbye as we really didn’t know how long all this processing would take or when we would see each other again
And then I got a call at 6:45 EDT this morning. It was James telling me that he had gotten the packet from the Embassy this morning. Hooray! And then he called me back 10 minutes later and said, “Promise not to scream in my ear”. His mum had called while we were talking to let us know that the police certificate had arrived!! WOOOHOOO!!!
So now I’ve pulled together most of the documentation needed for the affidavit of support (they need to know that James won’t become a dependent of the state) and will send that off to James ASAP. And as soon as he has his interview date I guess I’ll be going to get a marriage license.
Things haven’t worked out exactly as we’d originally planned. But they are working out somehow. And I guess that’s the important part.