Today was the day that James had his Adjustment of Status interview in Detroit (the adjustment being to Legal Permanent Resident). I am happy to report that it all went swimmingly, and eleven months after marrying me (and just over ten months after submitting the application), James is now the possessor of a provisional green card.
We did lots and lots of preparation for this. We assembled all of the paperwork that they said to bring and then some, plus duplicates of everything. My main cause for worry going into it was that I have somehow misplaced the copies of my federal tax returns from 2002 and 2003 – documents that they included in the list of ‘what you should bring’. We were hoping that the fact that we had already submitted them would be sufficient. In the end it was.
Since our appointment was set for 8:00 a.m. in downtown Detroit, we decided to stay overnight in Detroit rather than getting up at 4:00 in the morning to drive there. This worked out well especially since it appeared that the location of the interview was less than two miles from our hotel. As it turned out, we had the wrong location. Note to anyone who is going to Detroit for an interview with Citizenship and Immigration Services: 333 Eliot is NOT the same as 333 Mount Elliott. They are in two completely different parts of the city. We accidentally walked to the first – arriving there promptly at 8:00 to discover that there wasn’t a 333 Eliot. There was in the general vicinity a Hospice of Michigan branch and outside of it was a lovely gentleman who was clearly accustomed to redirecting lost souls who were looking for the Immigration Office. Seeing my distress, he very kindly ushered us inside and asked the receptionist to call us a cab. The cab arrived not soon after and ferried us to 333 Mt. Elliott, getting us there by about 8:15 a.m.
Here’s another tip about going into Federal Buildings: they don’t let you take camera phones inside. Since James had his, we didn’t have a car to put it in, and security guard was not being very helpful about the situation, James walked outside to find a place to store it. Thinking that it might not be a great idea to have the outer security guard spot him hiding a small electronic device outside a federal building, he asked what he should do with it, and they suggested bringing it to a shop across the street and asking if they would hold onto it for him. James reports that the shop owner must do this a lot because he took one look at James’ phone and put it in a drawer.
Since we arrived at the Immigration Office late, we were afraid that we might have a long wait, but in fact it was only about 20-25 minutes of tense anticipation before we heard the name “James Stewart” called out. I had another moment of panic when I saw the rather gruff looking man who had called for us, but it turned out that friendly immigration officer Steve was just dealing with a little morning grogginess as we were his first interview of the day. He walked us back to his cubicle (which immediately reminded me of Bob’s cubicle in The Incredibles – big guy in a tiny, cramped space), sat us down, and I pulled out our piles of well-ordered, well-labeled documents. As it turned out, the only things he ever asked for were James’ passport, state ID, social security card, and employment authorization card. None of the other documents that we had so painstakingly assembled! Sheesh.
Steve had in front of him a thick file folder containing all of the forms and supporting evidence that we had previously submitted. He flipped through that a bit, made notes and checked boxes on some forms, looked through all my federal tax returns (the ones I had freaked out about not being able to find) and nodded approvingly, re-asked James all the questions about whether or not he planned to engage in polygamy, illicit drug sales, or overthrowing the government and stuff like that. After not more than 15-20 minutes of being in Steve’s cubicle, James had his stamp in his passport and strict instructions to remember to file for his permanent green card 90 days before the provisional one expires (which happens on April 18, 2007).
We walked out looking at each other with both great relief and more than a little disbelief. Was it really that easy?? Apparently it was. We walked back to our hotel, got our car, and took the tunnel to Canada to take James’ new stamp for a little test drive. They let us in and even told us where to find some good restaurants for lunch. We ended up at a lovely little cafe called Chanoso’s and had a very nice celebratory lunch. We also observed that Windsor (at least the part we saw of it) is much nicer than downtown Detroit. (Side story: as we were pulling out of the parking garage in Windsor, the attendant exclaimed, “We have a new pope!” She had a little TV on in her booth and saw the white smoke. That’s how we found out about the election of Pope Benedict XVI.)
We are now home, exhausted and relieved to have this part of the process completed. And very much looking forward to arriving in the UK on May 25!