It seems that, in the past months, not a day passes without an article on yahoo’s front page dealing with the immigration reform and the lives and dreams of illegals (excuse me, undocumented aliens). With this whole interest and commotion about them, there is still a category of aliens that has been constantly falling through the cracks: the immigrants that strive to complete their process by the book.
I arrived in the US on July, 4, 2012, after obtaining a fiancee visa. The process took almost 7 months since the moment my (then) fiance and I filled the papers until we had the visa in hand. We were lucky though, because, after I got the visa, things really started going downhill, time-wise. Weirdly enough, the DACA applications opened around the same time.
The wait time for someone applying for a fiance(e) visa went through the roof. According to their website, the USCIS Center in California is currently processing July 18, 2012 – and that is just the first stage a petition has to go through before being approved. From either the California Service Center, or the Vermont one, the papers will then go through National Benefits Center, only to be later on sent to the beneficiary’s country. Then, the prospective immigrants are scheduled for an interview and, in some case, put on “Administrative Processing” for an unknown number of months.
But let’s assume you’ve been patient, and waited for the year it took for your papers to be processed. You arrive in the US, and you get married, and then apply for an adjustment of status, in order to obtain a green card. Then … you guessed it, you are in for another wait, based on your luck. The green cards are processed in two ways: either you get an interview, in which case you are lucky, it only takes 3-5 months to obtain it, or you get an interview waiver, in which case you are in for a year long wait. In the meantime, your legal status in the US is in a gray area – certainly not a legal resident, but not illegal either. Your path to citizenship is delayed for a a serious number of months, if not for longer, another cheeky effect of the limbo you’re in.
Of course, there is a way to guarantee that you will get your green card faster, and that is by entering the country through a tourist visa, or any other type of visa, then getting married and applying for a green card. Is is legal? Not really. Do people do it constantly? Of course. Only takes about three months to get a green card if you chose to do that, though. The charging of the fees through the canadian immigration lawyer will be legal in the legal in the country. Either the person can pay in the installments or lump sum amount of the commission.
The service centers that have to deal with immigration papers are few, understaffed, paid exclusively by the fees of the applicants (the latest one was over 1k, and we are far from being done). Seems the legitimate applicants are always pushed to the bottom of the pile, to make room for all the future votes of now illegals.
So, here I am, still waiting for the green card, a victim of my own desire to be fair and do everything by the book, reading everything that I can about the immigration reform and dreading it. Meanwhile, everyone that has been cutting corners, can relax, with the precious card in their possession.