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Thursday, March 26, 2015

We Regret to Inform You...

The process of getting a US Immigration Visa via

Oh man. Where do I even begin?

The last time we caught up I had just received my immigration interview date at the US Embassy in Montreal. Somehow six weeks have passed since then where not once did I manage to open up Blogger and finish a complete and coherent post, but we’re going to gloss right on over that and pretend that I’ve been here all along, okay?

The past week in particular has been a busy one. I flew back from Tennessee, picked up my medical results in Toronto (turns out that yes I’m immune to the chickenpox), celebrated my 28th birthday, nursed a wicked hangover that could only be cured by immense amounts of sleep and junk food, took a six hour solo road trip to Montreal and Ottawa (where I am now), and most heartbreakingly, received a denial of my immigration visa application. 

On Monday morning I found myself awake 90 minutes before my alarm as the anxiety knots in my stomach could no longer be ignored. I arrived a whole hour early for my appointment (a definite first for me!) which turned out to be fortunate because just to get through security at the front door took 20 minutes. No cell phones, cameras, MP3s, remote keychains for your car, purses larger than 10x12”, food or drinks... the list of prohibited items went on and on. 

After an excruciatingly long two hours past my designated appointment time (!!?!), I finally heard my number called over the loudspeaker and made my way to the back of the room for my interview. It was surprising how informal it seemed to just walk up to window eight and stand in front of the pane half-shouting my answers to the consulate officer on the other side. 

The officer double checked some of my documents and asked me a few simple questions about my address, my employment, how I met my husband, and what he did for a living. 

“So is your husband still working at the job listed here?” she asked.

“Yes, he is,” I replied.

“Okay, I’ll just need you to prove that. Do you have any of his pay stubs from this month?”

“Um… no. However, I do have originals of the ones we submitted with our application online and a confirmation letter from his employer,” I offered.

“Well, those are from 2014 so they’re outdated now.”

“And whose effing fault is it that my application has been sitting around for six months and the documents are now outdated?!” I wanted to snarkily reply. Instead I simply looked at her, hoping that the message would be conveyed through the subtle raising of my eyebrow. 

“Just a minute please,” she said as she walked away from the desk.

My heart started to sink. This wasn’t going the way I hoped. Why didn’t they just tell me I specifically needed to bring my husband's latest pay stubs to my interview? Why didn’t she want to see all the adorable wedding and travel photos I’d brought along? Why didn’t she care about the emails and itineraries and records proving the longevity of our relationship? 

As always, it comes down to money.

Because M is considered new in his job and had been a full-time student for the previous three years, the officer explained that they needed to prove that he was still making the wage he declared and that I wasn’t likely to become a public charge. She was kind about it, and said I could email her more pay stubs instead of going through the time-consuming courier system or submit a new joint sponsor application altogether, but for the time being my visa was currently denied.

I felt the blood start pounding in my head. What – denied? Wait – not denied? I can still submit documents? Okay, this isn’t too bad, I can send them by this afternoon! I could send them right now! Oh wait, no cell phones or computers... okay this afternoon it is.

She thrust some papers my way and out the door I went. This isn’t that bad, this isn’t that bad, I kept chanting to myself.

Once I sat down in my car, though, and actually had some time to read through the documents she handed me, I felt the tears start to well up. 

US immigrant visa green card rejection letter

There was no doubt about it – my visa had been refused. 

I had some time to kill in downtown Montreal so I went browsing at Topshop, but even 80% markdowns couldn’t cheer my spirit. I left empty-handed and heavy-hearted.

As soon as I could get back to my computer I emailed the pay stubs but, as fate would have it, could anything that day just go my way? (The answer is no.) 

A new notification beeped: Email from postmaster. Undeliverable.

I double, triple, quadruple checked the email address – what do you mean undeliverable? I was 100% inputting the correct information. What kind of embassy has typos in their rejection letters? (Clearly they need to hire me for some editing services.) I was two minutes away from simultaneously pulling out my hair and crying all over my friend’s couch. 

I combed through the documents the officer gave me and in the tiniest font in the tiniest corner on the tiniest page (okay you get the idea) I found a discrepancy between the address she’d highlighted for me to use and the one that was printed there. 

Success! The email went through. A courtesy reply came in a minute later. Everything had been received.

So now there’s nothing to do but wait. Once again, everything is out of my hands. Do you know how infuriating that feels, knowing there’s nothing for me to do on my end to help things along? My whole future is in the hands of a consular officer and the only thing I can do is hope that she doesn’t stamp red denials all over my heart.

You’d think that I would’ve heard back from now considering all of this happened four days ago, but the officer warned me it could take an additional two to eight weeks before I receive my visa. In the meantime, she’s holding onto my passport to expedite the process, which I hope is a good thing but feels disconcerting nonetheless. 

So there you have it. Another chapter, certainly not the last, in my seemingly neverending immigration story that's been dragging on for almost 15 months. I figured I would take advantage of my time in the area and visit Ottawa, the city where I used to live, while I’m in this part of Canada. I’m sitting in the cutest industrial-meets-modern-style coffee shop and finally catching up on the online world. 

Don’t worry friends, I’m back! 

(You were worrying, right? Please say yes. My ego needs a boost right now.)
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