Guide to being an Alien
I honestly don’t even know where to start with this! One thing I will say from the outset is that I can only comment on my own process. I’m not going to talk too in-depth about this because it’s a) boring and b) complex.
Ray and I decided fairly early on in our relationship that we would be settling in the USA. The main reason for this is that Ray has a tertiary qualification / career in law and I can take my admin skillz basically anywhere.
We got the process started last year. In very basic terms, there are three phases. The USCIS (United States Customs & Immigration Service) stage, the NVC (National Visa Centre) stage and the Embassy/Consulate stage.
The USCIS stage involves lodging a petition. The “petitioner” is my now-husband, Ray, and it involves some demographic information on me and a few bits and pieces of information on our relationship to prove that we are real and that we exist (we submitted photos, a shared bank account, stat decs from loved ones and lots of travel itineraries). That gets sent off and when they acknowledge receipt, you get a “Notice of Action 1” (NOA1). We were extremely lucky in this situation, because we’re both living out of the country there appears to be some kind of expedite process so we were only at USCIS for a few days before we got NOA2 (basically their approval of the petition). They then send the package off to the NVC.
The NVC stage is where things get tricky. The first thing you have to do (after you wait to get your case number from NVC) is submit a form saying who can be contacted and how (DS-261) for updates on the process. Naturally we just gave both our emails and that seems to have worked pretty well. Then you wait for your AOS (Affidavit of Support) bill to become available to pay in the online portal. Once that’s been paid, you get a receipt and a cover letter to send with your AOS package. This package is a doozy. Because Ray hasn’t been working in the USA, we asked his dad to be a joint sponsor. He agreed, for which we are very grateful. So we had to get a lot of financials (tax returns / transcripts + associated schedules, employment details etc) for both Ray and his dad, as well as Ray’s mum because she is a household member of the joint sponsor. It was a hell of a task. The other really complex thing we had to do was prove Ray’s domicile in the USA. Pretty hard when he is not currently living there! But we are lucky, in that we will be staying with his parents for the first little while so they wrote us a letter. We also copied his drivers licence, bank statements with his US address etc because that’s all the kind of stuff they want to see. We sent that off to be assessed and waited for the next step.
The IV (Immigrant Visa) bill comes up for payment on the online portal then it’s time to do the “big form” – the DS-260. It’s a huge form that the beneficiary (me) fills out regarding their entire life so far. Employment details, residences since the age of 16 years, parents details, a HEAP of security questions about whether I had committed or intended to commit genocide etc. Anyway, once that was done it spat out another cover sheet and I sent our marriage certificate, birth certificate, police certificate (showing that I have no court outcomes), passport photos and demographics page… etc. After that package gets scanned in, we wait. 60 days. It takes 60 days for them to look at each package of documents, and that countdown starts from the date the last package is scanned in, not the first. Sigh.
At the end of our first set of 60 days, we got the dreaded “checklist”. Basically, we had missed one field and not included one document that we didn’t know we had to include. Anyway, no sense going on about it. We had to resubmit the documents, and send it in again. And wait another 60 days. That brings us up to today. We’re currently at day 47. Apparently, day 54 is the sweet spot at the moment so we are hoping to have a “case complete” early next week. Case complete indicates that we are DONE with the NVC, and they send our package of documents on to the final stage.
The next stage is conducted from my “local” US Consulate. This happens to be in Sydney for me, which is veeery far away. I have to take two planes to get there. Basically they allocate you an interview date and before that date you have to get a medical to make sure you are healthy and immunised. At the interview, the consular official asks a lot of questions about your relationship. I’m feeling confident about this part because Ray and I are solid. We fell in love IRL, though we knew each other internetly first, and we’ve now lived together for nearly a year and we have a well documented relationship. All that stuff is easy. So really we’re at the end of the hardest part here.
Unfortunately, Ray has to go home at the end of his 12 month Australian visa. It’s up on the 3rd of March so we booked his flights yesterday. It broke my heart a little bit. But I also felt an edge of excitement. I’m moving to America! Soon, I’ll be the one booking those flights! What a mind trip. It’s really cold in New England, where we’ll be living. It’s so hot here that it’s hard to imagine what it’ll be like to be truly cold!
Ok I did the post I’ve been putting off for ages, so now it’s back to the fun stuff. My lovely friend Sophie asked if I could do a few posts that I think I can make a good go of; one of which is a brush post and a makeup removal /oil cleansing post. The latter might have to wait until I’ve trialled the Ren cleansing balm I want to try soon but brushes I can definitely manage. Stay tuned, dear readers!