Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh WOW, it's here at last!!!

I went to our mailbox at the lobby of our apartment complex yesterday to check and see if we had any new mail. Since I haven't checked the mailbox for quite a few days (really no point to do so these days, most of our bills and statements are online anyway), I expected it to be full of mailers, Chinese food delivery menus and all kinds of other junk. To my surprise, there was only one lone envelope inside the mailbox.
Just a plain looking envelope, addressed to me. It looked important though. I took a quick glace at the return address and I knew immediately who it was from. Boy, I was super stoked! After all this time of waiting, it's here at last!!! You cannot imagine how long and tedious the whole process was and how much money and time it took us to get to this point. This must have been one of the best plain white envelopes I have received in my life! :P
You must be thinking, what is this crazy woman rambling about here? Check this out! Here's the letter that was inside that white envelope! That's right, it's from the USCIS and it says that my application for a full fledged US Permanent Resident has been approved! You guys must be thinking...what are you talking about? You have been living in the US for quite some time now, aren't you already a US PR holder? Well, here's how it went down. When I first came to the US in 2002, I was on a Student Visa (F-1). Then, after Kevin proposed, I went on a Fiancee Visa (K-1). The process of getting a K-1 visa was really long, expensive and tedious. Tons of paperwork, background checks, biometrics, interviews...you name it, we had to do it :P That whole process took us almost a year. After getting the K-1 visa, we got married and we had to file for an Adjustment of Status (AOS). That was to convert my K-1 visa to a Conditional PR. Another round of paperwork, more money spent (attorney fees, application fees, biometric fees..etc) and more waiting. During that time, I also had to apply for an AP (allows me to travel, if not, I'll be stuck in US and if I leave, we would have to start all over again) and EAD (allows me to work legally). Again, more money spent and more waiting. At last, I got my Conditional PR. I would need to be on a Conditional PR for 2 years. Everybody who gets a PR via marriage will have to be on a 2 year conditional visa. This is for the USCIS to make sure that our marriage is legitimate and not a sham marriage. In March this year, the two years was up and we finally got to file for a full PR. The usual crazy load of paperwork, money spent (again!), biometrics and our long wait began again. God has been good though, cos we didn't have to go through any interview of sorts. From what we hear, those interviews can be quite brutal. So yeah, PTL we didn't have to go through all that.
Five months later, this small card is finally in my hands. My 10 year Permanent Resident card!! Expiry date: July 30th, 2020!! It's such a good feeling to know that we do not have to worry about dealing with the USCIS for the next 10 years! Actually, there is nothing much to worry about anymore. It's as easy as just filling up a form to renew the card after 10 years....so, never again will we have to go through all the immigration mambo jumbo! Yay! The USCIS also said that I will qualify to be a US citizen by April next year (if I choose to) but nahhh, I think I'm gonna hold on to my Malaysian citizenship for now and be contented being a US PR holder. So, PTL that my loooonnngggg immigration journey had ended and I do not have to worry about dealing with the USCIS again! Well, that is of course until the day (if and when) I choose to be a US Citizen, then another round of paperwork, exams and interviews will begin. But that of course is in the very distant future and a whole other story ;)

4 comments:

Dawn said...

Hey Charlene, congrats!!! Yes, I know the feeling when you receive the green card: worry free. Now I know what the new card looks like. Mine is expiring next February and guess how much it will cost to renew it??? A whooping $380!!! No wonder I'm mad at these illegal immigrants! :(

Charlene n Kevin said...

Wow $380 for a 10 yr? And yeah, I hear you loud and clear regarding the illegals :(

Grace Ch'ng said...

Congratulations Charlene !

Charlene n Kevin said...

Thank you!!! =)