Hi everyone, I’m keeping good on my promise to update my blog at least once a month. If possible, I would appreciate if my readers could subscribe to my blog (Right hand column of website). I’m still shy about sharing my post updates with friends, family, social media channels so I need all the help I can get.
I’ve talked A LOT about Nelli’s visa woes on the blog here, here, here, and here. Most of the posts are lamenting the time Nelli had to go back to India until his visa was renewed and one post was about me taking my first trip to India to get Nelli’s visa on his passport. I thought that was the end of our visa woes but I was wrong. I’m happy to announce that after 5 months on February 10th, 2018 – Nelli became a permanent resident aka received the GREEN CARD.
This post will detail the 5 months that led up to this since Nelli wanted to keep the process relatively mum to not jinx anything. We officially submitted all the paperwork on October 11, 2017 – I remember that day because it was my 30th birthday. The main application is I-130 – which allows an immigrant who is married to a U.S. citizen to apply for permanent residency and ultimately become a citizen themselves. We officially married on October 28, 2016 to jumpstart this application because Nelli wanted more flexibility in job prospects. Nelli came to the United States on a Student (F1) visa in 2004 to attend Grad school in Minnesota. He subsequently got an H1B visa in 2007 which means his immigrant status is tied to his employer. Our official marriage date is a little hard to remember because we consider our anniversary, the day of our wedding – June 24th, 2017. A lot of dates to keep track of which sort of tripped me up later in the interview process.
Why did we submit the paperwork a year later after we got married? Honestly, I think we could have submitted it way earlier but we got wrapped up in the wedding planning process. After the honeymoon in July, I didn’t see much progress – It was a big task for us because we decided not to hire a lawyer. A lot of factors went into this decision but ultimately the cost and Nelli’s expertise led us down this path. I would consider Nelli an expert on the visa process, a lot of friends and family consult him regarding their own visa woes. In addition, the lawyer cost upwards of $6K, an amount I really wasn’t willing to pay in addition to the application costs – we did do a one hour paid consultation ($200) initially with the lawyer from “Murthy.com”.
Once we decided we were going to do this on our own, I did what I do best, and treated the green card process as a project – I set up tasks, responsible individuals, timelines, and due dates. I saw a lot of progress after that and after two months we were able to submit the paperwork. The associated fees with the submission was $1760 – I had no idea that there was a cost associated with visa paperwork, it’s HUGE! Here’s all what we submitted:
- G-1145 E Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
- I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
- 1-130A Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary
- I-864 Affidavit of Support
- I-485 Application to Adjust Status
- I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
- I-731 Application for Travel Document
- I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
- I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
- Form 797 Approval Notice
- Personal docs (Birth Certificate, Passport, passport photos, employment verification, W2s, pay stubs, driver’s license)
- Evidence of Marriage
- Marriage License
- Rental Lease
- Joint Tax Returns
- Joint Bank Accounts
- Joint Life Insurance Policy
- Joint Cell Phone Account
- Joint Auto Insurance Policy
After the submission, we entered the excruciating waiting period. On December 2, 2017, we got one letter which directed Nelli to get a medical exam completed. Subsequently we got a letter on January 10, 2018 detailing our interview date and time. Once we got our interview date- February 2, 2018, we started preparing the documents. Something that I would have done in hindsight is have a hardcopy of our submission – we ended up gathering and printing all the evidence again. The interviewer ended up not looking at the paperwork and was more interested in the pictures and asking questions – here’s the questions we were asked:
- Where did you guys meet?
- Do you guys have siblings?
- When did you guys get married? Why did you wait so long?
- Have you been to India? When? Do you guys have pictures? Can I have one?
- Have you met each other’s parents? When? Where?
- Do you have wedding pictures? Can I have one?
In addition to the paperwork, we had pictures detailing my India trips and the wedding – these were invaluable. One thing I could have done better is remember the dates (month and year) associated with our travels. The interviewer specifically asked WHEN I met his parents and WHEN I went to India – these events happened years ago and I didn’t remember the specifics so I guessed – i double checked after the interview and was off! whoops! Other than that, the interview went well over the course of 30 minutes – she even commented on how handsome my dad looked in our wedding photos (GAG!). A week later, on February 9, 2018, Nelli was officially notified that our application was approved.
Throughout this entire process, my heart goes out to anybody struggling with their immigration status in the United States especially in light of recent events and the current government’s stance. I’ve learned that the visa process is long, complicated, expensive, and has a lot of restrictions. The process can be considered “Extreme Vetting”. Not sure how can they make this more extreme.
Our permanent visa process was relatively smooth and short but before that it was STRESSFUL with Nelli going back to India, the hoops we had to jump through when we traveled, and not having any flexibility regarding your career.
Is anybody currently going through this process or will be? I understand now the privilege a United States citizenship has and we should definitely make it easier and open to anyone who wants to come to America.