Saturday, October 26, 2013

Our Story is told in London...

Alan Dein sent me a message today informing me that our documentary was broadcast in London at 10:30 AM this morning. I was not able to listen to it as it was broadcast in London because it would have been 3:30 AM here in Idaho. But fortunately, it was released on podcast immediately after it was broadcast in London so Anna and I were able to listen to it after we woke up this morning.

I think both Alan and his producer, Laurence did an excellent job producing the show and I think it turned out even better than I expected. Both Anna and I enjoyed listening to it and we hope you will enjoy listening to it as well.

You can listen to it here on our blog or you can listen to it here on the Don't Log Off archive in an episode titled, "Found in Translation". You can also hear my previous conversations with Alan in other episodes as well. One is titled "Escape" and the other is titled "Hopes and Dreams".

We hope you enjoy the show.

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Look for our novel soon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

USCIS Acceptance Confirmation

Finally, almost two weeks after I submitted our paperwork, I received an email notification that the USCIS received our documents and sent them to the National Benefits Center for processing. Here is a copy of the email I received.
USCIS Acceptance Confirmation
Your case has been accepted and routed to the USCIS National Benefits Center for processing. Within 7-10 days by standard mail you will receive your official Receipt Notice (Form I-797) with your Receipt Number *************. With the official Receipt Notice (Form I-797) you may visit where you can check the status of your case using My Case Status. We suggest you wait until you have received your Form I-797 before checking My Case Status.
This confirmation provides notification of the date USCIS received your case.  This notice does NOT grant any immigration status or benefit. You MAY NOT present this notice as evidence that you have been granted any immigration status or benefit. Further, this notice does NOT constitute evidence that your case remains pending with USCIS. The current status of your case must be verified with USCIS.
Anna and I were very relieved when we received the message. Now at least we know our good friends at the USCIS are moving forward with our paperwork. Hopefully it won't take them as long to process this paperwork as it took the last time. I would prefer that I don't have to contact my Senator again.

I was able to sign into the USCIS and get a little more information regarding the process. I entered our receipt number and I was immediately greeted with an all too familiar image. We saw this same image with the Initial Review status for almost 6 months last time.

It gave us a little more information about the process.

On October 15, 2013, we received this I485 APPLICATION TO REGISTER PERMANENT RESIDENCE OR TO ADJUST STATUS, and mailed you a notice describing how we will process your case. Please follow any instructions on this notice. You will be notified by mail when a decision is made, or if the office needs something from you. If you move while this case is pending, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or contact our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.
During this step, USCIS initiates the background checks of the applicant/petitioner and identifies issues that may need to be addressed either during an interview or by asking the applicant/petitioner to submit additional information or documentation. USCIS reviews the applicant's/petitioner's criminal history, determines if there are national security concerns that need to be addressed, and reviews the application/petition for fraud indicators.
If you have filed an I-485, I-589, I-751, N-400, I-90, I-821, I-131 or I-765, you can expect to receive an appointment notice to appear at an Application Support Center to have your fingerprints and/or photographs taken. The timing of your appointment is determined by the number of applicants ahead of you that also need a biometric appointment. We try to schedule biometric appointments as quickly as possible and in most cases you will receive your appointment notice within 30 days of submitting your application. We will send your appointment notice approximately 14 days ahead of your scheduled appointment. It is important that you keep this appointment. If absolutely necessary, you can request that your appointment be rescheduled however, please be aware that rescheduling may delay the processing of your application. Please follow the instructions on your appointment notice if you need to reschedule. Occasionally, you may receive an appointment notice to appear at an Application Support Center to have your fingerprints taken when you have filed a form other than those listed above. In these situations, you may receive your appointment notice more than 30 days after submitting your application or petition.
According to the information, we should be contacted within 30 days to notify us of Anna's appointment to get fingerprinted. It does not give us an estimated time-frame for obtaining the actual green cards, but according to various resources on the internet it may take between 3 months to one year to get the green cards.

Let's hope it doesn't take too long to get them because Anna is getting bored sitting around the house and she has indicated she would like to find a job. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Stay Tuned and Don't Log Off...

While we continue to wait for our documentary to be broadcast in London, the new series of Don't Log Off has started. Alan Dein sent me a message on Friday to inform me that the new season of Don't Log off was to begin on Saturday, October 19. He told me that our documentary is on the schedule to air in London on Saturday, October 26 at 10:30 AM London Time. That will be at 3:30 AM our time. It will be titled "Found in Translation". You can find it on the schedule for BBC4 Radio here
After it is aired in London it will be available to listen to on the podcast for Don't Log off here
In the meantime, Alan released the latest episode of Don't Log Off titled "Escape" and it is available on podcast on the website. It also features a good portion of our story. Anna and I listened to it this morning and we enjoyed listening to it. We hope you enjoy listening to it also.
We are looking forward to hearing the full documentary on Saturday, October 26. Who knows, maybe Anna and I will stay up all night to listen to it as it is streamed live in London. If not, we will certainly hear it as soon as it is available on podcast. We will certainly let everyone know when it is available.
In other news, Anna is almost done with her first blog entry. She has spent many hours writing about her trip from Russia to America. We hope it will be done soon. When it is done you will be able to read it here. It will be written in Russian though but you will be able to translate it using the Google translator tool on our website. I have considered writing an English version but it will take a lot of time and a lot will be Lost in Translation I am sure. So we have decided to leave it as is.
I will let everyone know when it is available and ready to read.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Filing for the Green Cards...

Today Anna and I submitted the paperwork to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security aka USCIS(United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for her "Adjustment of Status"(Green Card).
We had to fill out the form I-145, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Not only did we have to fill one out for her, we also had to fill separate forms for the children.
Along with the I-485, we had to file a form G-325A Biographical form for Anna and I had to submit Form I-130 Affidavit of Support indicating that I will provide financial support for Anna and the children, as if I would not support my wife and children otherwise.
We also had to include in the package a certified copy of our marriage certificate, copies of their passport/visas, their birth certificates, immunization records and 2 passport style photos for each of them along with various other papers required to file.
Along with a mountain of paperwork we are required to include a filing fee for each application. The filing fee for the initial I-145 application is $985.00. Fortunately the government is generous allowing us to pay only $685.00 each for the other applications for the children since we are filing them at the same time. But that is not all of the costs we will incur. We also need to include an $85.00 "biometric" fee which is required for anyone between the ages of 14 and 78. In total it will cost us $2340.00 to submit all three applications.

This will buy us two years of legal status for all of them. I cannot even begin to estimate what it will cost us in two years for the next step in the process. It is not cheap and it is no wonder that many people cannot afford to maintain their legal status and become "illegal aliens" or "undocumented immigrants". The average person can't afford it. In fact we could not afford it if it had not been for the fact that Anna was able to sell some things before leaving Russia and saving her money. She was able to save just enough to cover the filing fees for their green cards.
I only hope the Government shutdown does not affect our application. According to one source the USCIS should not be affected because it is funded through the fees it collects but it may be affected by other agencies that may be closed during the government shutdown.
"USCIS is the main body that handles petitions and applications filed for most immigration cases, accepting filing fees for the majority of these filings.  USCIS can continue to run because it is funded by these fees.  However, USCIS also relies on duties carried out by other parts of the DHS and on other agencies and bodies outside of DHS.  This means that some of the work USCIS does can be slowed down or even stopped because another agency is not running or has reduced capacity."
Hopefully we will receive their Green Cards because Anna is ready to find a job so she can get out of the house. She is getting bored sitting at home all day while I am at work and the kids are in school.