Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Our first New Year's Celebration together...

Today as Anna and I get ready to usher in the new year we are able to look back on the last year to see what changes it has brought to both our lives.

2013 was a big year for us. At the beginning of the year our future was still filled with uncertainty. On January 1st of 2013, it had already been almost 2 months since we originally filed our petition with the USCIS for our K-1(Fiance) Visa and we were still waiting for a response that did not come until late April only after some pressure from Senator Risch' Office. Up until that moment, time seemed to drag slowly by for Anna and I. After that, things moved quickly for us.

Shortly after our petition was approved, our documents were transferred to the NVC (National Visa Center) for "processing" where it was there for almost a month before it was forwarded to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. While we waited, Anna sold various assets including a house that she had purchased with her late husband as well as other items that she would no longer be needing.

Finally, Anna had her interview at the Embassy in Moscow on July 1st. After that life became a whirlwind for both of us. I spent the next couple of weeks making flight reservations for her and the children while she packed her bags and gave her 2 week notice with her employer as well as tying up any other loose ends.

On July 21st at 10:15 AM Moscow time, Anna and the children said goodbye to Russia as they boarded the plane and headed to America. After a long flight and a brief layover in New York, they arrived in Seattle at 10:15 PM where I met them and brought them to their new home. On September 20th Anna and I were married and the rest is as they say "history".

Now Anna and I look forward to celebrating our first New Year's together. In fact today I will be able to fulfill a promise I made on New Year's Eve last year to Anna. I told her this time last year, "I promise, it will be the last New Year's Eve, you and I are going to celebrate separately."

The New Year celebration has always been a huge event in Russia. In fact the Russian New Year celebration lasts for 10 full days. Anna has spent literally weeks decorating the house for the occasion and I must say she has done an amazing job. Here are a few pictures to show some of the decorating she has done to prepare for the New Year. Keep in mind the window decorations were all printed on the computer and Anna cut each one out and glued them to the window. They look awesome!

The pictures do not do it justice. She has truly done an amazing job.  Needless to say, we are both looking forward to celebrating the New Year together. 

On behalf of Anna, I and our children, we want to wish you all a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Finally some News...

It has been over a month since we submitted the paperwork in response to the "Request for Evidence" from the USCIS and we had not heard anything within that length of time. But it appears the ball may be finally rolling again in our case.
Yesterday we were informed that the status had changed in our case. It changed from "Under Review" to "Testing and Interview" status. It seems that they found my income was sufficient after all and now they are moving it to the next level.
Here is the information we received:
 Testing and Interview 
Your I485, APPLICATION TO REGISTER PERMANENT RESIDENCE OR TO ADJUST STATUS is now ready for interview scheduling. When scheduling is complete, you will receive a notice with a time and place for your interview. If you have not received the notice within 30 days of the date the notice is mailed, please call customer service at 1-800-375-5283 for further assistance. Please check our website at www.uscis.gov for further updates on your case. If you move, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address.
If your case status indicates that you are currently in this step, you have either been scheduled for an interview or are in line to be scheduled for an interview. The amount of time your application will remain in this step will vary by office and is largely determined by the number of cases ahead of yours. The interview notice will have specifics about time, location and anything you will need to bring to your interview. If your application remains pending beyond our normal processing times (as shown below) please contact our national customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.
Please note that not every application/applicant will require an interview. In some instances, an interview is required by regulation and others an interview is requested because USCIS has determined that this is the most efficient means to determine eligibility. For a naturalization application the interview will include your taking the required English and/or Civics tests (unless exempt or waived).
This was good news and finally we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Now all we need to do is wait for the paperwork to arrive in the mail so we can prepare for the interview. Hopefully soon she will have her interview and she can finally get her work permit. She is definitely getting restless around the house all day long.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Taking it to the next level...

Anna and I have been trying to decide what we should do next.

It has been nearly 2 years since I began writing our story on this blog and Over that period of time I have created over 100 blog entries describing the events surrounding our lives. I have shared our hopes and our dreams with our readers and I even shared the fulfillment of many of them on this blog. In my opinion this blog has been a success.

Anna and I both agree that our blog has been a good start, but we are now wondering what we should do next. I am sure I could continue to write "Same ****, different day" blog entries and bore our readers to death or we can try bring it to a new level and take it in a new direction.

After a lot of discussion We both feel that the next logical step should be to write and publish a book. We have even received numerous requests from our readers indicating their interest in a book, so I am certain that there is a demand for it. But as many of you are already aware, I am not a very good writer.  My only writing experience has been in the writing of this blog and it leaves a lot to be desired. If we had to depend on my writing skills for our next meal, we would have starved to death many moons ago ;).

But on a serious note, I am certain that between this blog, our documentary and our 3800 pages of correspondence(Anna and I have over 3,800 pages of written correspondence between us from the time we met until now), we definitely have enough material for a book. But even though we both feel that we have enough material to write the book, neither of us feels comfortable trying to write it ourselves, not to mention the fact we don't have the time either. We are both certain that it would be a better idea to find someone that has a little more literary experience than us to help us with this project.

Needless to say, we are looking for someone who would be interested in helping us write our book. It would be nice if we could have Nicholas Sparks write our story. It is definitely in his genre but unfortunately I am sure it would be easier for me to gain audience from the President of the United States than it would be for me to get the attention of someone like Nicholas Sparks.

Instead I will send the request out to the world seeking anyone who may be interested in working with us on this new book. I cannot make any promises regarding monetary compensation at this time but I am certain the investment in time will pay off in the end.

If you are interested in working with us or you know someone who may be interested, please contact us using our contact form or you can email us directly at annabryan1955@gmail.com. You can also feel free to leave a comment if you have any suggestions or questions.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Some Good News and Some Bad News...

I have some good news and some bad news. I guess I will start with the bad news.
The bad news is, we are still waiting on the USCIS to process our application and we have no idea how long it will take for them to approve or disapprove our application.
The good news is that Anna finally received a package from Russia that we had been waiting on for nearly 2 months.
Her friend Larisa mailed the package on October 12 and we were able to track the package in the beginning but was unable to track it beyond the postal facility in Moscow. For over a month and a half the US Postal Service indicated that it was still in Moscow preparing for shipment. I went as far as contacting the US Postal Service and spent nearly 30 minutes on hold only to hear that it was still in the hands of the Russian Postal Service. Anna received a similar response from the Russian Postal Service. They indicated to Anna that it had been transferred to the U.S. Postal Service. The only thing these government agencies could do was point their fingers at each other. In essence the US Postal Service said "It's Russia's Fault" while the Russian Postal Service said "It's America's Fault".
Needless to say, Anna and I had nearly given up hope in ever receiving the package. But finally I was able to check the status on the USPS.gov website and it indicated that the package had been moved from the processing center in Moscow and was transferred directly to the local processing center in Meridian. Literally this happened overnight. One day I checked and it was still in Moscow and the next morning I check and it is in Meridian. We don't know how it happened but by some miracle it was transferred overnight.
No matter how it happened, Anna and I were relieved to finally get the package.
We can only hope the USCIS will work as "efficiently" as the US Postal Service.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Living in America...

It has been about 4 and a half months since Anna arrived in America on her 90 day K-1 Fiance Visa. Her visa expired on October 20th thus removing her legal status at that time. Given her current status she would be considered to be an illegal alien or undocumented citizen until she is issued a Green Card.

We are legally married now and we filed the required paperwork with the USCIS (US Department of Homeland Security) within the required amount of time but we are still at the mercy of the government while we wait for the USCIS to approve her Green Card. Obviously without a green card she has no legal residence in the United States.

But while we wait, life goes on. The children are attending school every day. In fact they state the "Pledge of Allegiance" first thing every morning in school. Both of them are doing very well in school and we are receiving good reports from both their teachers.

Meanwhile, Ivan celebrated his 9th birthday here and Anna made him a very nice cake for his birthday. It was delicious.

The children also had their first Halloween experience in America. I took the children trick-or-treating on Halloween and they had a wonderful time and came home with a mountain of candy.

We also had a wonderful dinner with my family on Thanksgiving, although the language barrier still makes it difficult for Anna to communicate with my family. Even though Anna is attending English classes twice a week, Anna and I still rely strongly on Google Translator to communicate.

So while we continue to wait for the approval for Green Cards for Anna and the children, Anna and the children are assimilating well to life in America.