Friday, February 28, 2014

And The waiting continues...

Today, I checked the status of our application with the USCIS and once again I was disappointed with the "Request For Evidence" status that was indicated.

According to the United States Postal Service, the USCIS(aka. Department of Homeland Security) was delivered almost a week ago but unfortunately the USCIS website still indicates the "Request for Evidence" status.

This is what it reads:
On February 7, 2014, we mailed a notice requesting initial evidence in this case. Please follow the instructions on the notice to submit the evidence requested. Meanwhile, processing of this case is on hold until we either receive the evidence or the opportunity to submit it expires. Once you submit the evidence requested and a decision is made, you will be notified by mail. 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 call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.

A request for evidence is made when an application/petition is lacking required documentation/evidence (initial evidence) or the officer needs more documentation/evidence (additional evidence) to determine an applicant's eligibility for the benefit sought. We may send you a request for evidence at any stage of our review. The request will indicate what evidence or information is needed for us to fully evaluate your application or petition. The notice will explain where to send the evidence and will give the deadline for your response. Your application or petition will be held in suspense during that time. If you receive a request for evidence and have questions about what you need to submit, you may call our National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
I have to admit it is frustrating to say the least. It has been nearly 4 months since they received our application along with the $2340.00 fee they charged us for this "service". I don't know why it needs to take so much time. Perhaps the person who is supposed to be reviewing the document is on vacation or maybe they need to seek the advice of a supervisor to proceed. Either our documents are not sufficient and they need more information or they are just sitting on the documents waiting for their next paycheck. I have no idea. All I know is that our documents have been received and someone should be reviewing them now.

Needless to say our lives continue to be on hold until these government bureaucrats decide to approve/disapprove our application. In the mean time, I am working on teaching Anna how to drive a car and Anna is continuing to take English classes with the hopes that soon she will get her green card. Then finally she can get a drivers license and find a job. I can't even begin to say how frustrated she is staying inside the house all day while I go to work and the children go to school.

Now the weekend has arrived and we need to wait two more days for anything to happen. Hopefully we get good news next week but I won't hold my breath because it seems to me that the USCIS employs turtles and snails to move our papers from one desk to another.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Crossing our fingers and waiting...

It has been almost 2 weeks since Anna had her interview with the USCIS and we were told that we had to come up with additional documentation to prove that Anna had the legal right to take her daughter out of the country.

They gave us 30 days to submit the documentation before they could continue processing her application.
If we don't provide proper evidence within 30 days it will nullify our application and we will need to start the entire  process all over again. That would mean Anna would be required to return to Russia and we would need to file for another visa for her to come back.

Prior to coming here, Anna was unable to locate her ex-husband in order to get his permission to take their daughter out of the country. In fact Anna has not seen nor heard from him since shortly after her daughter was born.

Fortunately Anna has an official court document from Russia that declared her ex-husband was "absent without a trace" after numerous attempts to locate him had failed while trying to collect child support.

Yesterday we were able to get the document translated and we were finally able to get the package in the mail today.

We are keeping our fingers crossed as we hope that they will accept this document as sufficient evidence in this case and subsequently approve our application for the green cards. We don't even want to think about the alternative because trying to locate her ex-husband in the past has proven to be futile and trying to locate him now would be an impossibility. We don't even know if he's dead or if he's alive.

If they reject our application, we will be forced to employ the services of an immigration attorney and to be honest, I don't think we cannot afford that option.

Now all we can do is wait and keep our fingers crossed...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

One final request for evidence...

Anna finally had her interview with immigration on Friday. We were both hoping to finally be able to put this all behind us and get good news that she would finally get her green card. But unfortunately yet again this was not the case.

I was unable to record the interview because the interviewer told me it was strictly prohibited. It made me wonder what they're trying to hide but the interviewer adamantly refused my request to audio record the interview.
I was able to sneak a picture of us all before the interview began though and I think that is also prohibited but what they don't know won't hurt them.

Overall the interview went well. I can't say it was the most comfortable interview. Tensions were rather high throughout the interview process. Anna was very nervous and to be honest the interviewer seemed to be rather rude which only added to Anna's discomfort.

It lasted nearly an hour and they asked Anna and the children many questions. I almost laughed when I heard the interviewer ask Anna if she was a terrorist or if she had ever been engaged in terrorist activities. I wonder if a terrorist would actually answer that question honestly.

Other questions that were asked included if Anna was involved in espionage or if she had ever been involved in the overthrow of a government. Of course Anna was able to answer all the questions honestly with "no". I can assure everyone that Anna is not a terrorist.

Everything seemed to be going fine and we thought the whole interview process was getting ready to come to a close until the interviewer noticed that we were lacking some documentation. We had all the necessary documentation except a document that showed Anna had permission from her ex husband to take her daughter out of Russia and allowing her to live in the United States with Anna.

Anna has documents that allowed her to take Maria out of the country but it isn't necessarily permission from her ex-husband. She had to get a court order allowing her to take Maria out of the country because she had not seen or heard from her ex-husband since Maria was born. 

In fact Anna has good reason to believe that he may even be dead although she didn't have any evidence to prove it.

Unfortunately Anna had left that document at home because she didn't know she would be required to show it at the interview. She was not required to show it at the interview at the U.S. Embassy in Russia so she assumed she didn't need it for this interview.

In hindsight we both realize that we should have brought that document with us to the interview.
But fortunately we have the document. Now all we need to do is get it translated and mail a copy of the document along with its translation to the USCIS and we should be able to finally get her green card. We are hoping to get it sent in this week.

Even with this minor delay we are both feeling very relieved and it feels like a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders. But we will feel much better when we finally have the green card in hand.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tomorrow is the big day

Anna and I have been very busy the past few weeks preparing for her interview with the USCIS on Friday.
We have gathered all the necessary documents and we are hopeful that everything will go well but we are both a little nervous and Anna is very worried that she may not do well in the interview and that they will reject our application for the green card. 
I am fairly confident that everything will go well during the interview. Fortunately our friend Katya has volunteered to be our interpreter for the interviews so I think we have all the bases covered. 
Anna is a little concerned that she won't be able to remember birthdays and other things that they may ask her in order for her to prove to them that we are still married and we have on ongoing relationship. 
But we are both looking forward to this final step to be complete so she can finally get her green card. To say Anna is a bit stir crazy staying at home all day while I work would an understatement. She is eager to get her green card so she can start to look for work. she can't wait to be able to finally get out of the house and help contribute to our household. 
Tomorrow will be the moment of truth and both Anna and I are on edge in anticipation of the outcome.
It will be an early morning for us and we will need to be at the local immigration office by 8:00 for the first interview. 
There will actually be 3 interviews. Maria will have her interview at 8:00, followed by Ivan's interview and finally Anna's interview at 9:00.
I will request permission to record the audio of the interview to share on the blog afterward but I am not sure if they will let me do it.
Needless to say we are both rather anxious about tomorrows so tonight we decided to get out of the house for a while and relax to a hot cup of coffee in the coffee shop for a while. It was kind of nice to go out on a date for a while. It is not very often Anna and I can go out alone given the constant demands of the children. We hoped that will calm our nerves while we anticipate our big day tomorrow. We are hoping for good news. We are definitely looking forward to putting this all behind us so we can go on with our lives.