So I really feel for anyone who has had to deal with the immigration system in the U.S. I truly do. It amuses me that the majority of people out there assume that all one needs to do in order to immigrate to the U.S. is marry a U.S. citizen. Oh, if only it was that easy!
My husband Rod is from New Zealand. We've been going through the immigration process with USCIS for him since early 2004 and we're still not finished. Today we drove out to Alexandria, VA to have him fingerprinted and photographed yet again (I believe this is his fourth time doing this, IIRC) so he can finally get his actual, permanent green card. This is the last step (I think), unless Rod wants to become a full-blown U.S. citizen, in which case we'll go through even more paperwork and even more fees (which, btw, have more than doubled since July 31st). Yay!
Through the years of filing paperwork, filling out forms, paying processing fees and traveling miles upon miles to different immigration stations in or around Maryland (we've been sent to West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania in the past), you learn a lot of things. Like how inept the system is. Or interesting ways of killing time for up to 30 minutes while you're on hold with the immigration 'hotline' (because heaven forbid you should have to ask a question or find out information on something or another).
There are several immigration stations throughout the country. It's interesting to note that none of them know what the other is doing. You'd think that they would all be connected to some vast computer network where they could pull up information on any applicant that comes their way, right? Nah.
For example... Let's say that someone currently going through the immigration system decides to move to a different address. First step is to fill out a specific form. Next is to figure out which immigration station is your immigration station. Then you should probably fill the form out online as well and submit it there. Then, as was told to us by a USCIS representative, we should also probably send the form to the immigration station we sent our original paperwork to when we first started filling out forms (because we live in Maryland, our designated immigration location to send forms to is in Vermont. Why? I have no idea.). "Just in case," she said.
And, for the love of all things holy, MAKE COPIES OF EVERYTHING. The USCIS will not take responsibility for any cock-ups that occur because of the fact that they are inept. If you don't have proof to back up the fact that they messed something up, you're screwed.
So. Hopefully, finally, maybe we'll be able to be done with this immigration crap soon. I'm expecting we'll have to make another trip up to Baltimore to actually pick up the green card, but we'll see.
I think I'll scream with happiness when it's all over and done with.