Do You Know If…

2001 > England

Party time! Jingmei got her Green Card!

I kick your ass!
Gimme a visa!
don't feed the Rakosi
a dedicated INS employee
where's the milk?!
a sweet reward

…cell phones work in the USA Embassy in London?

I actually never thought about this question until 5am this morning. I don’t know why, maybe because the peculiarities of cell phones don’t effect me much, or that I never thought about the need to block them in an Embassy for security reasons, or maybe because, until this morning I had no earthly reason to give a damn.

Well, this morning I did have a reason to care, and all those direct-to-voicemail calls really put me on edge. Jingmei was inside the Embassy going through a process that would have a profound impact on our relationship: she was interviewing for her Immigrant Visa (Green Card) so she could hop the pond in September to live with me in the USA.

When an American wants to marry a foreigner and live with her in the USA, there are two options: inviting her to the USA on a Fiancée visa (K-1) or a Spouse visa (I-130). The former is faster, but they must get married asap after s/he arrives and the fiancée can wait up to a year before s/he can work after they get married. With the Spouse visa, s/he can work on arrival, what a newly MBA-ed Jingmei really wants, but the paperwork, when filed form the USA, usually takes anywhere from eight to eighteen months.

There is a short-cut for married couples if they are living together overseas, called Direct Consular Filing (DCF). They apply directly to the USA Embassy overseas, skipping the USA-based filing and shorting the wait times to anything from two weeks (Japan!) to three months. Officially, the USA Embassy does not do DCF for USA-UK couples, but yours truly is not one to wait.

Shortly after we got married, I made a little detour to the USA Embassy in London. After several trips through a very frustrating metal detector, a long wait with fools trying to get tourist visas that day, a quick slip through a secret side door, and some fast talking (I learned a thing or two in Moscow!), a friendly Embassy official made special mark on our form and told me there would be no problem for us doing DCF in London, even though, technically, I live in DC now.

Over the past several months, Jingmei and I played document exchange& wait with the Embassy, as our forms made their slow journey through the system. Several dozen papers, multiple copies, and many registered letters later, it all cumulated in Jingmei interviewing with Embassy officials this morning in London.

All night I couldn’t sleep. I knew she’d gone into the Embassy at 3am DC-time and I started calling her around 5am (yeah, like I could sleep!), to see if everything was going all right. I still was in the dark when I walked into work around 9am to see a little red light on my phone. I had a new voicemail message…

…and it was a happy Jingmei telling me to call her back! Oh, how I jumped for joy when she told me that she had her Immigrant Visa/Alien Registration papers! Yes!!! Months of worry, stress, and sleepless nights are over. Jingmei is free to come here and live with me! Finally, I can stop this mad monthly DC-UK commute, my phone bill will be quasi-normal, and we can really start planning our life together here.

Such a weight is off our shoulders. It is an amazing day in our lives. A USA Embassy did something right for a change. Yes! (Can you tell I’m happy?) Thanks to all of you that wished us luck, gave up tips & advice, and assured us it would all be okay. Thank you.

Now comes the equally stressing part (for me at least): her arrival in DC & the new round of paperwork (actual green card, social security number, drivers license, bank account, etc) that it will entail. Wish us luck again, for as we cleared this hurtle, there are more to come.

PS: If you’ve found this site because you’re engaged/married to a foreigner & want him/her to immigrate, please check out these great resources:

INS Forms

US INS: Application Procedure: Bringing A Spouse to Live in the USA

eGroups : China-USA-Couples Links

K-1 and I-130 Resources

Doc Steen’s Marriage Visa Information Pages

Siskind’s Immigration Bulletin