Not flesh of my flesh
nor bone of my bone
but still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute
you didn't grow under my heart
but in it!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My I-600A is Filed!

I spent the morning in Boston at the Immigration Office filing an I-600A ("Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition") and getting fingerprinted. Even though my application was not complete because I am still waiting to receive my Homestudy, the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS / Homeland Security) is allowing people to file incomplete applications to be able to "lock in" the current filing fees. The I-600A filing fee and fingerprint fee will be increasing on Tuesday from $615 to $830 (35%!). I was technically not supposed to be fingerprinted today since my application was not complete, but I charmed the Immigration Office Supervisor and engaged her in conversation about her, her husband who she has been married to for 33 years, the sapphire ring she received for their 30th wedding anniversary, her son's upcoming wedding, her soon to-be daughter-in-law who plays the bride in "Joey & Maria's Italian Wedding" in Boston, and the cheesy wedding favors that they will be handing out at the wedding...I got her life story! After initially telling me that I could not be fingerprinted today, she took a liking to me and got me an immediate appointment for fingerprinting! The fingerprint processing should take 2 weeks (which is very speedy compared to many other states) in which time I will be able to get my Homestudy filed to complete my application - so I bought myself quite a bit of time. After the I-600A is complete and approved the USCIS will issue an I-171H ("Notice of Favorable Determination Concerning Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition") which I will have to send to Guatemala as part of my Dossier.

My time in the Immigration Office was quite an experience. It was neat to be able to sit and people watch and observe so many different ethnicities. I saw a man and woman take an Oath, become US Citizens (at least this is what I assume was happening), and leave the office with a US flag. That was pretty cool.

The one thing that I found quite frustrating was that they seem to make the rules up as they go (but this also worked to my advantage, I guess, with the fingerprinting)! I have been trying to make sure that everything I do as part of this process is perfect because I don't want anything holding me up. So last night I reviewed my I-600A application and prepared my check. I double checked to make sure that they take checks and confirmed that checks were acceptable. The I-600A instructions state, "Make check or money order payable to...". So as I was waiting to get checked in at the Immigration Office I noticed a sign that says, "We only accept Money Orders" I was thinking, "you have got to be kidding me!" Sure enough when I checked in they told me that I had to get a Money Order. The officer told me that even though this was not a USCIS requirement, it was a rule for the Boston site. So I left the office (losing my place in line...I was the first person in a VERY long line and had left my house at 5:30AM to get that place in line), found a CVS, got a Money Order, and went back. It wasn't the end of the world, but certainly frustrating, and definitely causes worry about what other rules will change along the way.

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