Monday, September 13, 2010

Leaving Canada

The day the visa finally arrived, I was a crazy person. M was at work, but I opened the package anyway. I immediately started snapping pictures of the visa inside his passport with my cell phone camera. From Canada I started picture messaging the picture to my family and to M. I kept opening the passport page and running my fingers across the lettering just to make sure it was real.

I really could not help myself. I started trying to hurry M along to leave Montreal. I was so excited for us to go home! his apartment lease was very flexible since he'd lived there for many years, his original lease was up and we did not need to give any notice and it was coincidentally near the end June. I wanted to leave within two weeks. I rationalized it with "saving money" and that was what eventually convinced M to do things my way.

M is not one of those people who like change, even if it is change they've been waiting on for years. Remember, this is the same man who took MONTHS to leave a HORRIBLE situation in Pakistan because he couldn't make a firm decision. I was in Canada because the summer had come and I was off work, but I was so excited to finally show my husband our home. I had spent two years married to a man living in a different country from me. I was excited.

The furniture I had carted to his apartment in Montreal, we decided to "gift" to some of his bachelor friends. The curtains and pillows and all were left out in the garbage pile when we left and as we drove away we noticed families from his neighborhood sifting through it and even taking some "jewels" away. What is funny is that this is not something I would have expected to happen, but M had told me earlier it would. He had laughed when we saw it happening. He was actually excited that something he left behind would find a new home with someone else.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Biggest Break

It took two weeks to get a response from the consulate. It came in the form of a voicemail message that I received as I drove between the two schools where I taught Spanish. I nearly crashed my car into off the side of the road when I heard the man identify himself and leave a DIRECT number where to contact him with questions. In the message, he directly admitted the error in our case. When I called the number he left, he actually answered the phone. There was no routing message, no secretary, this number led directly to a consular officer. This NEVER happens and would in the end be the only way that our case was ever resolved.

At exactly the six month mark, my husband received confirmation in Montreal that his 212 waiver that I had filed in Buffalo was approved. Luckily, I was in Montreal when the notice arrived, because it did not DIRECTLY just say "approved." It was a long, confusing letter that listed all of the good/bad factors and just said, in the middle of the letter that he was now allowed to pursue his immigrant visa. I had to read it three times before I could tell we had been approved and then I began jumping up and down uncontrollably. It was the biggest rush I had felt in a very, very long time. I was able to get things rolling while there, setting up a new medical exam and prodding M to go and get updated police certificates. The letter was submitted to Montreal via fax and we waited. I emailed them and we waited, they emialed back that it could take 90 days for them to get the notice and to contact them again after that. They also stated we could turn in the updated documents and wait for them to recieve the letter directly from Buffalo USCIS.

Here is where the story gets frustrating (as if it were not already.) We waited 60 days and I started getting antsy. The emails they sent back to me kept saying that the form we were given was "not printed on the right form" to be an approval. Montreal refused to contact Buffalo and when my House Representative's immigration liaison contacted Buffalo, all Buffalo would do is send out a re-printed form, only this time with a date. After waiting this long, I started freaking out. One afternoon in June, the last day of school, I finally called my friend at the Consulate. We had spoken a few times in the between time and he had just told me to be patient. This time was different, I was freaking out. I was ready to cry. Mr. C answered the phone and I explained the whole story about the repeated emails from their consulate, the repeated emails from Buffalo, I was on the verge of crying.

Mr. C acknowledged that it sounded like I was "getting the run-around" but by this time he literally recognized the sound of my voice as soon as he answered the phone and had even stopped calling me by the respectful Mrs. M and started addressing me in an exasperated tone by my first name. He told me that he was going on vacation and was just cleaning things up that day. He decided he would contact the House Rep's liaison directly and at that point stopped talking to me.

Within two hours the House Rep's liaison called me sounding more excited than I had ever heard. She told me that Mr. C had called her and that things were moving. She thought that the visa was going to be issued and was faxing and emailing everything she had from the Buffalo USCIS office. I was too shell shocked to believe it, but I had that excited/nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. The next day, I got another phone message from Mr. C, the visa would be issued before he would ever get back from his two week vacation, I am sure by his own threat of bodily violence to his staff if he ever had to hear my voice again.

In the end, here is how long our case took:

Married April, 2006
Filed App May, 2006
USCIS Approved Aug, 2006
Interview Feb, 2007
New Divorce Cert July, 2007
212 submitted Oct, 2007
AP Over Feb, 2008
212 Approved March, 2008
Updated forms April, 2008
Visa Issued June, 2008