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May 12, 2004

I don't feel so welcome anymore

Even though my current travel documents expired last month I wasn't really worried as the renewal process would only take 30-60 days. They would arrive perfectly in time for traveling to the Middleware PC meeting in early June, which was the first upcoming non-US trip. Unfortunately this morning the USCIS (US Immigration Service) changed the expected processing from 30-60 days into 150-180 days. &%$#@*!!!! Which means that I probably will not be able to leave the US again until end of September (in reality I will not be able to enter the US, leaving is not the real issue). This means canceling a number of conference appearance, and no family visits.

I am fed up with the whole process around the green card, work authorizations, travel documents, finger printing, mandatory medical tests. Or actually not really the process itself but with the impossibility to get any answers from the authorities about your case, it current status and the expected progress. Don't call us we'll call you. Next to the fact that everyone I know is scared to make any fuss about it, out of fear for longer delays or even rejections. I have been in the US since 1994, and started the green card process in 2001, which was considered to be a fast-track case, but there is nothing fast about this any more.

I have a hard time believing that the delays as we are currently experiencing are a necessary burden to make the US more safe. Or that the lack of transparency of the process is a necessary side-effect of the processing load.

Posted by Werner Vogels at May 12, 2004 04:01 PM
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Nice piece up on Slate today by Dahlia Lithwick on a similar situation:

http://slate.msn.com/id/2100403/

Probably the worst federal agency ever! :)

Posted by: John on May 13, 2004 05:33 AM

Just want you to I share your frustration. I am a US citizen by birth, but I work with a number of British citizens. I am just amazed by the screwed up immigration system we have. Well educated, productive people should be welcomed into this country, instead we endlessly hassle them.
On the other hand, our borders are a joke. Remember the one about Californians wanting to give a Drivers License to ILLEAGAL immigrants?
Just to add insult to injury neither major politcal party in this country is willing to do anything about this.
Whew, thanks, I feel better now.

Posted by: MarkS on May 13, 2004 08:56 AM

Well stated!
I'm in a nearly identical situation. My AP document has expired, and I filed for an extension more than 150 days ago (!) but did not receive the extension yet. Not being able to leave (and then re-enter) the US is a big restriction for both business and personal matters.

Posted by: stefan on May 13, 2004 09:35 AM

Thanks for your support guys!

The whole unpredictability of it drives me nuts. As well as the difference in rules. The Salon article sums it up nicely: people from 27 countries can travel in and out of the US with almost any visa, but I who already lived here for 10 years, pay taxes, have a house, mortage, etc. cannot get into the country for 6 months because of 'unexpected processing delays'.

Posted by: Werner on May 13, 2004 01:34 PM

Europe is such a nice place to live.

Posted by: Clemens Vasters on May 16, 2004 11:31 AM

The delays don't just affect non-citizens. My mother is a naturalized US Citizen (naturalized 30 years ago), and she lost her naturalization certificate. I filed with USCIS to get a replacement on 5/31/03.

Note, she's already naturalized, I just needed another copy of the certificate. After 10 months I still had not received the certificate or any apporximate date (USCIS doesn't give an expected processing time for the replacement form). Fed up with USCIS I wrote to my US Senator and explained my situation.

4 days later I received a phone call from his office that my case had been handled, and 3 days later I had the certificate in my hand.

So non-US citizens aren't the only ones that are at the mercy of USCIS, but we're lucky to have 3 folks (one rep and two senators) that can help grease the wheels a bit.

Posted by: Craig Pfeifer on May 16, 2004 07:49 PM

Have patience if you need the GC. Don't rush yourself because you could get shipped. Better if you network and get your friends who are Citizens to make a case on your behalf to their Senators.

I was in the pipeline for the GC but my US employer had under paid me so everything had to start again after the pay was adjusted. I left the US and went back home because the whole process is pure mental agony.

Posted by: AdeS on May 19, 2004 01:51 AM