Thursday, July 24, 2008

Almost there!

Tomorrow, 25 July 2008, will mark the climax of my immigration journey, UK to USA. After the Oath Ceremony I'll be a fully-fledged naturalized US citizen. It has been a long and winding road, frustrating too - no blood was shed but a lot of sweat and more than a few tears!

I notice that 25 July is the day the Incas dedicated to Illapa, their god of thunder and lightning - their weather god. He was said to keep the Milky Way in a jug and use it to create rain. I hope Illapa doesn't decide to treat us to a display of his prowess, thunder and lightning could lend a somewhat menacing air to the proceedings! According to the weather forecast, however, rain and storms are not on the agenda for Oklahoma City, but remnants of Hurricane Dolly are dumping rain on Texas.

Astrologically the outer planets have been either whipping me on throughout this journey, or holding the carrot - not sure which. Uranus conjoined my natal Jupiter at 6 Pisces for much of the early stages, and Pluto conjoined natal Venus in Sagittarius. These two planets seem to have orchestrated or choreographed the whole show!

It all began at the end of 2003, when my now husband visited me in the UK from the USA. We decided that our future was together, and would need to be in the USA, because I had no remaining close family ties and he had many, back in the United States.

After much research and reading of immigration message boards, I came to the conclusion that, of the 3 methods available to us, one had the potential to be less painful than the other two. This method would involve himself coming to live in the UK, with me, for a while, so that we could qualify to apply for a marriage visa for me via the US Embassy in London. Both the other methods would have involved long spells apart, and having to rely on notoriously slow-moving USCIS Service Centers on the other side of the pond. The route we chose was more expensive, but we considered it worth the extra outlay.

First the husband-to-be had to return home to the USA, from whence he had to apply for a UK Fiance Visa. With this in hand, in the spring of 2004 he returned, and we were wed at the end of April. The husband then had to apply at the nearest immigration office (Liverpool) for an extension to his visa, for what's called "Further Leave To Remain". This stage proceeded rapidly and painlessly.

Next step: the husband had to petition for permission for me, as his wife, to emigrate to the USA. Then I, potential immigrant, was required to apply for a visa on the ground of marriage to a US citizen.

An incredible amount of information and documentation was called for at this stage. The photocopies we had to provide must have caused the downing of large areas of rain forest somewhere in Brazil.

Once submitted there was a long wait for the US Embassy to process our petition and application. During this interval I put my house on the market. I was called for interview and medical examination in London at the end of August 2004. By then we were on tenterhooks, waiting to give a buyer for my house in Yorkshire the go ahead. We dare not risk doing so until I had visa in hand, which I did, on 1st September, (below, left, in front of the US embassy in London).

Next stop Oklahoma, after disposing of most of my worldly goods, packing the rest in several large boxes and shipping 'em to the USA, then finally selling the house.

Once in Oklahoma my visa remained conditional on the marriage remaining intact for 2years, at which point, in the summer of 2006, I had to apply to have conditions removed, and prove that the marriage was, indeed, intact by providing financial and other proof. This was done relatively quickly, my Permanent Resident's Card ("green card") was then made good for a further 10 years.

Another year had to pass before I became eligible to apply for US citizenship, thus ridding myself of the USCIS for ever, becoming eligible to vote and hold a US passport. As it happened, I became eligible to make my citizenship application on 26 July just a few days before a fee increase was to be implemented. A huge frontlog of applications was the result of this, and caused the process to take around twice as long as normal.

After a variety of delays, obstacles and long postponements, I attended my citizenship interview on 19 June 2008, passed muster, passed the civics test and have waited a mercifully brief time for the next available Oath Ceremony to finish the job. That will be tomorrow, 25 July, at 9.30am, just a year after applying for citizenship, and almost 4 years since I obtained my first visa.

I dare not add up the cost in either $$$$ or nervous tension. I'd like to say the process has been fun....but it hasn't! We are near the end of the road now though. We'll spend the night in The City so as to be sure to be at the Federal Courthouse on time in the morning - in "proper attire", as instructed. Perhaps we'll be joined later by some family members for the ceremony, that will help make it even more special.

See y'all later!


anthonynorth said...

You're so lucky. You're fully entitled to have a go at TWO governments now.
Paradise :-)

Seriously. Congratulations. It's been a long road for you.

Twilight said...

Thank you AN!

Yes, that's an added attraction. My grumbles will probably come thick and fast after the fun is over here in November!

We should've been gone by now, but guess who is lagging behind in the shower. ;-(

Wisewebwoman said...

Finally, finally, finally, T.
Well done.
You and Himself have had quite a journey, but together, and that is always good.
I hope the fam have a party for you!!

Twilight said...

Thank you WWW!

It was a very memorable experience, and I'm relieved that it went off smoothly after so many previous obstacles.