Sunday, February 16, 2020

Immigration Timeline

The cat is out of the bag! We're starting the process of moving back to the States. Well, continuing the process, but it's a long one. Immigration has many paths and they're all long, expensive, and difficult. Many people have asked about our particular journey because immigration is something most people just don't know about. Fox News jockeys will tell you how easy it is and that people just need to "get in line and come the right way." The truth is that it isn't easy, no matter how simple an immigration case seems. Farley and I have been together for 11 years, married for 6, and have two US citizen children. So he automatically gets a green card, right? Not. At. All. Spousal immigration begins with the I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) form. Without that form, there is no spousal immigration initiated, no green card issued, nothing. Marrying a US citizen does not mean anything in terms of the foreign spouse's status in the US. The only thing marrying a US citizen does is create a legal basis for initiating the immigration process. Again, that does not mean a green card or immigration is guaranteed. There is a plethora of reasons why a foreigner who marries a US citizen may be denied a green card. Thankfully, none of those reasons apply to us. So let's look at our path:

1) Once the I-130 (we paid $420, the fee is now $535) is approved, approval notice is received and file transfers to Consular processing (ours is Rio). ***Our I-130 is already approved.
Approval timeline: 7.5-46 months

2) NVC (National Visa Center) - The NVC is the next stage and includes two parts: an extensive background check (DS-260 $325) and financial information (I-864 $120). The forms we complete for the NVC are all online, however there are many supporting documents that need to be uploaded. Some of those documents include copies of birth certificates, passports, IDs, tax returns, and criminal antecedents from our state and from Brazil. (This is where we are as of Feb 2020).
Approval timeline: 3 months

3) Once NVC approves our documents, we'll be able to schedule the following exams: Medical exam in Rio at interview (Sept 2020 $180 - although we've heard it tends to be closer to $540) which includes blood tests, a chest x-ray, any necessary vaccinations, and a physical exam. Biometrics (photo and fingerprints) in Rio (Sept 2020). Interview at Consulate in Rio (Sept 2020 $325) where they will say we can submit two waivers that are necessary to our process.
Approval timeline: none, we'll accomplish these three tasks in one visit to Rio.

4) Submit waivers ($930 x 2) and wait for approval. 
Approval timeline: 6-8 months

5) After waiver approval, we possibly need to re-submit police certificates and complete the medical and consulate interview again. That typically occurs when the waiver is approved after a year from submission. The good news at this stage is that the US recently made the medical exam valid for two years instead of one. This was an issue when waiver approvals were taking over a year for approval and forcing applicants to complete the medical exam again. There really isn't any benefit to a second medical interview, so that was a great move.
Approval timeline: ?? whenever appointments are available and documents are reviewed

6) Submit passport to the US Consulate in Rio for visa! (No approval timeline here, but it does take a few weeks for the passport to get back to the applicant).


7) Sell all of our belongings, rent our apartment out, find a rental in the States (doesn't that sound so nice and easy all summed up into three tasks? baaahhhhahahahahaha yeah right).


8) Once in the US, receive Farley's green card and SSN. 


Accounting for time to gather documents and create waivers and complete applications, I think one to one and a half years is a realistic timeline for us. Total cost: $3,230-$3,590. Keep in mind, I'm completing everything on my own, without a lawyer. (A lawyer is around $3,000 for one of the waivers we need.) Thankfully, after years of working for the federal government, I'm familiar with these type of forms and have already completed the process for others.