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Feeling the Bern

(3,839 posts)
Wed Dec 30, 2015, 12:52 AM Dec 2015

America's insane legal immigration process from someone doing it now - needs changes

Short abstract of this post: It's easier and cheaper with less aggravation to do it illegally than legally.

After going through the process of making my Chinese national wife a legal permanent resident (Green Card), I have come to the realization our immigration system actively works to close the doors in order to prevent people from coming rather than embrace our self-instilled propaganda as a country of immigrants.

1: Forms

The amount of paperwork to get a Green Card for an "alien spouse" is insane. . .I can't imagine how it is for people who aren't married to or have American relatives.

First, there's the I-130 which must be filled out perfectly. Of course many of the questions allow errors to be done by an immigrant, but don't worry, immigration lawyers are there to help you, for insanely inflated fees. One lawyer my wife and I wanted to entrust wanted a $3000 retainer. Both she and I walked out. So I did the paperwork myself as best as I could.

Fee: $420

Oh, most people come here on a tourist visa, according to the Dept. of State. B1 and B2 American visas prohibit working legally, so if a person comes here, they need to file an I-485 Change of Adjustment Status, allowing the immigrant to legally work while their case is being processed. It takes a minimum of three months to get approval, so that's three months of no working in a new country.

Fee: $1070 plus a biometrics check.

Once that is done, it's on the I-765 form, which authorizes the immigrant to gain a legal work permit. That takes another 75 days, minimum. So far, you are up to at minimum six months of no working.

Fee: $465 plus a biometrics fee.

So, right now, you're up to almost $2000 in forms and you can still be told no.

2: Calling the USCIS

They cannot give you answers about anything. Anything that could answer a question will be met with a "we can't answer that," or they will explain everything in such unhelpful bureaucratic language that it would make a native speaker's head spin.

3: Visa fees.

Now, let's say the person is coming to get married. It's time for the K1 visa. Fiancee enters the country, you got 90 days to get everything done or else the fiancee is bounced unceremoniously out of the country.

Let's say you're married already. It's time for the K3 visa, the spouse visa. Okay, time for your immigrant interview. Be prepared to have your foreigner spouse be treated with hostility and suspicion. If it's a foreign husband, the consular officer will look at him as a threat to national security. If it's a foreign wife, she will be looked at as a "green card" wife. Interviews are not designed for anything other than denial and recharge for all fees necessary. Non-immigrant visas are even worse.

So to get the K3, you will need to prove the marriage is legit, that you two love each other, that it's not a "mail order bride" and that she isn't getting the green card and then run away. So, the way they treat people at the consulates and embassies is insulting to the American and humiliating to the foreigner.

Fee: The I-129F form costs $340 and takes at least three months to process ink and paperwork. It is free if you are doing it while you are also processing a green card. In China, the only place you can go for the immigrant visa interview is Guangzhou. Beijing, Chengdu, Shenyang, Hong Kong and Shanghai will not do the IV interview. So there's a plane/train ticket to and from, hotel room and loss of wages/salary for days off. So let's make it a total of $340 for the form plus another $1500 for the tickets, hotel, food and loss of wages. And if you're denied due to the interview, be prepared to do it all over again.

Running total. . .minimum $4000 dollars.

4: Green Card with conditions.

Okay, you're done. You've gotten through the bullshit. You have your green card. Everyone looks at you and they are happy. 10 years of resident status. It comes in the mail or you get it when you turn in your K3 visa packet to the Port of Entry upon entry into the country. Your spouse looks at it. It says "two year conditional." That's right. Unless you've been married at least five years, you only get a two year conditional green card. Don't worry though. 90 days before the damn thing expires, you can file an I-751 to remove the conditions for another $590, with a third biometrics test. It takes two-three months and then you get the 10 year green card.

Running total. . ..minimum $5000 dollars.

5: Conclusion

It is a humiliating, overpriced process that literally sucks the life and soul out of you. I am glad my wife is married to me. Her processing time started August 18th and on December 4th, her packet went to the national visa center for processing her K3 visa. I can't imagine how people doing a green card through their employer or on their own can survive or handle this process.

One can understand why immigration laws are broken. The system is designed to keep people out, or to put up as many roadblocks and prohibitive costs as to make it completely unrealistic or impractical to come.

The system needs a complete overhaul.

Don't worry though. According to my teabagger, gundamentalist, Trump supporting sister-in-law, my wife needs to do this to prove she wants to be in the United States and she should kiss the feet of the government for allowing her to "leave her Chinese shithole to come here." After all, if "these foreigners want to come, they should pay, since they get everything for free in the first place."

6 replies = new reply since forum marked as read
Highlight: NoneDon't highlight anything 5 newestHighlight 5 most recent replies
America's insane legal immigration process from someone doing it now - needs changes (Original Post) Feeling the Bern Dec 2015 OP
Excellent post KentuckyWoman Dec 2015 #1
First hand knowledge. The only thing that kept me going was my wife Feeling the Bern Dec 2015 #3
It's not even an easy process for the lawyers. You are so right leveymg Dec 2015 #2
And the forms and instructions are confusing. Make even the slightest mistake? 3 months to accept an newthinking Dec 2015 #4
My wife was a citizen (as was I) 1939 Dec 2015 #5
My point exactly. Where is the incentive to follow the law? Feeling the Bern Dec 2015 #6

Feeling the Bern

(3,839 posts)
3. First hand knowledge. The only thing that kept me going was my wife
Wed Dec 30, 2015, 04:10 AM
Dec 2015

I almost threw up my hands a million times.


(36,418 posts)
2. It's not even an easy process for the lawyers. You are so right
Wed Dec 30, 2015, 02:08 AM
Dec 2015

about the difficult process, the high fees, and the complex, frustrating details. Thanks for posting this.


(3,982 posts)
4. And the forms and instructions are confusing. Make even the slightest mistake? 3 months to accept an
Wed Dec 30, 2015, 04:21 AM
Dec 2015

updated form.

Even worse, the system rewards those who sidestep the process and manage to come on a tourist visa (who can blame them?). If you adjust status in the states you can't work but your family does not get separated while you process.

You can be married for 20 years to a non national and work in Germany. When you decide to come back to the US with your family the system will separate you (unless you are wealthy you have to find work here first, even as a citizen). At this time it is taking 1-2 years to process which means you will be separated from your spouse and children while you wait, while others that come a tourist visa are in the exact same queue with the exact same priority. The system does not give priority to separated families: So much for "family values".

Big corporations get a completely different track and have special "expedite" options they can pay for. They can have an employee through the immigration process in less than 3 months. And get this: A foreigner who came over on an H1-B or similar only has a 3 month wait for their spouse and children. So American families get the shaft but someone who is not even a citizen yet gets their family fast tracked.

If that is not fucked up I don't know what is.


(1,683 posts)
5. My wife was a citizen (as was I)
Wed Dec 30, 2015, 06:54 AM
Dec 2015

Found her family after eighteen years of being separated and lost in Vietnam.

Three years to get her mother here

Thirteen years to get her sister and family here.

Ten years to get her brother and family here.

In the meantime, half of her sister's kid "aged out" (turned 21) and weren't eligible to come. Her brother could bring one of his six kids.

The lawyers for the people that sneaked in and were trying to get legalized were treated better at immigration than the people trying to do it legally


Feeling the Bern

(3,839 posts)
6. My point exactly. Where is the incentive to follow the law?
Wed Dec 30, 2015, 11:02 AM
Dec 2015

The laws are written to keep you out. I can totally understand breaking immigration law. The system is awful.

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