Tag Archives: Green card

It isn’t really green…

Well, it has been three weeks since we got home and Mexico seems like a distant memory. It makes us both sad and we are trying to figure out when the next trip will be able to happen. Part of that depends on if Northwest Airlines still allows people to use frequent flier miles and when there is a free ticket available. It has also been over two weeks since I’ve entered anything on the blog so I’m guessing I’ve lost most of my readership! =(

I must say that we are both overwhelmed by the number of people who were reading our blog and the support we have been given. We have received letters, cards, emails, and too many kind words to count. It has warmed both of our hearts so much to know there were so many people, some who had never even met us, following our story and feeling so passionate about the results.

Yesterday, Mex got his “Green Card” in the mail. Yay! It isn’t actually green at all. It is shiny and official and even has his fingerprint on it. It does have an expiration date of 2018 (which it freaks me out on a whole ‘nother level to just imagine how fast that date will come) but it doesn’t really expire. It’s like a passport where you just need to send in an application and probably more money and get a new one. Of course, by then we hope he will be a citizen!

Not much has been new for us. We both got quite drastic haircuts… of course we should have gotten them before going to keep us cool instead of now when we need to warm up a little. Just kidding! no complaints about the weather from us! Mex has been working on finishing up some loose ends in his quest for a US diploma. He’s finished two more trimesters of work in this last week (he needs 36 total to graduate) so he’s got about seven done. He’s hoping the long hours he’s been putting in will catch him up from the two months he missed.

Mex is still looking for a job. He would like to continue working in food service so he can get more experience in order to run his own restaurant one day. Let us know if you know of anyone who is hiring! We haven’t tried very hard yet but need to get in gear as the end of the month nears because we were hoping he’d have a job by June.

Anyway, thank you all again for your overwhelming kindness and support. We feel so cared for it makes us smile every day!

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Filed under Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card

El Paso again

Finally at 4:45 we met up with mom and dad in the Barnes and Noble parking lot in El Paso. Mex got back to the hotel in Juarez about 11:30. So the 2 1/2 hours at the Consulate this morning was his shortest visit yet! In order to get his official visa we had to go to the border station about 12 miles west of Juarez in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. It was about an hour drive and we got there at 1:30. It was nice because there were very few cars. The officer didn’t search us at all. I had to wait in the car outside the fence at the border station until 2:55 when I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to go inside to check on him. I saw he was at the counter turning in his big pile of papers so I went back outside to wait. At exactly 3pm we hopped in the car!

Line at Santa Teresa border crossing west of Juarez

I just can’t resist sharing this one detail…. At the Consulate they gave Mex a huge stack of papers (all our 100 pages plus some more) in a manila envelope with just the corner cut off so you could barely see what was inside. There were instructions that it was to be opened only by the border agent, similar to his medical documents. On the outside there was a summary page stapled with his name and case number, etc. I was happily reading through it as we were driving towards our exit. I got to the occupation part and burst out laughing… It read “house husband.” I just about burst a gut and Mex was not very amused. I guess since he had to quit his job before leaving because of the length of time he is technically a “house husband.” He will be off like a shot once we get back to Minnesota to find a job for sure now!

On the "Right" side of the fence!

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Waiting with the car packed!

Another day of waiting for me but the stress is removed so I really don´t mind. I just got the car rearranged with our souvenirs shifted around and a whole bag of shoes (of which we only wore three pairs) packed up in the backseat. We just need to throw in the suitcases and figure out how to get out of this town.

Those of you who know my husband will appreciate how sneaky he was yesterday… At about 12:40 there was a knock on the hotel room door and I opened it and Mex was standing there with his envelope and a COMPLETELY straight face. The maid was behind him with her cart. He looked at me and said ´the maid wants to know what time you want the room cleaned´still not smiling in the least. I grabbed his shoulders and said ¨I don´t care what time she cleans the room WHAT DID THEY SAY?¨ Still completely straight-faced he said “oh, it´s approved.” It took about three seconds for it to register since he wasn´t smiling… Then I literally screamed (really loud I´m afraid) and pulled him into the room where we all gave him hugs and after a few seconds he finally smiled. When he  opened the door to tell the maid we just needed some clean towels and that was it she said congratulations for whatever you are celebrating.

I don´t think the two of us stopped smiling all night. We did discuss how we were both wondering what would happen if they said no but we were too afraid to say it out loud to each other. Our attorney´s office had emailed us with the news that people had been given 6 to 8 month waits lately but she did also say that people were still getting answers the same day. We agreed that when my parents showed up it was a relief on many levels. Our initial reaction was that everything had to turn out all right because they were here to drive home with us. Then we did let the thought creep in our minds that if he had to wait, at least I wouldn´t have to drive back alone. We decided it was ok to have doubts as long as you keep talking in the positive. We never stopped talking about all the things we wanted to see in the US on the way home and never made any arrangements or looked into any prices for him to fly back to his town. I think, most importantly for me, my parents showing up finally made Mex realize how much they love HIM as well as me, and that he is TRULY a part of our family. That is as  important than his “yes”.

Because we have been married for more than two years, Mex is now a PERMANENT LEGAL RESIDENT. That means he does not have to renew any visa for 10 years! No more paperwork and no more fees (of which we paid more than $7000 in the past two years, not including the last two months of hotel stays, travel, and time off work). If we had been married less than two years at this time he would have gotten a TEMPORARY LEGAL RESIDENT visa which would need to be renewed either after two years or at our two year wedding anniversary, I´m not sure about that. In just three years he can become a US CITIZEN! That is assuming he passes the test and after another $1000+ in fees.

This is far from a cheap process. We sought a consultation with an attorney a full year before our wedding and 9 months before we were even engaged so we knew what we were up against from the beginning. Actually, at our initial consultation in January 2005, the attorney said he would need to be in Mexico for 9 to 18 months awaiting a decision. We saved money for more than three years in order to do this. It gives us both an understanding for how hard and incapacitating the process is for most people who try to change their status. It is a large sum of money and requires a serious change in lifestyle and is very difficult for those who come to the US with the sole intent of sending as much money home as they can and just keeping enough in the US to survive. Especially because the average wage is below $10 an hour.

My heart is open to the people of Mexico, more so than before, because we have seen some truly terrible living conditions in many different parts of the country… Horrible dry, hot weather… water shortages… lack of jobs… poor sanitation and piles of trash in places that could be so beautiful. It is heart-breaking to see the poverty but it has helped me understand the motivation of millions and millions of people who come to the US and all those people in line at the US Consulate day in and day out.

I will take pictures as we cross the border! My parents brought their computer so I can actually update my pictures soon. I´ve been dying to do it since the places we saw on the last half of the trip are so different from the first half. We did take notes on hotels and restaurants and roads and anything we could think of for all the towns we went to so if you ever want some travelling advice let us know. And DO NOT be afraid to drive in Mexico! It´s really not that bad. Just be defensive and look out for anyone with Distrito Federal (Mexico City) license plates because they truly are insane drivers!!

More photos soon! HAPPY DAY!

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Filed under Family, Immigration, Mexican culture, Mexico, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card

More details

Mom and dad just left to go back across the border where they will wait for us until tomorrow (Can I say Ok.. . since I was just so ecstatic to get out the message I didn´t leave any details…

Mex got to the US consulate at 7 a.m. and waited until 7:30 to go inside- this is record time for consulate visits so far. He went inside the building, paid the fee and received a receipt. Then they sent him to a different building for this Waiver interview than the first family visa interview. Then he had to stand in line for half an hour. He had to show another receptionist his paid receipt and give her just his main application form (not the documentation). Then he got a number and had to sit and wait.

After another 45 minutes they called his name and he went to the window and gave them his passport and all 101 pages of documentation we brought with us to prove why he needs to be in the US with me. The Consul asked him when he came to the US and if he ever had problems with the authorities (a big NO!) which are the same questions they asked last time. They he told Mex to have a seat and wait. At about 12:30 the Consul called his name again and told him our case was approved! (YIPPEE!)

He has to go there at 9am to get his VISA and then we will dash across the border as fast as we can and start driving. We are still planning a few stops along the way back to take a little time and enjoy ourselves and our happiness. Mom and dad are totally happy and it is wonderful for both of us to share this with them (and to not have to drive any more!!) Lucky for me because I told Mex if he drove in Mexico I´d drive the whole way back to MN. Oh well… Lucky for me mom and dad are totally sneaky!

Thank you a million times and more to every one who has hoped and prayed for us and for everyone who helped us by writing letters of support. We are happier than you can imagine to start our lives together without anything else hanging over our heads. The thing that makes us most happy is we can now go visit Mex´s family whenever we want! Yay!

Much love and we will truly BOTH see you soon!

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Filed under Immigration, Marital Issues, Mexico, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card

YYYYEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!

I didn't think my mouth could stretch that big!

A big fat YES!!! I don´t know details of how the day went because I ran downstairs to update the blog right away. He picks up the permanent resident visa (green card) tomorrow and we will be in El Paso tomorrow!!!!

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Doctor Exam

I spent the ENTIRE day in the hotel. My husband had the medical exam which is part of his visa process (I’ll let him type about that in a minute) and I spent the whole day waiting anxiously for him. It was terrible. I must say we are both so glad mom and dad talked us into staying here. I guess after 30 years you wise up and start listening to your parents again and it pays off. It is strange to think we were having lunch at a Chinese buffet with them just yesterday. Now I’ll let my husband tell his story…

“This morning at 6:30 I went down from my room to the main street to catch a cab going to the clinic for my examination that I’m going to present next week for my first visa interview. I went early because the information I had told me they stop letting new people into the clinic for exams at 11 am and I wanted to get a spot. So when I got out from the cab I thought there were not many people waiting in line (only about 50) until they let us inside a fenced area outside the clinic. Everyone had a number, then everyone was waiting for their number to be called. After that one of the workers called from 1 – 15, then the rest of us still were waiting for our turn. But in my mind I thought that it was going to be really easy to do my examination. The same worker came in and asked for 15 people to go to the other clinic (there are only two clinics in Juarez that are allowed to do exams for the US Consulate) because in that clinic they weren’t that busy. I was still waiting for my turn because I didn’t want to risk going to the other clinic and losing my spot. My number was 57. Then once again the worker came in and asked for 10 volunteers to go to the other clinic. Finally, it was my turn.

We were 15 people going inside the clinic. I was almost the last one. As soon as I stepped in I saw hundreds and hundreds of people who were already in before me. I probably say 500 -600 people at the clinic throughout the day. One guy from Wisconsin was there and he told me that I was “late” because people started getting in line at 3am. Then I realized I was totally wrong. My day was going to be one of the longest days. Think about not having any breakfast or lunch all day. That was all of us since we weren’t allowed to eat before the exam. Then I went to the front desk, showed my passport and my visa appointment letter, then they told me to wait until my turn. After a while a lady called my name, then I went to a small room where I showed my visa appointment letter, passport, signed my name and she took my pictures. After she took my information I went back to my seat.

I was so hungry that I started drinking lots of water. It was about 8:30. Then they called my name and I went to have a blood test. Then I went back to my seat and waited for my turn once again. But I went to the second level for my next turn where I waited for a while. Finally, a nurse called my name then took my chest x-rays and he told me to go back to the waiting room again.

About 12:30 I went to do my last test. They took my blood pressure, weight, height and then I went to the room where the nurse gave me a complete physical examination and three shots required to enter the US, MMR, Td, and Varicella. I brought my vaccine card from childhood but she said if they weren’t in the last 6 months they didn’t count. She also asked me a lot of questions, some medical ones like “Do you smoke?” “Do you do any drugs?” and some were kind of strange for a medical exam like “What kind of job to you have in the US?” “Have you been in jail?” The strangest was “Has cometido algunos delitos – Have you done any bad things here or in the US?” I thought that was a strange question for a medical exam. Then I was ready to go pay for the service that they had done. I had to pay in US dollars, $254 for the exam and vaccines. Also, they told me to come back for my results at 4 pm.

The ominous warning message on his very important medical results

Then I walked back to the hotel where my wife was waiting and really nervous. I was totally starving because it was 2 pm by then and I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. I ate and relaxed for a little while. Then it was time to go back again. It was pretty fast to get my results. They gave me a copy of my immunizations and then information in a sealed black envelope to give to the Consulate. If I open it they will not allow me to interview for my visa. I think they put the photos they took of me inside the envelope so they match my medical exam and the person doing my interview at the Consulate can tell it is me.

The one surprise is they told me I have to go on Monday to the Consulate to deliver the exam results instead of waiting for Tuesday for my interview. I don’t really understand why but I will do whatever they tell me. So it looks like I will be spending all day Monday and Tuesday at the US Consulate.”

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Put on notice

Well, we received notice on Monday, February 4th that Mex’s (what I’ll call my husband in blog world) first interview as part of the Permanent Resident process at the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, will be on Tuesday, March 4th at 7:45 am. We had planned on leaving about eight days in advance to take a leisurely drive south, visit friends near Omaha, see a few things in New Mexico and get to El Paso two days before crossing the border to get our bearings before crossing. However, we discovered he must have a medical exam in Mexico two days before his interview. Since they don’t do exams on the weekend, we actually have to cross into Mexico on Thursday the 28th of February so he can go stand in line at the doctor’s office starting at 5:30am. They do NOT take appointments so he basically has to go and hope he gets in sometime from 6am to 11am. Unfortunately, due to the short notice we really can’t leave any sooner than the 24th or 25th so we will be busting our butts to drive the 1500 miles from Minneapolis to El Paso in about two days, leaving us far from refreshed when we arrive.

The good thing is, I think my parents are going to drive with us down to El Paso and then hop over to Phoenix for the weekend to visit some of my mom’s aunts and uncles. They may stay in the area until Mex’s interview on March 4th when he will find out the date of his 2nd interview (the one where they give a final decision to grant his “permanent” spouse green card or not and forgive  his current status). The form is an I-601 Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility. I am very excited because I found out that if they do grant it, he will qualify for US citizenship within only three years. If they don’t grant it he will have to stay with his family in Mexico while we try again (which could take anywhere from six to 18 months.) Only positive thoughts for our journey though.

Between his first and second interviews we hope to take a train ride through Copper Canyon. I had never heard of this gem before we started planning our trip. Spanning northern Mexico’s Chihuahua and Sonora states, it is three times the size of the much more famous US Grand Canyon. It sounds very beautiful and is one of the “1000 Places to See Before You Die.” check! I love lists and checking things off of them, so this book by Patricia Schultz has become my fun (if somewhat obsessive) list of travel spots to hit over the next 60 years. It also has made for a little bit of competition between friends.

After his second interview we will drive 1400 miles down to his town of Tetelilla, Morelos, Mexico. It is a trip we could normally make in two days but all the travel guides warn against driving at night because there are still bandits and animals wandering the highways in some areas and cars don’t always drive with headlights on. Why? I have no idea but I’m not interested in finding out! We have a few places we want to stop on the way down like Zacatecas check! and San Miguel de Allende check! and see the sights of the country. Then we will spend about two weeks with his family before driving back.

In total, we plan on being gone for about six to eight weeks depending on the length of time between his first and second interviews. It should be an exciting adventure but it is very stressful to pack and prepare for that long of a trip, especially with such short notice. We did buy some clothes this weekend and hope to still go shopping today and buy all the toiletries we need and some gifts for his family. However, yesterday I came down with some sickness and have a fever and terrible pain all over my body and can’t breath deeply. Well-timed “death sickness,” a nickname given by college friends to my annual mega cold. Oh well. Maybe a cold will help me sleep better over the next two weeks.

Well, that’s about it for today. I just wanted to post an update about what is happening since when I send out the link to this blog many people will have no idea what’s going on because I had no time to notify them. I will be posting regularly to this blog and including photos during our trip so please check back if you are interested. I will also be available to check my email almost daily so that will be a great way to communicate with me. Well, adiós for now!

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Filed under Immigration, Permanent Resident Visa/Green card, Travel outside MN and Mexico