Back from the 23rd floor of the Beast · Aug 19, 05:59 AM

I had never wanted to darken the doors again of the Chicago office of then-Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), now-US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) after a traumatic experience I had with the INS in the 90s. NEVER. But faced with the reality of being married once again to a non-US citizen, it was clear to me that I didn’t have much choice in the matter if we were going to stay here rather than go back to his side of the pond.

So we got a lawyer to prepare and file the forms and also to prepare us for any face-to-face encounters with the bureaucratic behemoth known as the USCIS. This was an amenity I didn’t have the first time around, and in retrospect, I really wish I had. Don and his staff did a lot to help us through the maze of procedures, forms, filing fees and deadlines.

We saved documentation of the bona-fideness of our marriage: utility bills; tax documents; leases; documentation of trips together pre- and post-marriage; correspondence and emails to each other; correspondence addressed to both of us; statements from our joint bank account and credit card; and absolutely anything related to our wedding and honeymoon. Photographs and postcards from the past 4 years too, oh yes, oh my.

Finally, in preparation for our interview with the immigration officer, we filed it, photocopied it (14 hours spent xeroxing between the 2 of us), re-organized it, and lugged it and 3 albums’ worth of photos to the Kluczynski Federal Building in the Loop. Three of our friends and all of our parents were warned in advance that the USCIS might call to verify our relationship. I was sick to my stomach with anxiety, but I felt we were well prepared, plus we had a lawyer accompanying us should anything go wrong.

It – the money and the time – paid off. The USCIS officer (Officer T., a she) was professional; we were professional; and the lawyer only needed to request a clarification here or there. By the end of it Officer T. was almost actively friendly.

One document wasn’t there, so Officer T. couldn’t fully approved our permanent residency petition. However, she approved the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, which is key for a marriage-based petition. Once the missing form is received, she’ll approve the I-485 Application To Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and send the approval letter that will allow Christian to get the permanent residency stamp in his passport.

And then I really will be able to relax.


PS Christian starts his new job this coming Monday! Hurray!


  1. We are delighted that this hurdle is past for the two of you and Christian could begin his new job with no bigtime distractions. Hope his first day went well! Our first day of the 44th year of our marriage has assured us both that we want to stay together for the long term (but I still don’t know what to fix for supper). We came home from playing duplicate bridge in Wisconsin Rapids to our neighbor Mike Doyle personally delivering a congratulatory bouquet. Thanks, you two! How very thoughtful!<br /> Love, Mom aka Janice

    — Mom · Aug 22, 05:59 PM · #