The visa post saga continues: and just like the waiting... it never seems to end.
For those of you just tuning in, Mickey and I filed for a fiance visa to get married in the US, because we thought it would be the simplest way to start out life together. For those of you with lives (all of you), you know that life is never simple, and things never quite go the way you hope.
Here is what we did so far:
Step 1 - Compile documents
About 4 months ago, we filed our petition for a fiance visa with USCIS (formerly the INS). Compiling all the information for this petition was tricky enough. In addition to the wonderfully detailed government forms we also had to compile documents to prove we have met in person in the last two years, and to show an ongoing relationship. While paperwork is rarely fun, it was fun to look through all our hundreds of pictures to find ones that a visa officer would enjoy (you're welcome, random government employee). We also sent copies of YM and Skype logs, postcards, boarding passes, emails, and two of the most adorable passport photos you will ever see (no sarcasm here whatsoever)! No, I will not post them on this blog.
Dealing with paperwork is never fun, but dealing with paperwork in order to prove to a complete stranger your bona fide relationship is beyond exhausting. Printing out emails that were never intended to be read by anyone else, attaching photos that you took at your goofiest times, willingly sharing personal and emotional information can prove to be quite unnerving. If you're too reserved, and care about your intimacy, you run the risk of being considered a fraud. There is no point in front loading the application either. So how do you find the balance that validates your love and commitment in the eyes of the government?
Step 2 - Send packet to a lock box
Then I sent the 97 kilogram packet to a lock box in Texas. This is where all of the applications go, and from there they can be forwarded to two processing centers that deal with our type of visa. The timelines of the centers vary. At the time we were applying, one of them was processing in 2-3 months, while the other was so backlogged that it needed 6 months to get to your application. Can you guess which one we were assigned to (based on my location)? Yup, we got the snail. Then I received an email with no useful information to tell us when our application will be processed. And now we wait.
Our application is probably sitting untouched in a basement somewhere while we're patiently (haha!) waiting for a few minutes of a government official's time. We have been waiting for months and we probably still have months of waiting ahead of us.
Below is a graph from my personal research showing the difference between the USCIS website's "average" processing times, the estimated processing time of the other processing center, and the processing center our application is at.
I love you, Mickey. Always and forever.