Today we ventured to USCIS (United States Citizen and Immigration Services). No, it wasn’t like that t.v. show, NCIS. I don’t know what that stands for, but there was a guy with a gun at USCIS. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.
USCIS does a lot of technical stuff concerning immigration/naturalization/etc. The purpose of USCIS in our case is to file an I600-A form. Basically, that is a Petition to the United States government to allow us to bring an unknown, at this time, orphan into the country. The form itself is only one page, front and back, so that was like cake compared to the virtual mountain of paperwork we have completed. We also needed a copy of our birth certificates and our marriage license to accompany the form. (Also super easy). We paid $830.00 by check. (Easy but crappy) to file the form and pay for our fingerprints. Once the paperwork is processed, USCIS mails us a card to be federally fingerprinted. At some point, within a year of our application, DSS must directly send a copy of our Home Study to USCIS. (We paid $225 for that a few weeks ago). Then, when we are approved, a cable is sent to the Consulate in Moscow to be registered and we are sent a certificate that says we are A-OK to travel and get Baby Deetz and bring them home. Once an orphan is identified, then we must file another form with USCIS to bring that particular child into our country. (Fortunately, that doesn’t cost anything.) Really, not that bad of a process. I spent more time on the phone trying to figure out if our birth certificates needed to be original “copies” or photocopies. I brought both to be on the safe side.
The whole hang-up was the unknown, what would USCIS look like? Would it be some kinda huge government building like the Secretary of State’s office? The whole experience reminded me of the time when Heidi and I were invited to take a blimp ride…. The only gauge we had concerning a blimp was that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, you know the one where Indy and his father were escaping the Nazi’s on the blimp out of Germany? It was like a grand ballroom-“Tickets please!” Ladies were drinking tea and gentlemen were reading the daily paper. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EHwxFaLyWM . The blimp we were on was not like that! It was like a hollow shell with a cockpit. We did get to fly over Sea World and Universal Studios and we even got to fly it ourselves which was totally cool (and really scary). But anyway….not like the movies. USCIS was not like Ellis Island (With the Immigrants and the Statue of Liberty and sailors hugging their girlfriends and that stuff….) It was kinda weird.
It was in Greer. If you are from this area, that says it all. Greer is a sleepy little suburb of Greenville. It is about 20 minutes from the house, isn’t this a great theme we’ve been having? Everything is only a drive away! But needless to say, it’s not in a booming cityscape like Columbia. And it was in an area that looked like a warehouse loading dock. The office was in a strip mall. It had tinted windows and signs hanging all over stating “leave your weapons and cell phones in the car” Uhhhh…. There was one car waiting for the office to open when we arrived for our 8:00am appointment. The lady was chain smoking and digging in her ear. When we got to the door she said “Y’all look like Americans”. Uhhh….thank you? I guess she was too, but the lady she was with was from Germany. It was kinda like airport security inside. There was a guy with a gun at the door. You signed in with your driver’s license, dropped your keys in the tray, put your purse through the x-ray machine. Then “step on the black mat” for the frisk up and down.
I lost our “InfoPass” appointment card and was hoping that would not tie us up. We tore the house up last night looking for it (see mountain of paperwork as described earlier). The lady at the window said “Sarah?” and said it was no problem that I lost the notice. Whew. 10 minutes and $830 later we were done. Easy-Peesy, Lemon-Squeezy. The lady was super nice. She recommended that we avoid Charleston for the fingerprinting and request that our prints be taken in Charlotte. (3 hours of driving vs. 6 hours of driving) so we hand wrote a little note to accompany our paperwork and signed it. She said if we have any trouble to come and talk to her and she’ll get us an appointment in Charlotte. Maybe we can stop by Ikea on the way home……
P.S.- Happy Birthday Grandma, I wish you were here to meet your Great-Grandchild when they arrive.... But please know that Mom is going to do a terrific job spoiling them for the both of you. You did a great job showing her the way to properly spoil a child rotten.