Friday, April 20, 2018

Our Journey to Citizenship

Those of you who have followed me for a long time have likely seen my posts on working with USCIS and the many stops we have made along the way. After a while I got tired of posting when there wasn't any substantial updates. In fact, I haven't posted anything about immigration since Rohit got to the U.S a little over 4 years ago so now I have to tell it all.

Indian, Immigration, IR1 Visa
Rohit's first day in America, 2013
Rohit qualified for naturalization under Section 319(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) because he and I had been married for the full 3 years he lived here as a permanent resident (PR). This is a much shorter time requirement than other citizenship paths and I'm glad that a fellow desi pardesi couple alerted us to this section.

Rohit applied for citizenship as soon as he had been here for 3 years. He had to go through the obligatory bio-metrics appointment and then he was given study materials to prepare for his interview. He hates to read but I'm very proud to say he took this seriously as I'm sure many Indians do when studying for exams.

In January 2017 Rohit had his interview and I went with him but they let me know I couldn't go back to sit with him while he was with the Consular Officer (CO). He panicked a bit at that because he was so nervous. We had practiced so many times for questions he might be asked and as any proud American will tell you - Rohit knew more about American history than I did by the time he got in there lol.

He passed the interview with flying colors but as his luck would go, somehow they had entered 2 separate files for his information and that had to be fixed before they could grant him an interview. Rohit has terrible luck when it comes to things like this. They assured him it would take a couple of months then he would get a letter letting him know that his interview would be scheduled.

Then we began getting random letters from time to time letting him know that he would be receiving a request for additional information. Each time we called only to find out they didn't need anything, they didn't know why he got the letter but they would follow up on it and let him know if they really did need anything. We got 3 or 4 letters over the course of the next 6 months, all of them apparently unknown to USCIS.

In September or October we got a letter telling us to report to USCIS for new bio-metrics as Rohit's fingerprints had expired. Expired??? Were they supposed to change as he aged? When we got to the office even the CO thought it was stupid that they had called us in but she agreed that we needed to do whatever make the powers that be happy. She took his prints and sent us on our way.

Finally in March 2018 after we kept getting letters and no ceremony had been scheduled I filed a Congressional Inquiry with our local Congressman. Less than a week later we got his interview date scheduled. Imagine that. It was such a huge relief to finally have a date set.

I invited 20 people. Rohit got really nervous by this but I didn't entertain his anxiety over it. This is a huge event in his life, to not invite family to share in this occasion would just be awful.

Have you been through the naturalization process? What was it like for you? Share your story in the comments.