Category Archives: immigration

Immigration Update – Boys

Last time we discussed the immigration issue it was a very frustrating time. “Bureaucracy is an art form” tells the annoying tale of how fruitless our visit to Federal Plaza was with the boys to get their Green Cards. We left their having been told there is no proof the boys entered the States legally, and that we should wait for a letter from there with further instruction. The letter was expected to ask us for copies of their Nexus cards which would prove when they entered the country. They had also told us that the kids needed to have had a B2 visa, which was total hogwash.

That was almost 2 months ago. We were waiting for this letter, which we knew would come in quadruplicate, so we could follow the steps to get this sorted out. The government works at its own pace and we knew we just had to be patient. We also consulted with an immigration attorney who agreed with us that this B2 visa business was a load of baloney.

On Thursday last week we received 8 pieces of mail from the Immigration folks. 2 per child. We were thinking that this was the request for more info. Actually one was the approval of the I-130 (Petition for the Alien Relative) and the other, shockingly, was to say that the boys’ application for permanent residency had been approved. Without asking us for the proof of entry? Without the B2 visa that the clerk insisted we had?

We checked online – you can type in your file number and track any updates in your case. It had not been updated with this new change. So while we were excited to get these letters, we were a little skeptical. When we receive the green cards, we thought, then we’ll be happy.

On Sunday we went to the mailbox to retrieve Saturday’s mail. The Green Cards had arrived. OK, it was kind of anticlimactic – just a huge sense of relief washing over us.

I still don’t really understand how things turned around and all of a sudden we have the Green Cards over-nighted to us – but I am not going to question it. At all. I am just so thrilled that that part of the immigration saga is over. Next part happens about a year or so from now, when I have to reapply for my green card. The kid’ cards are good for ten years – hopefully within that time we will all become citizens.

Now that I can prove the kids are legal residents, there is a whole bunch of paperwork that needs to get done – but I will do it with a smile on my face. We have been waiting for this for a long time. All told, it took over two years….

Immigration Update #45208

There isn’t much to say other than we are not getting our visas. Yep. Simply put, apparently they no longer process these visas and we have to go for Green Cards necessitating more waiting and more nail biting and more freaking forms. Forget about the fact that we paid a lot of money in fees for the visas.

I could go on and on about the awful treatment we have received, and the incompetence of certain people in official capacity. But I won’t. I could complain to you that after we paid all our money they told us they weren’t issuing the visas. I could witter on about KoD’s extremely disappointing visit to the consulate to try and talk to someone and get someone to help us.

I could even whine and moan that my apartment lease is up at the end of the month and we have nowhere to go, and that we are still waiting for our passports to be returned to us – but why would I want to yank you into my mire of self pity?

Well, we have now become people who have hired a bevy of lawyers to help us out, because any way you look at it, life has become even more difficult. Hopefully we won’t have to resort to selling our organs in order to settle these bills.

For those of you that want to help us out with $ (see what I have been reduced to??) I have set up a a paypal account – from this page enter the following email address to donate MilnerLegalFund at gmail dot com . If you wish to donate in Canadian funds go to the same page but use the address of MilnerLegalFundCa at gmail dot com. The Facebook page can be found HERE.

I want to take the opportunity to thank those of you who have been extremely helpful and supportive in many different ways – don’t stop, ok? We need you.

This has been a long journey already (15 months married this Shabbat) and it so isn’t over. But as I was telling my girlfriend the other day – I am not in this mess alone. I have the KoD by my side, keeping me focused, keeping it real, making me feel loved every single step of the way. Yes this is an annoyance. It’s frustrating and I want to cry and scream and howl at the moon. But at the end of all of this crapitude I will be living FULL TIME with my husband (I know, what a concept) and kids. Just have to get through a few more doses of yuck to get there.

(There will be more detailed posts on this insanity to follow. I simplified it because I am so sick of thinking about it and dealing with it and living and breathing it….)

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Border guards

I always seem to flummox them to some degree. See, in my head it makes perfect sense that I am going to NY to see my husband, and that my kids are back in Montreal with their father. Apparently, if you are not HSM it is not that obvious what the family dynamic is!!

On my way down to NY on Friday the border guard looked like he was just about old enough to start shaving, but was very stern and asked me a whole lot of questions. Then he asked me what I do. What do I do? I am a mommy – I always say this proudly. (Someone once asked why I don’t tell the border guards I am a writer – I said, my writing career isn’t paying yet. They pointed out, however, that I also don’t get paid to be a mom. Hmm). So saying one is a mommy leads to questions about why I am travelling alone. Where are the children? I am always so tempted to say “kids, what kids?” but one does not joke at the border.

I need to work out a brief paragraph that explains the situation, without the border guard getting all confused, and me tripping over my words to try to explain. I came up with this “Visiting my husband – second marriage. He lives in NY, I live in Montreal. Kids from my first marriage live with me and are visiting with their father this weekend, he lives in Montreal too”. Coherent enough, right? But who can be coherent when you have just been grilled about what your husband does for a living and where and how much money does he make and do you have any weapons on you or 10,000 dollars?

The dude finally understood, wished me luck, and have a nice day.

I cannot wait till this border crossing thing is over and I don’t have to deal with heart-in-mouth syndrome on a regular basis.

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Positivity Sucks

Being positive is one of the hardest things to be sometimes. After Monday’s upset, and the KoD leaving on Tuesday, I had a serious talk with myself, and made myself leave the wallowing and pity parties behind, and focus on the good, and look to the future. I even bought into it for a day or two.

Since Friday morning I have been fighting a severe case of the blahs. Maybe it is just the usual cruddiness of being far from the KoD. Maybe it’s uncertainty for this whole immigration thing. Maybe it’s lack of decent sleep – when I do sleep I am riddled with anxiety dreams. Maybe it’s just everything all rolled into one huge ball.

I am trying so hard to stay positive especially for the kids. This has been a long hard road and we are almost at the end of it. I am just so plain tired of it all. I just want to be with my KoD and never have to say goodbye again. I want to get on with the rest of my life.

Right now apparently my body (my mind?) needs to be in a foul rotten mood. It needs to ignore the phone, and be anti-social, it needs to not be with people. The weird thing is that I am well aware I am in this mood, I am well aware that it sucks for everyone around me, but I cannot seem to dig out of it. Maybe I just need to hunker down and ignore the world until I am in a better place emotionally. Probably safer for everyone that way.

But that is a slippery slope. And it isn’t fair to those who care about me to be ignored. I do not often indulge these feeling sorry for myself moods – I know better than to let them consume me. I cannot seem to stop it this time. Sigh.

I hate feeling like this. When the KoD is with me, he makes me feel stronger. He banishes all the bad stuff just by being present. My positivity returns with a vengeance. Maybe I just have had enough of trying to be strong by myself. Maybe I am fed up of being on my own even though I have an awesome husband (who lives 333 miles away)? Maybe, just maybe, I have gotten to the point that I am totally fed up with all the bureaucracy – it has been 14 months since we married and started the whole process.

I know it is just paperwork. I know that BH we all have our health and a roof over our heads and food in our belly. I know I have to do my Hishtadlut (due diligence) and get the paperwork in order (again). It’s all in the process. It’s far from impossible and will get done. So why, why when it is only paperwork and everything else is ok, am I so down in the dumps?

I need to go for a long walk…..333 miles long to be precise….

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Lessons can be learnt from everyone

Yesterday, at that interminable day spent at the consulate, the clerk we dealt with was a wonderful lady. We had to review all the forms etc with her, which for five people, was a lot of work. We were missing some photocopies, the medical for one child had gone AWOL and the reply paid envelope we brought apparently wasn’t big enough (and I did call in advance to find out!) plus there was one form that we had not filled out for the kids, and it had to be filled out for all four.

With every little set back at this initial stage my heart plummeted and panic probably showed on my face. But this lady, she was awesome. Her attitude was that none of this is major stuff, it could all be sorted and fixed, no point in sweating it. Here was a bureaucrat with an awesome attitude. She suggested that KoD go out to get the photocopies, the reply envelope and pick up the medical, while I stay and use the computer terminal to fill out the forms. She could not have been more helpful.

Her work is repetitive – she’s been there 33 years!! She must have seen some interesting things and witnessed stories that make our story look benign in comparison. Her cheerful tone and can-do attitude made this whole experience easier to bear. We ended up joking about children, and she told us a story about her son climbing into the washing machine at 4 years old. She really helped me to feel better.

The lesson I walked away with, after spending some time with this lady was that when it comes to paperwork and bureaucracy there is nothing so major that it cannot be fixed with a little time and patience, that there is no need to sweat the small stuff.

Today is a fresh new day. Every new day that we have is a gift. I sit here, marshalling the kids through showers and breakfast, preparing coffee for the KoD, and I know I am blessed beyond belief. So, the paperwork is a little held up and delayed. We can deal. Look what I have – I have love surrounding me, from my kids, my husband, and from my awesome friends. It will all be good.

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Immigration Update

I guess I am finally able to be rational and report on our disappointing appointment today. We arrived at the consulate at just gone 7 am and left around 2 pm. It was a long day with only snack machine food and drink, as you cannot bring your own food and beverages, a challenge when you keep kosher. The kids were really good considering….

The company that did our medicals messed up. They neglected to include one of the kids’ medicals in the package. Strike one. Luckily their office was not too far from the building and the KoD was able to go pick up a copy. Which we were later told was not acceptable  – they needed the original – and this was a reason for our visa application to be denied.

The consular official also decided she didn’t like my legal documents – custody etc – they were not official enough for her purposes. Strike two. (I had been told that they would be acceptable).

Strike three – the British police certificate that I had paid through the nose for was not from the company that they (the consulate) recommend, so it had to be redone.

Once I do all that they will be pleased to grant me the visas.

Such a let down. I have to say that I know these people are just doing their jobs but boy does it smart. When we left the consular building the KoD drove us to the office where we did the medicals where I raised Holy Heck! And lo and behold the missing medical was right there, in his file. Why the heck could they not have given it to the KoD when he was there earlier??

I got home, had a huge meltdown, emailed the police certificate forms to a friend to print for me, picked them up, did passport photos for that, photocopied some bills and my passport, spoke to lawyers office to get the officially official legal papers that no consular official can quibble with. First thing in the morning I will get a bank draft and send off for the new police certificate, and by 1030 am tomorrow all the paperwork that I have to redo will be on its way here.

As soon as they get the papers the visas can be issued.

It was such a long and stressful day, and we started out so hopeful. Having the KoD here really made it feel better. He sees the good in everything and was able to tell me that it’s all happening for the best. There is a reason that this all came to pass. We may not know it now, but when you have faith you know it’s all for the good. KoD helped calm me down just by being there for me. He is so supportive and totally my rock.

It would have been so easy for us to point the finger at each other and lay blame – “I told you to do this” or “why didn’t you do that?” and totally get into a fight. I am so proud that we didn’t behave that way. We are a unit, a couple, and we stand together. When one is weak the other is strong and vice versa. I have never felt so loved by another person in all my life.

I have faith that we will be together forever very soon – just a bridge or two left to cross.

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Immigration Questions

Our immigration interview is coming up real soon, and I have spent the morning printing out photos, making sure I have the right documentation (criminal background checks from everywhere I have lived since the age of 16, medicals for all of us, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees etc) and putting it all together in a file. I have been told by others that it’s important to also provide any paperwork that shows the KoD’s name with mine – for example: bank statements, bills etc, even though it isn’t asked for specifically. I have to take more passport pictures tomorrow for myself, luckily I still have two each for the boys from when we took photos for the medicals.

Over the weekend I spent some time talking with the boys about how to conduct themselves at the interview. To only speak when spoken to. To speak politely. To answer the questions posed – but not add any additional information. To tell the truth only. I could apply for the younger boys to be exempted from the interview – but I think it’s important that they are there and take part. One of the older ones told the youngest that if he is as annoying as usual they might not let him into the States. Brothers can be so nasty.

One thing I couldn’t tell them was what questions we will be asked. I have absolutely no idea what kind of things they will want to know. I know the documentation will tell them most of what they want to know. I know they are looking to see if this is a marriage of convenience. Let me think about that for a second. Living apart, managing two residences, juggling 7 kids between us, car issues, driving up and down the I-87 every other weekend for over a year, missing each other – this has hardly been convenient!!

If you have knowledge of this kind of interview – will they ask the boys any questions? What questions will they ask me and the KoD? Will they even ask the KoD anything as he doesn’t have to be there, but chooses to come? Does what we wear matter?

None of us has anything to hide – so I am not too worried, I just want to be adequately prepared and have the kids ready for anything that might happen.

Thanks in advance.

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Photo Album

One of my Montreal Mommies suggested I put together a photo album for the immigration interview. Pictures of family events that the KoD and I attended together, pix of me with his kids, pix of him with my boys. Pictures of us together at different locations.

I have a wedding album that I plan to shlepp along, but how many pictures do I put in my extra album? What exactly does the immigration officer want to see? There are pictures of me with KoD’s mom and brother, KoD with my mum and brothers…. Professional pics from Squiggy’s barmitzvah. Candid shots of us all just hanging out….

Should I upload our wedding video onto a USB drive, or will that be overkill? I wonder if they’d even let me bring that in to the consulate….

If you any experience with these types of interviews please give me the benefit of your wisdom.

Thanks.

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What not to do at the border

Thankfully this is NOT my own border story, for once. Friday morning I was waiting patiently in line at the border to show my passport, answer the requisite questions, and drive on towards my KoD.

There was somewhat of a line up. How it works is that there is a bunch of HUGE stop signs about 40 feet from the actual booth. When there is a car at the guard’s booth you wait by the stop signs till you are signaled by the guard to come ahead.

The car in front of the car in front of me (ie second car ahead of me) drove ahead to the booth. The car in front of me got all excited and shot off after it. Drove right up behind that car. Big huge no-no. Border guards came running from all directions. Made him roll down his window, made him back up to before the stop signs and wait his turn like he should have originally. One of them pointed out the six stop signs with exaggerated motions.

When it eventually got to his turn, the border guard kept him for at least 15 minutes. He kept handing more papers over to the guard. Another guard came over and walked around the car, looked under it, opened the trunk, unzipped a few suitcases. More questions. (I think initially I experienced total schadenfreude that they had found someone else to annoy for once).

Finally I saw the guard motioning to the driver to pull over by the immigration and customs building. I guess they weren’t finished with him. Honestly, I felt sorry for the dude by this point. He made a mistake and drove 40 feet a little too early…..did he deserve to be questioned so thoroughly? Did that make him a suspicious person? I do hope they finally let him go on to his destination.

BH I made it through within 2 minutes of driving up to the booth.  I was dying to ask the guard about the guy but that’s not something that would have been a smart move.

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WE HAVE A DATE!!! (Immigration Update #654)

I hold in my hot little hands a love letter from the USA Consulate in Montreal. Well, it’s a bit impersonal, but it’s asking me to show up and visit, and to bring the kids!!

We have our appointment in April (of this year) which is further away than we had imagined, but still at least we have something scheduled. It means that we may be free to move by the end of April. There are a lot of decisions to be made, weighing up the pros and cons and everyone’s best interests.

Apparently the interview is the final stage, and that’s when they decide whether or not to let us into the country. It’s really a formality from what I understand.

So I have two months to make sure I have all the paperwork together (that I had ready 6 months ago!!), take more passport pictures, and make some decisions about a moving date. (But technically we are not supposed to take any steps whatsoever to sell houses or end leases or give up jobs, until we possess the visas.)

I have been sitting on this news until the KoD and I could inform the kids together, which we did tonight. I have to say the whole thing has been rather anti-climactic at this point. The kids were excited but seeing as we still don’t have a final moving date it’s hard for them to conceptualize. We just want to be there already. By the time of our appointment it will have been 14 months since we got married. 14 months of waiting. 14 months of limbo. It’s soon over though. Yippee!!

But we are looking at the positive – we have a date, we have an idea of timing and we can start to move forward and plan for happily ever after in Monsey.

Just wanted to let you all know.

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