In bringing my blog up to date with all of our travels and some of the more relevant excerpts from my art journal pages, I got so caught up in the happy, positive stuff that I completely forgot to write an update on our ongoing tussle with USCIS over our oldest son’s Green Card.
I won’t bore my readers by rehashing the whole abysmal saga again but suffice to say we were already reaching the limits of mental exhaustion with USCIS’s attitude towards the missing Green Card when, lo and behold, a letter arrived into our mailbox informing us that our son was legally obliged to attend an appointment at the nearest office in order to have his biometrics taken. Tolerance threshold breached.
I had to undergo the whole biometrics thing in order to enter the US as a permanent resident but our four children did not because they were and still are under the age of 14. But suddenly, because USCIS sent out the Green Cards to the wrong postal address and because one of those envelopes was subsequently lost, they felt it was important to put our oldest son through the biometrics process. The date in the later was a fortnight hence and on a weekday afternoon which meant missing an afternoon of school and my husband having to take an afternoon off work in order to take our son to the appointment – as I had to be home for the other three children.
The appointment was last Friday at 2pm. Husband and son set off in the car with all the paperwork and documentation required. At 1.45pm, my husband texted me to say that the whole operation was complete and they were heading home. When they arrived at the office, they found a massive but empty room filled with chairs for a couple of hundred people but occupied by just a hand full. There were more people manning the desks than there were people to process. Consequently, they were taken early for the appointment. My husband was required to fill out documents that fundamentally replicated all of the paperwork USCIS already had in their possession and that my husband had taken with him to the appointment. Form-filling for the merry heck of it, in other words. The biometrics bit of the appointment was so swift it was a blink and miss affair.
My husband enquired about the procedure for applying for a refund – given that we have now paid TWICE for our child to be issued with a Green Card and that the loss of the original card was due to a fault on USCIS’s part. He was informed that there was no procedure for that and that this was the sole procedure for obtaining a replacement for a lost card. No negotiations, no deviations, no exceptions. We are not talking about small change here either. We are left feeling as if we have been hustled.
I am now so pessimistic and cynical about the bureaucracy of USCIS that I am steeling myself for the next glitch in the process. Perhaps they will send the Green Card out to a different random address this time and we can pay yet more money and attend yet more appointments, forever stuck in an endless loop of ineffectiveness. But perhaps the Green Card will finally reach us and we can begin the process of applying for American passports for our four sons, thus effectively and officially putting their immigrant status behind them.
And that will probably be a whole other bureaucratic mess for us to look forward to.