Passing the Bureaucratic Buck

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you will be aware that in an earlier rant I bemoaned the fact that some sort of snag along the way had led to my oldest son being missed out on being provided with all sorts of key documents.  We have been caught in a Kafkaesque mire of buck-passing since then.

We were required to have a co-sponsor when the kids and I applied for our visas because my husband (the US citizen) was not resident in America at that time.  A close family friend agreed to fulfil that role and, as such, when we went to our interview at the US Embassy in London and we needed to provide a US address, it was his that was selected.  Unfortunately for us but more so for our co-sponsor, his apartment was flooded shortly after our arrival in the US and he had to move out.  We set up with the Postal Service to have all of our mail redirected from that address as soon as our friend moved out.  However, two days after we arrived in the US, I had submitted the change of address forms that we, as aliens, are legally required to submit to USCIS to notify them of where we actually live.

However, it became apparent that they had not bothered to change the address as the social security cards and then the green cards arrived at our address through the postal forwarding system, having been sent to our friend’s former address.  Both were missing for my oldest son.  We got the Social Security office to issue him with an SSN with a modicum of hassle but no bureaucratic mess at least.  The same is not holding true for trying to get him a green card.

The Postal Service claim that they delivered it, at the end of December, along with all the other green cards for myself and the other three kids.  We, of course, know that it was not delivered because all of the other cards arrived in our mailbox together and that one was not among them.  USCIS state, therefore, that they will issue our oldest son with a replacement card since it has been lost but for a fee of $450.  Now this whole immigration process – the visa applications, the relocation expenses, the set-up costs and paying for properties on two sides of the Atlantic – has pretty much flat-lined our savings so I am not about to fork out $450 just to quickly resolve a problem that is not of my making.  We have, therefore, requested that they waive the fee and reissue the green card as a priority.  USCIS don’t want to do this as they claim that it was the Postal Service who were at fault since it seems most likely that they failed to put all five green cards through the proper forwarding process and that one errant green card was sent to the address originally on the envelope and has disappeared into the ether.  Except USCIS are at fault because they never should have marked the envelopes with that address in the first place since, yes, two days after arriving I submitted five forms informing them of our actual address, the one where they were supposed to send everything.  I took print outs of the forms as evidence at the time.  They have looked up the confirmation number and admit they received them.  They consequently cannot explain why they did not send the forms to our actual address.  

But they have still not said they will waive the fee and issue our son with his green card.  So we are in embattled positions and emails are flying back and forth between us, the postal service and immigration services trying to come to some acceptable resolution.  It is bureaucratic bedlam and no one is willing to cop to the responsibility of the stuff up that caused it.  Meanwhile my oldest son still does not have his green card.

Someone needs to accept responsibility, suck it up and find a route out of this labyrinth of red tape before I turn into the Minotaur.