Visa update

Immigration did their site visit a week and a half ago, so that means that my church can proceed with premium processing, which would guarantee that immigration will get back to us in 15 days. They will either respond “Yes, you are granted a visa” or “Wait, we need more evidence to make a decision.” It is likely that I’ll receive my visa because our church gave immigration plenty of proof that we’re a real church, that the pastors are real, and that I’m real.

Premium process costs $1225, which I paid up front so that premium processing can begin immediately. Half of it will be reimbursed to me in the near future. For the remaining $612.50, my siblings will fundraise on my behalf through this blog (because my attorney said I am not allowed to solicit funds). My siblings will take over this blog from Friday October 6 2017 to Friday December 29 2017, but starting today, there will be an option to contribute financial support. A payment button will be added on this blog. Any money received, IF people give (I am not asking you to give), will go towards covering the $612.50. My siblings will be asking for your help because the $1225 was a sizable chunk of my savings, and if it wasn’t provided, the church would have bypassed premium processing (since it can’t afford $1225), and I would have waited several more months to receive word from immigration. I’m not willing to wait much longer because my financial situation requires that I obtain income. I’m going on 5 months of unemployment since I cannot work while I wait for my visa. This visa-waiting situation was never sustainable to begin with, and I am concerned about how I will support myself if immigration continues to take a long time to make a final decision.

I’ve been asked a couple times if Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or Trump’s administration affects my immigration situation. Because DACA is for foreign individuals who entered the U.S. without authorization when they were young children, it does not apply to me. I relate to them on a personal level because they are now in a difficult predicament of facing potential shutting down of the DACA program, which means they must renew their work permits and plan for an unpredictable future.

When it comes to Trump’s administration and their stance on immigration, they seem to focus most of their attention on undocumented immigrants who have entered the U.S. illegally or who have fallen out of status because of overstaying their visas. “Maintaining status” means going from visa to visa while staying in the U.S. When a foreigner is in the U.S., they must always be either under a visa or a pending visa application, otherwise they are considered out of status. Because I am in status due to waiting for immigration’s final decision, I am here legally. I currently do not worry about ICE because they target people who entered or are employed here without authorization.

Because it takes a long time to process immigration applications (depending on the kind of visa you or your family member or employer apply for), I think it will take a long time for Trump to affect legal immigrant processes. The immigration system takes longer to file applications submitted by mainland China, the Philippines, India, and Mexico. For family-sponsored visas submitted by Mexicans and Philippinos, immigration is working on files that were submitted as early as February 1995. This means that people who filed family-sponsored applications in February 1995 are still waiting for visa results. That’s a lot of back log, folks.

One of the only things that’s predictable about Trump is that he is unpredictable. Immigration is also a clunky bureaucracy that is self-funding (I don’t remember the formal term for it- basically, when we file for anything with immigration, we pay filing fees). If the current U.S. president is unpredictable and immigration remains a large system that is difficult to navigate and is fraught with timing implications affecting those wanting visas, I think any policies that Trump pitches to the U.S. political pecking order will take time to implement.  In my mind, I’m not anticipating immigration moves from Trump that will directly affect my legal status, at least not in this term.

If you, dear reader, are an American, do not take your citizenship for granted. If you are a foreigner living in the U.S., learn the immigration system you are working with. If you’re reading this from another part of the world, you know that immigration systems can get complicated no matter where you are. Cheers to persevering together!


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