Immigration Woes, Part Four
The National Visa Center (NVC) had sent our paper work to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez in June 2005. Our appointment was in March 2006!
Why so long? Well is appears the US Consulate in Ciudad Juarez is the busiest consulate in the world and they are extremely back logged. Maybe they ought to hire more people.
Up to this point my Congressman and Senator had been a great help moving my paperwork along. When the paperwork arrived at the consulate they hit a brick wall.
It seems that our State Department doesnít answer to the US Congress any more. Or so it seems.
We waited, not so patiently, for our appointment time to come. Then suddenly we received a package informing us that our appointment was in 30 days.
It was obvious that the package they send out is a standard one, -because it was asking us for forms we had already submitted. So to be safe we filled out all of the forms and took them with us to the appointment.
Before we went to our appointment my wife had to have a physical. This consisted of a blood test and vaccinations. All of which cost an additional fee. In total, it was about $250.00 more.
There are only two approved places you can take your physical. Luckily the one we went to was quick. It took us about an hour. We arrived there as early as possible. The other clinic was taking between three and four hours.
Included in the information packet is a warning to be careful around the clinics because there have been many robberies and assaults. Isnít the concern of your government touching, they do not however provide any security.
The day of our appointment we arrived early. The information packet said it didnít matter when you arrived and they were right. My wife didnít have her interview until almost 4:00 pm.
Meanwhile we had to stand in the rain on the street, because the sponsor wasnít allowed to accompany the applicant.
I decided to turn the wait into a research opportunity. I talked too many of the people waiting, asking about their story.
Many of them have been waiting as long as or longer than we had. Some of them had made multiple trips to the consulate. Many had the services of a lawyer, which really didnít seem to do them much good.
Here a partial list of the wisdom I gleaned for my observations:
- Donít talk to or trust the vendors offering to assist you with your paperwork! These establishments exist solely to separate money from confused and often desperate people.
- Get a hotel close to the consulate, they should cost between $40.00 and $60.00 dollars. There are also restaurants close by.
- Do not get to the consulate too early, because there isnít any security until just before they open.
- Ciudad Juarez is on Mountain Time so adjust your watch, if necessary.
- As is true in most third world nations, the people see Americans as potential targets to be fleeced. Watch out for pick pockets and con artists.
- If the price of the VISA application has gone up you will have to pay the difference. For us it was about $40.00 more.
- If you need a waiver, expect to wait an additional amount of time.
-- I know of one case where the family waited for three weeks in Ciudad Juarez then was told they would have to wait 10 years before the wife could come to the US.
-- In another case the consulate wouldnít grant the waiver unless the wife of the sponsor turned in her brother, who was wanted on warrants. Why that should be a condition for entry into the US is beyond me.
There were many stories like this among the people waiting. The biggest problem is the complete lack of information available. It almost seems like the consulate staff wants you to be in the dark. This process could be made much more user friendly.
Currently the process goes through the Immigration and Naturalization Service, then to the National Visa Center and finally to the US Consulate.
To speed up the system the Immigration and Naturalization Service could adopt a program like the National Visa Center has so you can check and verify the status of your paperwork.
The National Visa Center should send all of the required paperwork in one mailing. They could include a fee bill for the entire amount with the requirement that all fees must be paid for the paperwork to be processes. This action alone would have saved us over five months of waiting.
Finally, the State Department must do something about the processing times in their consulates. Especially the consulate in Ciudad Juarez, as it is the system puts an artificial cap on immigration. There are people who have been waiting for their appointments for over ten years!
Itís no wonder so many enter this country illegally! If congress really wanted to get a handle on the immigration problem they would do two simple things.
1. Make it a felony to knowingly employ undocumented aliens and enforce the law!
2. Streamline the process to allow a reasonable work visa process.
If I have learned anything in this process it is to be persistent. When dealing with the US Government you must continuously engage them in discussion. If your paperwork isnít in the place it needs to be, question them as to why.
Donít be afraid to contact your political representatives. Thatís what they are there for, even though some seem to forget.
Good luck and I hope your quest goes smoother than ours.
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