Thursday, February 9, 2012

my citizenship interview... or don't believe everything you see on the internet

So, since I've chronicled (and lost) my entire journey from meeting John to my last green card interview, I figured I should put this to web page as well. Plus, it might help with the anger issues I've been having!

So I basically fired my lawyer b/c she was charging me $400 an hour to fill out forms. Since she'd already filled out the actual citizenship application, I let her go. I got my interview for Feb. 7 at 1:35 p.m. and downloaded the 100 questions you're supposed to memorize and started to learn.

I asked John to take the day off from work to go with me, and I'm glad I did. I wanted Derek to come as well, but I'm glad he didn't. We got there at 1p.m. and sat down.

The place was packed to the gills. There were at least 200 people there. As soon as I sat down, I asked the woman next to me if she had been waiting long. She had been there for her 9:55a.m. appointment and was still waiting. WTF? She didn't get called till 3p.m. I do not know how she held it together in that interview. These interviewers have our futures in their hands and pissing them off means you get to re-apply!

John said he was going to leave at 4 to go pick up Derek. We were clear across town and he was concerned about getting to the school on time. We waited and waited. He made me laugh, I read my Kindle, he tested me on the questions and even went to get me a bottle of water. The crowd thinned out ever so slowly. At 3, I began to worry if they were going to get to everyone today and if they were going to send people home after 5p.m. It is a government work, after all.

Some people came out of their interviews very happy, clutching their naturalization ceremony letters. It was pretty clear that no one was going to get sworn in that afternoon, but I thought that was ok, since I wanted some people to be present at mine. I watched a lot of the USCIS video on going through the interview process and that was a massively huge mistake.

Those videos lead you to believe that the interviewer reviewed your file PRIOR to seeing you. He goes over the application form pretty closely and gives you the civics and English proficiency tests. Once you pass, you get a letter to go pick up your date for the swearing-in ceremony. You are not told how you feel ass-fucked when it's over.

John leaves at 4:15, and not two minutes later my name gets called. I keep thinking that John probably hasn't even left the building yet! I follow the man into his office, raise my right hand and swear to be truthful.

I have no rapport with this interviewer. He is very self-conscious of large patches of eczema on his head and face and won't make eye contact with me. When I try to engage him, he looks away. So, to allow him to look at me, I had to slightly turn my body away from his and look past his right shoulder. He seemed much more relaxed when I did that. Do not cry down neurolinguistic programming to me, ever. That shit works!

He started with the history test, as he called it. He asked me 6 (Who is the Speaker of the House? When was the Declaration of Independence adopted? For how long do we elect the President? Who lived in America before the colonists? Name one of the longest rivers in the US and I forget what the 6th question was) and I answered the 6 in a row and that ended there.

I read a sentence about Abraham Lincoln and wrote a sentence about Abraham Lincoln.

I was then informed that I was no longer applying for citizenship based on my marriage but because I had been a permanent resident for more than 5 years. Um... okay. He ran through my application, asking me only one substantive question about what I did between 2006 and 2008 when I wasn't working. He asked me how was I supporting myself now and I said I was in law school and my husband is gainfully employed. That should have been a red flag right there that he had no idea what was in my file.

He then informed me that I passed the interview and English proficiency parts but since the place was closing soon (it was 4:30p.m.) he could not render a decision. I asked who else has to see it before a decision can be made. He bridled and must have thought I was asking something else, because he said that he interviewed me so he will be going through the file. I think it hit him that couldn't be what I was actually asking when I started to ask why he couldn't just do that now. He said someone has to see it after he does. I asked what could possibly happen that I will be turned down. He said he didn't know because he hadn't reviewed my file. I asked if he wanted some of the additional documents I brought with me. He said he didn't know because he hadn't reviewed my file. I said since I was just informed that my application's reason has changed, wouldn't it just be safe to at least take the letter of good standing from my law school. He said he didn't know because ... you guessed it! He hadn't reviewed my file.

I gave the fuck up.

As I walked out of the interviewing offices, I must have looked like blue murder. But I looked up and I could feel everything melt away as I saw my husband standing by our seats, waiting for me. He said he had gone to the bathroom and when he passed by the room on his way to the elevators, he saw all my stuff gone so he thought he'd stick around for about 15mins to see if I'd come out. I do not think I have ever been so happy to see him in my life. Seeing him for the first time and watching him walk through the front door when I threw my back out come close, but I cannot describe how it felt to see him there and know I wouldn't have to go home alone.

So I wait. The USCIS has 120 days to send me a determination in the mail and there is nothing I can do until then. And if nothing else has come out of this, I appreciate my husband a whole lot more than I did before I walked into that interview. I love you, bun.