Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Our dubious status

When we returned from Montreal this passed Sunday, we encountered our first glitch at the border. In our passports has always been the I-94A and, since our visas have been extended, there was also one other piece of paper stapled to the I-94A that we received when our visas were renewed. For some reason, the US government does not put the expiry date on the renewal slip. Why? I have no freakin' clue and think that that is absolutely retarded! Regardless, the paper which the renewal slip detaches from does have the expiry date which we have carried with us on two previous trips and never needed them. I've always been someone who carries more than we need with us to prevent any problems, but this time I completely forgot about the lack of expiry date on our passport documents.

We were one of those cars sent to the offices at the border. They take the keys to our car and firmly tell us where to go. On one hand, the person at the booth could have easily found it in the computer they scan things through - which is what I'm guessing has been done in the past - and on the other, we should have had the rest of the renewal notice with us. Luckily, all the information regarding us and our status in the States is readily available in the computer and the person we dealt with in the office issued us new I-94A's, confiscating our other documents which were being used in our green card application. What this might mean for our green cards, we had no idea.

On June 17th I received an email from our lawyer instructing me not to worry about some of our concerns and also that he would be filing our green card application within the week. I hadn't heard anything from him a month later and so I emailed inquiring into the status of our application with no reply. The day before we left for Montreal I emailed him to let him know we'd be leaving the country for a short time and again queried as to the status of our application. Still nothing.

On Monday I left a message for our lawyer with a brief description of what happened at the border. Later on that day he returned my call and asked about what happened. At one point he mentioned that he didn't know we'd be out of the country to which I responded, I sent you an email the day before we left. "Oh." (Dude! You're obviously not reading my emails!) turns out that we were very lucky he hadn't filed the application because if he had and we were in possession of new I-94A's, then the entire application would have been thrown out. (And if he had filed the application we weren't supposed to leave the country until we get new travel papers!) While I was frustrated that our applications hadn't been filed, it's a good thing they weren't!

This whole experience has reminded us just how strongly our presence here in the States is determined by someone's decision. Our application will be put on someone's desk and they will decide our fate. (Hopefully they'll be in a good mood and not recently been dumped by the love of their life!) We are somewhat afraid that the decision will not be favorable to us and that we will be given a short amount of time to pack up and return to Canada. Without income, a place to live, a toddler and an infant, we just can't seem to imagine where the best place to go would be or how things will work out. Houses in this area do not sell quickly and so we'd also have a mortgage to continue paying. It's scary. Because it could be quite some time before we know our fate, I am trying to live each day as if we're ok and whatever happens, we'll deal with it. I so desperately hope that when it is time for us to leave this place it will be on our own terms because we're ready for the next step.

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