This is not a legal advise. I am not a lawyer. This is solely my experience.
“Freaking out!” was the theme of last year! I had to file for Adjustment of Status (AoS) after marrying David on October 17, 2016. I was admitted into the country under a B1/B2 visiting visa which is non-immigrant. It is unlawful to enter the country under the intention of getting married on a non-immigrant visa. USCIS has a special category visa for marriage. It is called a fiancé visa or K1/2 visa. So I will dedicate this post to the worried (AoS) filers under B1/B2, under the category of eligibility: “Spouse of a US Citizen”.
I sent out my papers to the Chicago lockbox on February 26, 2017. It took me four months to complete the requirement files, gathering papers, and filling out the applications. I was not permitted to work in the U.S. so I decided to file the papers myself without the help of a lawyer. It was my project at the time. When I finally sent out my papers through FedEx, I was relieved. I filed for (AoS) concurrent with Alien Relative Petition, Advance Parole and Employment Authorization.
However, my first concern was my “Admit Until Date” (AUD). I am sure you already know that you should send out your application (AoS) before your I-94 expiration date which is the (AUD) printed on your passport. My (AUD) was Feb. 5. 2017. A short search on google comforted that I should only worry if my (AUD) was passed by 90 days.
My second mini heart attack was when USCIS sent me a notice asking me to provide proof that David “My Sponsor” makes 120% above federal poverty line annually. The problem was that I already sent out the proof. I sent all the financial documents needed. I didn’t know what extra information they wanted. I didn’t have a lawyer to consult, so I decided I will sent the same papers all over again with a letter from David’s employers explaining in details how much he makes. It worked! Six days later on April 25. 2017, I received an e-notice saying I was ready to be scheduled for an interview.
After I received my Employment Authorization / Advance Parole (EAD) card, I booked a flight to go back home. I did it impulsively because I missed home so much at that point. I wasn’t employed and I had been doing nothing with my life for over a year! I was driving my man along with myself crazy. I spent 43 days in Saudi Arabia.
Let me tell you something, when you receive the (EAD) card, you also receive a notice and a brochure explaining that the card doesn’t guarantee readmission into the States upon leaving. It is solely up to the Homeland Security agent to let you in or not. On my way back to the States, I was also freaking out. 30+ hours of traveling accompanied by panicking. “Would the agent let me in or what!” I was beating myself up “What a reckless decision!”.
I stood in the line of non-immigrants waiting to be briefly interviewed by the Homeland Security officer. I was smiling ear to ear trying to hide my nervousness. I approach the stand. He asked “Why are you here?”. I handed him my passport and my (EAD) card. He looked puzzled and asked “Is this a new card?”. I nodded. He said he’s never seen the new cards. Then asked me why was I in the States in the first place. And when I told him that my U.S. Citizen husband proposed to me on my birthday, he said with a smirk “How convenient”. Then he asked me to step aside and follow him into another room! I freaked out again!
They asked me to sit down with the people waiting. I was thinking to myself that I would now never see my husband! I saw two men being rejected right in front of me. Another agent called my name and asked me the same questions all over again. Then he stamped my passport “Admitted”. Hallelujah!
I waited almost 5 months until I received my interview notice via mail. I actually thought it was a Christmas blessing. I received on Christmas weekend. Then started, of course, another kind of panicking. I didn’t know how the interview would go. I didn’t know what to expect. I asked around and looked through the internet for a month! When finally David and I went to the USCIS office building too early, we revised our story and tried to remember the hardest dates.
The interview didn’t last more than 15 minutes! I saw the file I sent almost a year ago on the Interviewer’s desk! I was thinking to myself “wow! I am proud of my work”. It was a giant folder indeed! The interviewer asked us about our story, how we met, the proposal. He focused on dates, asked about the same date multiple time. He made it sound like he forgot. Then he asked me bunch of security question, like if I were a terrorist or a communist or a drug dealer. Of course I kept my answers short and direct. The more succinct your answers are, the better. Don’t try to give out information more than needed. He didn’t take any additional papers or photos from me. He just said that our case is pretty convincing and said goodbye!
I will not tell you to stop worrying, because no matter what you read on the internet, you will always worry. My only advice is to submit all your papers, even if you had to, twice. Print out as many pictures as you can. Remember your date and just wait! Wait for your turn to be called. You’ll be filled with excitement on the day of the interview! Good Luck!
Here’s my detailed USCIS case timeline:
(remember, time is different according to case and field office)
02/26/2017 Sent / Filed applications (AOS/EAD/AP)
03/02/2017 Received I-797s
03/11/2017 Biometric notice received
03/22/2017 Biometric taken
03/18/2017 Notice to provide more financial support evidence for adjustment of status
04/07/2017 Appointment with USCIS to clarify the notice
04/12/2017 Sent response to initial evidence request
04/19/2017 USCIS received response to initial evidence, case resumed
04/25/2017 USCIS sends a e-notification that they will send an interview date (still waiting)
05/30/2017 Received mailed notice of approval for EAD
06/01/2017 EAD/AP card in hand
06/18/2017 Left the States with Advance Parole
08/03/2017 Readmitted to the States under Advance Parole
18/12/2017 Notice of initial interview sent
23/12/2017 Notice of initial interview received
1/22/2018 Initial interview
1/22/2018 Green Card is being produced
1/25/2018 Card sent
1/26/2018 Card received