One step closer to citizenship…

Today I completed one more step towards becoming a US citizen; I had to go in for biometrics in order to renew my green card. The process towards citizenship is slow, somewhat complicated at the beginning, sometimes nerve wracking, and I am just over halfway there!….(I think) Hoy complete un paso mas hacia convertirme en cuidadano de los Estados Unidos; tuve que ir a registar mis huellas digitales para renovar mi tarjeta de residente. El proceso para convertirse en ciudadano es lento, algo complicado al principio, a veces muy nervioso, y recien estoy a mitad de camino!….(creo)
My experience dealing with immigration services has been pretty good compared to the horror stories I have heard. Of course I’ve had several advantages: I was offered a chance to come to the U.S. legally from the beginning as a student, I’m now a part of a genuine relationship, Leslie has thousands of pictures that are better than billions of words to prove it, and I have made sure to follow every rule, meet every deadline and be respectful to those working in my case. The many things I have in my favor in this process are not lost on me. Mi experiencia con los servicios de immigracion ha sido muy buena comparada con las historia de horror que he escuchado. Claro que tengo la ventaja de tener una relacion genuina, Leslie tiene miles de fotos (que son mejores que billones de palabras), y yo me asegure de seguir cada regla, no hacer todo a tiempo, y ser respetuoso con la gente trabajando en mi caso.
When Leslie and I got married, we hired an immigration attorney who helped us file for permanent residency. You don’t necessarily have to hire a lawyer to do the paperwork but we didn’t want to take any additional risks with the process. Any missed signature means having to refile and pay the application fees again – not a chance we were willing to take. We were so glad to work with her; she was extremely helpful (this was the most complicated part of the process) and definitely made made the process smoother toward getting the green card. Our biggest issue was getting my traveling permit in time to attend our Chile wedding – it arrived the day before our flight. WE WERE SO NERVOUS!!! Leaving the country in the middle of the process without the appropriate documentation would have meant that my case would be dropped and I wouldn’t be able to return to the States until I filed again and my green card was issued (a process that takes at least 6 months – if everything moves fast). Luckily I got the traveling permit on time (thanks to an emergency last minute trip to Memphis to expedite the process) and we could travel to Chile without any problems. Cuando Leslie y yo nos casamos, contratamos a un abogado de immigracion que nos ayudo a enviar nuestros papeles para la residencia. No es necesario contratar a un abogado para hacer el papeleo pero no queriamos tomar riesgos innecesarios en este proceso. Cualquier error significaba tener que enviar todo de nuevo y tener que pagar el precio de la aplicacion nuevamente – algo que no queriamos arriesgar. Quedamos muy contentos trabajando con ella; fue de mucha ayuda (el comienzo es la parte mas dificil del proceso) y definitivamente hizo mas facil conseguir la tarjeta de residencia. Nuestro maor problema era obtener el permiso de viaje a tiempo para ir a Chile a nuestro matrimonio alla – llego el dia antes de viajar! Estabamos muy nervisos! Dejar el pais en la mitad del proceso sin la documentacion apropiada significaba que mi caso seria cerrado y no podria volver al pais hasta enviar todos mis papeles de nuevo y mi tarjeta era generada (algo que toma por lo menos 6 meses – si anda rapido). Por suerte el permiso llego a tiempo (gracias a un viaje a Memfis de ultimo minuto para expeditar el tema) y viajamos a Chile sin problemas.
After filing with our lawyer and receiving the traveling permit I had to go in for biometrics, which essentially means that they take a picture of you, ask you for eye color, hair color, height and weight, and get your fingerprints on record. The next step was the in-person interview where Leslie and I had to attend as a couple and present further evidence of our relationship (our file already had every possible document that had both our names and proved that we were married and sharing a home). We traveled to Memphis (again) and took 5 huge photo albums with us to show the immigration officer….and after just a few minutes of talking and showing pictures my permanent residency was approved. Despues de enviar los papeles con el abogado y recibir el permiso de viaje, tuve que ir a registrar mis huellas digitales y otras medidas corporales como peso, altura, foto, color de pelo y ojos. El proximo paso fue una entrevista en persona donde Leslie tuvo que venir conmigo y presentarnos como pareja ante un oficial y demostrar mas evidencia de nuestra relacion (nuestro archivo ya tenia todos los documentos posibles que probaban que nuestro matrimonio era legitimo y que viviamos juntos). Viajamos a Memfis de nuevo y llevamos 5 albumes de fotos enormes para mostrarle al oficial…y despues de solo unos minutos conversando y mostrando fotos mi residencia permanente fue aprovada.
This first green card lasted 2 years and had to be renewed. Once renewed, it will take a couple of years to become eligible to apply for citizenship, so right now I am completing that step. This week I had an appointment to get my biometrics taken again and hopefully soon I will be receiving my renewed green card. Soon after that I hope to finally become a citizen of the United States. Like many, many before me, I came to this country to work for a better future: I have worked hard and learned to respect others, their cultures and their backgrounds. I graduated from college, I got a Masters degree, I found the love of my life, and I work hard everyday to make the place where I live a better place for my family and my community. Nashville has been a great home for me and I’m really excited about my future as a citizen in the U.S.! La primera tarjeta de residencia duro 2 anos y tenia que ser renovada. Una vez renovada, seran un par de anos hasta que pueda aplicar por ciudadania, asi que ahora estoy completando ese paso. Esta semana tenia otra cita para registrar mis huellas digitales y ojala pronto reciva mi tarjeta renovada. Y luego espero convertirme en un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos. Como muchos, mucho antes que yo, vine a este pais a trabajar por un mejor futuro: he trabajado duro y aprendido a respetar al projimo, sus culturas y de donde vienen. Me gradue de la universidad, obtuve un magister, encontre al amor de mi vida, y trabajo duro cada dia para hacer el lugar donde vivo un mejor lugar para mi familia y mi comunidad. Nashville ha sido un gran hogar para mi y estoy muy ensioso por mi futuro como cuidadano de los Estados Unidos!

5 responses to “One step closer to citizenship…”

  1. I loved reading this and hearing in YOUR words how you feel about the process. I think it would do a lot of people good to actually sit down and talk with someone who has experienced the immigration process firsthand. So many people have such harsh, divisive opinions on the issue. But after reading your words and hearing how heartfelt, respectful, and genuine you approached the whole matter, I think a lot of people might think a little differently about “The Immigrant.” It helps to have a face, too, to put to the issue. I hope everything goes well for you during the last part of acquiring citizenship!

    • Thank you Naomi. I agree with your words, immigration is a delicate subject and some people’s opinion can be very harsh and sometimes even shockingly cold blooded. I am thankful that the process so far has been a good experience for me. There isn’t much we can do to change the opinion of people when it comes to immigration, but what we can do is to always welcome the foreigner that is looking for a friendly face to help. The mixture of cultures, traditions, languages, experiences, stories, etc…make our world a better place to live.

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