Friday, 22 July 2011

On the Visa Journey: First base and getting touched

Sorry about the crude title, but it was too easy.

And thus concludes Act 1 Scene 1 of our petition. Nothing much will happen for about five months, as the other 100,000 or so June visa applications and petitions in California are also logged, filed, checked, approved and moved from desk to desk, person to person, until someone ticks a box and our little life story then gets sent from California to New Hampshire.

We will expect one of three things to happen in the coming months:

1. We will receive an NOA2, another I-797 form, to say that our petition has been approved and that the package is being sent to the National Visa Center in New Hampshire. Then we can officially 'apply' for the visa; or

2. We will receive an RFE, a Request for Further Evidence. If we filled out the form incorrectly, missed something, or didn't provide enough "evidence of a bonafide, ongoing marital union" then we will be asked to send particular documents to California; or

3. We will receive an NOA2 to say that our petition has been denied. This would happen if they didn't think that Mr was a US citizen; or didn't think that we'd met in person in the past two years; or if they had asked us to send more evidence to counter either of these two suspicions and we were unable to provide it.

Until then we read the scripts that let us know what to do when Act 2 comes around and we can (hopefully) apply for my visa!

There are actually some other things that we can do at this stage. Our petition is sitting like a duck in a sea of paperwork. You know, when it looks like not much is going on, but under the water surface is a frenzy of frenetic activity as the duck's webbed feet paddle frantically to get the old bird from A to B. Or California to New Hampshire. Or UK to PA. I'll explain what I'll be doing as we wait for our petition decision, in not so long a while, when the time comes.

There is one other fun little thing we can do while we wait for our petition decision. As well as being able to check our individual Visa Journey timeline to see how quickly or slowly petitions are being processed (note that link is not ours but overall current processing trends), we are also able to check the progress of our petition at the USCIS website. The USCIS website also allows us to login and check the status of our visa application, and the last date our petition file was 'touched'.

Our file is 'touched' when someone scans the file's barcode with our file number on it. To be honest, it doesn't really mean much. It could just mean that our file has been moved from one desk to another. As one person creatively described: it could mean someone spilt coffee on our file and just moved it to a clean desk. It could also mean that someone is reviewing our case, laughing at our facebook photos, making a decision on our petition, reading our Skype chat transcripts, or issuing an RFE for more Skype chats or notarized affidavits. Who knows. It's just a kinky way of describing the kind of action our package could be getting. Sorry, I don't think there's any other way to make bureaucratic processes sound fun.

But I know you're curious now, yes? When were we first touched?

The last activity on our file was 27th June. So we have a way to go yet to get past first base.

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