The Immigration Iliad
November 19, 2015 9:19 AM   Subscribe

 
Because America is the "best" country in the world. They wanted my wife to assure the US government that we wouldn't seek welfare for 2 years. Mate, if I wanted to live on welfare I'd go back home to Australia where it pays a living wage.
posted by Talez at 9:50 AM on November 19, 2015 [55 favorites]


Hahaha oh god. I'm still traumatized from navigating the US immigration process with my partner over the past year on one of the easiest modes possible, and it still took a full year to put the paperwork through, during which time my partner had to stay in Canada.

And that isn't counting the six months it took us to get both our asses in one place to be legally married, since we're same sex and neither of us could afford my partner being unable to work for at least six months and maybe up to a year after moving, as would have been the case if they came in on a K1 fiancee visa instead of a spousal one. Or the additional three months it took us to format all the paperwork and the documentation of it real relationship and the fees (we probably spent in the neighborhood of $2000 on the USCIS, with no lawyer and as I said on easy mode). Or the panicky last minute mental health evaluation when the fraudulent diagnosis of BPD from a sexist psychiatrist turned up in their file. That was great, too.

All that and we gotta do it again in two years for citizenship. Shudder. And that was without the racism of the system that Hispanic people deal with, and the frankly much worse system for people trying to emigrate from the Middle East.
posted by sciatrix at 9:51 AM on November 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


I remember Shepherd and I briefly looked into getting him a green card when we started to date. At first we thought we'd live in the States, but when it just looked insane, expensive, and exhaustive, I went to Canada instead. It took me about a year and a half to get my PR, but I feel it was definitely not as difficult as America would have been for him.
posted by Kitteh at 9:56 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am fully aware that for the most part immigration law and immigration reform are a convoluted mess arising, most probably, from the fact that the issue is a political football, but....can anyone point me to further reading on the philosophy behind our policies.
At one time when we were a burgeoning industrial nation, with room to stretch, trying to compete with big brother europe, we took the tired, poor and huddled masses in order to have a labor force, but those days are a century in the past now.
Are they guided by population benchmarks? by unemployment numbers? by specific industrial/intellectual needs?
Is there a long-term plan? or is it just what it seems, a giant mess cobbled together from the needs of squeaky wheels border states trying to 'curb the flow' vying against the compassion of wanting the nation to seem like it's still a desirable/welcoming place to try to make a life in if you're not from here.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:20 AM on November 19, 2015


Thanks for reminding me, I have a marriage case and an H-1B to prepare before 5pm.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:22 AM on November 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


As I enter the second year of waiting for the Green Card after previously being on F-1 and H-1B, I must sadly say that visas have eaten away at the pleasures and romance in my life. Sigh.
posted by all the versus at 10:35 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Back when I was doing this (also on "easy" mode), I found this graphic useful as a reminder that I had it easy.

I had an engineering degree, a hard science PhD from an Ivy League institution, a prize fellowship at another Ivy League institution, and still it was much easier to point to my US citizen wife for my immigration paperwork.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:40 AM on November 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


At one time when we were a burgeoning industrial nation, with room to stretch, trying to compete with big brother europe, we took the tired, poor and huddled masses in order to have a labor force, but those days are a century in the past now.

We're still taking them as a cheap agricultural labor pool, we just don't like the fact that they tend to have children and want legal protection and generally act like they're people.
posted by Etrigan at 10:42 AM on November 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


I've been on a variety of F1, TN, H1-B visas, have been through the Green Card process three times with three companies (first was about to crash and burn, and evaporate; and I got out just in time to go to the second where it became clear after four years that they were never going to actually make time to deal with the paperwork for me, before coming to this, my third company and sponsor). I've been in line for almost 20 years.

I almost started crying at my desk when I loaded at that Medium post, and need to come back to this thread tonight when I'm a little less emotional about this fucking little slice of purgatory that many of us have been inhabiting.
posted by bl1nk at 10:42 AM on November 19, 2015 [11 favorites]


My middle eastern friend just got the green card his sister sponsored when he was in elementary school. He's 30 now.
posted by mikek at 10:43 AM on November 19, 2015 [9 favorites]




I came into the country fully expecting to spend at least a decade here before getting my GC. I know it sucks what with the H1 renewals and the shifty 'priority window' but none of it was a surprise. I wonder what makes us expect things to go faster. Doesn't the system have to be designed to be slow when the demand outpaces the supply?

Are there examples of a (rich/liberal/good economy) country where this process is smoother? I mean.. what makes us bitch and moan so much about the US immigration when it's no worse than any other place where there are decent jobs? I am not saying thing's don't need vast improvement. Just curious as to what would be an amount of time for this to be considered reasonable.

on preview.. I should mention I'm a very brown Indian dude for whatever privileges that might imply.
posted by savitarka at 11:00 AM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe it should not be easy for everyone, but it should be easy for a person who was brought here at the age of 4 and had no choice in the matter.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:02 AM on November 19, 2015 [17 favorites]


While Dan-el Peralta is likely the kind of immigrant the U.S. should be welcoming with open arms, I'm not sure he should particularly surprised that the system is not set up to welcome him.

If you start off not playing by the rules, you're going to have a tough time and, quite frankly, I'm glad all the name-dropping and personal connections didn't make a whit of difference.
posted by madajb at 11:07 AM on November 19, 2015


If you start off not playing by the rules

He. was. four.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:12 AM on November 19, 2015 [43 favorites]


It is beyond me why anyone thinks it should be "easy" to achieve legal residence in another country

We're asked to accept without question the unencumbered movement of capital and jobs across national borders. Yet people desiring to go to where the jobs are via a sane and well administered process that does not take three decades to complete is somehow a completely unreasonable expectation.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:13 AM on November 19, 2015 [50 favorites]


I am fully aware that for the most part immigration law and immigration reform are a convoluted mess arising, most probably, from the fact that the issue is a political football, but....can anyone point me to further reading on the philosophy behind our policies.

I think bureaucracies tend to become complex over time, and the process is amplified when there are politics involved.

I've been through a couple projects that involved streamlining government processes (though not for visas), and a vast majority of the 'solutions' put forward would have actually added another layer of bureaucracy on top of the existing layers. My best guess is that there is no actual philosophy behind the system, and that every attempt at reform has only muddled things more.
posted by kanewai at 11:13 AM on November 19, 2015


It is beyond me why anyone thinks it should be "easy" to achieve legal residence in another country or the notion that the States is particularly difficult to gain temporary or permanent residence.

God forbid refugees should want to make a new life somewhere where they aren't in literal fear for their lives. It's not that we think it should be easy, it's that we think it shouldn't be such a horrifyingly precarious position to be in, especially for those of us who were children when our families emigrated.

My family's immigration story is far from a horror story (it was mostly just a lot of waiting and paperwork, basically all of it by the book), but I think a lot of people fail to understand how fundamentally disquieting and stressful it is to be effectively "stateless" when you're between citizenships, or have fled a country you cannot return to. Even as a child, I was aware of that. Because I knew my green card said "resident alien," which let me tell you, did not make me feel especially welcome or secure.
posted by yasaman at 11:15 AM on November 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


He. was. four.

And upon reaching the age of majority, he decided he did not want to follow the path the system laid out for him, which is return to his country of birth and apply for a visa.
That, and everything that followed after, is on him.

I am not faulting him for the actions of his parents, but I am not sure how that entitles him to jump the queue either.
posted by madajb at 11:23 AM on November 19, 2015


[A few comments deleted. Veering off into views on immigration based on radically different situations from the authors' is going to take this conversation well off track.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:26 AM on November 19, 2015


There shouldn't have to be a queue that takes fucking decades. Hell, even years. The emphasis on rules and jumping ahead of the queue among immigrants only serves to pit people against each other in what is unarguably a fucking broken system. The entire process is opaque, impenetrable, chronically understaffed and prone to unexplained and problematic backlogs. We wouldn't tolerate this shit in any other context where the public has to deal with governmental processing. Why the fuck do we think it's okay for immigration, when we're playing with people's lives and leaving them in dangerous limbo?
posted by sciatrix at 11:27 AM on November 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


He clearly states that he consulted a lawyer and determined that if he returned to the DR he most likely would not have obtained the student visa and most likely would have been barred from returning to the US. How is it fair for him to have to give up the opportunity for a scholarship to college because, again, he was brought here at the age of 4 with little say in the matter? This isn't about wanting to flout the law, this is about wanting to attend college and work and live in the country in which he was raised and lived basically his entire damn life.
posted by thereemix at 11:30 AM on November 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


return to his country of birth and apply for a visa.

The fact that you can just say this as though it's a realistic option is how I know you are either completely unfamiliar with the topic or you sincerely believe he should have fucked off and never come back to the US. You're probably going off this line:

one of whom suggested that my status problem could be easily resolved if I returned to Santo Domingo and applied for a student visa.

maybe you stopped reading before you got to this line

Because I’d overstayed my tourist visa as a child, I’d be subject to a ban on reentry; it was also extremely likely that I’d be denied a student visa.

where by 'extremely likely' he means 'the odds of receiving a student visa were right about as high as the odds that time travel would solve his problems'
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:32 AM on November 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


There shouldn't have to be a queue that takes fucking decades.

This is the thing that stands out for me. I've had a fair bit of experience as an employer sponsoring skilled workers into Canada (one of the "easy" routes). It's three years or so to get residency, which gives stability, another few to get Citizenship, which some bother with, some don't. I don't think it's a lot easier to get status than in the US system, but the timelines seem much more predictable.
posted by bonehead at 11:32 AM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'd take the "wait your turn" argument seriously if the business model for so many American industries didn't depend on a nearly infinite supply of workers going around the queue. We can pay to improve the capacity of our immigration system, and we can enforce labor laws so that the demand for illegal labor is reduced, but if we aren't willing to do either of those things, it's not acceptable to point the finger at the people who come here to take the jobs while letting government and business leaders off the hook.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:34 AM on November 19, 2015 [8 favorites]


And upon reaching the age of majority, he decided he did not want to follow the path the system laid out for him, which is return to his country of birth and apply for a visa.
That, and everything that followed after, is on him.


And by "follow the path of the system" we mean abandon his home, his social circles, his friends, everything he has ever known, and go to a country he has literally no ties to, no home in, no job, no support, because of paperwork.

Yeah, what a radical and crazy thing he did. How dare he.
posted by mayonnaises at 11:36 AM on November 19, 2015 [27 favorites]


And upon reaching the age of majority, he decided he did not want to follow the path the system laid out for him, which is return to his country of birth and apply for a visa.

You say that like it's an easy thing to do. Does he speak Spanish? If so, does he speak it well enough to get by in the Dominican Republic? Does he even know anyone in the Dominican Republic, have any family there? What's he going to do there, what kind of job could he get? That's all leaving aside the fact that like he says in the article, it was unlikely he'd be able to get back into the US if he had returned to the Dominican Republic.

And keep in mind, he's doing all this as an undergrad in college. Dude probably can't even legally drink or rent a car yet, and you think he should enter indefinite exile from the only country he's ever known on the slim hope that he'll be able to navigate the impossible bureaucracy of immigration to come back some time in, charitably speaking, the next ten years? Come on. That is an extraordinarily cruel thing to expect of Peralta and all the other young people in similar positions.
posted by yasaman at 11:37 AM on November 19, 2015 [19 favorites]


I was one of the supposedly "lucky" ones in terms of my green card. I happened to marry a person from a country where is no quota on green cards, unlike India where I'm from. Thus we applied together for a green card and I was able to essentially get a green card in nine months instead of five years like all the other Indians I know. Also he had a PhD and a sufficiently good publication track record that he was able to apply for a national interest waiver green card and self-sponsor (didn't need a company to sponsor him). I know soooooo many other people with terrible stories, and I have to say, this system is broken.

One friend was doing incredibly well in California, but had the misfortune of being sexually harassed at work. She had to leave that job, but unfortunately there went her visa privileges with it. She had to leave the country, she waited more than a year for her visa to get processed (while persuading her new company to keep her on), but no luck. Eventually she returned to India (in a manner of speaking, she's not really spent more than 5 years in any one place in her life) and married someone there and now they're working in startups in India and doing very well for themselves.

Another friend ended up returning to China and taking up a professorship there after being unable to get a H1-B visa due to the lottery system. In my own company, they are relocating many of those who need H1-B visas to other countries due to the crazy process.
posted by peacheater at 11:43 AM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Yet people desiring to go to where the jobs are via a sane and well administered process that does not take three decades to complete is somehow a completely unreasonable expectation." There are also complex agreements re: the movement of capital and products--but more importantly--where do these barriers to residency not exist.
posted by rmhsinc at 12:35 PM on November 19, 2015


I know the immigration system in the US is seriously screwed up, but how does it compare to other countries, especially other western democracies? It seems like immigration is a hot button topic everywhere, and at least in terms of obtaining full citizenship some countries sound even stricter than we do.
posted by TedW at 12:47 PM on November 19, 2015


We're asked to accept without question the unencumbered movement of capital and jobs across national borders. Yet people desiring to go to where the jobs are via a sane and well administered process that does not take three decades to complete is somehow a completely unreasonable expectation.

Somehow the idea of a free market has never really applied to labor, and neither has the thought of reducing barriers to international trade in it.
posted by dilettante at 1:34 PM on November 19, 2015


To get my German 'Aufenthaltsgenehmigung' (right to stay and work) I had to show basic language proficiency, take an 'integration course' (where I learned that in Germany it's none of my damn business who someone loves and I'm not allowed to hit my kid and the rules are important, even when no one is watching(ha ha)). And that was it. Mind you I'm a very vanilla candidate, married to a German and with kids and not 'seeking' social aid.

My wife, on the other hand, recently renewed her green card and it is, every single time we re-enter the US, a pain in the ass because we don't currently live there (we very well might again in the future). "OK, so what do we need?" We ask, "Well, I can't say exactly..." Which is the most perfectly dumb/Kafka like thing.

Twenty five years ago my mother went to the consulate in Montreal to get US passports for my sister and I and was told her citizenship had lapsed because she'd married a Canadian and had children... This was followed by many letters and lawyers and, you know, I don't know when common sense immigration policies went sideways but they went sideways (read: stupid) hard and before this round of the debate.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:36 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't know. A lot of people talk about restrictive borders as if it is a right and natural thing.

Before the 20th century, pretty much anyone could walk into the US. Predictably, one of the first major restrictions was racial: Too many Chinese.

The first time we actually started restricting numbers was of course because of the first world war. Too many refugees fleeing poverty and destruction.

Of course, if you tighten your borders too much, you lose out on cheap labor, so thus we get the Bracero program.

Immigration is a hot topic because the history of humanity is a history of mass migration. There are few homelands. We're all just nomads and many of us happen to be born here rather than there. My great-grandparents came to the US from Mexico because they were wanted for their cheap labor. They gave birth to a daughter while working on the farms - that was my grandmother. My legitimacy derives from her. From that simple fact. Nothing more.

Padilla Peralta's younger brother was born in the US and so happened to avoid all these headaches. It would be ridiculous to say he has higher integrity than his brother who didn't have the *decency* to also be born in the US. Padilla Peralta is an American. One who grew up and then suddenly realized that by circumstance out of his control he had been truly screwed. His fight only deserves praise, especially for bringing attention to the unjustness of the current immigration laws.
posted by vacapinta at 1:42 PM on November 19, 2015 [13 favorites]


I wonder what makes us expect things to go faster. Doesn't the system have to be designed to be slow when the demand outpaces the supply?

The idea of a "supply" is artificially constructed. How many migrants could the USA accommodate? Well, that depends on the qualities that the migrants bring, and the effort the US makes in accommodating them. It would take literally no effort to accommodate people already living there, like the subject of the FPP, so there is no reason for the system to be "slow". It's also worth considering that US spends much, much less on social services than most Western countries, so the cost of absorbing migrants is probably lower for the USA than, say, Australia.

As I've pointed out a number of times, for most of its history the USA didn't have any limits on immigration, and it did pretty well. The present period is remarkable in that the US government is deliberately dragging its feet even when there is no rational reason to do so: when employers are pleading for the services of a potential migrant; when the potential migrant is the spouse of a citizen; when the "migrant" is already in the USA. That's not what happened in the past (e.g.). The USA's former policy was more humane and, in my opinion, better for the country itself. The present one is stupid, wasteful, and xenophobic.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:45 PM on November 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Hi, I work for USCIS.

The first thing I want to emphasize is that it is a huge bureaucracy and - considering that most of our activity requires shipping paper files around the country (which we're trying to change, really) - it is sometimes a wonder that things work as well as they do now.

The offices that process refugees and asylum claims are completely separate from (and have a very different legal focus from) the structures that process applications for permanent residence - and yes, I say structures because your application will go through entirely different bureaucracies depending on if you do or don't need to be interviewed (a.k.a. it's an "interview waiver" case) for the adjudication.

(Also please note that the Visa Bulletin - the schedule that determines when people can immigrate to the U.S.* - is published by the Department of State, not us.)

I work for Field Ops, where people who need to be interviewed for permanent residence (and citizenship) come for service. (Also our Field Offices have info counters where people can come in and ask about their status. My local Info Unit works really hard to find answers, which often require peering into the many interlocking data systems we maintain and figuring out which one may not have been updated.)

Congress is a headache on both ends for us: we're fiscally independent of them since our budget mostly comes from user fees, but (a) they pass the byzantine [and sometimes punitive] laws we are required to follow in adjudicating benefits and (b) if someone with leverage feels slighted by something we've done, they can sic their Congressperson on us. (We have multiple Congressional liaisions in our office. They are very busy.)

We also have a small phalanx of Community Relations Officers to communicate (and more importantly, listen) regarding the ever-changing legal and political environment we operate in. They're at the forefront of our endless Avoid Scams campaign to educate the public about charlatans like the guy who preyed on Peralta's family at the beginning of his essay. We want people to have the right information.

We get sued all the time (hot-button topic, whoda thunk?) and as a result our officers are obsessive about the legal particularities of cases; if someone lies about being a citizen (which carries an automatic permanent bar against naturalization) but is here on a humanitarian visa and serves in the U.S. military, what benefits are they still eligible for? (Damned if I know. Luckily, I just work on the operations side.)

But what about the long waits people endure once they've applied? Believe it or not, our goal cycle time (from when someone submits an application for permanent residence to when they receive word of their adjudication) is on the order of 4-5 months. Mail it in in January, you should hear about your green card in May. That encompasses the processing of your fee, the receipt and cleaning of your file at our National Benefits Center, the notification of your local office that you're in the queue, the scheduling of your interview, the shipping of your file to the local office, the assignment to your adjudicating officer, the interview, and their adjudication (approval/denial). And the vast majority of applications meet that. We have all sorts of analytics that send warnings to the people upstairs if a file is sitting in our office for more than 120 days, but we also have a team that carefullly investigates marriage fraud** and security concerns.

Not to mention that there's some regional/local leeway on how certain standards can be applied. Not just at the circuit court level, but relationships with ICE - who are not us, let me emphasize - and how edge cases get classified. It's hard to wrap your head around it, but even with all the regulations and management directives we deal with, there is still some (some) discretion as far as how to apply the law.

My coworkers are passionate people with demanding jobs and even with all the internecine rivalries, the eternal treadmill of keeping up with demand, the assumption that we have any control over what's happening at a far-off link in the chain, and the desperate need for immigration reform (we want it more than anyone and most everyone here was incredulous that the DAPA/DACA expansion was put on hold), it is a mission that excites and invigorates us. We hate it more than anyone when someone undeservingly gets stuck in the system, because it's often almost impossible to trace where the holdup is and it makes all of us look bad.

*excluding all the exceptions - the biggest by far being marrying a U.S. Citizen
**because of the big exception, there's a lot of fraudulent activity, no surprise
posted by psoas at 2:04 PM on November 19, 2015 [25 favorites]


I used to work as a paralegal in the immigration field. I quit before 2001. Nothing in this article surprises me, except maybe that it's not worse. I feel sorry for the front line folks at USCIS (most of them--I've seen some cases where old INS folks were real assholes) trying to deal with the mess of laws and regulations, but I agree that the system is broken in all sorts of ways.

The US as a whole, as a SYSTEM, doesn't want to admit that it depends on a cheap labor supply that includes undocumented aliens. And that means letting people like Peralta slide through the cracks. It is not a bug in the system. It is a FEATURE.
posted by immlass at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I haven't read the article yet, but to the question around how other advanced economy countries do it ...

The tl;dr around how America compares to other similar countries is that in the many other systems, you have to wait to be picked and invited to enter the country, but once you enter and gain residency, there is a wait but the process is fairly straight forward. In the American system, for the vast majority of professionals who are applying for immigration, you need to essentially prove that your employment visa is not taking opportunities away from another American.

The idea of America as a land of opportunity is betrayed by an immigration system predicated on the fear of the American economy being a zero-sum game.

Note that this is for applying for working visas as a white collar professional. There are other paths that may apply for you, but I'm just writing based on my own personal experience.

my family went through gaining permanent residency and citizenship in Canada. In general, there is a rather elitist and meritocratic points test where you have to demonstrate certain desirable quantities to qualify then you can apply for immigration, and are allowed to have permanent residency as part of that application process, if your application is approved. If you stay in the country for a given number of years and don't commit crimes or don't leave for an extended period of time (and this indicate that your residency is less than permanent) then you qualify for citizenship.

I had applied for residency in Australia three years ago when I was contemplating the possibility of losing my immigration in the States and having to self-deport, and their system is generally similar, though for certain types of jobs, you can also apply for certain fast-track invitation pools where you just lodge your name, application and credentials in a database and if the government likes the cut of your jib, they'll just issue you a visa and an invitation for permanent residency.

In both of these cases, the idea is that immigration evaluates an individual and decides if the individual has skills, background, and character that makes them out to be a promising potential citizen. The individual is then invited to immigrate into the country and find themselves a job. In Australia, you could also be sponsored by a company or indicate an interest in working in a hardship region of Australia and that goes towards points in approving your citizenship.

In the American system, work-sponsorship usually follows one of two tracks -- either you're an exceptional alien (ie. you have a publication record, you're famous, you have a Wikipedia article written about you) or you're average. Exceptionals can self-sponsor. Average aliens need to be sponsored by an American company, and the company has to provide a mountain proof that hiring you does not deprive another American of a potential job.

However, the hitch and trick is that both the work visa and permanent residency have these two conditions, but both have wildly different proof standards. So, it's easy to get into this situation where you're able to immigrate into the US on a work visa, but fail to gain residency, even if the company had to prove once that they needed to hire. They need to prove it AGAIN and need to show more paperwork when it comes to residency.

Basically, for a Green Card, you can get it through one of six ways:

1. Be sponsored by a blood relative (conditions apply)
2. Be sponsored by a spouse
3. Enlist (actually I think military service allows you to skip green card altogether and lets you go straight to citizenship)
4. apply as a refugee or asylum seeker
5. Lottery
6. Employment.

Of the top of my head, I know ... 12 people who've been successful with their green card applications and/or citizenship

2 were sponsored by a child born in the US
6 attained it via marriage
1 attained via the Marines
2 got it through work
1 came in as a refugee

This is anecdata, but it's a dispiriting symptom of how, the numbers who get in via work sponsorship are just woefully underrepresented compared to other methods.
posted by bl1nk at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


thank you, psaos, for providing an indepth look into what's going on at USCIS. I should say, if it helps, that in the past, I've usually dreaded dealing with US immigration whenever I was travelling. There was a long history of hard-assed and capricious behavior at every border crossing that I made, but over the last ... two or three years (?) ... my interactions have mostly been tough but fair and courteous. If you folks put in some real work to change that, please know that it's noted on the other side of the front lines and appreciated.

I should say, re: the bits about marriage investigations and marriage fraud -- I'm actually engaged to a US citizen and we're aiming to be married next year, but I explicitly told her that I wanted to get past a certain hurdle with my company's Green Card sponsorship before we could get married, because I wanted it to be crystal clear to not just USCIS but everyone else we knew, that I wasn't getting my Green Card through marriage. I've had siblings and friends who've done the marriage route, and I just don't want to deal with the additional stress and burden that comes with having one's marriage audited by the US government.
posted by bl1nk at 2:47 PM on November 19, 2015 [3 favorites]


I know the immigration system in the US is seriously screwed up, but how does it compare to other countries, especially other western democracies? It seems like immigration is a hot button topic everywhere, and at least in terms of obtaining full citizenship some countries sound even stricter than we do.

I went through it in the Netherlands-- from working visa to permanent residency to passport. The *rules* are perhaps just as strict, but the timeframes are pretty predictable. I did have some delays with my first work visa (they were worried about setting a precedent away from companies advertising in newspapers-- I had applied online), but it wasn't more than three months. To get my passport, I had to meet a number of conditions, including Dutch skills (since I was in the country more than 15 years, I didn't have to do the so-called citizenship test). Mind you, I was what they think of as a "good" immigrant-- educated, western, etc. A Turkish colleague of mine who married a Dutch citizen had a much rougher ride. Still, I have never heard of a process taking years and years there.
posted by frumiousb at 3:33 PM on November 19, 2015


(And for my current work visa in Hong Kong it was literally as simple as an employment contract which met a certain salary criteria. It took three weeks.)
posted by frumiousb at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2015


I worked for an immigration law firm several years ago. The system is so broken. If you look at the visa bulletin for December 2015, you can see the "priority dates" for different categories of visas. The priority date is basically the date that you filed the application to become a US immigrant. You cannot become a permanent resident until they are processing applications from your priority date.

In December 2015, they will be processing applications with priority dates for some types of family-based application from the early 90s - more than 20 years ago. They will be processing some employment based applications from around 10 years ago - that means that the US DOL approved the position to go to an immigrant 10 years ago, but the person (who is often already in the US on a temporary employment visa) has been waiting 10 years to get permanent residency.

It's crazy to tell people, "hey, you qualify to be a US permanent resident, but the waiting list is up to 20 years long at the moment, and it might get longer, and there's really no way to predict how much longer, or if the rules will change in the future." And that's often one of the better-case scenarios, since the scenario for so many people is "you can never have legal status here, no matter what, even if you are educated, even if you speak fluent English, even if you would be able to find job, pay taxes, and be a contributing member of society."
posted by insectosaurus at 4:23 PM on November 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


And that's often one of the better-case scenarios, since the scenario for so many people is "you can never have legal status here, no matter what, even if you are educated, even if you speak fluent English, even if you would be able to find a job, pay taxes, and be a contributing member of society."
unless you fuck an American and make them fall in love with you.
posted by bl1nk at 4:36 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


savitarka: "Are there examples of a (rich/liberal/good economy) country where this process is smoother?"

I got permanent residency in Japan like 6 or 7 years ago. I don't even remember the process, it was that simple. Looking at the application process website, it looks like I filled out a form, wrote a short letter explaining why I wanted residency, and picked up various certificates from government offices (all of which could easily be done in a single day), and dropped all the paperwork off at the tax office, together with a photo and $80. Then 4 or 5 months later I got a postcard saying "Come pick up your permanent residency certificate", and that was it. All together, two or three days of activity and 4 or 5 months of waiting (and none of that weird bullshitty "going to another country to wait" stuff. I kept working and living and doing everything like normal, and then one day a postcard showed up in the mailbox.)
posted by Bugbread at 6:17 PM on November 19, 2015


I should say, if it helps, that in the past, I've usually dreaded dealing with US immigration whenever I was travelling. There was a long history of hard-assed and capricious behavior at every border crossing that I made, but over the last ... two or three years (?) ... my interactions have mostly been tough but fair and courteous.

Time for another layer of complexity! That's another agency called CBP. When the INS was broken up after 9/11, Congress in its wisdom split the old agency into three independent parts under DHS:
  • USCIS (that's us!), which administers immigration benefits (and I should note that the only time we interact with foreign nationals is when people send us an application for some benefit, be it entry, residency, or citizenship - we don't bother anyone who doesn't come to us),
  • CBP, which includes the Border Patrol and ports of entry (including passport control in airports), and
  • ICE, which does all the enforcement activity from criminal investigation to deportation.
...and to bring this overview full-circle, if someone tries to immigrate to the U.S. from another country, they first make contact via an embassy (Department of State), then have their petitions/applications processed with us* (Department of Homeland Security), and if for whatever reason they need to go before a judge, whether for deportation proceedings or to have restrictions lifted from their record, they go to immigration court (Department of Justice), which means you could be successively dealing with three different Cabinet-level departments. Soak in it.

*I should also mention that most permanent-residence applications (the "interview waivers") go through the Service Centers, and I am not very familiar with how they operate. I visited one once, and it was like a colossal beehive. Our adjudicators in Field Ops usually interview 8-10 people a day; I have no idea how many cases someone at an SC goes through.

I should say, re: the bits about marriage investigations and marriage fraud -- I'm actually engaged to a US citizen and we're aiming to be married next year, but I explicitly told her that I wanted to get past a certain hurdle with my company's Green Card sponsorship before we could get married, because I wanted it to be crystal clear to not just USCIS but everyone else we knew, that I wasn't getting my Green Card through marriage.

I Am Not An Immigration Lawyer, but if you're applying for LPR status on the basis of a work sponsorship, that will be very clear in your file. The marriage-fraud cases usually get flagged because there is something clearly fishy about the relationship: they don't live together (and don't have a reasonable explanation like "I just got a job somewhere else"), they don't speak the same language or don't know basic information about each other, etc. People try to fake it, but after the U.S. Citizen gets their $10,000 (or however much they were offered to break the law) they don't have as much impetus to keep up the charade.
posted by psoas at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2015


But what about the long waits people endure once they've applied? Believe it or not, our goal cycle time (from when someone submits an application for permanent residence to when they receive word of their adjudication) is on the order of 4-5 months. Mail it in in January, you should hear about your green card in May. That encompasses the processing of your fee, the receipt and cleaning of your file at our National Benefits Center, the notification of your local office that you're in the queue, the scheduling of your interview, the shipping of your file to the local office, the assignment to your adjudicating officer, the interview, and their adjudication (approval/denial). And the vast majority of applications meet that.

What gets me is that there is so much uncertainty about the timing of every step of that process, from the immigrant's or petition's end. Like, for us, we got through USCIS in five months on an IR-1, but it was nearly a month until the National Visa Center bothered to acknowledge they had the application--and we went via electronic processing!--and there was zero communication about that. And then it was five months again at NVC, well past the point that it "should" have gotten done according to the timeline presented--and again, no communication, and this stuff was super common according to every source I could find.

(We also had factually incorrect information presented at the interview, with the interviewer telling my spouse the visa was invalid because the state I lived in didn't validate our marriage, but fortunately my poor spouse was aware that that didn't matter and successfully got him to look up the particulars of the law before the interview was out. I don't want to think about what would have happened if NaT hadn't been as well informed. That was about 90% of our interview.)

I get that the times aren't "supposed" to be that long, but the variability in how long you wait is really huge and you have several steps of the game that vary incredibly in how long they last. So it's really impossible to plan your life while you're waiting for immigration to go through because there's so little that you, the petitioner, can control in terms of expectations. Even, as I said, in the easiest cases--let alone issues like the gentleman in the article, where you break "the rules" even though the rules make no sense when you apply them to actual human situations. I get that Congress meddles all the time and you all have a right mess of funding issues, but it's still a really broken system overall even if the individual human cogs in it are doing their very very best. Which, I think, you're well aware of from your comments?
posted by sciatrix at 6:48 PM on November 19, 2015


but it's still a really broken system overall

Oh no, I'm not disagreeing at all, I just wanted to shed some light on how the part of the back end that I'm familiar with works. Like, I actually had to look up IR-1 and the National Visa Center, because those are Department of State's parts of the puzzle. (I am familiar with the I-130 form, though.)

We also had factually incorrect information presented at the interview

...I should also mention that we have a full-time Training Officer in each office because not only is the law complex, policies can change, systems get upgraded, and any adjudicating officer who isn't diligent about keeping up-to-date on their own (and I know full well that there are some who are very happy to coast by on their job security) will make errors like that. We're like the Red Queen, always running to stay in place.

I'm sorry to hear it went so poorly.
posted by psoas at 7:05 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, to be fair, he was apparently very sweet about it and offered to forge his paperwork to say I lived in Massachusetts (where we were married) instead, which he thought would work fine. My partner, who very sensibly wants NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING THAT COULD BE CONSTRUED AS IMMIGRATION FRAUD, found this very alarming and spent quite a lot of time trying to talk him out of it. Fortunately, all was dealt with properly in the end!
posted by sciatrix at 7:07 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


(Well if it's any consolation, [at least in our office] same-sex marriages now constitute a huge proportion of people who are coming in to interview, perhaps since there's been such a backlog of couples waiting until it's Federally legal to get their immigration sorted... so from here on I hope any officer would have had to have seen enough cases like yours to know what's up.)
posted by psoas at 7:19 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think we submitted our stuff a little less than a year after DOMA went down, and I suspect a lot of other people were riding that tidal wave with us! Now, of course, it's totally irrelevant since Obergefell made same-sex marriage the law of the land--makes a whole bunch of other law way less complicated.
posted by sciatrix at 7:21 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Talez: Australia has the exact same provision - no benefits for 2 years past your PR approval, and that in itself can take forever.

I've written at length, here and elsewhere, about my frustration with the Australian immigration system. When I applied, the only way they evaluated my "skills" (for a list that was literally a list of job titles; interdisciplinary jobs and newly-created industries were not considered) was to look at my degree and find the subjects that vaguely fit some kind of job title. Not my job experience, not my awards, not anything else. (I am told that this might have changed since? I dunno.) If I had applied a year later I would have absolutely no chance because my "skill" was removed from the list a year later, as were the entirety of the creative industries.

While you wait for your PR - which in my case kept being pushed back to the back of the queue every time there was a policy change, which was every 6 months to a year, with 6 months of it doing nothing because my case manager left and I was assigned to nobody - you get given a bridging visa. I was on the most permissive bridging visa - which meant I could work - and it was still hellish. Hardly anybody would hire me, save for the odd temp or casual job, because they claimed that they can't hire bridging visas (which was BS) or they were worried that they'd waste their time and money training me only for me to be rejected and deported. Being an artsworker, most people in that industry get their funding and opportunities from grants - yet my bridging visa made me automatically ineligible, because they wanted permanent residence at minimum. I could go back to school, but I would have to pay international student fees (4x the norm) and still be subject to a severe lack of scholarships. I had no access to benefits, not even emergency stuff like the 2011 Brisbane flood money that went to every other visa class except mine.

And yet I was still paying taxes, because everyone who is resident in Australia - whatever their visa status - pays taxes. Only to be subjected with "dole bludger!" and "freeloader!" and "oh you must get a free house and job when you arrive, right?" every five seconds. Only to see Today Tonight and A Current Affair get all up in arms if a German doctor got deported for some visa thing - "he's such an asset to our country!" - yet not give a damn if it's someone brown.

About the only thing I got was Medicare. Thank fuckin' God. (Though NO THANKS for that one time Medicare demanded I show proof that my visa application was still ongoing to continue my Medicare benefits, and sent me off to the Immigration office to get official paperwork as proof, only to have Immigration tell me that they don't provide that kind of proof; I told them that I wasn't going to go back and tell Medicare that so they got me a letter.)

Hell, getting the student visa in the first place was a pain. I was born and raised in Malaysia, yet due to EVEN MORE IMMIGRATION FUCKERY I was a Bangladesh citizen until my 26th birthday, when Malaysia finally decided that I was good enough to be a citizen. Malaysian PR, which I had for most of my life, is pointless. Because of my passport I was parsed as Bangladeshi for every immigration thing, never mind that I'm functionally more Malaysian than anything. In Australia's case this meant that I had to do a pre-visa for my Australian student visa, meaning every financial document known to man, and a wait of a couple of months, before I could apply for the visa proper. Me being a Malaysian PR meant fuck all. If I was a Malaysian citizen I could apply online within a week. But they've made that harder now - now applicants have to write an essay. Schools don't even ask you to do that!

I got my PR in the middle of last year, after 5 years of hell. I have to wait till the middle of next year to be eligible for Centrelink (welfare). I'm trying to find a job in Australia because supposedly it's a lot easier, but no dice - I wonder if my name is getting in the way, because it's "ethnic". Because I spent the last two-three years in the US, partly for my Masters and partly because I was tired of bridging visa limbo, I have to start all over again with the residence requirement if I want citizenship.

The US student visa was relatively straightforward, no essays or pre-visas or whatever. Financial documents, yes, but mostly something from my school and some ID and I was golden. The OPT was easy too. I wasn't successful in getting an H1-B, mostly because I wasn't successful in getting a job in the first place - ironically I had applied to work at Matter/Medium because I knew they'd sponsored H1-Bs in the past, but didn't get an interview. People kept trying to give me advice on US visas and none of it was helpful. Some people even suggested asylum, and I have a case for that, but it'd mean being stateless for a while. About the only lead I had that might actually work is the Special Talent visa, but that requires money I don't really have at hand (I've had multiple arguments with my parents over this).

I was actually pretty surprised that the Digital Services people at the White House were super receptive to my ranting and ideas around immigration. I couldn't get any Australian agency or politician to take me seriously, asides from maybe the LNP member in my town. Which is why I'd much rather be in the US than anywhere else - too bad my current options are not ideal or workable, unless any of you have a few thousand dollars to fund that Special Snowflake visa.

Immigration sucks, and if you haven't been through the system you are in no position to judge how it is. It's fucked up and full of bad assumptions and ARGH SO TRAUMATIZING. And I haven't even gotten into tourist visas yet! There are certain things I want to do to Immigration worldwide but that'd just get me deported into outer space.
posted by divabat at 7:23 PM on November 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ugh, my rant on immigration is mostly about the UK. My now-husband is Australian and he was transferred to the UK for work for a couple of years when we were dating while I still lived in the US. We got engaged and I wanted to move over. I am an educated white woman engineer who was financially stable in a relationship with a gainfully employed educated white dude. I planned to maintain my US health insurance, telecommute to my US job, pay my US taxes, and generally not be a tax on the UK system, but it was literally impossible to find a visa that would allow me to do that - because any visa that is not explicitly a residency visa does not permit you to work, even if it's telecommuting to your country of citizenship. I looked for a job there, but no one will talk to you if you're an American because before they can offer you one of the obscenely low number of employer-sponsored visas, they have to prove that no one in the UK or the rest of the EU can do the job. We got lawyers involved who eventually decided my only option was to apply for an "extended tourist visa" that would let me spend up to six months in the UK visiting my partner and I would not be able to do any work while there. "Or," they said, "just get married early." So we did. Poof! Visa allowing me to live and work there issued two weeks later. (Note that the fact my partner had an end date to his employment there, and thus my residency there, made things much faster than a standard spouse visa) And of course coming in as a spouse I received full NHS benefits, which was undoubtedly much more of a tax on the system than I would have been had they let me in maintaining my US insurance and job as originally planned.

I get why spouses are prioritised, but the extent to which spouses are prioritised over ALL OTHER POSSIBLE OPTIONS FOR PRODUCTIVE MEMBERS OF SOCIETY is... a little stupid. And I know it's not just the UK, I was just particularly angry about that because the year before I went through this the UK got rid of the Tier 2 - General visa, which allows generally educated financially stable people to move over and work, thus cornering your average educated professional into marrying a Brit or otherwise not really having any option beyond hoping they fly under the radar, illegally, on a tourist visa. Grrr. Argh.

And if I step back I recognise how ridiculous it is that my arguments about all this are basically WHY DID THEY NOT RECOGNISE MY PRIVILEGED SITUATION AND LET ME DO WHAT I WANT but like... if the arguments against greater immigration numbers is "but they'll be a drain on society!" yet there is literally no evidence of them being more interested in letting in non-drains on society over someone who just happened to marry a citizen/legal resident... then wtf do they expect they're going to get with their current policies?
posted by olinerd at 8:17 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Doesn't the system have to be designed to be slow when the demand outpaces the supply?
Are there examples of a (rich/liberal/good economy) country where this process is smoother?


Much of EU law is about free movement and there are laws that demand the process be smooth. Both my wife and I moved to the UK. She is an EU citizen though not a UK citizen. They had to issue me an entry visa quickly. Forms and procedures can't be too complicated or they risk impinging on free movement rights.

As many people know, the UK is clamping down on immigration. The paradox becomes that UK immigration laws are more restrictive than EU laws. So thats how you get the odd situation that Brits leave the UK in order to return to the UK with their spouses. It is called the Surinder Singh route.
posted by vacapinta at 2:10 AM on November 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


My contribution to the tag.
posted by divabat at 2:55 AM on November 20, 2015




Thanks for the inside scoop, psoas. We started dealing with y'all right around when INS got split, and splitting into CIS, CBP, and ICE has been for the best. CIS's focus and service seem to have gone up, at least on the basis of our infrequent dealings with them, and infopass is an absolute godsend.

A couple of things though --

(b) if someone with leverage feels slighted by something we've done, they can sic their Congressperson on us. (We have multiple Congressional liaisions in our office. They are very busy.)

Just to note you don't need any particular leverage to contact an MC about issues with CIS, at least not unless your problem is so deep that you need a private bill to get things straightened out. They'll help anyone out. They're also well worth talking to *IF* you've hit some problem with CIS or any other federal agency because their knowledge of bureaucratic systems is better than yours.

And it's not like it's just well-connected doofuses who feel slighted who contact their MC. CIS makes errors, sometimes clear and grotesque ones, and when they do an MC's staff can effectively intervene. CIS is horrifyingly understaffed and workloads are immense and I get that there's a lot of pressure to clear files one way or the other or just to do something that creates a justifiable delay like sending an RFI you don't really need.

In our case, we were waiting for biscotti's fingerprinting appointment for her initial 2-year green card when we got a letter from CIS to the effect of "You missed your fingerprinting appointment so your application is canceled." I teach courses on Congress, so the time that elapsed between me opening that letter and being on the phone to the local Rep's office was less than five minutes. It turned out that USPS had for whatever reason erroneously zapped the appointment letter for insufficient postage or some similar issue and sent it back to CIS. We know this because they actually had it in our file -- the letter, with envelope, marked insufficient postage and sent back. That we could not possibly have received, because they received it, and sent back not because of NOT AT THIS ADDRESS or anything like that. But rather than just send a new appointment letter, whoever was processing our file decided to void the whole application and cost us several hundred more dollars to appeal and several more months of limbo through their normal "I fucked up and want to try again" appeal process. I can tell you I was not at all sorry when I thought of some congressional liaison running around figuring this out.

I really understand that life in the trenches for the examiners is really hard, but it also creates some bad incentives that unfortunately they respond to sometimes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:49 AM on November 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just to be clear, that's not to pick on you -- I sincerely appreciate your being in the thread. But going through an MC's staff can be a vital resource that people should be aware of and are willing to use when it looks like CIS (or any other agency) goofed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:51 AM on November 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fair point. I took a few shortcuts in trying to give a broad overview, so clarification is welcome. But one tiny thing:

They're also well worth talking to *IF* you've hit some problem with CIS or any other federal agency because their knowledge of bureaucratic systems is better than yours.

One would hope so, but
  • I recently found myself on the mailing list of a Congressmember from somewhere I've never lived (I can only assume that someone who does live there mistyped his email address) and the one newsletter that I bothered to read contained multiple references to the INS as if it were a current agency, and
  • I have it on authority from an inside source that when DAPA was proposed last year, many members of Congress were completely unaware that they had no authority to pull our (nonexistent) appropriations.
So I guess what I'm saying is YCMMV. They are absolutely there to serve their constituents, but they are not always as up on the workings of the Executive as they pretend to be.

e.g. the [opinion redacted] bill the House just passed to further draw out our already very thorough vetting of Syrian refugees
posted by psoas at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2015


considering that most of our activity requires shipping paper files around the country (which we're trying to change, really) - it is sometimes a wonder that things work as well as they do now.

I'm curious, why does it take billions of dollars and so many years to fail at something as simple as digitizing a card replacement form? Is it volume? No budget for actual engineering? Database problems? Cursed by the devil?

I just think it's kinda weird that such a seemingly innocuous form can balloon into such a bloated monstrosity of a project. Even if it does require manual oversight, wouldn't it save time, energy, trees and postage to digitize the submission process?

What percentage of your day do you think would be freed up by a good set of databases, a search function, and digital submissions? If the technology wasn't a barrier but a useful tool?
posted by Feyala at 4:23 PM on November 20, 2015


Even if it does require manual oversight, wouldn't it save time, energy, trees and postage to digitize the submission process?

According to this recent article from the Washington Post, the government has been trying to digitise the process for over a decade, and over a billion dollars has been incurred to date:
"Heaving under mountains of paperwork, the government has spent more than $1 billion trying to replace its antiquated approach to managing immigration with a system of digitized records, online applications and a full suite of nearly 100 electronic forms.

A decade in, all that officials have to show for the effort is a single form that’s now available for online applications and a single type of fee that immigrants pay electronically. The 94 other forms can be filed only with paper. "
And this is the part that really scares me, since I have to renew my green card next month:
"The sole form now available for electronic filing is an application for renewing or replacing a lost “green card” — the document given to legal permanent residents. By putting this application online, the agency aimed to bypass the highly inefficient system in which millions of paper applications are processed and shuttled among offices. But government documents show that scores of immigrants who applied online waited up to a year or never received their new cards, disrupting their plans to work, attend school and travel."
So the government certainly recognises the need for digitising the process. It's getting there that's the tough part. Upgrading technology at any large bureaucracy is always going to be a challenge. Though, that knowledge is cold comfort to me and probably the thousands of other people going through this process.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 7:53 PM on November 20, 2015


I've been chatting with the people at the White House who are trying to digitize the immigration process. The CTO told me that the cost of shipping paper around is more than the Americorps budget O_o The Digital Services people have been super receptive to feedback, they're good people!
posted by divabat at 10:40 PM on November 20, 2015


government documents show that scores of immigrants who applied online waited up to a year or never received their new cards, disrupting their plans to work, attend school and travel.

This happened to some friends of mine this past year when they tried to renew their green cards. They waited almost a full year (10 months, I think) to receive their new cards. Everything from enrolling their daughter in school to traveling back to China to visit sick relatives turned into an ordeal.
posted by bradf at 12:17 AM on November 21, 2015


I just think it's kinda weird that such a seemingly innocuous form can balloon into such a bloated monstrosity of a project. Even if it does require manual oversight, wouldn't it save time, energy, trees and postage to digitize the submission process?

What percentage of your day do you think would be freed up by a good set of databases, a search function, and digital submissions?


My last time butting in here, I promise! The thing is, there is absolutely a consensus that digitizing is necessary, and the office featured in the article that cynical pinnacle and I linked to was created specifically for that purpose. I don't have a complete answer for why it's been such a troubled initiative, but I have a couple of ideas: One is that the Federal contracting process is fraught with requirements and considerations, and there are plenty of opportunities for suboptimal decisions to be made. The other is that the INA (the Immigration and Nationality Act, which establishes our mandate and the rules for immigration into the U.S.) is mindblowingly complex* and forms are only the beginning of the story; I imagine all the exceptions, carve-outs, special circumstances, and the like are tricky to encode.

Re the second question, we already have a number of searchable databases that the officers have to query and update every day, and each one has a specific use (case status/decisions, supplemental case information, visit records, background/security checks, application receipt numbers, in-office queuing and time reporting, and so on) with dimensions that don't always line up with one another, and there's a constant low-level clamor for fewer systems to deal with.** The paper file is the only accumulation of documents that presents a complete view of someone's immigration history; it's not unusual for them to get up to 5-6 inches thick by the time someone's applying for citizenship (think two heavy-duty manila folders strapped together). I don't know what digital submissions would offer as far as time-saving at the adjudication end, but it would definitely cut down on our clerical needs.

*I've heard it's the second-most complex section in the U.S. Code; may be apocryphal
**after each interview, an officer is likely to scan/feed data into as many as six different systems; it is a source of much resentment - especially since these are people doing an essentially legal-services function and are not chosen for their tech savvy
posted by psoas at 9:54 AM on November 23, 2015


Psoas, thanks for the in-depth reply! I hope the people responsible for the digitization initiatives manage to get their shit together, both for the sake of you and your coworkers, and those who need your services. It sounds very frustrating for everyone involved!
posted by Feyala at 2:53 PM on November 23, 2015


I really like your replies too, Psoas. It reminds me of the problems faced by the air traffic control system: it's a critical system that has grown and grown; everybody recognises that the system needs to be fixed, but the system is so critical that it can't be shut down even temporarily. Consequently, any changes must fit in to the existing system, which prevents them from being the sort of radical change that is needed.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:23 PM on November 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hi guys, I work for Medium, and I'm the person who conceived and launched the series that Dan-el's essay is a part of. It's an ongoing crowdsourced series called My Time in Line, and it's also serving my graduate school thesis project.

The conversation happening here is fascinating, and I want to invite all of you who talked about your immigration experiences, like bl1nk and ROU_Xenophobe, to write about your experiences on Medium with the MyTimeinLine tag, if you're up for that, or jump in on the responses on one of the individual essays. (Thank you divabat for your contribution, by the way!) I was also fascinated by psoas' insights - thank you for those.

To be clear, my goal here is to make the conversation as expansive as possible - not to promo Medium. I'd like to have as many experiences included as possible; so far, there are more than 20, ranging from refugees to "extraordinary abilities" visa applicants to people like Dan-el. The common trend I'm seeing is that the bureaucracy is hard for everyone, and even people who do everything by the book sometimes experience terrible circumstances, like I Can Haz Cheezburger's Ben Huh did. I've also experienced it myself; I did all of my husband's paperwork for the K1 visa, and it was really stressful.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on here. Thanks!
posted by rachelg at 9:23 AM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


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