Monday, March 21, 2011

Bakersfield College or bust! Go Renegades!

Ok, so we've kind of got things figured out. I called the number that the immigration department gave us for if we have any questions (we have several, Immigration), and I spoke with Eric. Actually, I mostly listened to Eric, who seems to have been trained to not let people with questions actually ask their questions.

Well I laid it all out there. I said "you guys said this, and then someone else said that, and what's really the story?" Only, I'm sure I sounded a little more grown-up-ish...or maybe not. Probably not. And he said, "He can be out of the country for up to one year without needing a re-entry permit." And I said, "and that won't affect his residency status at all?" And he said, "no." And I said, "will it look bad? Will someone think he is abandoning his residency if we are gone for extended periods of time?" And he said, "no, he is allowed to be out of the U.S. for up to one year without needing any special permission. So as long as you're not gone for more than a year at a time it will be fine."

Ok, Eric.

But, here's the other thing. Ecuador DOES allow dual citizenship (I had to read Ecuador's constitution to find that out. Their embassy's information is from 1998). So that means that Ismael can become a citizen of the U.S. in only three years! Why he would ever want to is beyond me...the government of this country has gone to great lengths to make it appear that they don't want him here that badly. But he can be, and if he's going to apply for citizenship in February of 2014, then one qualification is that he has to have been physically present in the U.S. for 18 months of his three years of residency.


Is what I thought at first. I thought this was going to mess up all our plans of missionarying around in Ecuador. But...after listening to the counsel of Ismael's wise mother-in-law, I realize this can be a great opportunity. We spend some time in Ecuador, then come back in time for Ismael to do a semester of college here. Then back again, and back here in time for another semester, etc. This way, we're here long enough for him to qualify for citizenship after three years, we're establishing his intent to live in the U.S., and he's getting lots of units out of the way before we even live here permanently. So it's a win-win. Win.

So that's the new plan. Ecuador until January. Then some college education. Then some more Ecuadoring around. Then some more college. You get it.

Well, please pray that Eric was, in fact, correct and that our extended trips to Ecuador will not affect Ismael's residency status. Please also pray that he will excel in his classes at college. And please pray that we will be able to do something awesome for the University Project whether we're there or here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

This is not what we had in mind, USCIS.

Well, congratulations to my wonderful husband who is now officially a Conditional Permanent Resident of the United States of America! February 25th we drove to Fresno for his residency interview. We had an 8:30 appointment so we left at about 4:45, allowing plenty of time to arrive to Fresno, find the immigration office, and more importantly, find an IHOP. (We shared a garden omelette and some pancakes. Everything was delicious!). During our breakfast I quizzed him with the example questions we had found on the internet while researching other people's experiences with residency interviews. (Questions like: Where did you live right after getting married? How many televisions/telephones were in your home? What color were the walls? What type of A/C and heating did you have? What color is your spouse's toothbrush? What did you eat for dinner last night? What did you do after dinner? Who went to bed first? Was the A/C or heater on when you went to bed?) We went to the immigration office and waited in the waiting room for about an hour and 15 minutes before we were finally called into an interview office. Ismael was approved for residency after about 15 minutes of us answering super difficult questions such as: "What is your full name? What is your address? What is your date of birth?" (not kidding). We were told Ismael would receive his green card in the mail in about 2 weeks and that we could find more information on what rights and responsibilities Ismael now has as a conditional permanent resident on the immigration website. Well, I'll tell you what. I looked at the website. The website says Ismael can travel out of the U.S. for up to a year without having to ask for a special permit to re-enter the country. But that's not actually true, now is it, USCIS?

We had planned to leave in April to go to Ecuador and continue our work on the University Project for the next 10 months. But the information that the government is holding out on us is that Ismael can't be out of the country for up to a year. He can't even be out of the country for more than 6 months out of the year without getting his residency revoked. And of those 6 months that he's actually allowed to be outside the U.S., he can only be out for 90 days consecutively at a time. Well...guess what, Immigration...90 days is actually much shorter than 365 days...or didn't you know?


So...our ten-month trip has been chopped up into three-month segments three-months apart. Three months there, three months here, three months there, three months here...for the next three years (at which point Ismael may become a citizen). Or something like that.

They sure don't make it easy.