Saturday, October 30, 2010

Renewed hope!

So, I get notifications to my email on a few threads on VJ and I got one for an August 2010 filer thread that I'm a part of. Anyways, I checked out the new comments on the thread and was shocked. Apparently someone who has an NOA1 of August 10 (about a month before ours) got their NOA2 4 days ago! That's amazing that it was approved in less than 3 months. The average time now for CSC is 5-6 months. This has given me renewed hope that it's possible for our petition to be approved by Christmas. I'm hoping that our petition at CSC lands on the same desk that the person above got because it must have been one speedy officer!


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

5 month anniversary

So, my husband remembered last night that our 5-month anniversary was last week. D'oh. We had both forgotten about it. And yet again, for the third month in a row, we spent our anniversary apart. In a way, I'm happy that we both forgot about our anniversary last week because I would have just been moping around all day wishing I was with Ben.

Ben did get me something last night in celebration of our missed anniversary. Recently, there was a new update to Windows Live Messenger (MSN) and I don't like it at all. I mentioned to Ben last night how I hate how slow the new MSN is to load on start-up. He told me I should try Trillian, another IM client that he's been using for years. So, I downloaded it and tried it out, liking it. He then bought me Trillian Pro (has more features and themes and such) for our anniversary. ^_^


Monday, October 25, 2010

I-864 explained

*Reference link to abbreviations/terms post*

Today I thought I'd explain everything about the I-864 form that's needed later on at the NVC stage (approximately 4 months from now, but hoping less than that). This form is essentially to show proof that the petitioner can financially support the beneficiary when they arrive in the USA.

Before sending in the form and supporting documents, you first have to wait for the AoS fee to appear on the payment portal. Once it is paid for and appears as 'PAID' on the site, then the I-864 documents can be sent in.

Ben and I will probably be using the I-864EZ form. It's essentially the same as the I-864, but if you don't have any assets, this is a shorter form to fill out. Since Ben doesn't have any assets, it would be better to use this form.

The documents needed are:
-cover letter explaining what is included in the package
-receipt that you paid for the bill and that it was approved
-the I-864/I-864EZ form
-last 3 years of tax transcripts (I've read on VJ that only one year is required, but just to be safe, send in 3)
-employment letter (signed by boss explaining what your job is, since when you have been employed, and your salary)
-pay stubs from last 6 months

On each page of the above documents, the case number must be written on the top right corner.

The I-864 is a pretty straight-forward package. If you're making more than 125% of the poverty level for your household size, then you're good to go. If you're not, then you will need a co-sponsor. At Ben's current job, he is making about $40k per year. As per the poverty guidelines, he is able to sponsor a household of 6. And since we're only two people, we'll definitely be good.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DS-3032 explained

*Reference link to abbreviations/terms post*

I mentioned the DS-3032 in my post explaining the NVC process and today I'll go into more detail about it.

First off, the purpose of the DS-3032 is the 'Choice of Address and Agent' form. It basically informs NVC who you want to receive further correspondence. The beneficiary (for our case, that's me) sends the form out and, in most cases, elects the petitioner (Ben). People that use lawyers elect their lawyer for future correspondence.

It's a really simple, straight-forward one-page form. It just asks for the beneficiary's name and then the agent's name, telephone number, email address, and mail address. And then a signature at the bottom.

For electronic processing, when one sends the opt-in email, you also have to include the pdf version of the DS-3032 (signed, scanned, and then uploaded as an attachment). In the body of the email, include information such as the beneficiary and petitioner's names, dates of birth, and email addresses.

For those not doing electronic processing, there's two options. Either email in the DS-3032 using an email template. You don't attach the DS-3032 as a pdf, but write all needed information in the body of the email. Or the other option is to print out the form, sign it, and then send it off by snail mail to NVC.

In both cases, the NVC case number needs to be the subject of the email. The only difference with EP, is you include 'OPTIN' at the beginning of the subject line, followed then by the case number.

You email or mail this form out only after receiving your NVC case number and providing the beneficiary and petitioner's email addresses to an NVC operator. Afterwards, a DS-3032 kit will be emailed which includes the IIN information to continue on with the NVC process.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ben's second visit to Canada

Ben arrived in Canada for the second time on Friday night. He didn't have much problems at customs. He was told to go to secondary inspection, but they only asked him two questions and then stamped his passport. He picked up my suitcase (I had left a bunch of clothes and things in South Dakota and he brought them back for me!) and then headed out the doors to where everyone was waiting.

It was a wonderful moment, finally seeing him again, being in his arms and kissing him! ^_^

We took the shuttle back to where I had parked and drove home. It was very late at night, midnight maybe, so we didn't do much the first night and just went to sleep.

Saturday we went over to my grandparents house and I introduced him to them. We all went out to a restaurant, meeting my uncle and aunt there, for supper. They all seemed to think Ben was super nice. He passed the "family test"! :D

Sunday was my 22st birthday. I had set an alarm for 9:57am (the time when I was born) and as soon as the clock ticked to the time, Ben wished me a happy birthday and gave me a kiss. Best birthday present ever. I was hoping all day that I would get a touch from USCIS, but nope. Nothing. Went out for dinner to my favorite Japanese restaurant here in Montreal and enjoyed a lovely meal with Ben.

I don't think we did anything worth mentioning on Monday. Just spent time together. Oh, we took some pictures of our rings. Ben finally got a wedding ring last month sometime and this was our first time together where we both had rings. So a picture of that was a must. Also took some pictures for a new profile picture for Facebook.

Tuesday was his last day here. I felt horrible the whole day, knowing that in a few hours I would have to say goodbye to him all over again. Finally headed to the airport around 2:30pm. Had some trouble at the kiosk, so we had to go to a person at a counter. We then walked to the security checkpoint, the point where I couldn't go any further. We sat together for a few minutes, and then we knew it was time to say goodbye. I of course cried, not wanting to let him go again. After a few tearful minutes, we finally kissed for the last time and he headed in one direction, while I headed in the other direction back to where I had parked.

He's only got two more vacation days left for this year. He said he'll come to visit me for Christmas, but I'm hoping to see him before that. Two and a half months without being with him will be super hard. It'll have been the longest time we've ever spent apart. So far, the longest time we've spent apart was a month and 2 days.

I would like to move to Winnipeg, so I'd only be a six hour drive away from South Dakota, making it easier for Ben to come visit me. It'd be nice if he just drove up after work on Friday night or something and stay till Sunday and drive back again. Doing this every 2-3 weeks would definitely make me happier than I am now. It'd be hard to move there on my own though. It's hard to get an apartment without having a job there first, and it's hard to get a job when you don't have an apartment. We'll see what happens though...


P.S. Almost a month and a half from our NOA1. Come on CSC, give us our approval! Pretty please.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

NVC process explained

*Before I begin, a note: I edited the abbreviations entry to add a few terms that I'll be using today that I forgot to include before*

I thought today I'd give a general overview of the whole NVC process which Ben and I should get into in about 4 months (hoping for less though!).

To start, there are two options for NVC: regular snail mail or electronic processing. But to note, EP is mandatory in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and optional for those in Montreal, Canada and Guangzhou, China. All other countries are unable to opt-in for EP at this time and have to send in documents by snail mail. Unless there's a sudden slow-down or major problems with EP between now and when we get to NVC, I believe Ben and I will be opting in for EP as it will be cheaper (no sending packages overnight to NVC) and possibly faster.

The NVC process is as follows:

1. Receive NOA2 from USCIS
2. Petition is sent by USCIS to NVC
3. NVC receives file
4. NVC assigns case number (different from USCIS number)
5. Petitioner and beneficiary's email addresses given to NVC operator
6. Email DS-3032
7. Wait for DS-3032 kit and IIN info for payment portal
8. Pay AoS bill once it appears in payment portal
9. When the bill appears as 'paid', send in I-864 forms and documents
10. Pay IV bill once it appears in payment portal
11. When that bill appears as 'paid', send in DS-230 forms and documents
12. Send in additional documents if an RFE is sent [note: if no RFE, then this step is skipped]
13. Wait for SIF
14. Call an operator to confirm that case is complete at NVC
15. Once case is complete, case is sent off to the embassy in the beneficiary's country

If the petitioner and beneficiary are proactive at this process and don't have any problems with RFE's, then one can be out of NVC very quickly, an average of 1-2 months. I even saw on the VJ forums that one person finished with NVC as little as 19 days (and that wasn't electronic processing).

If you have all forms ready ahead of time, it can really speed things up. Ben and I have most of our documents already ready. Just a few things here and there, but I'll go more in depth about these when I write up entries about the I-864 and DS-230 in the coming weeks.

I don't think it's mandatory by NVC, but it's highly recommended by all VJ members that you write your NVC case number on ALL documents. So, as soon as we get our case number, I'm going to write it on all the documents then I can finally scan them all. Ben will do the same with his documents and then send me by email his photocopies. I'll then set up the emails with all attached forms and documents, ready to send them to NVC once we can. I would just have to include the barcode/receipts once the payment portal shows the bills as paid.

If one isn't proactive, this process can take months. You don't need to always wait for NVC to email/mail you things or otherwise contact you. You should be the one calling up NVC and asking if your petition has been received, or if your case number has been assigned, or giving in your email addresses. The only actual waiting you have to do is for your IIN, your bills to appear as paid, and the case complete at the end. Everything else is dependent on the petitioner and beneficiary.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

One month mark...

Really quick update:

So, it's been exactly one month from our NOA1 date. Processing times for CSC has roughly been 5 months, so I'm hoping there's only 4 more months to wait. Less than 4 months would be fantastic. I'm hoping to get a wonderful Christmas present from USCIS. Getting a birthday present would be even better, but that's unrealistic. I'm hoping CSC starts to speed up on processing times. I really, really want to be in South Dakota by our first year anniversary.