I want a green card.
Not a thick piece of paper coloured green, but permission to live and work in the USA indefinitely.
More accurately, I want my third green card, because I have already had two. I got my first when I was ten, because my mother relocated my sister and me to the U.S. I got my second when I was 19, because I relocated myself to the U.S. Within 2 years of getting the second one, I realised that I could not support myself stateside AND attend university, so I returned to Oz and the card expired.
Now I want another one.
Ben has secured a terrific position in his chosen profession, and will be moving to Seattle within the next couple of months. I am completely proud of him, and wholly support his decision to accept the job. And because we are both over the commute (to see each other), I will be joining him in Seattle at the end of the year – green card pending.
On arrival to Perth last week, my mum and I sat down and pored over the forms and requirements for the green card application. She will petition on my behalf as she is a U.S. citizen and fortuitously, my mother. We spent the better part of two days filling in forms, assembling documents, making phone calls, and double checking websites to ensure that our delivery of the application to the consulate would go smoothly.
On the third day, armed with a thick folder of every document relating to our family history, and all forms painstakingly completed, we drove into the city. After 35 minutes of searching we opted for a one hour parking space. The consulate only accepts these applications for three hours a day, four days a week, and we didn’t want to miss our window.
We walked briskly to the building and caught the elevator to the fourth floor. We then endured a 15 minute security check, where we were stripped of everything but our clothes and our documents. Into another elevator, we rose to the 13th floor, and went through security again.
We waited in the inner sanctum, and when it was our turn, the woman nodded and smiled as she accepted all our forms. A frown formed on her pleasant face as she read through them. The forms we had filled out in quadruplicate – there was a problem. Yes, each form was identical, except for the 3 letter code on the bottom left. We should not have filled in the first form and printed it four times. She gave us new copies. 4 each. We stood at high benches and used crappy pens – attached with chains to the bench – to fill them out. Again. Our pens, my mum’s glasses, and my sanity were all locked away downstairs.
Just as mum was about to faint and I was about to cry from the cramps in my hands, we finished and returned to the counter. The pleasant lady completed our transaction, and told us that ‘they’ would go through my forms and documents, and then send me the next batch.
The only thing left was to pay for the application. When I was about to sign the credit card slip, I spotted the amount in Australian dollars, and queried it. “Oh, I see,” I said, noticing the incorrect exchange rate, “you have the Aussie dollar at only 85 cents. It’s 96 cents at the moment.”
“Oh,” she said smiling pleasantly, “that is the amount set by our financial manager.”
“But he doesn’t set the exchange rate – the world market does,” I said, laughing incredulously.
She shrugged as pleasantly as she smiled. “That’s the rate he set.” I was dumbstruck, but was not going to labour the point, as ultimately I want ‘them’ to let me in to their country. Mum and I shook our heads as we walked out, amazed at the arrogance.
Wrung out we walked back to the car, knowing we had overstayed our one hour limit. A nice fat $50 ticket sat smugly on the window. I used my millionth expletive for the day as we got into the car.
Stage one was completed.
I have no idea what the next stages will hold, or how many there will be, but I am steeling myself, because I want a green card, and I will do whatever ‘they’ ask to get it.
And I must say that my mum is a champion, because she says she will do whatever ‘they’ ask too.