~ Adjusting Status Timeline ~

28th January 2002

Simon went to the Philadelphia Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service with Deborah. They arrived at 6:30am and joined the line outside. Fortunately, there were reasonable parking facilities very nearby. At 7:30am, the doors were opened and they filed in. It took perhaps 20 minutes to actually get inside and then queue to get a ticket with a number.

They waited for two hours before Simon was called up to present documentation. These included the I-485 (Application to Adjust Status), G-325a (Biographic Data), ADIT photographs, checks for $245 (Adjustment and Fingerprinting Fee) and $100 (Employment Authorization), I-864 (Affidavit Of Support, with supporting evidence) and I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization). With these were various items of supporting evidence, such as birth certificates, divorce decrees, financial information for the I-864 and the Notice Of Approval from the INS in Vermont. Where possible, copies were submitted but in all cases, Simon was asked to show an original.

The whole process took about 30 minutes. There were two problems, however. The UK birth certificate was nearly rejected because it says COPY on it, even though it was the original. This is because the UK Registrar keeps the actual original. Secondly, the income tax returns submitted as supporting evidence with the Affidavit Of Support did not include W2s for Deborah. They were joint returns, filed with her ex-husband. Fortunately, the accountant had included a breakout that separated the two sets of figures. Simon was told that a Request For Evidence may be sent that asks for the actual W2s, but perhaps not.

Once the process was completed, Simon was told to go to the cashier and pay the checks (cheques) in. They were told that (subject to the little W2s problem) they would hear from them in about 30 days with information about fingerprinting and the interview. The employment authorization card would arrive around the same time. They stopped giving them out on the same day.

5th February 2002

Simon went to the Social Security Office in Chester, PA to apply for a social security card. On a previous attempt to get the card, Simon was refused because he didn't have work authorization. Just in case, he printed a copy of the page on their website that explains* that K1-visa holders are entitled to work. Apparently, some Social Security offices have turned down applicants so it is worth printing out the page just in case. He made the application and it was accepted without question, with only the passport (with the visa, I-94 etc)required as evidence of status. Simon was told it would take approximately 10 days for the card to arrive in the post.

*Go to this page. In the "Category" section, select Social Security Numbers and Cards from the first drop-down menu and then the sub-category of SSNs for Non-Citizens before clicking the Search button. Then choose the answer "My immigration document shows K-1. How do I get a work Social Security number?"

11th February 2002

Simon's Social Security Card arrived in the mail. It was a pretty lame bit of thin card that they won't let you laminate. He was impressed with the speed if the service - just four working days.

1st March 2002

Simon received a "Fingerprint Notification" (dated 02/27/02) in the mail stating that he would be required to visit the Philadelphia Applicant Support Center (120 North Eight Street, Suite 108, Philadelphia) between March 13th and March 20th 2002, or any Wednesday thereafter until May 12th 2002 for fingerprinting. The latter date given suggested that Simon may have an interview sometime after that, perhaps in early June, but there was no further indication given. It did mean that Simon finally had an Application Number, instead of just the little receipt he got from the cashier on the 28th January. Unfortunately, there was still no sign of the Employment Authorization Document. The notice said that Simon would need to bring his passport or other proper identification, such as a driver's license or state-issued photo ID. Failure to get fingerprinted before May 12th would have constituted an abandonment of the application to adjust status.

3rd March 2002

Rick's, Reading Market, Philadelphia - Simon had his first, proper Philly cheese steak. Ultra-thin slices of steak with fried onions and mozzarella cheese in a generously-sized chunk of Italian bread. Normally you have it with Cheez Whiz® (which Simon thinks is horrid) and some do it with American cheddar or provolone, but it tasted damn good with the mozzarella.

12th March 2002

Simon received a Notice Of Action (dated 8th March 2002) as a receipt for the application for Permanent Residence. It stated that the normal processing time in Philadelphia for an Adjustment Of Status application was 10 months. So Simon was to expect an interview date in January of 2003. Now he also had a receipt number which would mean access to the telephone status line. Unfortunately, there was no mention of the Employment Authorization Document Simon had applied for. The Notice Of Action included a Customer Service telephone number:- (215) 656-7178.

13th March 2002

Feeling a bit better for having the Notice Of Action, Simon went to the INS Applicant Support Center in Philadelphia to get fingerprinted. He drove in to the city up I-95 and joined Callowhill Street before turning left onto 8th Street. The Support Center was on the right, just opposite a very handy parking lot. Simon stuck the car in the lot at 8:30am and went in.

The whole process took about 45 minutes. They gave him a receipt and he left to get his car. The parking cost $6.50 (which is about average in Philadelphia for an hour). There were meters around but you could only use them after 9:30am.

Later that day, another letter came from the INS. Simon was to go to 1600 Callowhill on the 20th March for an interview regarding the application for an Employment Authorization Document. This letter was also dated March 8th 2002, like the Notice Of Action before it.

20th March 2002

Simon went to the INS in Philadelphia for an 8:15 appointment for an Employment Authorization Document. He turned up at 7:30am because the traffic hadn't been as bad as he'd thought it would be. It was pissing down with rain and they made him wait outside until 8:05am (with everyone else) until the office opened. At least he could queue at the door instead of in the long line for information that he'd experienced previously.

Simon went upstairs to the third floor and into a waiting room. He handed his appointment letter to the guy behind the screen and he was told to take a seat and wait. He was called to a door (along with some others) at 9:05am and he had is picture taken (ADIT style) and a single fingerprint made (right index finger) on a card which he signed. Then he was asked to go back to the waiting room and wait.

Ten minutes later, a man appeared and gave Simon (and the others) Employment Authorization Documents in the form of laminated cards with a photograph on them. The expiration of the document was March 5th, 2003 - slightly less than a year.

26th April 2002

Simon and Deborah received a letter from the INS stating that an interview had been scheduled for 26th June 2002. This is quite a bit earlier than expected.

26th June 2002

Simon and Deborah went to the INS in Philadelphia for the Adjustment Of Status interview. The appointment was at 10:30 in the morning and they arrived at 9:45. Both were called in at just after 10:30 for the interview, which was conducted by a pleasant man of Mexican descent.

There were a few questions about how they met, followed by a few no-brainers like "what is your phone number". It then transpired that the vaccination supplement filled in by Dr Phelan in London (for the fiancé(e) visa) had been incorrectly filled in. The INS officer suggested that Simon get a vaccination supplement form done at a place in Philadelphia (19th Street and Sansom) and then return the same day, if possible.

The walk to the Doctor's office was about 12 blocks, but it was 95 degrees and high humidity. The supplement was filled in and a fee of $25 was paid - no big deal at all. Returning to the INS office by cab was a must. After a wait of perhaps 90 minutes (while the official ate lunch) Simon was called in to have his passport stamped.

And that was it. No request for information. No request for photographs. No personal questions. Nothing. It was a breeze. The temporary stamp was valid for 1 year and the greencard was supposed to arrive in 5 to 8 months.

5th August 2002

Simon's greencard arrived in the mail, considerably sooner than expected. It came with a "welcome letter" that was printed so faintly it was almost impossible to read.

Later - Removal Of Conditions.