My wife and I went for our I-130/I-485 Adjustment of Status (AOS) Interview in Omaha, Nebraska this morning. Our appointment was at 8:30, so we booked a room at the Country Inn a quarter mile away. The Department of Homeland Security Citizenship & Immigration Services (DHS CIS) office did not open until 8:00, so we arrived a few minues after that.
No cameras or cell phones are allowed inside the building, so we left those outside. We brought in a suitcase we had packed full of evidence. It included photo albums, our lease, tax information, and all the rest. The suitcase also included an accordion, or expanding, notebook that contained the most vital information, such as our passports, birth certificates, and marriage certificate. We also brought copies of everything. Everything was arranged in large vanilla envlopes I had puchased in a hundred-pack from Staples.
The DHS CIS security staff are the best in th world. They were patience with us while we brought in the suitcase, and even joked around about the guard having it put it in the metal detector (“You are making an old man break his back!”). The last time we were in the DHS CIS office, for the Biometrics interview, we were ushered to the left. This time we went to the right. We were direccted to place our offical interview date letter in a small black envelope box, and we had a seat.
Most of the people waiting for interviews were Mexicans. THey were dressed casually, though the gap between those who were raied outside the counttry and those raised in was noticable. (Those raised outside dressed and looked better). There was a European couple that both wore suits… and another American/Chinese pair. (Like us, the other Chinese/American couple was dressed in nice daily clothes.)
They came over to us. We had a lot in common. The American husband, the Chinese wife, and myself attended the same college at UNL — the husband just graduated, and the wife and I have offices on the same floor! They had driven from Lincoln this morning and were stressed from the driving. It was 90 minutes through rushhour and snow. I felt glad about booking a hotel room, and having a lazy breakfast and a swim instead! We found we were all schedule for 8:30 interviews. The wife was Shanghaiese, but had gone to Beijing for college at Peking University. We were having a wonderful time chatting when our name was called.
The Officer (who I’ll call “He” or “him”) brought us back to his office, and invited us to have a seat. He was very friendly, and said he would have to see our identification, passports, brith certificates, marriage certifiates, and any documents showing a bona fide relationship. I said “That’s most of the suitcase!” and he said “I thought that’s what it was!” We began taking things out of the suitcase as he listed specific things we needed to bring. It went very well. He asked for a joint bank account or anything showing comingling of assetts. I brought out copies of our Wells Fargo account, and said “there’s not too much there — I’m only a graduate student!” He said that it was fine, and asked if he could keep the copies (I said yes).
The Office appeared to go through a checklist, such as asking if we were married to anyone else, did we have kids, etc., and then said he would approve my I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. He then asked our co-sponsor (my mother), and I produced her tax form. He asked some simple questions, and then said he would approve my co-sponsor too.
Then to the I-485, “Application to Register Periamanent Residence or Adjust Status.” This was Fei’s application. I had been approved to bring her over, and my mom had been approved to co-sponsor us (essentially, guarantee we won’t go on welfare). Now for Fei being allowed to become a resident alien.
“Part 3. Processing information. (continued)” of I-485 asks a long list of evils. For instance, question 5b:
Do you intented to engage in the United States in: any activity a purpose of wich is opposition to, or the control or overthrow of, the government of the United States, by force, violence, or other unlawful means.?
Did you, during the period from March 23, 1933 to May 8, 1945, in association with either the Nazi Government of Germany or any organization or government associated or allied with the Nazi Government of Germany, ever order, incite, assist or otherwise participate in the persecution of any person because of race, religion, national origin or political opinion?
And everyone’s favorite, Question 4:
Have you ever engaged in, conspired to engage in, or do you intend to engage in, or have you ever solicited membership or funds for, or have you through any means ever assisted or provided any type of material support to any person or organization that has ever engaged or conspired to engage in sabotage, kidnapping, political assassination, hijacking or any
other form of terrorist activity??
Fortunately, Fei’s not a coup-plotter or a terrorist, and I’m pretty sure any of her Nazi activities either post-dated May 8, 1945, or pre-dated March 23, 1933. Unfortunately, Question 6 wasn’t such a laugh:
“Have you ever been a member of, or in any way affiliated with, the Communist Party or any other totalitarian party?”
Fei, who was in the Young Pioneer Leage in elementary school, the Communist Youth League starting in middle school, and the Communist Party in college, answered “yes.”
We gave the officer two affidavits, one from last summer renouncing the Communist Party, and another from earlier this winter re-affirming the renunciation. We had been assured us this wouldn’t be a problem. The Officer assumed it was.
This is where it gets complicated. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA Â§ 31) states that:
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 405(b) , no person shall hereafter be naturalized as a citizen of the United States-
(1) who advocates or teaches, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization that advocates or teaches, opposition to all organized government; or
(c) The provisions of this section shall be applicable to any applicant for naturalization who at any time within a period of ten years immediately preceding the filing of the application for naturalization or after such filing and before taking the final oath of citizenship is, or has been found to be within any of the classes enumerated within this section, notwithstanding that at the time the application is filed he may not be included within such classes.
But this was an AOS for non-immigration to immigrant status, not a naturalization. So actually I think we were running up against 8 USC Â§ 1182:
(a) Classes of aliens ineligible for visas or admission
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, aliens who are inadmissible under the following paragraphs are ineligible to receive visas and ineligible to be admitted to the United States:
(3) Security and related grounds
(D) Immigrant membership in totalitarian party
(i) In general
Any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist or any other totalitarian party (or subdivision or affiliate thereof), domestic or foreign, is inadmissible.
Ah, 8 USC Â§ 1182(a)(3)(D)(i), which no one had mentioned to us, or even known about.
“I won’t be able to stamp your passport today” the Officer said. “But I will speak with our lawer later today, and let you know how it goes.”
“Can we come back at 5 o’clock?” I asked “or sometime else at the end of the day?”
The Officer explained that he had a meeting for another office later in the day, and so wouldn’t be able to meet later on. “Hold on, I will see if he’s available.”
The Officer let us alone as he left to find the lawyer. “I really didn’t think this would be a big deal” Fei said. Unfortunately, it was. The Cold War is over everywhere but Cuba, North Korea, and US immigration law.
The seven minutes or from when the Officer began asking about the communist party to the resolution were very long. Definitely some of the longest in our lives.
8 USC Â§ 1182(a)(3)(D)(i) contains a number of exceptions. As the Code reads in 8 USC Â§ 1182(a)(3)(D)(ii):
(ii) Exception for involuntary membership Clause (i) shall not apply to an alien because of membership or affiliation if the alien establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer when applying for a visa (or to the satisfaction of the Attorney General when applying for admission) that the membership or affiliation is or was involuntary, or is or was solely when under 16 years of age, by operation of law, or for purposes of obtaining employment, food rations, or other essentials of living and whether necessary for such purposes.
The Officer determined that the selection process for Chinese Communsit Party membership at Xi’an Technological University qualified as involuntary. So Fei’s former Partisanship was decided to be both a cause and consequence of academic success.
“I will stamp your passport with a temporary green card” the officer said. Success!
Then final business. We need to apply for a 10-year green card in 21 months. The green card itself will come in the mail in a few days. But the stamp is as good as the card for up to one year, and was all we hoped for.
Baby, we did it.