My Husband, Permanent Resident

Wednesday the 7th of October has come and gone. As you may remember, that was Andrés’ big fat visa interview day for his “green card”, and as you may know, he was big fat APPROVED!

Our celebratory photo

Our celebratory photo

I had taken the day off, because as I had put together most of his application and gone through the process, I needed to see this thing to fruition. He had had a medical exam in September, and we had to pick up the results and bring it to his interview. So, we got that about 11am and moseyed on over to the embassy. We had an obligatory stop at Starbucks, and moseyed a bit too long there and realized we didn’t really have time for lunch before his 2pm interview.

I’m Amy, so I needed at least a snack to tide myself over, and after that we arrived at the embassy at 1:45. There were 4 people in front of us. At 1:50 the guards started calling us in one by one. The interview itself took all of 10 minutes, but waiting for the four couples in front of us to finish before our interview took an hour.

I had made Andrés drag along the 12-inch thick binder I had put together while submitting his applications months ago, with two originals and two photocopies of every possible document you could ever think of — birth certificates, police records, passport photocopies, and I kid you not, 5 different Victoria’s Secret flyers that were sent to me at my “real” address in the USA…to show them that I “still technically live in the USA even though I’ve actually been in Chile permanently for three years but whatever”. Our entire lives x2 (if you include photocopies) were in that binder. And the first thing the Vice Consul says to us when he sees us, “I actually feel really bad that you brought that big binder along with you because I really will not have to see anything in there.” I was so tempted to ask him if he was 100% positive he didn’t want to at least admire it for 10 seconds because my blood, sweat and tears were put into putting that damn thing together. I did say, well, we weren’t sure if you needed to see originals or more evidence, and he replied, “This is Chile! We’re not in the Philippines or Haiti or some high-fraud country.” Okedoke, got it. It sort of reminded me of when I was so worked up about making sure Joaquin’s US passport photo was going to be acceptable for the Embassy.

He asked us how we met, where we plan to live when we move to the USA and confirmed that we have a daughter (guess Joaquin seems like a girls name?) He looked up at us and said “congratulations, have a great new adventure”. We asked him simultaneously, “that’s it?” And he said, “you’re close in age (10 years is close in age for an immigrant visa I guess), you have a child together and you’ve known each other for several years…there are no red flags here”.

Well, shoot. After that whole long process, that’s what we hear. Now I think that the USA should definitely implement a fast-track immigration process for low fraud countries, because it’s obvious we qualify, but THIS was our timeline** to prove it:

March 17: I-130 packet & $420 application fee mailed to USCIS via DHL

March 19: USCIC received I-130 packet

April 15: I-797 Notice of Action acceptance of I-130 and shipment of packet to NVC

April 29: NVC received I-130 packet from USCIS

May 7: NVC Case # assigned

June 1: DS-261 form completed online

June 4: Affidavit of Support Invoice Paid ($120)

June 11: Andrés is registered as his own agent via DS-261

July 6: Immigration Visa fee available for payment online

July 20: Immigration Visa fee paid ($325)

July 27: DS-260 Immigration Application submitted online

July 28: Affidavit of Support and Immigration Visa evidence packages mailed to the NVC via DHL

July 30: Packages received at NVC

August 20: Notification email received for Case Complete

August 27: Notification email received for interview date

September 16: Original Interview Date (rescheduled because we were in Brazil)

October 7: Rescheduled Interview Date, result: approved

**This is actually a much shorter wait that many other countries.

Now, all that’s left is to pick up Andrés passport with his temporary immigrant visa (hopefully this week) and pay another $165 Immigrant fee (give me a freaking break) and then we are free (no pun intended) to move to the USA. Though, this will not occur until early 2016–for administrative reasons 😉

So, all I can say is THANK YOU GOD THAT YOU ARE GOOD TO US BUT MOSTLY THAT IT IS OVER.

Eating Healthier, Saving Moolah, Moving Forward

I need to first say that TODAY is my dad’s birthday. Happy Birthday to you, Dad. You provided me with a lifetime example of what I needed to look for in a husband and how a dad should care for and love his children. When I was younger, I thought that my dad is how all dads are, and as my naivety faded as I got older, I saw that I am really on top of really blessed because there really are not THAT many dads who are as wonderful as mine.

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#tbt to 2014. Only one of them looks like they have aged since last year.

Same goes for you too, Mom…who, no fooling, celebrated her birthday on the 1st.

...same goes for this 2014 photo.

…same goes for this 2014 photo.

Next week: shout out to Aunt Pooj whose birfday is on the 15th. She’s your reminder that your taxes are due.

I loved her rather aggressively as a small child.

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In mid-March I did a 5-day challenge with Fitness Blender and it kicked my arse. In between that, I have been exercising for 30-60 minutes 5 or 6 times a day since early February. However, I have not really seen any numerical differences on the scale and my pants fit the same as before…a.k.a. not well. I do feel stronger (I can do five push-ups straight through instead of suffering through one) and in much better shape, but honestly, I’m tired of feeling lumpy and much larger than the size I’ve been almost my entire adult life.

I’m freely admitting that my diet sucks. I am totally addicted to candy lattes (my current version of ‘coffee’) that probably have ungodly amounts of sugar in them but I’m in denial so I refuse to look it up. I don’t even want to know because I know it’s bad. But hey, I order it with fat free milk so of course I can throw down 24oz. a day and think I’ll see my body magically decrease in size. Reality: I am probably only burning half of one of those lattes in an exercise session, because as I so sadly read, I am likely overestimating calories burned during exercise and underestimating caloric intake. It’s so hard, because caramel lattes bring me to my happy place at work…and Starbucks’s in Chile are popping up faster than tulips in the spring.

I also have another large problem, and that would be portion control. I eat one piece of something filled with butter and sugar and think, oh hey, what’s one more…which spirals into five more.

Third,  I will go out to eat and think, ‘well, I never come here, so I might as well get the most awesome thing on the menu’. But I end up doing that more than once a week to different restaurants because I ‘never go to that restaurant,” and I end up eating the junkiest junk on the menu at more than one place more than once a week.

And finally, I love food. I have a hard time saying no. It’s pretty easy for me to say no to some things, but food is not one of them.

However, I have realized in the past 8 weeks that pure exercise is not gonna cut it. Literally. I have to make small goals for myself. Instead of 5 sugar-infused liquid beverages per week, ideally 1 either on Monday or Friday to either help me face the week or celebrate that the week is over. Instead of choosing the most exotic thing on the menu, actively look for a good choice that won’t leave me hungry for that burger I didn’t order. I can’t do dieting. I can’t do non-processed foods. I can’t do non-sugar, non-fat, non-dairy. Sorry I’m not sorry. So, I’ll just have to do less of what I really like (burgers and lattes) and more of what I’ll tolerate (salads and vegetables).

I will also tell you a thing about eating in this country: it’s hard not to eat crap. A lot of their foods are processed and full of weird stuff. Kids birthday parties and family get-togethers are packed with soda, chips and cubes of sugar disguised as candy. You don’t want to be the weird, rude foreigner that chews on celery and carrots they brought along with them and say no to your sister-in-law’s homemade lemon cake. You eat that lemon cake with a smile on your face.

On the flipside, their fruits and vegetables are a-plenty and much cheaper than in the USA. This is good for Joaquin, a raging banana and strawberry addict, and good for his mom who puts the not-so-good-quality fruit in a blender for a smoothie.

Andrés and I are also in an attempt to not be like madmen with our checking accounts and be “fiscally responsible adults”. We’re planning a fairly big life change in 2016, and in general, life-changes require money. We are actually already pretty fiscally responsible. We’re not in debt, we don’t spend more than we have and we have savings. We’re just trying to get that pile of savings a few feet…erm…inches…higher by the end of the year. And maybe that means the end to “Sushi Tuesdays” and the start of “Sushi Once a Month”. Boo-hoo. Saving and eating better doesn’t mean you can’t have the things you like, you just have to have less of them. Novel concepts guys.

Mid-March we sent in step 1 of 1,098,921 for Andrés’ US residency application (what most Americans know as a ‘green card’). You’re not a citizen, but it’s the next best thing (paying taxes, fun). The giant binder of information on ‘why my foreigner husband is good enough to live and work in your country’ was sent to a random address of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in Chicago. They let us know that they got it and just as soon as it arrived in Chicago, it was shipped off to California. Why they can’t do everything in one place with one organization of the government, I don’t know. Once the Californians deem him good enough, they send it to a completely different government entity called the National Visa Service (NVS) and they have to deem him good enough and rich enough and healthy enough and tall enough and skinny enough and physically fit enough and smart enough to come to our country. Maybe I made a few of those up, but the list really similar to that.

Once two government entities find him good enough, they let the US Embassy in Santiago know he’s a stand-up guy and we get a notification to go to an in-person interview, but not before Andrés is medically examined by a consular approved doctor saying he’s good enough. Then Sr. Consular Officer interviews Andrés and makes sure he’s good enough. If we get through that, they give us a package to bring to the immigration officer that checks us at the point of entry at the airport and tells Andrés if he’s good enough to finally enter the USA as a resident.

FOR CRYING OUT LOUD MY HUSBAND IS GOOD ENOUGH TO ENTER MY STUPID COUNTRY WHY DO FIFTY PEOPLE NEED TO TELL HIM HE’S GOOD ENOUGH AND TREAT LEGAL IMMIGRANTS LIKE THEY WANT TO BREAK THE LAW. FIX WHAT’S BROKEN. FIX YOUR SYSTEM.

Oh, and the whole process from applying abroad costs over $1,000.

Super.

It involves a lot of waiting, a lot of steps, and a lot of patience. We’re hanging tight in Chile until things pan out and trust that God has everything under control. He always does, doesn’t He.

On an end note, our 1+ year old has taken to talking to himself. He is fluent in babble.