Sunday, July 05, 2015

Mom's naturalization papers: an update

Because I need my mother's naturalization paperwork to obtain an F-4 visa here in Korea, I've turned in a huge application to USCIS, the branch of the US government that has taken over the duties and responsibilities of what used to be the US Immigration and Naturalization Service. USCIS is actually under the purview of Homeland Security. This is the course that had been recommended to me by the staffer at the US Embassy in Gwanghwamun: he had said I should make an FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request for Mom's naturalization documents via the USCIS website, but that I would need Mom's death certificate to do so.

Thus far, I've obtained Mom's death certificate in electronic form thanks to my brother David. That became part of my USCIS application packet, along with Form G-639, a copy of my birth certificate, a copy of my US passport, and a copy of my Virginia driver's license. Six days went by after I'd emailed those documents, so I wrote USCIS again to get an acknowledgment of receipt. An informal acknowledgment came immediately, and I was told to sit tight and wait for an official acknowledgment, which would include a case number that would allow me to track, online, my application's progress through the system.

I'm on pins and needles about this. My contract with Dongguk runs out at the end of August; the only Dongguk payment I'll receive in September will be my twaejik-geum, i.e., my retirement allowance. I'm not expecting much, given how damn stingy Dongguk has proven to be, but it's the timing of everything that bothers me more than the expected amount of my twaejik-geum. If I don't have my F-4 visa in hand by the end of August, I'll need to extend my studio-rental period in Goyang by yet another month, and I likely won't have the money to pay for rent unless I borrow heavily from my friendly coworker at the Golden Goose.

Originally, I had wanted everything to be done by the beginning of August. That way, the Golden Goose would have hired me; I'd have gotten 3 million won back from my studio-rental contract (the deposit I had made at the beginning); along with my final 2.4 million won from Dongguk and a payment from the Golden Goose that month, I'd have had almost $9,000 in the bank. But as Murphy's Law would have it, that's not going to happen. Oh, I still get the $9,000, but it's going to arrive in staggered chunks now, instead of in one awesome lump sum. And I absolutely need all that money to be in place because I still have to buy an expensive hanbok and a plane ticket—and have money for hotel reservations and meals—for my brother Sean's wedding in mid-October.

So things are tense and getting tenser. I hope USCIS gets a move on. I still haven't received the official acknowledgment that means the ball has started rolling. The phrase on tenterhooks is as good a descriptor as any for my current situation.


No comments: