Sunday, July 19, 2015

gear up!

And we're off. My brother David texted me to say that he has finally received the long-awaited (three weeks, now) official notification from USCIS—the writ saying that their office did indeed receive my paperwork. USCIS is now, presumably, processing everything I gave them, and I hope to end up with some damn records. The letter notes, bizarrely (or maybe not bizarrely—hard to tell), that the records will come to me in the form of a CD, which means, I suppose, that it'll be up to me to print the records up here in Korea. My fear is that, by printing the records myself, I'll be somehow de-legitimizing the paperwork. Normally, I'd expect a multicolored document with a watermark and a raised seal to go along with the printed text.

Assuming I get the naturalization paperwork without there being some sort of processing error, and/or without learning that the requested document doesn't exist... assuming the paperwork says "Suk Ja Kim" (Mom's maiden name) on it... assuming those things, I can bundle up my paperwork and give it to Korean Immigration, which will issue me my visa in precisely three weeks. I still don't know whether I'll have to leave the country and come back because of this change in visa status; I can probably look such information up online, and it's a small concern compared to my much larger worries.

Life won't officially be better until I have my F-4 in hand, but we're getting closer to that day. An F-4 visa isn't tied to a sponsoring employer; technically, I could remain in Korea legally as a homeless guy, unless there's fine print on the visa saying that it's assumed I'll be working somewhere as a productive (quasi-)member of society.

But I now have reason to be optimistic, even as I curse the US government's bureaucracy for putting me in the humiliating position of thinking that any tiny scrap of information, any movement at all in the administrative colossus, appears miraculous. No one likes to think of himself as a plaything for powerful entities. That said, I suppose it's better to be thankful than to seethe; life is too short to waste on unproductive fuming.

For now, we wait.

ADDENDUM: I have a timeline, now, apparently. The USCIS confirmation letter says I have been placed on Track One of their processing system, and I have a "control number" with which to monitor my progress. Track One items take 41 business days to process. Whether that means exactly 41 days, at least 41 days, or roughly 41 days, I have no clue. And when did the 41-day countdown begin? The day the letter was mailed? My brother received the letter this past Friday, July 17. If the letter was mailed then, and if processing didn't begin until the letter had been mailed (I've waited three weeks for this letter), then July 17 + 41 business days = September 16 (skipping weekends and Labor Day). If processing ends on September 16 and my brother gets the CD with Mom's documentation in it by Friday, September 18, then it won't be until about September 25 that I'll receive the CD. Assuming Mom's name is listed as "Suk Ja Kim" in her documentation (i.e., Korean Immigration won't delay the process further), and assuming I turn in my F-4 application documents on Monday, September 28, I won't have my F-4 visa until October 19. This puts me well behind schedule, budget-wise.

If, however, the processing of my documents began three weeks ago, about the time I emailed in my application to USCIS, everything moves forward about three weeks, and I'll have my visa in hand by the beginning of October instead of just past mid-October.

So the plan for me, now, will be to move out of Goyang City come August 30 (a day before my birthday). I'll get my W3 million deposit back, along with some extra income from KMA (we hope). I'll move temporarily into my #3 Ajumma's building again and stay there from the tail-end of August until whenever I get my F-4 and get hired by the Golden Goose—probably early to mid-October. I'll pay Ajumma rent to keep her happy (she was generous about hosting me for free last year, when I moved back to Seoul, but she did make clear that her property couldn't be used gratis forever). Last I checked, the spacious second-floor flat in her building was going for W600,000 a month. That's doable for two months. I have to factor in two major expenses: the cost of a plane ticket to the US in October, and the cost of a hanbok so I can officiate at my brother Sean's wedding while I'm in the States. I may have enough, when all is said and done, for the plane ticket, but I'll likely have to borrow money for the hanbok.

Of course, there's a chance that Ajumma has rented out the apartment I'm hoping to stay in. In that case, I guess it's back to a yeogwan for me for a couple months. I hate moving, but I don't see that I have much of a choice.


1 comment:

John (I'm not a robot) said...

Don't take it personally when dealing with the bureaucracy. The government's minions are not fucking with you. They just don't care.

I don't know the internal workings of USCIS, but I would guess that their internal timeline began from the date on the letter.