The Immigration Interview

Monday, July 21, 2015, I woke up nervous, but ready to go to Javier’s immigration interview. All of our outfits had been laid out the night before, along with the shoes set to the side. The place we rented was only 4 blocks away from the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires and we planned to walk there at 8:3o A.M. to arrive a few minutes before our 9:00 A.M. appointment. The directions we had received from the embassy stated that we should not arrive more than 15 minutes early. Once we got all of our jackets on, we grabbed our information and off we went. Each step had me praying and I felt more nervous the closer we got. There was a van set up on the side of the street with a sign stating they could take passport pictures and hold your phone during the interview. The van was a make-shift sort of business, but I remember thinking there is no way I would leave my cell phone with them and I was glad I had Javier’s pictures and had saved us money by doing it ourselves. The embassy is surrounded by a big iron fence and on one side people had begun to line up, essentially awaiting their turn for a chance at a tourist visa. The email told us to pass all of the people and to go to the window at the front. We walked right up and told them we were there for an immigration visa. The girl behind the counter asked for a few things and then she told us to wait to the side until our name was called. Within minutes, our name was called and we were directed inside to the security scanner.

Immigration Interview

We took our jackets off and placed our documents in the bins to go through the scanner, just as you would at the airport. The machine went off and I assumed it was from my insulin pump, but it was because of the keys. We had to leave them there and could pick them up when we were finished. We were told to pass the line and to go to the following window outside. This is where Javier had his picture taken and fingerprints scanned. There was a huge line, but I am assuming we were able to pass because ours was for immigration rather than a tourist visa. We were then told to go inside and we passed many people in line, but told the security guy what we were there for and took a seat. Many people were waiting inside and they had a section for Americans for services they may need. We sat down in that section and about 15 minutes later our name was called and we went to Window 5 (this was for immigration). Praying as I walked, we entered into the booth and the lady told us that the kids and I could wait outside the booth if we wanted, but I said it was fine and the children and I waited. She started to ask for forms and I had everything organized by page dividers and almost every form was in a sheet protector. She began to mark items off the list that stated we had them. We had to show the originals and then we realized that we had not made copies of the legalized birth certificate and of the legalized marriage certificate. I had copies made prior to that part. It was no big deal because I had read that we could pay $1 US for any copies. That is a lot to pay for one sheet, but if we had to, then fine. She asked for the medical and this is where it got bad. We did not have the medical portion and we had been hoping we could bring it the next day since we knew we’d be getting it that afternoon. No, she states that we could not proceed and it was inferred that it was out fault. I spoke up and stated we had made several attempts (phone, email, and FB page) to contact the embassy to no avail. She stated they only worked through email. I think she began to get confused as Javier would speak in Spanish and I would speak back in English. After I told her the FB page had replied to me that they were expecting my email she went to check. Yes, she found out that our appointment had been moved to Thursday, July 30, 2015, and she said it was most likely sent to us when we were walking to our appointment. We found out they had sent the email at 8:35 A.M. and we had left at 8:30 A.M. to walk to the embassy. Missed the message by five minutes! She then insisted we needed one other form from our sponsors. This was the first time we had heard this and it was not sent to us in the initial email of items to bring to the embassy. She then flippantly said that maybe you would need it and then added that you need it and it has to be signed. Fine, we would do what we had to do. We left the embassy and walked back quietly to the apartment to try and figure out what to do with the one item we “might” need and what were we going to do about lodging since we were only reserved through July 28.

Walking to the Embassy

We immediately called our sponsors and said we needed that form and fast. They worked on getting that to us and we made arrangements for a hotel. The place we were currently in was getting new floors the next day so we could no longer be there. Once we got a hotel reserved for the next two nights, we got our stuff ready to go to Javier’s final medical appointment.

The medical appointment seemed pretty fast. We spoke with another couple, who were there with their young son. Once Javier had his medical packet, we headed back to our place. It was nice that there was a washing machine because we were going to be spending more days than previously planned in Buenos Aires.

The next day, we left around noon to go visit some old friends before heading to the hotel. Our friend was glad to see us and we made arrangements to meet up the next day with her and her daughter for lunch. We typed in the direction of the hotel and off we went. We had been in Palermo, but the hotel was in Palermo Hollywood. It was a very nice hotel and once we got in the room with the kids, Javier went to the do parking. He quickly called me and stated there was a problem because of the kids. When we made the reservation, it did not let me choose an option for them. They wanted us to pay more than we had for us for two nights. It had taken us so long to find a place with the rush and aggravation of the problems at the embassy. The owner then came by and realized that our children were small and said we could add them on for half of the price initially stated. Perfect! We did that and were then able to breathe easier.

We were tourists the next two days and made sure to take time to print off the documents that were missing or potentially needed, plus got copies of the legalized documents.

Palermo Hollywood

Thursday, July 30, 2015, we got up earlier and got dressed. I had the clothes all set aside for the children and the two days leading up to this we took time to make sure all of the documents were there and in the right place. It states that there can be delay if items are out of order. We walked 15-20 blocks to the embassy and I felt like I prayed more this walk than I had a few days before with the first appointment. The kids pointed at the place where we previously stayed as it was on the way. We repeated the same steps as before about going to the window at the embassy and once inside. After several minutes of waiting, we turned our papers in and the same lady was there. She was not who I was hoping to see, but she did not even ask for the one form that she insisted we needed , but had slightly said we “might” need. She could see we had everything and then told us to go sit back down and wait. It was almost an hour and a half later that we were called. The children were a bit restless by this point, but great considering the amount of time we were there. The same lady looked at us from behind the glass window and asked if we had Form I-130, but if we did not have it, it was okay because they did not ask for it. I had brought some extra stuff with us, so I quickly scanned through the document book flipping the pages. Unfortunately, I did not and she said their system was being very slow loading it and that was the delay. She was starting to tell us to go wait back in the waiting area and the consulate walked right by her and said she could go ahead and do the interview.

The interview was fast and what we have been waiting for, for months. The consulate was a female and she asked when we planned to travel, when we were married, and how did we meet. It was smooth and she smiled at the kids. She then looked at Javier and said,” Felicidades!” That means congratulations in Spanish. When I spoke up about how you do not hear a lot about people meeting at weddings, she told me her parents had met that way. Within five to seven days we should have the visa, according to her.

Thank you so much for all of the prayers for us! We still have a way to go as we begin a new life in the United States.

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