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MrsNotBonJovi

Bribes to get documents done: How much is too much?

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: India
Timeline

Dear all,

For those of you who have had to put yourself through the nightmare of obtaining an official document from an Indian government office, here is my experience. I am right now adjusting status from within the US after my husband became a USC in February. We had been to India in December last year and succeeded in getting a marriage certificate, one of the primary documents needed for the AOS.

But then, as is common with many Indians, I do not have an official birth certificate for the simple reason that my birth was not registered (registration was not compulsory in my case). So, the alternative was to get a non-availability certificate for my birth record. I personally visited my local municipal office while I was in India and made enquiries and was told that I would not need to be present in person to either apply for or collect the non-availability certificate. I was told I could authorize a family member to do it on my behalf.

Fast forward to March 2012, when I filed my papers with USCIS after sending in sufficient secondary evidence (affdiavits of birth, school records etc) in lieu of my birth certificate. I did not want to delay filing the paperwork and had planned to get the non-availability certificate when the application was being processed.

After the paperwork was filed, here is what I did to get the required document.

1) Approached the Indian consulate in New York and was told they did not have the required records for that period (their records start only a year later)

2) I made several overseas calls to my local municipality and spoke to the same person who had told me to authorize someone else to collect the document on my behalf. He confirmed it could be done.

3) I mailed all the relevant documents to my brother-in-law who lives in Chennai so that he could present them during the application process. All documents were notarized copies. I also sent my BIL an authorization letter.

4) When he arrived at the municipal office (after an exhaustingly long overnight drive), he was given the classic run-around, i.e, he was made to run from person to person even to get started on the application process. Since they knew he was doing it on behalf of someone who lived in the US, the assumption seems to have been that any amount of money would have been coughed up to get the document done.

5) He was first told it would take anything from six months till one year and then was given a very broad hint that expedition was "possible" if certain terms were met. While the document itself costs only INR 15 to be issued, they asked for a cash sum of Rs 20,000 for just the 'initial processing' and said that the sum could be adjusted towards later sums as and when needed. The meaning is inescapable.

In all, he was given an 'estimate' of INR 27,000-30,000. He was even told "it is only a small amount for someone who is living in the US"

6) Since my BIL was unsure of how to proceed, he returned to Chennai without paying anything.

Now, here is the ethical issue: As a journalist working in India before I moved to the US for my studies, I have been a strong campaigner against corruption in government offices. I have witnessed first hand what a plague it is on the system. I strongly believe in the Indian legal system which says the giving and taking of bribes is illegal and that the person giving a bribe is as much to blame as the person demanding it. I do not want to be a party to this scamming. As a result, I now have to look for other options to get the required document, with the very likelihood that I may never be able to get it. That is a risk I am prepared to take, for I do not want to do anything illegal.

What has been your experience? Anyone else in my situation?


The Journey

Arrived on F1 visa on 25 Dec 2008. Graduated June 2011. Started OPT Sep 2011.

AOS applied March 21, 2012. GC approved June 11, 2012 & received June 18, 2012.

Exactly three months from start to finish,no RFEs.

AOS Timeline:

Day 01,March 21, 2012: Concurrent filing of I-130/AOS/EAD/AP to Chicago Lockbox

Day 02,March 22, 2012: Package delivered to Chicago Lockbox

Day 04,March 24, 2012: USCIS Acceptance Confirmation received through e-mail

Day 07,March 27, 2012: Checks cashed.

Day 13,April 02, 2012 : NOAs received for I-130,I-485,EAD/AP & Biometrics

Day 36,April 25, 2012 : Biometrics Completed at Elizabeth, NJ.

Day 45,May 04, 2012 : E-mail notification for interview received for June 11

Day 46,May 05, 2012 : Received hard copy of interview notice

Day 56,May 16, 2012 : EAD/AP Production e-mail

Day 64,May 24, 2012 : EAD/AP Card in hand

Day 83,June 11,2012 : Interview. Approved same day. Card production email.

Day 84,June 12,2012 : E-mail Notification registering PR status.

Day 87,June 15,2012 : USPS picks up GC from USCIS.

Day 88,June 16,2012 : Received two hard copy mails, approving I-130 & I-485

Day 90,June 18,2012 : 10-year GC in hand. End of GC journey, for now.

.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: India
Timeline

Dear all,

For those of you who have had to put yourself through the nightmare of obtaining an official document from an Indian government office, here is my experience. I am right now adjusting status from within the US after my husband became a USC in February. We had been to India in December last year and succeeded in getting a marriage certificate, one of the primary documents needed for the AOS.

But then, as is common with many Indians, I do not have an official birth certificate for the simple reason that my birth was not registered (registration was not compulsory in my case). So, the alternative was to get a non-availability certificate for my birth record. I personally visited my local municipal office while I was in India and made enquiries and was told that I would not need to be present in person to either apply for or collect the non-availability certificate. I was told I could authorize a family member to do it on my behalf.

Fast forward to March 2012, when I filed my papers with USCIS after sending in sufficient secondary evidence (affdiavits of birth, school records etc) in lieu of my birth certificate. I did not want to delay filing the paperwork and had planned to get the non-availability certificate when the application was being processed.

After the paperwork was filed, here is what I did to get the required document.

1) Approached the Indian consulate in New York and was told they did not have the required records for that period (their records start only a year later)

2) I made several overseas calls to my local municipality and spoke to the same person who had told me to authorize someone else to collect the document on my behalf. He confirmed it could be done.

3) I mailed all the relevant documents to my brother-in-law who lives in Chennai so that he could present them during the application process. All documents were notarized copies. I also sent my BIL an authorization letter.

4) When he arrived at the municipal office (after an exhaustingly long overnight drive), he was given the classic run-around, i.e, he was made to run from person to person even to get started on the application process. Since they knew he was doing it on behalf of someone who lived in the US, the assumption seems to have been that any amount of money would have been coughed up to get the document done.

5) He was first told it would take anything from six months till one year and then was given a very broad hint that expedition was "possible" if certain terms were met. While the document itself costs only INR 15 to be issued, they asked for a cash sum of Rs 20,000 for just the 'initial processing' and said that the sum could be adjusted towards later sums as and when needed. The meaning is inescapable.

In all, he was given an 'estimate' of INR 27,000-30,000. He was even told "it is only a small amount for someone who is living in the US"

6) Since my BIL was unsure of how to proceed, he returned to Chennai without paying anything.

Now, here is the ethical issue: As a journalist working in India before I moved to the US for my studies, I have been a strong campaigner against corruption in government offices. I have witnessed first hand what a plague it is on the system. I strongly believe in the Indian legal system which says the giving and taking of bribes is illegal and that the person giving a bribe is as much to blame as the person demanding it. I do not want to be a party to this scamming. As a result, I now have to look for other options to get the required document, with the very likelihood that I may never be able to get it. That is a risk I am prepared to take, for I do not want to do anything illegal.

What has been your experience? Anyone else in my situation?

You being a journalist, report who is asking for bribe, Please do not pay bribe to anyone, no matter what. Personally, I have been in many situations where I was asked. Things got delayed first but in the end I was proud to be a true and responsible citizen.

Support IAC.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: India
Timeline

You being a journalist, report who is asking for bribe, Please do not pay bribe to anyone, no matter what. Personally, I have been in many situations where I was asked. Things got delayed first but in the end I was proud to be a true and responsible citizen.

Support IAC.

I fully well intend to file a report with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption when I visit India later this year. The normal thinking among such crooks seems to be that a person who lives in the US will not personally go to the extent of reporting them in India and so they can get away with it. I brainstormed with a few friends and family members who suggested that I just pay up and get it over with and not try to be 'holier-than-thou'. It was a tough decision to make,but I am glad I refused to.

Edited by MrsNotBonJovi

The Journey

Arrived on F1 visa on 25 Dec 2008. Graduated June 2011. Started OPT Sep 2011.

AOS applied March 21, 2012. GC approved June 11, 2012 & received June 18, 2012.

Exactly three months from start to finish,no RFEs.

AOS Timeline:

Day 01,March 21, 2012: Concurrent filing of I-130/AOS/EAD/AP to Chicago Lockbox

Day 02,March 22, 2012: Package delivered to Chicago Lockbox

Day 04,March 24, 2012: USCIS Acceptance Confirmation received through e-mail

Day 07,March 27, 2012: Checks cashed.

Day 13,April 02, 2012 : NOAs received for I-130,I-485,EAD/AP & Biometrics

Day 36,April 25, 2012 : Biometrics Completed at Elizabeth, NJ.

Day 45,May 04, 2012 : E-mail notification for interview received for June 11

Day 46,May 05, 2012 : Received hard copy of interview notice

Day 56,May 16, 2012 : EAD/AP Production e-mail

Day 64,May 24, 2012 : EAD/AP Card in hand

Day 83,June 11,2012 : Interview. Approved same day. Card production email.

Day 84,June 12,2012 : E-mail Notification registering PR status.

Day 87,June 15,2012 : USPS picks up GC from USCIS.

Day 88,June 16,2012 : Received two hard copy mails, approving I-130 & I-485

Day 90,June 18,2012 : 10-year GC in hand. End of GC journey, for now.

.

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: India
Timeline

I fully well intend to file a report with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption when I visit India later this year. The normal thinking among such crooks seems to be that a person who lives in the US will not personally go to the extent of reporting them in India and so they can get away with it. I brainstormed with a few friends and family members who suggested that I just pay up and get it over with and not try to be 'holier-than-thou'. It was a tough decision to make,but I am glad I refused to.

Thank you for that

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: India
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You being a journalist, report who is asking for bribe, Please do not pay bribe to anyone, no matter what. Personally, I have been in many situations where I was asked. Things got delayed first but in the end I was proud to be a true and responsible citizen.

Support IAC.

I feel like people here are being a bit self-righteous. As you can see from my thread, sometimes there is truly no other option but to pay a bribe. I would be really happy to know what alternatives to bribe people could have suggested to my situation (which was in regards to obtaining our marriage certificate, which they were refusing to give us without the bribe). It's easy to be self-righteous and say you'd never give bribes when you actually have the option not to, but if you are in a situation where there are no options (besides NOT marrying your spouse), then you don't have the same luxury of this attitude. You are not any more of a 'true and responsible citizen' than my husband is and are in no way superior to him.... he simply didn't have another alternative to not paying, other than to not marry me.

I will ask my husband if he would like to report the registrar who took 25,000 rupees in bribe from us. I wish we could report him. I'm interested to hear what my husband would say. The only thing is that almost all of his family lives in his city, so if he creates bad terms with that office, then there may be the possibility of his relatives getting screwed over by that office (or even the registrar's "friends" in other government posts who also take bribes) if they ever need any work done in the future. I'll ask him about this.

Edited by rkk1

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: India
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By the way, my uncle (who is a US citizen) had the same experience some years ago in Delhi, as he travelled back to India upon his mother's death. Whatever government office there was refusing to issue him his mother's death certificate without a bribe. They had the gall to ask a grieving man who just lost his mother for money. Obviously my uncle was extremely angry about this, but he also had to pay the bribe as he didn't have an option. I bet all of you people here (who think you are in someway superior) would end up doing the same thing, especially in such a situation where you are too emotionally exhausted to start fighting. Just realize that there are real life examples here, where you wouldn't be in the same position to refuse.

Edit: I just wanted to add that government officials in India don't usually ask directly for bribes themselves. They just come up with a million excuses of why something can't be done (that legally is allowed to be done), and get upset when you start questioning them. It's their assistants (as in our case) who will pull you aside and tell you to give ...... in money to get the work done. Maybe some people do ask for things directly, but in the several cases that I know of involving me or my family members (which were required to pay bribes), this was exactly how it happened. They know you have no option but to get the work done and don't have anyplace else to get it from (often), and thus they can ask for exorbitant amounts. It's disgusting.

Edited by rkk1

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Filed: Timeline

Dear all,

For those of you who have had to put yourself through the nightmare of obtaining an official document from an Indian government office, here is my experience. I am right now adjusting status from within the US after my husband became a USC in February. We had been to India in December last year and succeeded in getting a marriage certificate, one of the primary documents needed for the AOS.

But then, as is common with many Indians, I do not have an official birth certificate for the simple reason that my birth was not registered (registration was not compulsory in my case). So, the alternative was to get a non-availability certificate for my birth record. I personally visited my local municipal office while I was in India and made enquiries and was told that I would not need to be present in person to either apply for or collect the non-availability certificate. I was told I could authorize a family member to do it on my behalf.

Fast forward to March 2012, when I filed my papers with USCIS after sending in sufficient secondary evidence (affdiavits of birth, school records etc) in lieu of my birth certificate. I did not want to delay filing the paperwork and had planned to get the non-availability certificate when the application was being processed.

After the paperwork was filed, here is what I did to get the required document.

1) Approached the Indian consulate in New York and was told they did not have the required records for that period (their records start only a year later)

2) I made several overseas calls to my local municipality and spoke to the same person who had told me to authorize someone else to collect the document on my behalf. He confirmed it could be done.

3) I mailed all the relevant documents to my brother-in-law who lives in Chennai so that he could present them during the application process. All documents were notarized copies. I also sent my BIL an authorization letter.

4) When he arrived at the municipal office (after an exhaustingly long overnight drive), he was given the classic run-around, i.e, he was made to run from person to person even to get started on the application process. Since they knew he was doing it on behalf of someone who lived in the US, the assumption seems to have been that any amount of money would have been coughed up to get the document done.

5) He was first told it would take anything from six months till one year and then was given a very broad hint that expedition was "possible" if certain terms were met. While the document itself costs only INR 15 to be issued, they asked for a cash sum of Rs 20,000 for just the 'initial processing' and said that the sum could be adjusted towards later sums as and when needed. The meaning is inescapable.

In all, he was given an 'estimate' of INR 27,000-30,000. He was even told "it is only a small amount for someone who is living in the US"

6) Since my BIL was unsure of how to proceed, he returned to Chennai without paying anything.

Now, here is the ethical issue: As a journalist working in India before I moved to the US for my studies, I have been a strong campaigner against corruption in government offices. I have witnessed first hand what a plague it is on the system. I strongly believe in the Indian legal system which says the giving and taking of bribes is illegal and that the person giving a bribe is as much to blame as the person demanding it. I do not want to be a party to this scamming. As a result, I now have to look for other options to get the required document, with the very likelihood that I may never be able to get it. That is a risk I am prepared to take, for I do not want to do anything illegal.

What has been your experience? Anyone else in my situation?

hi

i have also been through same situation...i also didnt hv the birth certificate for the same reason so i went for non availability certificate...i jst went to the civil surgeons office (in jalandhar) as it is their office that issues such documents in punjab...i personally met civil surgeon n explained my situation, he was quite helpful...he just marked my application n direct his assistant to issue the certificate ASAP...so everything jst went smoothly till i was 1 step away frm getting it n the clerk there told me to come after 1 week n then he will c what he can do...when i told him tht i hv came from another city n it would b difficult for me to come again jst to collect it n requested him to issue it same day, he jst said "such a hurry can seriously delay your process if u didnt comply to my terms"...so i jst refused to pay him n went to the civil surgeon n told him abt whole situation...then he jst called that clerk in his office n told him to ready my certificate immediatly n give it to me within 1 hour n also told him to write n apology letter to me.

so i got mine in jst one day without paying anything...i think maybe u can try n get in touch with the higher authority in the concerned office n see what happens....gud luck!!!

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: India
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I feel like people here are being a bit self-righteous. As you can see from my thread, sometimes there is truly no other option but to pay a bribe. I would be really happy to know what alternatives to bribe people could have suggested to my situation (which was in regards to obtaining our marriage certificate, which they were refusing to give us without the bribe). It's easy to be self-righteous and say you'd never give bribes when you actually have the option not to, but if you are in a situation where there are no options (besides NOT marrying your spouse), then you don't have the same luxury of this attitude. You are not any more of a 'true and responsible citizen' than my husband is and are in no way superior to him.... he simply didn't have another alternative to not paying, other than to not marry me.

I will ask my husband if he would like to report the registrar who took 25,000 rupees in bribe from us. I wish we could report him. I'm interested to hear what my husband would say. The only thing is that almost all of his family lives in his city, so if he creates bad terms with that office, then there may be the possibility of his relatives getting screwed over by that office (or even the registrar's "friends" in other government posts who also take bribes) if they ever need any work done in the future. I'll ask him about this.

rkk1, I am not being self-righteous, I can fully understand what you were made to go through and I would be the last person to pass judgement. I was relating my experience and a decision that I took, which varies from person to person. Had I paid the bribe that they were asking for, I would have violated my own journalistic integrity and that would have been a very difficult thing for me to live with. If you read my post, I have clearly stated how the rates go up if they know they have you in a bind, like in your case, you cannot have done your husband's visa without the marriage certificate and those SOBs know that very well. It is mostly a lose-lose situation and that is what makes it so disgusting. Having said that, I have to object to your use of the word 'luxury', it is not a luxury but a personal choice each person makes. I can understand why your husband did what he had to do, but somehow it does not seem right that he had to do it. That's my point.

Also,I do not think there will be any harassment of your in-laws if he does report the Registrar, anonymous tip-offs are often done with the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption and they will make all efforts to preserve confidentiality. It would have worked better if your husband had any proof of the bribe demanded.

Having said all this, I must also place on record my skepticism over the India Against Corruption movement that the other poster speaks about, I think it is more politicised and all show and no substance. As I said before, s/he who has not sinned should be the first one to throw the stone, and there are not very many around who can truthfully claim to have done that.

Please do not take this discussion too very personally, is all I can ask. I have been following all your posts and you seem a super person.


The Journey

Arrived on F1 visa on 25 Dec 2008. Graduated June 2011. Started OPT Sep 2011.

AOS applied March 21, 2012. GC approved June 11, 2012 & received June 18, 2012.

Exactly three months from start to finish,no RFEs.

AOS Timeline:

Day 01,March 21, 2012: Concurrent filing of I-130/AOS/EAD/AP to Chicago Lockbox

Day 02,March 22, 2012: Package delivered to Chicago Lockbox

Day 04,March 24, 2012: USCIS Acceptance Confirmation received through e-mail

Day 07,March 27, 2012: Checks cashed.

Day 13,April 02, 2012 : NOAs received for I-130,I-485,EAD/AP & Biometrics

Day 36,April 25, 2012 : Biometrics Completed at Elizabeth, NJ.

Day 45,May 04, 2012 : E-mail notification for interview received for June 11

Day 46,May 05, 2012 : Received hard copy of interview notice

Day 56,May 16, 2012 : EAD/AP Production e-mail

Day 64,May 24, 2012 : EAD/AP Card in hand

Day 83,June 11,2012 : Interview. Approved same day. Card production email.

Day 84,June 12,2012 : E-mail Notification registering PR status.

Day 87,June 15,2012 : USPS picks up GC from USCIS.

Day 88,June 16,2012 : Received two hard copy mails, approving I-130 & I-485

Day 90,June 18,2012 : 10-year GC in hand. End of GC journey, for now.

.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: India
Timeline

By the way, my uncle (who is a US citizen) had the same experience some years ago in Delhi, as he travelled back to India upon his mother's death. Whatever government office there was refusing to issue him his mother's death certificate without a bribe. They had the gall to ask a grieving man who just lost his mother for money. Obviously my uncle was extremely angry about this, but he also had to pay the bribe as he didn't have an option. I bet all of you people here (who think you are in someway superior) would end up doing the same thing, especially in such a situation where you are too emotionally exhausted to start fighting. Just realize that there are real life examples here, where you wouldn't be in the same position to refuse.

Edit: I just wanted to add that government officials in India don't usually ask directly for bribes themselves. They just come up with a million excuses of why something can't be done (that legally is allowed to be done), and get upset when you start questioning them. It's their assistants (as in our case) who will pull you aside and tell you to give ...... in money to get the work done. Maybe some people do ask for things directly, but in the several cases that I know of involving me or my family members (which were required to pay bribes), this was exactly how it happened. They know you have no option but to get the work done and don't have anyplace else to get it from (often), and thus they can ask for exorbitant amounts. It's disgusting.

Amen to that!


The Journey

Arrived on F1 visa on 25 Dec 2008. Graduated June 2011. Started OPT Sep 2011.

AOS applied March 21, 2012. GC approved June 11, 2012 & received June 18, 2012.

Exactly three months from start to finish,no RFEs.

AOS Timeline:

Day 01,March 21, 2012: Concurrent filing of I-130/AOS/EAD/AP to Chicago Lockbox

Day 02,March 22, 2012: Package delivered to Chicago Lockbox

Day 04,March 24, 2012: USCIS Acceptance Confirmation received through e-mail

Day 07,March 27, 2012: Checks cashed.

Day 13,April 02, 2012 : NOAs received for I-130,I-485,EAD/AP & Biometrics

Day 36,April 25, 2012 : Biometrics Completed at Elizabeth, NJ.

Day 45,May 04, 2012 : E-mail notification for interview received for June 11

Day 46,May 05, 2012 : Received hard copy of interview notice

Day 56,May 16, 2012 : EAD/AP Production e-mail

Day 64,May 24, 2012 : EAD/AP Card in hand

Day 83,June 11,2012 : Interview. Approved same day. Card production email.

Day 84,June 12,2012 : E-mail Notification registering PR status.

Day 87,June 15,2012 : USPS picks up GC from USCIS.

Day 88,June 16,2012 : Received two hard copy mails, approving I-130 & I-485

Day 90,June 18,2012 : 10-year GC in hand. End of GC journey, for now.

.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: India
Timeline

hi

i have also been through same situation...i also didnt hv the birth certificate for the same reason so i went for non availability certificate...i jst went to the civil surgeons office (in jalandhar) as it is their office that issues such documents in punjab...i personally met civil surgeon n explained my situation, he was quite helpful...he just marked my application n direct his assistant to issue the certificate ASAP...so everything jst went smoothly till i was 1 step away frm getting it n the clerk there told me to come after 1 week n then he will c what he can do...when i told him tht i hv came from another city n it would b difficult for me to come again jst to collect it n requested him to issue it same day, he jst said "such a hurry can seriously delay your process if u didnt comply to my terms"...so i jst refused to pay him n went to the civil surgeon n told him abt whole situation...then he jst called that clerk in his office n told him to ready my certificate immediatly n give it to me within 1 hour n also told him to write n apology letter to me.

so i got mine in jst one day without paying anything...i think maybe u can try n get in touch with the higher authority in the concerned office n see what happens....gud luck!!!

You were super lucky. In my case, the only recourse I now have to actually getting that non-availability certificate through non-bribe means is to take up the matter with some of my journalist colleagues back home and have them report the registrar. Not sure if that will help, may actually make sure I never get that document. One of the many options that are passing through my mind.


The Journey

Arrived on F1 visa on 25 Dec 2008. Graduated June 2011. Started OPT Sep 2011.

AOS applied March 21, 2012. GC approved June 11, 2012 & received June 18, 2012.

Exactly three months from start to finish,no RFEs.

AOS Timeline:

Day 01,March 21, 2012: Concurrent filing of I-130/AOS/EAD/AP to Chicago Lockbox

Day 02,March 22, 2012: Package delivered to Chicago Lockbox

Day 04,March 24, 2012: USCIS Acceptance Confirmation received through e-mail

Day 07,March 27, 2012: Checks cashed.

Day 13,April 02, 2012 : NOAs received for I-130,I-485,EAD/AP & Biometrics

Day 36,April 25, 2012 : Biometrics Completed at Elizabeth, NJ.

Day 45,May 04, 2012 : E-mail notification for interview received for June 11

Day 46,May 05, 2012 : Received hard copy of interview notice

Day 56,May 16, 2012 : EAD/AP Production e-mail

Day 64,May 24, 2012 : EAD/AP Card in hand

Day 83,June 11,2012 : Interview. Approved same day. Card production email.

Day 84,June 12,2012 : E-mail Notification registering PR status.

Day 87,June 15,2012 : USPS picks up GC from USCIS.

Day 88,June 16,2012 : Received two hard copy mails, approving I-130 & I-485

Day 90,June 18,2012 : 10-year GC in hand. End of GC journey, for now.

.

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: India
Timeline

Thanks for your kind words, MrsNotBonJovi. I am glad you guys are standing up to the injustices, as it is what is needed. I really hope more people stand up to corruption as that is the only way that India will progress as a country. Exposing these criminals publicly for their corrupt behaviors may be the only way to help push this change forwards, so that other government officials are warned that they could be publicly embarrassed if they do the same. India has a very long way to go in this corruption issue but it's a start.

In our case, I was wondering earlier if there wasn't some higher authority we could contact, to demand the registrar to issue the marriage certificate (at the time they were saying it wasn't possible). It's possible there may have been a way out for us, if that higher-up person had authority to demand the registrar do our work. On the other hand, things were pretty confusing as I had no idea who to contact, whether that higher-authority person was honest or not, or whether I should divulge the issue of the registrar asking for bribes (as if the authority was not at honest person, then he could have made things worse for us by telling the registrar that we were divulging his bribe-requesting activity). And that might have made the registrar retaliate by not approving our marriage certificate at all. Who knows. As the Indian legal system is unfamiliar to me, I could only take my husband's advice.... and his advice was to pay the bribe, or alternatively report the registrar for corruption and end up waiting 4-5 years or more to get married in India while our case stagnates under a pile of other anti-corruption cases, with no guarantee of us ever being able to tie the knot (at which point it might also be too late for us to start a family as well, as I'm already 30 years old now). We weren't willing to waste years of our lives on someone else's dishonesty, so we just did what we had to do to get our papers.

My husband and I are quite ethical people, as that is why we cancelled the K1 visa-in-process, to instead apply for the CR1 visa, since we got married in India and were no longer eligible. Had we been less ethical, we could have kept the K1 and my husband would have been in the US by now (instead of us having to wait until December to meet next). But we wanted to do the right thing, even though that means us being apart longer.

So I guess that's why I'm suggesting people not rush to judgment here... as paying bribes doesn't always mean someone is a dishonest person, or that those who don't pay bribes are necessarily better people than those who do. It's often a matter of circumstance. When it comes to extravagant bribes like in my case, there is usually a feeling of helplessness associated with it, due to lack of other more suitable options. I hate contributing to corruption in India as much as anyone else here and am really grateful for people like Anna Hazare leading the way to change. I also admire all of you here for standing up to corruption... sincerely. I wish my husband and I could have done the same if we knew of better options or resources available to us... but we didn't. :( People in India really need to know what resources are out there to help them report such requests for bribes. Is there some sort of (trustworthy) reporting hotline that can help people figure out their options? Email? And furthermore, we still need a more ethical police force in India who can safeguard people so that they don't get harmed or retaliated against for reporting someone. It's far more likely the police will take a bribe from other government officials NOT to be punished for their corrupt behavior... thus they are in collaboration. If we report my husband's registrar in his city, his family would automatically be blamed, as it's a small city and we are probably the only US citizen-Indian national couple there at this point (though I think there may have been another such couple in our boat awhile back). It's easier to be more ethical in a place like the US, where the system is made to protect you. But in India, there are a lot more uncertainties and less police protection, which can make going against the grain more scary.

Edited by rkk1

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: India
Timeline

I feel like people here are being a bit self-righteous. As you can see from my thread, sometimes there is truly no other option but to pay a bribe. I would be really happy to know what alternatives to bribe people could have suggested to my situation (which was in regards to obtaining our marriage certificate, which they were refusing to give us without the bribe). It's easy to be self-righteous and say you'd never give bribes when you actually have the option not to, but if you are in a situation where there are no options (besides NOT marrying your spouse), then you don't have the same luxury of this attitude. You are not any more of a 'true and responsible citizen' than my husband is and are in no way superior to him.... he simply didn't have another alternative to not paying, other than to not marry me.

I will ask my husband if he would like to report the registrar who took 25,000 rupees in bribe from us. I wish we could report him. I'm interested to hear what my husband would say. The only thing is that almost all of his family lives in his city, so if he creates bad terms with that office, then there may be the possibility of his relatives getting screwed over by that office (or even the registrar's "friends" in other government posts who also take bribes) if they ever need any work done in the future. I'll ask him about this.

For the record, I never once said I was superior. Not at all. This seems to be a personal issue for you and has no relevance to this topic. These are strange assumptions that have absolutely no place in this discussion.

I do not think it is appropriate to call someone “self-righteous” simply because they chose a different path. We are all here because we share a commonality. I am an Indian and I have been under my government all my life. You are not facing issues that I have not faced. To find alternatives, to hope in justice… these are not goals to be scoffed at or to ridicule in any way. The system that I and my fiancé are subject to is a gruesome one, with the same impositions placed upon us as those placed upon many.

My desire to be a “true and responsible citizen” is born from my desire to be GREATER than my government. To not take Its flaws upon myself. To live for an India that does not yet know Herself. I and my fiancé suffer greatly and the distance between us is unbearable. We suffer as you suffer, as so many here suffer. This is what bonds us. But my fiancé and I must also answer to God for all choices. Maybe this has NOTHING to do with your life and that is fine. But as we endeavor to be with one another, we have the chance to be mini activists in the midst of our suffering. Do not assume that it is “easy to be self-righteous and say you'd never give bribes when you actually have the option not to”. We were faced with the same situation. And we made a DIFFERENT choice, knowing full well what it would cost us.

We are not selfish people. We do all things in truth, not only for ourselves but for the rest of those that are on this particular Journey. We have to be responsible for the sake of others. One false move, one selfish choice… can cost the rest of us more than we can bear.

Don’t call it self-righteousness. Respect it. You do what you have to do, but do not disparage those that have the strength to sacrifice what you could not. It is something to be admired.

Don’t forget. You’re the not the only one faced with these issues and forced to choose between having your loved one NOW or 5 years down the road. My marriage isn’t the only thing I care about. I care about justice in my country. So I don’t have just one battle to fight. Bribery is a major problem and eats at the very core of my beloved India.

It’s not self-righteousness. It’s love. For oneself. For one’s country. All in the hope that we will not become part of the system, but when we are done with this portion of the path, we will have SURVIVED the system and come out unscathed.

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: India
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UPDATE: Happy to report that I was able to get the NABC, without paying any bribe. It took several phone calls to journalist colleagues back in Chennai and some severe rapping-on-the-knuckles for the officer who had demanded the bribe. But the story doesn't here: am planning on going ahead with a complaint to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, apart from seeking information under the RTI act as to exactly how many NABCs were issued in the last three years to applicants from the US and within how much time. I am sure the shorter the window, the greater must have been the probability of a bribe having been paid. Should result in some very interesting data. Will keep you guys posted.


The Journey

Arrived on F1 visa on 25 Dec 2008. Graduated June 2011. Started OPT Sep 2011.

AOS applied March 21, 2012. GC approved June 11, 2012 & received June 18, 2012.

Exactly three months from start to finish,no RFEs.

AOS Timeline:

Day 01,March 21, 2012: Concurrent filing of I-130/AOS/EAD/AP to Chicago Lockbox

Day 02,March 22, 2012: Package delivered to Chicago Lockbox

Day 04,March 24, 2012: USCIS Acceptance Confirmation received through e-mail

Day 07,March 27, 2012: Checks cashed.

Day 13,April 02, 2012 : NOAs received for I-130,I-485,EAD/AP & Biometrics

Day 36,April 25, 2012 : Biometrics Completed at Elizabeth, NJ.

Day 45,May 04, 2012 : E-mail notification for interview received for June 11

Day 46,May 05, 2012 : Received hard copy of interview notice

Day 56,May 16, 2012 : EAD/AP Production e-mail

Day 64,May 24, 2012 : EAD/AP Card in hand

Day 83,June 11,2012 : Interview. Approved same day. Card production email.

Day 84,June 12,2012 : E-mail Notification registering PR status.

Day 87,June 15,2012 : USPS picks up GC from USCIS.

Day 88,June 16,2012 : Received two hard copy mails, approving I-130 & I-485

Day 90,June 18,2012 : 10-year GC in hand. End of GC journey, for now.

.

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: India
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UPDATE: Happy to report that I was able to get the NABC, without paying any bribe. It took several phone calls to journalist colleagues back in Chennai and some severe rapping-on-the-knuckles for the officer who had demanded the bribe. But the story doesn't here: am planning on going ahead with a complaint to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, apart from seeking information under the RTI act as to exactly how many NABCs were issued in the last three years to applicants from the US and within how much time. I am sure the shorter the window, the greater must have been the probability of a bribe having been paid. Should result in some very interesting data. Will keep you guys posted.

lol sounds like you have a good bollywood masala movie story out of here :) Keep it up!


I-130 Processed at USCIS

========================

12/17/2011 : I-130 Sent to USCIS

12/20/2011 : I-130 NOA1

05/11/2012 : I-130 NOA2

NVC

===

05/28/2012 : Received at NVC

06/11/2012 : Case number issued by NVC

06/11/2012 : DS-3032 Choice of Agent Email Sent to NVC

06/13/2012 : AOS Bill Issued

06/13/2012 : AOS Bill Paid

06/14/2012 : AOS Bill Marked as "PAID" in NVC System

06/14/2012 : AOS Package Mailed to NVC

06/18/2012 : AOS Package Delivered to NVC

06/19/2012 : DS-3032 Accepted

06/21/2012 : IV Bill Issued

06/21/2012 : IV Bill Paid

06/21/2012 : IV Package Mailed to NVC

06/22/2012 : IV Bill Marked as "PAID" in NVC System

06/22/2012 : IV Package Delivered to NVC

06/25/2012 : AOS Accepted by NVC

06/29/2012 : IV Accepted by NVC

06/29/2012 : Case Complete at NVC

08/01/2012 : Interview Date Assigned and Case Forwarded from NVC to Mumbai Consulate

09/07/2012 : Interview at Mumbai Consulate (Result: Approved!)

09/11/2012 : Received Visa in Mail at home

09/22/2012 : POE at Houston, TX (IAH)

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