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AnnaMaria

Atlanta PoE Review, Travel Experience, and our first week in the U.S.

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

Hi everyone, sorry we have not updated the timeline since we arrived, but we've been very busy trying to get things organized and our sleeping habits are still a little off after moving from Romania. I'm writing this review on behalf of my wife (The immigrant spouse) and myself (The USC).

First, we had purchased our airline tickets the same day we received my wife's visa in hand on October 3rd 2014. We paid a little higher than we wanted, about $988 per ticket on Priceline with our carrier being Delta. We were supposed to fly from Bucharest -> Amsterdam -> Detroit -> Memphis all on Nov. 1st. Well, on the day of our flight we arrived at the Bucharest, Romania airport for our flight to Amsterdam at 8:55AM and we were notified we had been upgraded to first class for no reason whatsoever. I told my wife the moment we took off that nothing is ever free when it comes to flying and boy was I right...Upon landing in Amsterdam about three hours later at around 11:00AM local time, we immediately checked the flight boards for our connecting gate for the Amsterdam to Detroit Delta flight at 1:20PM. Our hearts sunk to our stomachs when we saw CANCELLED written beside the flight. We rushed to the KLM Transfer desk (KLM is in the Delta Alliance) and began to inquire what was wrong and what our options were. The KLM agent kept us there for over an hour and was laughing and joking with other colleagues, all this time people on the same flight were rescheduled and compensated within 10-20 minutes. We were tired, frustrated, displaced, and felt highly disrespected. This was my wife's first time every flying and her first time leaving Romania so it was a terrible experience for her. We had planned each layover carefully so that we had time to meet immigration procedures and catch our connecting flight. Finally, after about 1 1/2 hours of waiting we were rescheduled to Atlanta (instead of Detroit) with a 1 hour and 32 minute layover (Instead of our original 2 hour and 22 minute layover). We were panicked. I had read that Atlanta took at least 2 hours because of how busy it was. The KLM employee told us that if we missed our flight in Atlanta that we would have to deal with Delta at that point since it would no longer be there issue. They put us up in a rather nice hotel, in the middle of no where, with no travel vouchers or phone cards to contact family and that was that. The following day we boarded the plane and we were given the very, very ,very last seats in the plane next to the bathrooms (we were originally in the middle so we wouldn't be last in immigration line) and it was by far the worst experience with an airline I've ever had. Needless to say, if my options were to fly with Delta or swim across the ocean next time...i'll go ahead and just swim.

We Arrived at the Atlanta airport much earlier than the scheduled time (Flight landed at like 12:30PM and we had 2 hours until our next flight) and this was a God sent blessing. We were the final two people to depart the plane and I don't know how, but we were the ONLY Immigrant Visa people at the TRIPOD area. I've gone through Atlanta a couple of times during my military days and I think once after when I was returning from Romania, but it was very, very slow for the middle of the day on a Sunday. My wife and I approached the lady directing the traffic at immigration and she was very nice and escorted us to the TRIPOD area. When we arrived, we took a seat and waited for the only CBP officer in the TRIPOD area to call us. He was friendly enough, very short, didn't ask many questions at all. I think he just asked where we were living, who's house was it, and how long have we been married. He then asked us to sit down again after he took her SEALED ENVELOPE from the embassy. My wife offered him her X-Ray and Immunization Records from the medical exam, but he said he didn't need them. After maybe 10 or 15 minutes he called us back up, chatted for a moment (No real questions, just asking if we were familiar with the RoC procedures and such) and then stamped her visa. I was a bit sad because he didn't say "Welcome to America!", but the last thing he did before we officially crossed the border was give her a piece of paper talking about filing taxes, so I guess that was a "Welcome to America" in it's own sense :) Overall, it was just as great an experience as the embassy. Even though the CBP officer was not as personal or friendly as our interviewing officer, he was very professional and was not intimidating at all, just focused on his job. Well done to you sir and the CBP staff at Atlanta.

Next up, we hit Customs. We were given a customs form on the plane that Non-US citizens only were supposed to fill out. My wife filled it out and we barely brought anything other than clothes. Just like a few pieces of European chocolate and a small picture gift. We went up to the Customs officer, handed him our form, and were waved right on through. We then went to the luggage pick-up were we rolled our checked luggage to Customs and it underwent another screening, as well as another full body screening, and we went to re-check our bags again. I can't say it was a good or bad experience. It was rather neutral...just another security thing for me I guess. Anyway, Customs was over and done in less than 30 minutes or so and we were on our way to our final flight to Memphis.

Aside from our terrible experience with Delta Airlines, the Immigration and Customs aspect was really nice at Atlanta. I'm a southerner myself, so being welcomed home after over one year living abroad by southern hospitality was really nice. A+ for the government staff in Atlanta airport.

So, it's been a week and we've actually done quite a bit. My wife applied in the office for her social security card (Because like others said, it wasn't even in the system although we requested it on the DS-260 before she even had her visa interview!) and that should be here in about 5-10 more days. I got my wife her Tennessee Identification license so when she receives her Social Security Number we can start getting things jointly to help build her credit and establish our new bona-fides for RoC in a couple of years. We've spent the past couple of days working on her resume in English and she's sent out a couple of resumes so hopefully, someone will be interested in her and ONLY WHEN she receives her social security card, she can start working if she's 100% ready. Although she is struggling to find all the foods she likes here, I have to say, my wife is one hell of a woman. She is handling this transition like a true champion. I know she is homesick and scared, but she is strong every day and she is getting along amazingly with everyone. She has a very likable personality and people just seem to want to get to know her. I'm glad for both of us she's finding some happiness here, for my health and her sanity, it's been a blessing. If I had to offer any advice for any US Citizens who are struggling in helping their wives adapt, it would be to stay calm, give her as much love as she is willing to accept, support her and encourage her to chase her dreams, and remind her that no matter how good or bad things go, you are always there for her. Also, make sure you are supportive of her taking time to communicate with her family, my wife does it 2-5 times a day right now, and I know she needs it because no matter where you are from, there is no place like home.

Thank you VisaJourney for your help along the way. Sorry for the long post, but I just wanted to be thorough. I'm sure Ana will add to this if she has anything else to say. This may not be the end of our Journey, but the beginning was very pleasant and the Immigration aspect was nothing less than professional.


6/24/2014 - I-130 Shipped via UPS to Chicago

6/26/2014 - I-130 Received and signed for at USCIS

7/1/2014 - E-mail of acceptance with Receipt number - NoA 1 (Routed to California Service Center)

07/15/2014 - Change of Address via phone call with USCIS, confirmation via e-mail.

7/30/2014 - I-130 Approved at USCIS - NoA 2 E-mail

08/13/2014 - NVC Received Approved I-130 package from USCIS

08/21/2014 - Case Number and IIN created at NVC

08/25/2014 - Case Number and IIN received via phone call. DS-261 Available and completed online.

8/26/2014 - AoS Fee invoiced and paid online.

8/28/2014 - AoS Invoice status PAID

09/04/2014 - Expedite Request response - Must enter Beneficiary Date of Birth - Re-sent exact e-mail with requested info

09/10/2014 - Expedite Request e-mail received as "Under Review"

09/11/2014 - Expedite Request Approved - Confirmation via e-mail from U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania

09/16/2014 - Embassy Received Case from NVC

09/16/2014 - Received E-mail from Embassy to Schedule our Interview and prepare documents

9/23/2014 - Medical Exam at Regina Maria - Results OK

10/01/2014 - Visa Approved!

10/03/2014 - Received Passport with Visa!

11/2/2104 - PoE Atlanta - Welcome to the US!

11/5/2014 - Paid $165 ELIS Fee

8/1/2016 - I-751 Packet sent in for Removal of Conditions!

8/15/2016 - Notice of Action 1 for I-751 - California Service Center

9/29/2016 - Received Biometrics Appointment

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

Thank you for sharing your experience! Your plane tickets were a bit high but not that bad. Where did you get them from? I’m browsing online everyday for tickets but the prices I find are outrageous. The route is Romania- Philadelphia (I live like 15 min away from Philly) but I think we are going to land in NYC because the prices are better...


CR1visa

· 10/31/2013 - Documents dropped to USCIS by FedEx

· 11/01/2013 - Documents received by USCIS (Chicago, Illinois)

· 11/05/2013 - USCIS Acceptance Confirmation Received in e-mail

· 11/16/2013 - Check was cashed

· 11 /14/2013 - NOA1 Received in mail

· 04/25/2014 - NOA2

· 05/01/2014 - Visa petition was sent to NVC

· 05/13/2014 - NVC Received Petition

· 06/16/2014 - AOS BILL

· 06/16/2014 – Submitted DS-261

· 06/20/2014 – AOS SENT

· 07/16/2014 – Received IV Bill

· 07/17/2014- Paid IV Bill

· 07/18/2014 – IV Package Sent

· 08/13/2014 – AOS Checklist Received in email

· 08/20/2014 – AOS Checklist sent to NVC

08/28/2014 - AOS Received

· 10/23/2014 – Case complete ( :oops: AOS contains some incorrect information.I-864 needs to be changed and taken to the interview.)

The original date for the interview was December the 10Th. We were able to change the date to November 18.

Interview Date : 2014-11-18 Interview Result : Approved

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

I highly recommend Priceline personally. You can find some really good deals on there sometimes, but even if you pay a little more than you plan, they have really good service and I've used them for every single trip to see my wife. You can also try and Name Your Own Price on their website if you want to try and see if an airline will accept a price YOU want to pay instead of the advertising price. Also, plan your trip 30+days ahead of time, that saves money, and also try and avoid travelling within a couple of weeks before/after a major holiday.

If I were you, if you are approved on the 10th of December, I would search for tickets around Jan 20th+. That will give the holiday prices time to drop from Christmas/New Years and you should be able to find something between $650-800. Unless your spouse/fiance doesn't care about price, then feel free to book whenever :) Also, having a little extra time to say your goodbyes to friends an families will help you a lot in the transition.

Edited by AnnaMaria

6/24/2014 - I-130 Shipped via UPS to Chicago

6/26/2014 - I-130 Received and signed for at USCIS

7/1/2014 - E-mail of acceptance with Receipt number - NoA 1 (Routed to California Service Center)

07/15/2014 - Change of Address via phone call with USCIS, confirmation via e-mail.

7/30/2014 - I-130 Approved at USCIS - NoA 2 E-mail

08/13/2014 - NVC Received Approved I-130 package from USCIS

08/21/2014 - Case Number and IIN created at NVC

08/25/2014 - Case Number and IIN received via phone call. DS-261 Available and completed online.

8/26/2014 - AoS Fee invoiced and paid online.

8/28/2014 - AoS Invoice status PAID

09/04/2014 - Expedite Request response - Must enter Beneficiary Date of Birth - Re-sent exact e-mail with requested info

09/10/2014 - Expedite Request e-mail received as "Under Review"

09/11/2014 - Expedite Request Approved - Confirmation via e-mail from U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania

09/16/2014 - Embassy Received Case from NVC

09/16/2014 - Received E-mail from Embassy to Schedule our Interview and prepare documents

9/23/2014 - Medical Exam at Regina Maria - Results OK

10/01/2014 - Visa Approved!

10/03/2014 - Received Passport with Visa!

11/2/2104 - PoE Atlanta - Welcome to the US!

11/5/2014 - Paid $165 ELIS Fee

8/1/2016 - I-751 Packet sent in for Removal of Conditions!

8/15/2016 - Notice of Action 1 for I-751 - California Service Center

9/29/2016 - Received Biometrics Appointment

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

Sounds good! Thank you!!


CR1visa

· 10/31/2013 - Documents dropped to USCIS by FedEx

· 11/01/2013 - Documents received by USCIS (Chicago, Illinois)

· 11/05/2013 - USCIS Acceptance Confirmation Received in e-mail

· 11/16/2013 - Check was cashed

· 11 /14/2013 - NOA1 Received in mail

· 04/25/2014 - NOA2

· 05/01/2014 - Visa petition was sent to NVC

· 05/13/2014 - NVC Received Petition

· 06/16/2014 - AOS BILL

· 06/16/2014 – Submitted DS-261

· 06/20/2014 – AOS SENT

· 07/16/2014 – Received IV Bill

· 07/17/2014- Paid IV Bill

· 07/18/2014 – IV Package Sent

· 08/13/2014 – AOS Checklist Received in email

· 08/20/2014 – AOS Checklist sent to NVC

08/28/2014 - AOS Received

· 10/23/2014 – Case complete ( :oops: AOS contains some incorrect information.I-864 needs to be changed and taken to the interview.)

The original date for the interview was December the 10Th. We were able to change the date to November 18.

Interview Date : 2014-11-18 Interview Result : Approved

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