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nurkadur

My I 485/I 130 Experience

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Given how much of a support these forums have been for the last 10+ years of my stay in the US, I wanted to pay back by sharing my experience. 

 
Background
I moved to the US on a H1B about 10+ years ago, and got my I-140 approved through work in 2012 with a PD of mid June 2011. Of course given that the dates have never touched that mark (except those brief 3 weeks in Sept 2015 for those of you who know what I am talking about) I never got current. In the interim, my personal situation changed and I went from being married to single to married, this time to a USC (naturalized). After a lot of deliberation, we decided to file via I-130. It was not my first choice as I wanted to get a merit based green card, but my wife's anxiety was that my status in the country was tied to my job, and that made her nervous. Reasonable request. So we decided to file together.
 
March 13, 2019: Application sent to USCIS
We put together the entire application with meticulous detail. We shared all proofs - the lease on our apt, our joint accounts (that we set up as soon as we moved in together), pictures of our travel, insurance, nominees on accounts, apart from of course proof of marriage, divorce (for me), etc etc. We had a master TOC and then section TOCs (Table of contents) which made navigating the application a breeze. We spent countless hours on this, and did not hire a lawyer.
 
We filed concurrently for I130/485 and also for the EAD/AP combo card.(I131/765)
 
We submitted our application via Fedex to the Chicago lockbox where it was received on March 18, 2019. I got text updates that same night, and the paper receipts (4 in total) followed in 3 days. 
 
April 8, 2019: Biometrics Appointment in Queens
Within a week of receipt, I received notice for my biometrics appt, which happened to be close to where we live (Queens, NY) and was scheduled for 4/8/2019. I went to the appointment and was done in 30 mins. We then hunkered down for the long wait, as I had seen long wait times on forums.
 
June 18, 2019: Case ready to be scheduled for an Interview
Imagine my surprise when on 6/18/2019, I received an email saying that "Case is ready to be scheduled for an interview". I guess it meant that they had reviewed the application and not found it lacking any documentation. But of course, knowing that some people were stuck at this stage for months, we weren't too excited. 
 
June 25, 2019: Interview is scheduled
Exactly a week later, I received an email saying "Interview was scheduled". This was staggering. We had not expected things to move so fast, and had a planned vacation from 7/4-7/14. While I had seen that people had at least 5 weeks between receipt of this email and their actual interview, part of me was worried about the notice showing up while we were on vacation, and then somehow missing the interview (paranoia!)
But that didn't happen. On July 1st, I received notice that my interview was scheduled for 8/5/2019 at the Federal Plaza building in NYC. Phew! We would be able to enjoy our vacation, and would have enough time to gather all necessary documents and prepare upon our return.
We spent some more hours gathering new evidence (more travel since we submitted the app, a couple of translations of documents etc). But it was not too stressful as we had done a meticulous job the first time around.
 
August 5, 2019: Interview
 
We got to the area about an hour in advance (avoid traffic etc) and hung out in a coffee shop next door. About 30 mins prior to the interview time we walked into the building. It had airport style security, but there was no line so it went very fast. We then went to the 9th floor (per the notice) and we were told to go to the 4th floor. There we walked into a waiting room, handed our interview letter to the gentleman at the counter and he gave us a slip with a number. We took our seats, prepared to wait.
 
At 10:50 an officer walked out and called out our slip number. We walked into the back of the office with the officer.
 
The actual interview
This was really one of the most pleasant experiences of my life. First we were made to swear to tell the truth with our right hands raised, which we did. Then as we sat down, the officer took my picture and right and left index prints. He then smiled and said "Don't be nervous. I read your file and you gave me a lot of evidence. Thank you"
He then proceeded to ask my wife how she met me. He asked her a few other questions about my mom's name, family etc. He then asked me about my DOB and my father in law's name. He then looked through some pictures-we told him we had more and he took some of them. Then we had a conversation about travel, my favorite cities that I had visited, my work (If i changed my job after submitting the app-I had not) etc. He asked me the I-485 questions (ever been arrested, ever been in immigration proceedings etc) all of which were a No for me. He then left the room to make copies of both our state IDs.
 
Upon his return he sat down and with a smile said "I have approved your application. You will receive your green card in two weeks. It will be valid for two years as you have been married for less than two years." He then gave us some info about Removal of Conditions, naturalization. 
 
And that was it.
 
We thanked him and he again complimented us on our file and said it was well put together.
 
We walked out with an extra spring in our step. The whole thing lasted about 20-25 mins.
 
August 5,2019 : Card is being produced
 
That same evening around 6:30 PM I got an email confirming the Card is being produced
 
August 7, 2019: Card is being mailed
 
August 8, 2019: Card picked up by USPS 
In the email notification the tracking number was not available, but I logged into the egov.uscis website (the old one) which had tracked my case 100% accurately (all my cases right from 2008) and I saw the tracking number. I was also able to see that a package for me was picked up by USPS via the informed delivery dashboard (not the email which only tells you what's coming that day, but the actual dashboard where you can see packages addressed to you from the moment they are picked up)
Note on case updates-
-While the old website updated meticulously for me, and I received timely emails and text updates, the DHS website (recommended by a lot of folks in this forum) still says case was received for my I485. I know it is the opposite experience for many others, so YMMV. 
-Throughout the process, only my I485 status changed. The I130 and others still show 'Case was received'
 
August 9, 2019: Received approval notices
Received approval notices for both I485 and I -130
 
August 10, 2019: Card in hand
Arrived on a Saturday! Best weekend ever, Relief. Even if it is for 1 yr 9 months, after which the I751 needs to be sent. Ah well....
 
Thanks to all the folks on this forum who kept each other updated through their journey. It is harrowing at times but don't lose hope. Be truthful and honest, And things will work out. Best wishes to those that are still waiting at different stages. 

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