As I go through this site, I see there s categories and sections for everything; therefore, I apologize in advance if this post is in the wrong section. I tried thinking it through... first I thought, I could rant to fellow august 2018 filers and realized there isn t a group for F1 student who AOS d in August; this whole while I ve been hanging with the K1 AOS folks. I saw someone get chided for posting in the K1 forums yet they d AOS from some other status; and I ve been terrified ever since. I still read the progress from my fellow August 2018 filers coz it appears once USCIS has the paperwork they just lump us together anyway. But I digress, on to the real issue at hand: the pains of adjusting from F1!
This year I married the love of my life, been together 6years; it was precious! However, didn t realize there were so many little rules to it!! First, prior to getting married, we planned a trip abroad just a mini vacation across the border. My I-20 is current, I have all the visas, but I was advised not to travel due to some 30/60/90day rule. ( Apparently there s controversy as to what applies and doesn t) So I chose not to risk it, it would suck to have to put my PhD on hold just coz I wanted to see some beautiful mountains. So we married and I figured can travel after. We were told that many people marry and never adjust status; the risk only comes when you want to renew your student visa or travel back into US on your student visa. At this point it s now up to the consulate officer or CBP officer s discretion to determine you have no intent to immigrate ( it really has always been up to them but this time around seems the marriage to US citizen is like a giant sign screaming don t trust me ). So we dropped the idea and decided to adjust status seemed like the wisest thing to do (logical!). We filed the whole works, got the name change process started ( I ll come back to that) assembled a pretty packet thanks to all the advice and posts on this website and other similar ones and friends who had previously filed. We though everything should be straightforward, our friends got their GC in 6months that s not a terrible wait, plus they told us within a couple months we d get the AP! Started off good, we got all receipts within 2-3weeks (unfortunately victims of land or day weekend- I say so coz I think that where all the madness originated!! If you haven t filed, please don t do it around a holiday) and the biometrics appointment was set. I even got two appointment letters! One addressed to : First name, Middle name, New last name
second addressed to: First name, First name again, new last name.
At first I thought that s odd but they must have fixed it so no big deal will verify at the biometrics appointment (big mistake!!!). Support center staff still took my prints and photo and entered what the correct name should have been but advised me to call USCIS to get the error corrected because at that point my information was attached to this wrong name. I called right after the appointment- after verifying for the umpteenth time to the phone rep that I didn t elect to change my middle name to match my first name and that this error was only on the I-485 receipt then rest were correct, he finally logged the issue and gave me a reference number and said to wait 30days before calling back if issue remained unresolved. And nope, after 30days it wasn t resolved I called again and new ticket was placed and new ref number, told to wait another 30days ?. This time around it was faster got it sorted November 8! Meanwhile, life is happening, I missed an opportunity for an all expenses paid trip abroad because I don t have AP ( which is frustrating because as an F1 student with my visa and I-20 this would have been a done deal) I was going to be a guest speaker at a conference but sad to say even without me the show would still go on, so I couldn t use that as a reason to expedite.
I kept up with the forums to see how things were going for others and saw some have biometrics received update or case ready for interview. I wished that was me as well. But there s others waiting patiently ( with no EAD or AP or GC so I should count my blessings and be grateful I m still attending school ! ). I stopped whining about it and went about my life until mid December; I got an email from USCIS. An update, if you will. It was to notify my that on November 8, 2018 the typographical error on my name was corrected and that my case is under initial review and I would soon receive a letter for biometrics appointment ???????????????
I called them to see it was some kind of mistake, couldn t they just use the biometrics from earlier!? The rep, of course, knew nothing and said to wait another magical 30days! She was nice though, even offered to tell me current processing times . You want know? Well Minneapolis field office (where I m currently based- slowest office ever, will likely move from here though) is taking roughly 15-30months to adjucate cases. I feel so stuck!! Can t travel abroad and yeah I know if it s not an emergency like someone is dying or dead it s not considered important enough, but it s tough missing out on things that are important to you. Missing out on weddings, new births hurts, yeah the event will go on without you but it s nice to share in the happy moments with loved ones rather than only dreary times which seem to be criteria for AP expedites! Even conferences, these are opportunities missed to advance my academic career; it s so frustrating! I saw a similar rant from someone else feeling stuck and they were immediately bombarded by people saying why did you chose AOS, you knew what you were getting into, why get married, why not to back to your country, why not get spouse visa etc. I felt sad for that person because I get their frustration and you come to such a forum for support, you think who better to understand my situation than those experiencing a similar plight ? . My hubs didn t get it initially but after we ve missed enough things now he know it sucks. But I will continue to pray for a miracle because anything is possible with God. Will leave it at that for now
Oooh ooh as promised, the name change debacle! Social security office was probably the most efficient, but not without a bit of a run around as expected. I brought old social security card, all F1 documents, IDs, enrollment verification and marriage certificate as they d request over the phone but they wouldn t update my name without an employment verification because then they d be no good reason for me to need a social security number . No big deal, I just had to get the letter from my department chair verifying I m a grad research assistant, then wait in line another 2hrs on another day! But 10days later (weekends included) I received my new card with my new last name on it.
Was advised to update it with employer for tax purposes, so I told the school payroll. The grad school and records office updated it once I showed required proof, but the international office refused. They need name updated on passport first before they can acknowledge it. So I called my country s embassy ( this is where all the madness resides!!) they said I would have to bring my proof of name change to them in person, they d verify the authenticity of the docs return them to me and give me a letter saying they verified this ( for a measly $300 fee). I would then need to send this document and copies of all my documents to a family member in my homecountry who would need to get the marriage registered first ( for another fee$$) then after that they d take both US marriage certificate and local marriage certificate to passport office for new passport ( they have an office for persons living abroad and family members submit for them, this costs over 5 times the regular fee...last I checked $150) then of course DHL fees for secure mailing back to me. So this name change would cost me almost $1000- flights, fees and postage included! So no, not doing that!! Now I have 2 records at school, for the while.
on to the driver s license (dread) ...took me 2months to get the last one because I had moved out of Minnesota and came back later but attending school in North Dakota ( bordertown woes??) . Anyway name change wasn t as troublesome, MN is updating their system to the real ID ( but not yet, so if you get the new ID it s still not compliant they have informed me). So drove around with the new paper form they give you for a month and a half- finally got my new DL with my new last name. Now I can update with the bank ( they wanted a government issued picture ID). So til 2020 I can at least fly domestically with this ID leave my passport at home ( again counting the blessings, plus after that Minnesota has to implement the real ID to fly)
anyway enough ranting. I feel so much better! Good luck to everyone on this crazy AOS journey.