Shutting the green card door

I just received this email from the US Consulate, Shanghai:


Notice to American Citizens regarding the filing of I-130 petitions

Recent legislation has led to changes in the procedures American citizens resident abroad will follow if they wish to sponsor an immediate relative (spouse, parent or minor child) for an immigrant visa. Effective immediately, the immediate relative petition (I-130) must be filed with the USCIS office responsible for the petitioner’s place of residence (that is, the place of residence of the American citizen who is filing the petition). Consular offices at U.S. embassies and consulates are no longer authorized to accept I-130s, although they will continue to provide guidance to American citizen petitioners and their family members. Responsibility for acceptance and approval of immigrant visa petitions rests solely with USCIS. American citizens should submit their I-130 at the CIS office responsible for their place of residence. This procedural change may result in a processing delay for some applicants. The Department of State recognizes and sincerely regrets the inconvenience this may cause.


What this means is that if we were submitting our I-130 today (instead of having done so last April), we would have to file it in the USCIS office responsible for New Jersey, which, as it happens, is located in Vermont.

Hopefully this will not affect us, as our I-130 has already been processed and approved (that happened last July). Now we’re working on something called a CR-1. But this is the US government we’re talking about, and it’s immigration, which is next to terrorism on the list of sensitive subjects for Uncle Sam, so you never know. The bulletin boards and blogs are going crazy right now with people freaking out about what is going to happen to their applications.

Why has this happened? Apparently it has something to do with “The Adam Walsh Child Protection And Safety Act Of 2006” which went into effect yesterday. Among other things, this has some provision which has been dubbed with the very War-on-Terror-friendly moniker “Operation Predator.” Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a government plan to rape and kill children?

The Administration launched Operation Predator to help law enforcement track down and arrest foreign pedophiles, human traffickers, sex tourists, and Internet pornographers who prey on our children.

So now US embassies around the world are not accepting family-sponsored immigration petitions because of the risk that these spouses and other immediate relatives of American citizens are evil sex-crazed pedophiles.

To be fair, the new law does seem to do some good things, like integrate the individual states’ sex-offender registry systems into a national database, “helping prevent sex offenders from evading detection by moving from State to State.” Clearly that should have been done a long time ago.

Anyway, I’m still not sure how this will affect our application, or if it will affect us at all. I did pick up a good tip from the VisaJourney forum today, though: if we had an American co-sponsor (meaning another sponsor for Xianyi in addition to myself, one living in America), I wouldn’t need to have a job or residence. So we’ll be looking into that as well as employment.

2 thoughts on “Shutting the green card door”

  1. Your office has caused servere pain in my life. I feel ashamed to be American, and I am not even sure what it means. In 24hrs, you took the love of my life away. He is supposed to be sitting by my side, but I am alone at night. I thought I had the right to marry and be happy, regardless of race. I followed all regulations, and after we were granted our happiness, your Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act took it away. I know you have the authority to correct this injustice. I pose no threat to my husband (I married a Tongan in Tonga). I have never been convicted of anything. The U.S. has threatened our marriage. You have taken our money, time, and now our strength.

    I feel so shy to be an American right now. Normally, I wouldn’t reveal such personal matters of my heart so publicly, but as an American I still believe that injustice should be corrected and that it is a crime. I am concerned about our government, and that it abandons its citizens at times when they need it the most.

    Before my husband and I got married, we were separated for the past six months because he could not come to this country unless he was granted a visa, in which, an appointment and a non-refundable $180 was needed. He was denied his visitor visa when he applied within one minute. The immigration officer didn’t even look at his application, and the $180 was not refunded. The U.S embassy in Suva, Fiji told us that it would be better for us to get married, gather the necessary documents, and then they would grant him an immigration visa through the Suva office in Fiji. I was to file, as a petitioner, at the U.S. embassy in Suva, Fiji. We spent months getting the documents together, and after we got married we flew from Tonga to Fiji for our interview on Jan. 13th, 2007. I filed my petition and paperwork on Jan. 16, and it was all approved. The following week was my husband’s interview and he filed his paperwork, which was all approved. The embassy complimented us on being the first couple able to get all the necessary documents. The embassy told us that our application was completely done and approved, and to come the following day to pick-up the stamped visa for my husband.

    We were so happy. We called our families whom cried when they heard the news that we would no longer have to be separated. We celebrated that night, and we bought the ticket for my husband to return with me.
    Who would know that 24 hours could change our lives so dramatically, and send us into pain and disappointment with lack of sleep.

    When we returned the following day. We waited happily. The embassy called our names, “Mr. And Mrs. Fotu,” and then they told us they had some bad news. We thought they were kidding, but it was far from anything we could imagine. Apparently, the night before, a new legislation or screw up had been going on, and the embassies around the world were instructed not to process any more petitions and to stop all visa related petitions. BUT OUR PETITION WAS ALREADY PROCESSED PAID AND DONE! This new law was under the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which required a background check on the petitioner (me) to make sure I have not committed any sex crimes against children. This check could only be done in the U.S, and therefore, the petition has to be filed in the U.S.

    So, after paying $700 in Visa fees, $3000 in airline ticket fees, one month of lost work time, and after our application was completely done and approved, all we got was a “sorry.” No explanation. No time frame of how this was to be corrected. I swear that I fell to pieces that day. The worst part is that if we had done everything one day sooner, and had the Visa in our hands, there would not be any tears, and my husband would be beside me right now. We didn’t eat or sleep the following days. I called Sam Farr and our Senators to correct this injustice. It is unfortunate to say that the Senators I have been voting for since I was 18 years old had no desire to help or fight for this injustice. They have access to people I cannot get to. Sam Farr is the only one who felt the urgency and pain we were going through and has being doing as much as they can to help us.

    There are obvious solutions to this situation. The U.S. embassies do not have access to the files to see if I have been convicted of crimes, but the State Department can confirm that I have not, and call the embassy in Suva to allow the visa to be issued. Of course, efficient and easy solutions do not seem to qualify. They could expedite our case, but still no time frame has been given besides that it could take 10-12 months for the government to fix this mess. The Secretary of Homeland security can pardon us by saying that I pose no threat to my husband, but no one wants to help us contact him. What about our lives? Does it matter?

    I tell you this story today, not for anyone to feel sorry for us, but to be angry that we are in wars for freedom, and that our brothers and sisters risk their lives for this government of freedom, but when you need them the most, we are just seen as nothing, unless of course you’re Rupert Murdoch, an Australian who became a citizen after just hours of landing in the U.S. to buy an American Television Station.

    That is the only way I can describe how I felt that day when they just turned us away without any emotion…NOTHING…I felt like I was nothing. Is that what being American is, “nothing”? Now, I am here alone. My husband is stranded in Fiji, which is in a coup right now. He watched me walk away on the plane without him. We still can’t sleep. We are waiting. Our life is waiting. This should not have happened to us. I work hard, and put myself through school. I followed all your processes, and just because you feel like changing something in 24hrs, doesn’t mean that you can get away without telling us any details or expediting our case. As I said before, WE WERE COMPLETELY DONE. MY HUSBAND WAS TO GO HOME WITH ME ON JANUARY 27, 2007. WHY WAS THAT TAKEN AWAY IN ONE DAY? GIVE ME A REASON WHY I POSE A THREAT? TELL MY WHY YOU CAN’T CORRECT THIS INJUSTICE MORE EFFICENTLY? I don’t see how sending our application around will make this fast.

    This law is not put together well. WE DON’T HAVE ANY CHILDREN. I AM A GOOD WIFE, AND HE IS A GOOD HUSBAND. I want to be proud to be an American. Most of all I want to know that our government is willing to do more than just get information, but to fight for someone who was born and breathes American air.

    Expedite our case, or clear my name. I want my husband. I need him. Put yourself in my shoes, stand in front of the embassy after everything was done and approved, and turn and walk away from your husband because of some piece of legislation that has nothing to do with us.

    I am requesting a written response signed by you. I am challenging you to make me believe in this government, and to believe what has happened to my husband and I is truly unjust. We did everything right, and 24 hours shouldn’t be enough to change what we spent months working for. 24 Hours shouldn’t be enough to turn lives upside down. Please show us that you truly see that we were not treated fairly. Give us some peace.

  2. Look Dude, I don’t see how you can sit there in China in a picture that has 4 goons up to their eyeballs in handlebar mustaches and act like America shouldn’t be afraid of sexual predators abroad. I definitely think that the tourist visa’s are way to restricted, but you have to realize that (had you and Yoyo not returned to China after your wedding) I’m pretty sure she could’ve just passed the test and become a citizen w/in a year (at least I think that’s how it works w/ I-130 petitions, I haven’t been doing visa work for like 9 months –> I’m now full term). On the other hand, the difficulty of getting a visa is causing more and more people to sneak across the border from Mexico and subsequently Canada and finally hop an unregulated ferry to the world’s most luscious flavored snowcone . . . Greenland. The people of Greenland cannot accept this aggression.

    You heard it here, Greenland cannot be overrun by the Chinese. The drifts would be littered with rou quan(r) sticks and 3rd hand cooking oil. This aggression will not stand man, this aggression will not stand !!

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