The Eagle Has Landed

This page written circa 24 March, 2001.

I re-entered the good old US of A yesterday on my permanent residency stamp, an I-551 from memory (you gotta know your numbers to play this game). It was well earnt. The consular processing was quite a job.

The main problem was that, at the time the interview is scheduled, the processing fees must be paid before they will actually process your paperwork. Now, the fees are converted to local currency at a current rate from US$, yet they will not accept either checks or credit or debit cards... only cash. The fees came to about A$1600. Not many people carry that sort of cash around, especially in currency that is effectively "foreign" to them. Fortunately the lady processing our stuff (a New Zealander I think) said she would process it very slowly, delaying until after 09:30 at which the closest bank (in which I fortunately had enough local currency!) opened for business. I ran out at 09:25 and made it back into the consulate at about 09:45 with plenty of cash. Pity they do not warn you that only cash is acceptable. It was also rather lucky that they did not seem very stressed that particular day.

Next, it turned out that FDBL had reversed my birthdate in several pages of the paperwork. Here in the States, I am particular in always writing "4 May 1956", not 4/5/56 or 5/4/56 which are country-specific. We had to repeat some of the forms that had been typed with the order wrong (I forget if it was English instead of American or the other way about). Fortunately the "delaying" was giving us time to do this.

FDBL had put our US address as our current address... it seems that they did not want to see a US address there, so we whited-out and corrected these (the procedure if you have moved house) to my friends' house where we were staying. My Australian drivers licence had just been renewed (phew!) and showed that address.

The 9003 forms were supposed to have been filled-in in duplicate but were only singles. They had blanks (it was that sort of form that automatically makes carbon copies on differently-printed pages) so we filled out new ones.

They apparently wanted to see the originals of my university degrees. I had taken copies---we took copies of all sorts of documentation that was not expected to be needed---but the originals are framed on my wall. If you read the instructions it is technically clear that the employment letter from Agilent is an alternative to proof of qualifications, but again the nice lady accepted the copies so we did not need to make an argument. Again we were glad that she was altogether a sensible person rather than a rule-follower... it is a wonder she is not under scrutiny by some committee for Unamerican Activities.

There were other things designed to increase your stress levels... they say that you have to put documents in a certain order, and they reserve the right to put you at the end of the queue if the order is wrong. Luckily there were only two parties in the queue that morning, and the other girl was in at least as much of a confusion as us, so we collaborated with her to get it straight.

There was also a lot of confusion around children. Kay has two kids, I have three, my eldest (Amelia) remains in Australia rather than coming with us, and Edwin had not been born when the papers were filled in, but we managed to explain it all to each subsequent confused clerk.

The medical examination was something of a joke. There is only one doctor in Sydney approved to do this. He is an old guy and I have never before had a medical examination less likely to pick up if there was anything wrong with me. It was such a prominent joke that in shopping later on that day we got chatting with shop assistants who upon hearing what we had spent the morning doing, volunteered that they knew about and/or had been through the same sequence of events, and had noted how ridiculous it seemed. Also, we carried the papers ourselves, so if we felt like setting up a forgery scheme it would have been easy. I guess there is not much demand.

Anyway, the police certificates had arrived with a several days to spare, everything completed in the expected time, and the processing upon my return here went like clockwork. The immigration fellow at the airport when I arrived was cheerful, and happily explained how to make things easy when Kay and the kids and Danny Webster return with me in May. What a relief!

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