11 years and18 days after we first set foot on American soil, we received 12 emails (3 each) from the USCIS, the department of Immigration Services, informing us that 'documents' had been printed and would soon be in the mail. The next day, more emails, documents were in the mail, and on Monday, Brian and Becca each received an official 'Welcome To America' letter - on St George's Day, which made me laugh!
Today they received their Permanent Resident Cards, commonly referred to as the Green Card, and are now officially freed from the burden of constant reporting for the next 10 years. The email chain leads us to believe that Caity and I will be receiving our documents soon, too, we're not sure why they didn't all arrive together - these things are part of the mystery of USCIS.
So what does it feel like to have a Green Card?
Honestly? It's a bit surreal at the moment. We have spent so long wishing and hoping and waiting, holding on, thinking that surely it must be soon, and then discovering that it won't be any time soon, that it's hard to believe that our wait is actually over. We were not expecting to receive our cards until 2014, so this is a big surprise to us, and it comes at the perfect time.
Advantages that are now available to us include, but are not limited to, the following...
Brian will be able to accept promotions at work, and also job offers at new companies that include a step up from his current position.
We will be able to take vacations overseas - and will be allowed back into the US afterwards.
I will be able to work, for money, instead of volunteering, for free. Becca will be able to work as a tutor at summer school on campus.
Caity will be able to travel to Canada with the school band next year when they head to Vancouver for a competition, and will be allowed back in again!
We will qualify for a .3% lower rate on our home refinance.
We will save $1000's of dollars each year now that we no longer need to file documents, amendments, photographs, fingerprints, and retina scans.
We will never again have to suffer the indignity of having our blood tested for unmentionable diseases that people can only contract by doing unmentionable things. And I will never have to listen to the gleeful nurse on the telephone announcing the 'good news' that I don't have any of those unmentionable diseases - like I didn't know that already!!!!!
In short, life is going to be better, and we are very thankful for that. It has taken a LONG time to get here, but we are glad to have been 'Welcomed to America'. Now if we could just get the postal service to actually deliver our mail...