It was surreal! Today, 11 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days after applying, I got *the* phone call! My application for permanent residency was approved!
Within the hour, we were headed out to our lawyers to get things lined up. I paid the various fees (second half of legal fees, plus cédula fee), got a copy of my approval letter (to carry around until I get my new cédula), and gave the go-ahead for my lawyer to get my cédula appointment. By the time the rain got serious, we were on our way back home - and the news still hadn't really sunk in...
But now it has (yay! little happy dance going on here)!
There are still so many things about this process that are hard to understand and accept. Rick and I started out as rentistas - the law that covers us ties us together as a family. Rick was the primary, so everything was in his name. When we applied for a change of status, to permanent, the two applications were split, and treated separately. This was in early September of 2009.
Rick got his permanent residency in March, and was notified in April. At that same time, immigration said they wanted another copy of my cédula. I still don't know why, or why it took them until April to know they needed it. My letter from immigration accepting my package was now dated early *May!* I don't know if there was even an earlier one - I just never worried about getting a copy of the letter until later, when my cédula was in danger of expiring. (FYI - if your cédula has expired, or you don't have one yet, then this letter from immigration means you are "in process" and they won't kick you out of the country. So it's important.)
Meanwhile, I'm starting to become a very squeaky wheel. I'm calling my lawyer almost every week. The story is always the same - immigration said check back in 2 weeks, or sometimes 3 weeks. (We had started the squeaks in January, but limited them to every 4-6 weeks.)
Finally, immigration said to check back in early August. Yikes! My cédula was set to expire in September! When the August date came and went, and there was no good news, I tried to get my cédula renewed. HAH! When that didn't work, panic went into overdrive. We made it through the weekend, then called and got an appointment with the experts for a little hand-holding.
Here are some odd tidbits:
- Because Rick was the primary, all this time, all immigration looked at was his proof for continuing our residency. They (maybe) looked at his bank statement (converted enough dough) and his passport (time in country). Apparently, I could have stayed the entire time in the states, and it wouldn't have mattered. That wouldn't have been in the spirit of the law, but the way it was explained to me is that the laws here are tiered. Family trumps everything, and so if one family member is granted residency, and the other family member(s) didn't comply, then they can't split up the family - they all get residency.
- Since Rick was granted permanent residency, I could not be denied. WOW.
- Since BCR didn't renew my residency, my lawyer had to go through immigration to get a renewal appointment there. This is *not* a quick process! That request is still pending - and will get canceled now, thankfully.
- My lawyer was notified 20 days after my residency was approved. The astute reader will notice that that means my residency was approved on the 12th of August - one day *before* my BCR appointment to deny my renewal. It really makes me wonder sometimes...
There is another new-ish method going. For cédula appointments at immigration, the lawyer calls for an appointment, and generally gets it for the next day - which means I will get less than one day notice. Fortunately, I live nearby and have no commitments that I can't get out of if needed. I really feel for those folks who live far away tho.
Now - thinking about next week. May have a visit to immigration then...