Monday, October 13, 2014

Becoming an Alien Spouse, IR-1, step #5 - POE at FLL

Five days after the interview, I picked up my passport with the visa sticker and my immigration package from the consulate in Helsinki. The immigration package was a rather heavy A4 sized envelope sealed by the consulate. With the package came instructions on how to pay the ELIS fee of $165. The USCIS Electronic Immigration System fee "covers the cost of USCIS processing, filing and maintaining immigrant visa packets, plus the cost of producing Permanent Resident Cards." The fee can be paid before or after you enter the United States, but the actual resident card (aka "Green Card") won't be produced until after the fee is paid. I paid the fee right away with my Finnish credit card through the online portal, which can be found here.

Photo source

I entered the United States through the Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport and have only good things to say about my experience. Ft Lauderdale is a small-ish airport, which is currently under construction. It is mainly used by people who fly to Ft. Lauderdale to take Caribbean cruises. Judging by the "Arrivals" screen, most international flights arrived from the Caribbean countries. Also Norwegian flies there, hence there were a lot of Scandinavian tourists at the airport.

Once we arrived to the immigration part of the airport, we went to the "Visitors" line. The line was short compared to my previous experiences at JFK, Newark and Chicago O'Hare. It took us about 10 minutes to get to the first immigration officer. I handed him my passport and immigration package and he said "whoa, what do we have here" :D After that he scanned my finger prints and took my photo. He explained the immigration process to my husband (didn't talk to me at all, maybe he wasn't sure if I spoke English? :) and said we would now be taken to the back room for further processing. He said it was first come, first serve, so it might take a while. Once we got there, there were only four other people in the room, so I figured it wouldn't take long. We barely had time to sit down when I was called to the counter. A very friendly immigration officer asked me to sign a paper and took my right index finger print with actual ink. After that he said we were free to go and my green card would arrive at our Nebraska address within a few months. He also stamped my visa sticker on my passport, which will serve as my temporary green card for one year. All in all the immigration process took about 15 minutes, so it was pretty fast.

So now I'm officially a lawful permanent resident of the United States and an actual immigrant for the first time in my life, since my previous visas were non-immigrant visas. Feels weird :) 
We still don't know where we will be settling, but husband has already received one job offer, so we will not be staying in Nebraska, which is fine by me. We'll see what happens :)

Wishing everyone a wonderful week!


Anni said...

Onnea uudesta statuksesta ja tervetuloa (takaisin) tälle mantereelle! :)

Kata said...

Vau, sitten kun tapahtuu niin mennäänkin kovaa vauhtia! Nyt olettekin jo siellä. Onnea uuteen elämänvaiheeseen!

Nisha said...

Congratulations! Onnea ja kaikkea hyvaa, toivottavasti selviaa pian minne paasette asettumaan aloillenne. :) Ja hurjan nopeasti sulla meni tuo maahantulo! Mulla meni aikoinaan about tunti ja melkein myohastyin jatkolennoltani.

Veera A said...

Se on mahtava tunne, kun prosessi on vihdoin ohi! Onnea!!! Heh, minunkin paksu kirjekuoreni sai muuten maahan tullessani aikaan saman reaktion (samoilla sanoilla) :D. Itse käsittely oli nopea, mutta JFK:llä jonottelu vei ikuisuuden.

Jään mielenkiinnolla odottelemaan, minne teidän matka vie seuraavaksi.

Sugar said...

Anni: Kiitoksia, kiitoksia! Kovin oudolta tuntuu viela tama uusi status, mutta kaipa siihen tottuu :D

Kata: No niinpa, yli vuoteen ei tapahtunut mitaan ja sitten on parissa viikossa kaikki asiat hoidettu! Kiitoksia :)

Nisha: Kiitoksia! Olin itsekin tosi yllattynyt, etta meniko tassa tosiaan vaan muutama hassu minuutti. Olin varautunut parin tunnin odotukseen. Ja samaa toivon itse, etta asuinpaikka selviaisi pian :)

Veera: No tosiaankin on! Ja kiitoksia :) Taidettiin valita oikea POE heh.