Thursday, February 20, 2014

My Journey to America

Today, I am an American citizen. It's been a long road to get there.

01/2006 - TN visa.
10/2006 - H-1B visa.
04/2007 - Priority Date - EB3 ROW.
07/2007 - Applied for Employment-based green card. I-140 / I-485, per the July 2007 visa bulletin fiasco.
08/2009 - H-1B visa extension.
10/2009 - Forced switch to EAD/AP.
09/2010 - Switched to Family-based green card application. I-130 / I-485, IR.
12/2010 - Green card, CR6.
09/2012 - Applied to remove conditions. I-751.
06/2013 - Green card, IR6.
10/2013 - Applied N-400.
02/2014 - Naturalization interview.
02/2014 - Naturalization oath.

It's hard to express to someone who's not been through this process how nerve-wracking it can be. Even while fully within the bounds of the law, my status at times has been backed by nothing more than a payment receipt from USCIS and copies of internal memos describing their significance. No matter how well-documented, I was still at the mercy of border guards to interpret my fate (per 10/2009, they can make some pretty serious mistakes). My status could process in weeks or decades, based on dates that moved largely at random both forwards and backwards. All the while, filing dozens of pages of paperwork and spending thousands of dollars (okay... maybe it was Microsoft spending the money) every single year to keep a myriad of documents and redundant statuses in sync. Waiting in countless beige USCIS waiting rooms for hours for processing. And in the end, the knowledge that even if I survived all this, that a single misstep could undo and see me deported back to the wilds of Canada.

... though what I think scares me even more, is that I had it better by far than most other immigrants.

Today, that ends. I'm an American now. It's exciting: I finally have a fundamental right to live in the place where my family, my home, and my job reside. I will soon have personal representation for all those US taxes I've been paying for the past twelve years.

I'm very excited for the ability to vote, and the implied rights of political engagement this permits (eg. signing petitions). Politics in the US are always exciting, and my background makes for some interesting perspectives - for example on immigration... and of course health care.

Some interesting FAQs:
  • This makes me a triple citizen: Canada, UK, USA. Yes, this is permitted by all three countries.
  • I will be able to vote in US Elections at all levels, and intend to do so at every opportunity.
  • I cannot currently vote in Canadian or UK elections. The former would appear to directly contradict the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • I'll still be cheering for Team Canada for hockey. Sorry, I can't help it, I was born this way.

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