Well, here we are, at the highly anticipated visa update post. (Or, perhaps, not so highly anticipated but you just really wanted to know where we’re at right now with coming to the States :))
Caleb’s passport took exactly 2 weeks to be finished and we picked it up on Tuesday. YAY! As soon as it was in my hand I rushed off to the bank, just down the street from the passport office, and paid the USA Embassy fees for a visa interview. In order to submit your online application, you must have, first, paid this fee through a bank transfer.
Many of you have wondered why I need to apply for a tourist visa for Caleb. Or, why isn’t he automatically a citizen now that he’s adopted?
1. A few years back the US changed their law concerning international adoptions and citizenship. The law now states that if you knew the child before adoption, then the child is not eligible for citizenship until two years after the first date of legal custody. Simply put – Caleb will get citizenship in 2 years and cannot get citizenship now.
2. Due to this law, if the adoptive parents wish to travel with their child, if the child’s adoption falls under this law, before the two years have passed then their only option is to apply for a tourist visa.
Does that help clear things up now for all of you? Basically, if I want to travel to the States with Caleb, now, we can only apply for a tourist visa and, pray, that he is granted one.
I have some friends who have adopted, as I just have, since this law changed. They were all granted 5 year tourist visas for their children. I have peace of heart/mind that Caleb will, most likely, be granted the same.
Once I paid the bank fee, Caleb and I rushed back to Marghita and I immediately began filling out the visa application form online. Whew, was that a stressful 20 minutes! The questions were extremely lengthy and were trying to trick you as well (in order to catch people wanting to go to the States for unlawful activities.) If you do not fill out the application within 20 minutes you must start all over again. As a native English speaker I think I probably finished in exactly 20 minutes. I can’t imagine doing that, as most people applying for visas of this type do, with English being my 2nd language.
After filling out the form I was then allowed to call the visa call center in order to schedule Caleb’s visa interview. Oh. my. goodness. awful. Once we have the visa in hand I will be documenting how unprofessional that 1.5 hours was and sending a letter to the ambassador. Absolutely unacceptable. It takes a lot for me to get really, really angry. For me to get to that point while working with the US Embassy??? Seriously, I just don’t understand why they’ve created this visa appointment system the way they have.
We were granted Caleb’s interview date – for a week after I had planned to already be in the States. This really disappointed me….and I can’t exactly explain why it anchored me so low. I applied to the emergency interview office, in hopes to get an earlier date, and they denied my request. See, the Embassy is MOVING. Of course they are, the week I needed a date they are moving. It kind of seems fitting to end Caleb’s process, to this point at least, with something like this so that it fits in with the past 7 years. As my pastoral care from CTEN told me once, regarding this adoption, “This is so messed up that it can only BE GOD.” I love that sentence and it so perfectly describes this all. I am trusting in the interview date we have been granted, the 21st of September, and that it is later than what I had hoped for only because it is more perfectly timed in God’s plans (even if He chooses to never reveal those reasons to me.) God is so restoring and He has really done that in my Spirit this week. The anchor has been lifted and I am busily tying up loose ends so that we can leave almost immediately after receiving the visa. My hope is that we can leave on the 24th or 25th of September.
I had hoped to pay forward all of my bills this week, through February, but my bank shut down my account and blocked my ATM card. Fantastical! Ha! The airline tickets I bought, for when Caleb and I fly down to his visa interview, for some reason flagged the fraud people at my bank. I called them, and my Dad spoke to them twice as well, and every person said “There is nothing flagged on her account.” “The fraud hotline sees no problems with her account.”
The next day, my ATM card doesn’t work anymore. Uh oh, not good. Just getting my car set before I leave is $1000 itself. (It’s 2 year inspection is due and I needed to buy many parts in order to get it set for it to pass…and I have to pay all my car insurance up front for the year since I won’t be here to pay it monthly.) So my ATM card not working = not good. I called the bank yesterday and, lo and behold!, the fraud people DID block my account. That’s so interesting (slight sarcasm) since my Dad and I spoke to THREE people at Key Bank (2 at the Fraud center, 1 at a local branch) and they all denied any type of fraud flagging on my account. I cannot WAIT to be done with Key Bank in general. Too many complications over the years and too many additional fees added each year. Sorry, digressing…
Praise God, though, that my ATM card is now back to normal and behaving like it should when I stick in the machine 🙂 I spent quite a bit of time yesterday figuring out how I could transfer money to one of my Swedish friends’ accounts so that they could then pull it out and give it to me, here. Glad I don’t have to go that route, after all. It would have been quite pricey and a bit complicated.
So, the moral of the story is: We hope to fly to the States around the 24th or 25th of September. We, or this Mama here :), would really appreciate your prayers for our trip down to the Embassy in Bucuresti. We’ll leave on the 20th and return on the 22nd. Our appointment is at 9:30am on the 21st.
Hoping tomorrow to put up some pictures from Caleb’s first trip out of the country, to Hungary. I wanted to do a trial run with this passport and that’s all he needs to travel within the EU. Check back in tomorrow 🙂