Thursday, August 27, 2009

Immigration Work

Well, I knew it would come. The day I actually took the time to see what it will take to get Cyr a Permanent Residency Card so he can work here without a visa. He is on an L1 with his French based company right now. Don't get me wrong - his job is great and he doesn't plan on leaving it, but we need to get him set up so that if something happens with the job he can legally stay here since he is my husband. Right now if he looses his job we have to head back to France. Hey...maybe I should hold off on this thing now that I think about it...

I called the US Citizen and Immigration Services to see how to proceed. Turns out it's a little different because we were married in France, so technically we are already married we just have to file a bunch of things. So...I actually have to file that I have a "relative" that I would like to bring into the US. That sounds so strange, a "relative".

So there are about 6 forms to fill out, fees of around $2,500 when it's all done and then we wait I guess. The lady told me we don't need an attorney, just to file all the paperwork. I'm trying to take it slow. I printed out all the forms and all the directions for the forms and have them organized. The next step is to actually start filling them out.

The truth is I hate paperwork and filing and things that require me to check up on them. I like to do something and be done with it. This process will surely turn into a huge monster and I'm not looking forward to it. Cyr will have to do most of the paperwork, but I know I won't be able to keep from taking charge. I just have that pushy personality that I think if I don't get involved it won't get done right. So be prepared, over the next few months I'm sure you will all hear bout how crazy this process is!

Feel free to post any tips if any of you out there have done this before! Remember...I'm American, he is French and we got married in France and we are living in the US with him being here on a work visa.

17 comments:

Isabelle said...

Bonjour Susan,
There's no tip I can give you to help you, but I know what you mean when you say that you want to be done quickly with this.
My husband (who is American) is finally applying for French citizenship (we've been married for 16 years, have 2 kids and have always lived in France). There is a lot of paperwork to provide, but at least it's FREE!!
Bonne chance!!

Ksam said...

Well Isabelle, technically it's not *free* to apply for French citizenship since you have to pay out the nose for all of the translations required. And Susan's husband is applying for a marriage visa, so it's not really the same as applying for citizenship. :)

I'm curious Susan why you didn't apply for a spousal visa while you were still here? Is it because you left so quickly? A few couples I know are planning on moving back to the US soon, and they applied for spousal visas at the American Embassy in Paris. It's a surprisingly painless and efficient process! (And doesn't cost anywhere near $2500 - yikes!)

helene said...

Good luck to you! I don't have any tips to offer either since we had apply for my green card from France. The process could actually be a lot shorter that what you think!
Note to Ksam: becoming French is FREE, unlike becoming American! The fee to apply for US citizenship is close to $1000, the French government does not charge you anything.

Ksam said...

Like I said in my post, there isn't a direct application fee, but most people do spend a small fortune on translation. I was lucky and it only cost me around 80€ total because I have connections, but a friend of mine just applied and she spent over 500€ (almost $700) - so I wouldn't exactly call that free.

Though I'm sure the US gov also requires a bunch of things to be translated as well!!

Susan in Lille said...

Ksam and group - I am embarrassed to say that I could not figure out how to apply for him when we were in France! We lived in Lille, so Paris was a train ride away and I couldn't get anyone on the phone or find out anything on the internet. I guess really I was just lazy. Darn it!

I really should have done it then...grrrrr.....

We also spent so much time trying to get me my Cart de Sejour (sorry - can't spell) we didn't even think to focus on getting his done for the US. We actually also thought we would be there longer than we were so when we had to move it just all happened so quickly.

Ksam said...

Aww, don't be embarrassed! I think it's a rule that embassy websites have to be difficult to navigate and that they never answer their phone/respond to emails.

Isabelle said...

@Ksam: I'll let you know how much we spend for the translations...
You mention that you spent 80 euros for your translation, does it mean that you have the French citizenship too?

jonnifer said...

Having experienced the greencard process and its French equivalent, the Carte de Sejour, I'll take the French process any day. Cheaper, fewer forms and much less waiting.

Susan, if you need help during the process there is a great website you can go to, visajourney.com. The 800 number at USCIS is also surprisingly helpful.

The best advice I can give is to stay organized - not being able to find your 2005 tax return the night before the deadline is not fun! Make a checklist and keep copies of everything you send. It's not as scary as everyone makes it sound, just a hassle. Bon courage!

Ksam said...

Isabelle, I don't have it yet, but I should be getting an answer around the end of this year. It'll take about two years total. I've always wondered how long it takes to get American citizenship - anyone know?

Susan in Lille said...

Jonnifer - Thanks for the info! I know I will be calling the 1.800 a few times. I actually used it to get started. Now that I have figured out how to get a real person on the line (*01 in case anyone needs it) I think it will be a good resource.

Ksam -
I'm not sure how long the process takes, but I know if you are married to a US citizen then you have to wait 3 years to become a citizen, if you are doing it through a work visa or another kind of visa you have to be a Permanent Resident for 5 years. So they lop off 2 for the marriage thing.

Marie said...

Jonnifer, best advice ever !!
Susan,I did all the paperworks for our 3 green cards and it was quite painful but think "one step at a time". Don't try to go to fast and double/triple check.I usually dedicated 2 hours/day on it.
Maxime is calling me...xoxo

Shakesrear said...

I don't have any advice since I haven't gone through this yet. But I do have a question. We've been looking into moving to the states because my French husband has a job offer over there. I suspected that we wouldn't be able to simply take the work visa and move, but would have to apply for an immigration visa via direct consular filing at the Paris embassy. I called the embassy and they said that we would indeed have to apply for the immigration visa since there would be an implied desire to immigrate (my being a USC).

How were you two able to move to the US being married and on just a work visa? Did Cyr convince the immigration officer that he had no intent to immigrate despite being married to a USC?

Here's my blog about the issue: http://shakesrear.livejournal.com/181214.html.

I would start the whole process by buying a big binder to put all the paperwork in. Good luck!

Shakesrear said...

Helene, it is a bit costly to go through the US immigration process, but I think I would rather pay that and very little for a driver's license than nothing for immigration and an arm and a leg for a driver's license.

Shakesrear said...

Susan, thanks for your reply!
So we were married in France and we work for a US company (although I think it's considered a foreign affiliate). I really don't know which work visa they would give us, but the immigration officer didn't seem to care.

The company would help with immigration (and certainly pay for it), but we would want to shorten the time it takes as much as possible, so that means for me to go ahead and begin the petition even before knowing we are really going.

I know it would be a lot easier to the green card here, but I just have a US domicile problem. I do have a bank account and a credit card, but of course they have my foreign address on them. I simply don't have a US address. I also read on visajourney that those two things wouldn't count toward a US domicile anyway. It seems to me that this US domicile requirement is ridiculous for those USCs who live abroad and who have for years.

Anyway, we'll see if we really get an offer and if we really decide to take it.

Shakesrear said...

Hey, I was wondering if maybe Cyr was still on a French contract. Maybe that's the difference. My husband's job is being transferred to the US and if he accepts, then he would be too, but on a local US contract. This immigration stuff is complicated and each case seems to have particularities which make comparisons impossible.

Susan in Lille said...

Hey there - ok, I just asked my husband (who is sitting right here) and he said he is on BOTH an American and French contract. I don't know how that happens, but I can tell you that his paycheck comes from the American based company and he gets different incentives from the French company. The parent company is French, that is how he was transferred over here. Either way though, he will need a visa to work here and if the company wants to transfer him I would think it would be an L1 which is an intracompany transfer.

Shakesrear said...

Actually, with the DCF marriage-based green card, he would have the right to work upon issue of the visa (well, as soon as he got his SSN which is generally a week after entering the US). But, we've decided that if we do agree to the relocation, we're going to let the company handle all of the immigration and see how it goes. They earmark around $26K for each immigration, so it's not going to be a hardship for them. Even if it takes much longer to get the green card once over in the US, we don't really care - we have time. We have to decide by the beginning of December whether we are going, so I'll keep everyone up-to-date on my blog (although it will probably be friends-only until we've decided).