About US Visa: a summary of a long journey

…and it isn’t even done yet (read: the journey is still ongoing).

I promise myself, someday I will write about how to get an IR-1 US Visa in detail, as a payback to the people who have been helping me throughout this perpetual journey (OK, I am the queen of exaggeration :D).

PS: IR-1 visa: Immediate Relative visa: Visa for your spouse, children, etc.

Pardon the drama in this story, since I am not that excited about moving to the US to begin with. Not because I hate the US, in fact, I quite like it. It’s just I don’t like the uncertainty about jobs, how I can adapt to the new city, new life, etc. However, living far from my significant other sucks so much, it trumps all the worries and relentlessness (is that even a word, relentlessness? anyways…) so began our perpetual journey of US immigrant visa process.

And here is the summary :

Submit the I-130 application to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service). Basically, this is an application from a US citizen for his immediate relative (hence the IR-1 category) to become a US legal permanent resident. It took 4++ months from the time we submitted the form to the day we receive NOA (Notification of Action) 2, saying the the USCIS granted our petition.

Upon the approval, USCIS move the case to NVC (National Visa Center). From the time they moved the case until NVC contacted us: a little less than 4 weeks.

Pay the AOS (adjustment of status) fee and submit the I-864 package. Basically this is an affidavit from the US citizen proofing and claiming that he/she has salary 125% above poverty line to sponsor an intending immigrant.

Pay the Visa fee and submit DS-260 form. Basically this is a formal application from the intending immigrant and the DS-260 package should contain documents such as original (!!!!) birth certificate and marriage certificate, passport copy, police record, passport style photos, etc. Time from DS-260 submission until approval: dunno, we haven’t done this yet (note to self: go to Iwate Police HQ to get Police record!). But from what I’ve heard, about 1 week.

Upon the NVC approval, they will move the case to the local Embassy/Consulate. In our case, the NVC has decided that US Embassy in Tokyo will be our final station.

From here, NVC will schedule an interview usually in a month to give enough time for the petitioner to get medical examination (ugh) and vaccination (eeeekkkkk!!!!!!),

The final decision will be determined by the officer at the Embassy, and upon the approval, the petitioner has to enter the POE (Point of Entry) in the US within six months after the medical examination date.

One week after the POE, a welcome to the US letter is suppose to be sent to the petitioner along with the Green Card.

The good news is, due to my experiments, teaching schedule, my business trips and my overall work here in Japan, we are not in a hurry to get the visa and I can move whenever (in fact the longer I delay it, the happier my boss will be). Plus, my B1/B2 visa is still valid until 2015, so I still can go back and forth to the US using the B1/B2 visa.

But wait a minute, here comes another problem: if I stay in Japan more than December 31, 2012, I will be obligated to pay Japan resident tax for 2013 FOR THE WHOLE YEAR. Even if I only stay one day longer. Fair? of course not. But rule is rule, the best way to avoid the unfairness is to leave Japan before December 31, 2012.

Oh and moreover, for income tax, there is a Tax Treaty between Japan and The US, so no worries there, I pay tax in Japan, I don’t have to pay tax in the US or Indonesia for that matter. But when it comes to resident tax, no treaty there. Say, I move to the US on January 5th 2013, it means, I have to pay Japan resident tax for the whole year of 2013 (which is about 10% of your 2012 taxable, yeah, I know…) AND pay Hawaii State Tax from January 5, 2013 until December 31, 2013. So, no thanks! 😀

Now you see why I hate the uncertainty of my visa timeline. Will I be able to leave before December, do I have to re-route to Jakarta, or like my better half said, I worry too much about it and everything will be OK and it will work out in plenty of time. (Amen!)

And here is the approximate cost:

I-130: $400++

AOS: $88

Visa fee: $200++

Medical exam in Japan: JPY50,000++ (vaccine included)

The cost of being close to my significant other: priceless…..


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