Saturday, November 15, 2008


Is Government-phobia, the fear of dealing with the Government, a real thing?

If it is, I think I have it.

This week, I finally got my Social Security number squared away. While the process for this was relatively quick and painless…let’s just say there was a reason it somehow kept finding itself on the back burner.

You see, while I have what most people would call an ‘irrational fear’ of having to deal with any form of Government entity…it may be irrational, but it is born of first hand experience.

To be too terrified to get on a plane is an irrational fear. Not so much when you’re rolling around the airport in a wheelchair because you lost your legs in a horrific plane crash.

Unlike some lucky people…Kelly…who took less than six months to go from first application to getting her Visa, it took me two whole years to get mine…and every step was like pulling teeth.

People have asked me what the Visa process is like, and if I was 100% honest about it I’d say: “It is one of the most expensive and stressful processes you will ever go through. Be prepared for long periods of waiting interspersed with moments of abject terror.”

Basically, you’re spending an awful lot of money and time on something that is the most important thing in the world to you (imagine if the ability to live in the same country as your spouse was in someone else’s hands)…and a simple mistake on a form can either stop you from getting a Visa all together, or send you all the way back to the beginning of the process.

For example, when I went for my final interview at the embassy in England, it didn’t matter that all my paperwork was in order. It didn’t actually matter that I was completely and totally 100% legitimate. If the guy interviewing me just got a ‘feeling’ about me, he could deny me my Visa.

Then, when I actually got my Visa and moved here, the whole thing started over when I applied for my Greencard. Don’t ask me how, but the DHS somehow got the idea that instead of applying for a Visa, doing a buttload of paperwork, tests and interviews then moving to the US…that I’d simply arrived in the US as a tourist, got married, and then contacted them.

Follow that with two whole years of sending forms, going for interviews and doing a lot of stuff I’d already done…all the while being told that it was perfectly normal and just to obey any instructions I was given. Things only got straightened out after four letter and about twenty phonecalls when they wanted me to spend $800 on a medical I’d already had.

Luckily, I’m through all that now. Once I get my SSN I can go apply for my driving license, and then in a couple more years I can go for citizenship if I want to.

…but this doesn’t mean dealing with the Government is any more pleasant or any less terrifying.

You see, a few months ago I applied for my SSN, only to send it off and be told that the form I sent was the ‘old’ form and I needed the new one. So I got the new one, and after sending that was told that my fully-notarized copies weren’t acceptable and I needed to send the originals. Not feeling like sending my passport and greencard through the mail, we went to the local Social Security office.

After a nice long wait I got to see someone, handed everything over…to be told that my passport wasn’t acceptable as ID because it had expired. (I don’t understand that. I can see why I wouldn’t be allowed to travel on an expired passport…but why is it suddenly not good enough to ID me because it went out of date a month ago?)

So, just to be double-awesome, after waiting outside the office in the rain at 7.30am, we had to drive all the way back across town to get my birth certificate, then drive all the way back…and wait in line again.

Finally, the guy looks over my form checks out my documents and says:

“Ok, Sir, if you’ll just bear with me for a moment.” Then he gets up and walks away. I turn to Sunny:

“This is the bit I hate.” I said.

“What?” Said Sunny.

“When they act all nice to you, but then get up and leave.”

“Why?” Said Sunny, looking puzzled.

“Because this is where I think there’s been a misprint on my Greencard, and my alien registration number is missing a digit or something, so they think it’s fake. He acts all nice, he walks away, and before I know it, security turns up, puts me in handcuffs and I end up deported before I can prove I’m here legitimately.”

Well, there wasn’t a misprint and he just came back with a form letter telling me when to expect my social security card…but he could have been calling the fuzz. It’s just a matter of time.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Ok first of all, 6 months FELT like a LOT longer......and I had a lot of help from an online forum which made the porocess somewhat easier. Although, that didn't (and doesn't) stop me from wigging out all the time about it.

I don't have my green card yet, i'm still waiting.