Monday, June 16, 2008

USCIS Paperwork - Form I-600A

Just thought you might like to hear the mundane details of how I spent my free time this weekend. Well, it wasn't really free time. I was compiling, copying and typing most of this while the boys were bickering five feet away. Child #2 has been cranky from going to sleep too late and Child #1 split his lip this morning so, he's sort of cranky too (but with a fat lip). That means that their bickering is a lot whinier and louder than usual, and they pounce on each other's toys a lot faster. But I digress... So I was blocking out the world around me to get the USCIS paperwork finished by Monday.

Here's how it works:
-We need to file a Form I-600A for Advance Petitioning to bring our orphan child here (This is only for non-Hague countries like Ethiopia. For Hague countries, you would need to file the I-800. Find all your immigration forms here: This involves printing out a form and filling it in, not so bad. With this form, you must include:
-Two money orders made out to either US Department of Homeland Security or US Citizenship and Immigration Services, NO abbreviations please - one for the application ($670) and one for the fingerprinting or "biometric" fees ($80 per adult over 18 living in the house)
-Copies of birth, marriage, divorce (if applicable) certificates
-Completed home study with the agency's license (I have heard of people submitting the I600A without the home study, then forwarding the home study once it was done. But I wanted everything together because this is beauracracy. The less that can go wrong, the better.)
-I also included a copy of our drivers licenses because they have requested that before, and for good measure, a cover letter with our intent and a list of enclosures.

Now that I have compiled everything, I have to mail it. I can either go FedEx or certified mail, but regardless, I have to be able to track it. Once they recieve it, they will send us a notice and also, a time to go get fingerprinted. This can usually be done as a walk in. After a period of days, they will hopefully send us the I 171H or Notice of Favorable Determination (or something along those lines). It is the hallowed piece of paper that is absolutely essential to the dossier. All this can take weeks or months. From others experiences with the Houston Field Office, it sounds like about two months, hopefully.

We also applied for a grant from Shaoshannah's Hope (a wonderful grant program started by Stephen Curtis Chapman), which also involves a tedious amount of supporting paperwork, so I will be working on compiling that as well in the next week or two. We will be praying over this effort a lot because the overtime is drying up this month (husband is kind of glad about that).

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