La puta Migra
So this is the story (okay, rant) I was going to write earlier, before Tony Bourdain made me realize the essential pettiness of my problems:
This morning I had my annual appointment at the INS (sorry, it's now the USCIS) to update my I-551, which is the stamp in my passport that proves I'm within status. In theory, this should no longer be necessary because I already have a green card. The problem is, I've never actually seen it.
In 2003, I went to get the I-551 stamp and learned that my green card had been approved a whole year earlier. When I said it hadn't arrived, I was told to fill out an I-90 application for a replacement (which included fingerprinting, which cost $70), and to watch the mailbox.
In 2004, I was told the application to replace the lost card hadn't been input into the system yet, "But it's probably around here somewhere."
In 2005, I was told the original card had never been created in the first place. And the application for a replacement still wasn't in the system.
Today, I 'splained the whole charade to yet another officer, who handed me a piece of paper. "What you need to do," he said, "is go over to the forms desk. Ask for an I-90 form, fill it out and mail it to--"
"But I did that already," I said. "I did that three years ago."
"Well, it's not in the system."
I asked whether it would be quicker to file for citizenship. "Yeah," he said, "at this point it probably would."
So next Friday I meet with my immigration lawyer, who says that the turnaround time from filing to inteview is currently four months. I could be a citizen by the end of the year--without ever seeing my green card.