What's new

Just incase you haven't figured it out yet -

Mandylion

Omnipotence personified
Contributor
15 Mar 2003
1,147
45
58
Don't trust authority.

Allow me to vent, feel free to share.

I'm in the middle of working on my wife's immigrant visa (aka Green Card) for the US. One of the documents we must secure is a police report of my wife from any location she has lived for longer than a year since she was 16. Since she was an exchange student in New York for two years, she needs to fill out a form requesting a copy of her police record (she doesn't have one but the Embassy in Tokyo wants a piece of paper saying as much).

To request a police report from the state of New York you must be fingerprinted. The cop that fingerprints you must also sign the request form. The police in Aichi prefecture have said they will refuse to sign the paper. It is against their policies.

So I faxed the embassy last Friday explaining the situation and asking them to call the name and number I provided (the officer my wife spoke to) to see if they wouldn't, just this once, make an exception. Odds are a long shot they would, but then we can't be faulted for not trying everything to comply to what NY State wants. Isn't afterall the Embassy there to (within reason) help distressed ex-pats?

I get a fax back Monday moring saying that a police report is not required for an immigrant visa. "Not required" is even underlined so the m-o-r-o-n (me) who is bothering the busy embassy staff with free faxes (as opposed to paying almost 5 dollars a minute if I called their office) and making them write back, will get it through his thick head to leave them alone.

Nothing doing.

I don't mind dealing with bureaucracy, but I don't like the implication that 1) I didn't read the directions for such a important process, or 2) in cruder way of saying it, that I am stupid.

In the fax I fired back Monday morning I quoted them chapter and verse from the instructions they sent me and asked for "clarification." I doubt the poor staffer that reads it will "get" my fax, as the number of grammar and spelling mistakes in their return faxes exceed even mine. I asked them to send me a signed fax saying, if that what told me on Monday is true, what other regulations I can disregard so I don't waste everyone's time.

I have yet to get a fax back. I am very interested to see what they have to say for themselves.

This is no small issue. If you turn up in Tokyo with an incomplete application for an immigrant visa they can turn you down and it will take months before you can get another appointment.

Just goes to show never to trust people just because they are in a position of authority or that they should know what they are doing. Remember what your chemistry teacher told you in school and always read the instructions. Then make sure everyone is playing by the same set of rules. If not, call them on it.
 
That's why I tell everyone going through the Green Card process to get an immigration lawyer. Things go much more smoothly. Of course, things have changed a lot since my husband got his Green Card.

I remember him having to be fingerprinted and we couldn't do it at just any police department or sheriff's department. It had to be done at a special INS(now called the USCIS) fingerprint place. That meant we had to drive to Alexandria, VA (4 hour trip) just to get fingerprinted.

We made about 4 trips to Alexandria, VA and Arlington, VA during the entire Green Card process. That is not something you want to do more than you have to. If you have even one tiny mistake on any one of those forms, they will send you back to correct it, only to have to wait months for another appointment. I had heard many horror stories about it. One couple we knew had made so many little mistakes before, that they finally decided to take their typewriter(this was 25 years ago)with them to the INS office the last time, so that they could correct any mistake they had made while they were there. I didn't want to risk that, so we hired a lawyer. He completed all the paperwork, and we had not one problem. No problems getting appointments, no mistakes on the forms, and it went much better than I had anticipated. Especially topping it off with the infamous interview only lasting 10 minutes--if that!
 
Ah, I wish we had the cash or the ability to get an immigration lawyer here in Japan...I wonder if they even exist?

It might be different applying in Japan than in the US. Few Japanese people want Green Cards that it is the smallest % of what they have to do. The real pisser is the physical. There are only 6 hospitals you can get this done at and three are in Tokyo. After that you have a choice between Hokkaido, Kobe, and Okinawa. Full bloodwork, x-rays, exam, the works. It aint cheap (even with insurance it will run around 30,000 yen). Add on to that all the cost it will take to get to Kobe (closest for us) and time - only three doctors in Kobe who are embassy approved - and it becomes the worst part of the process.
 
Yeah, I know what you mean. It was the same here with the physical. We had to go to an approved doctor too.

The worst thing that happened with our process was that my husband had a terrible reaction to the TB test because they receive the BCG vaccination in Japan. His arm got extremely swollen and became purple. It seemed like the doctors and nurses were getting nervous and he was given a chest x-ray to rule out TB. In the meantime, my family doctor and I had figured out it was because of the BCG vaccination, though.
 
Oh my! I'll keep that in mind when she goes in. Though she has had to have all her shots for the student visa a few years ago, so she might be okay.

Get this. I got a fax back telling me yet again that she doesn't need a police report from the US because the US does not issue them for immigrant visas. BUT they also said the instructions in the packet they sent us is correct (saying you need a police report from every country the applicant has live in for longer than 6 months since turnign 16 years old).

Confused yet? I was.

So I broke down and called the Embassy (and paid about 1500 yen for about a three minute call). I spoke with a woman at the visa desk and I got her to tell me what is up. After she admitted that the little bit about not having to get one if that time overseas was in the US wa not in the official immigrant visa instructions, I enjoyed the some 700 yen of me telling her, without the use of foul words, all the trouble this has caused us and exactly what I thought should be done about it - change the instructions.

Even had the gaul to ask if there were any other things like this we should know about. I feel kind of sorry that she actually had to put me on hold to go check!

It may have worked - ha - because she agreed and even apologized. I think that was the first time an agent of the US government has apologized to me and admited they were wrong. Of course, she could have been doing this because she was not American.

ARGH! I'm glad that is over but I probably lost a few months off my life due to stress. All the writing to police agencies, the faxes, telephone calls to Japanese police offices, faxes to the Embassy - all because one simple phrase was omitted...

A lesson learned.
 
The process to get a green card seems quite tough. Fingerprints and police reports ? I can't imagine European countries doing the same. Fingerprints are only used for criminals, to the best of my knowledge. As for the medical test, I don't think they are half that strict either. Isn't it even easier to be naturalized than get a permanent visa (green card) ? Don't know about the US, but my wife (who is Japanese) can stay anywhere in the EU (equivalent to permanent visa) ever since we are married and under the conditions that we live together, with almost no paperwork at all. She could obtain citizenship after just 6 months of marriage, and probably none of the test and documents you mentioned above. In comparison, the Japanese system seems harsh (permanent visa after 5 years of marriage, if I have a stable job and good enough income and pay my taxes), but the American system seems by far the worse for immigrants (oddly enough for an immigrant country :eek: )
 
Yes, the US is more than happy to pass out visas for short term stays (remind you of another country we know?) but they don't just pass out the big ones (green cards) without a bit of work.

Once you get a green card you can do anything, work, study, lay around the house, get divorced and there is almost nothing you can do that will get it revoked. But you are extended almost all the rights and protections of a citizen (except voting really). And if you ever go on the dole you have to repay it (somehow) eventually. Because it is the kind of visa that can open all sorts of doors, they just don't want to hand them out. If you have been married less than two years the green card has a two-year trial period (to cut down on people marrying just for a visa). If you divorce while in that time window you lose the visa. After two years you can keep it until you move out of the US for longer than a year (just go back on vacation once a year and as long as you earn less than 80,000 USD, no taxes either).

You have to be a permanent resident to be naturalized, and if you are you have to give up your old citizenship and swear and oath to the US - a touchy issue for some.

Then there is the cost. Just counting fees, immigrant visas cost around 500 USD. 130 for stage one and 330 for stage two. I also have to prove a level of income 125% above the poverty level and supply tax returns for the last three years.

I agree that the US has a strict immigration process, but Japan's seems designed to keep people out. America now has too many people who want to get in. For example, the permanent resident issue. It will take you (Maciamo) or I, 5 years of solid work to get that stamp in Japan. My wife was able to start the process for the US (green card/ immigrant visa/ permanent resident - all the same visa) right after we got married and the whole painful thing is over in about 6 months.

The only stress free part was not having to find and pay a certified translator to make English copies of all our documents. They let me do it myself.
 
Mandylion said:
I agree that the US has a strict immigration process, but Japan's seems designed to keep people out. America now has too many people who want to get in. For example, the permanent resident issue. It will take you (Maciamo) or I, 5 years of solid work to get that stamp in Japan. My wife was able to start the process for the US (green card/ immigrant visa/ permanent resident - all the same visa) right after we got married and the whole painful thing is over in about 6 months.

6 months if married ? That is apparently the same as E.U. average.
True that in Japan being married only entitles you to get a renewable spouse visa. But most short-term visas are quite easy to get (cultural visa, working visa, working-holiday visa...) except maybe the student visa as student must pay the whole duration of the visa's school fee in advance and apply 6 months before coming to Japan (from what I heard in my Japanese language school). But compared to the US, Japanese visas are cheap (about 35US$, not 500US$ 😲 ).
 
travelers visas for the US are free, permanent ones are the $500 ones, other types fall somewhere in between. also while you have the green card (which is actually pink) it entitles you to work and most everything else, but you have to live in the US for 7 years before you can apply become a citizen. then i believe its more forms, money and even a (history) test.

the funniest thing is the lottery for immigrant visas.
http://uscis.gov/graphics/services/residency/divvisa.htm
 
Now that I think about it, I think the only real difference between having permanent residency and having citizenship is that you get the right to vote with citizenship. I believe that's about the only difference. All the Japanese people that I know living here now won't get citizenship, because that would mean giving up their Japanese citizenship. If they hold a Green Card, they can keep their Japanese citizenship and get benefits out of that, as well as being a permanent resident of the U.S.

Another interesting tidbit, is that Japanese people have it much easier than most other nationalities coming to the U.S. and applying for a Green Card. My lawyer told us right off the bat that we would probably have no problems whatsoever, and he was right. He told us in the beginning that since my husband was Japanese, it would be smooth sailing. To the U.S., Japanese people are well educated, make lots of money, and not desperate to leave their home country.

So, I guess you could look on the positive side of this. It will probably be a lot easier for your wife to get a Green Card being Japanese than it would if she were Egyptian, Mexican, Haitian, etc.

When we went to Alexandria to pick up his work authorization card, we had to wait in a waiting room with many other foreigners, and the INS workers were so hateful to so many of them. It was like they were speaking down to them and treating them as if they were animals, almost. It just sickened me. It made me want to get up and ask them why they wanted to come to this country. It made me feel very embarassed and even ashamed.
 
kirei_na_me said:
When we went to Alexandria to pick up his work authorization card, we had to wait in a waiting room with many other foreigners, and the INS workers were so hateful to so many of them. It was like they were speaking down to them and treating them as if they were animals, almost. It just sickened me. It made me want to get up and ask them why they wanted to come to this country. It made me feel very embarassed and even ashamed.

its like that in australia too, at least where i went, apparently you cant just walk into the immigration department and say "i wanna live here" :p
the funny thing was that the worker was in immigrant herself. what a way to represent her (new) country... :rolleyes:
 
kirei_na_me said:
Now that I think about it, I think the only real difference between having permanent residency and having citizenship is that you get the right to vote with citizenship. I believe that's about the only difference.

Plus you can serve in the U.S. armed forces or in certain elected government positions (such as governor of Cailfornia). Another difference is that if you are ever convicted of some crime, if you are not a citizen you can get deported and barred from the country permanently with no chance of getting another visa to return. Also, as an American citizen you can leave the country for a number of years like I did. A permanent resident is expected to maintain residency in the U.S. or they can lose their status.


But the real mystery in all of this is how Mandylion managed to pay Y1500 for a 3 minute phone call?! Long distance in Japan isn't that expensive. And there are still callback services, aren't there?

BTW I was able provide my own translation for the K1 visa in Tokyo. But when applying for the adjustment-of-status in the U.S. later, they rejected my self-translation. So I had a professor/friend of mine certify/sign my translation and went back a day or two later. That was the only hiccup I had. I don't regret not getting a lawyer; nowadays with so much info on the Internet it shouldn't be necessary.
 
mdchachi said:
But the real mystery in all of this is how Mandylion managed to pay Y1500 for a 3 minute phone call?! Long distance in Japan isn't that expensive. And there are still callback services, aren't there?

If you call the US embassy and want to speak to a live person in the visa section, or even listen to a prerecorded tape of basic visa information, you must pay 860 yen for six minutes and 860 yen for every six minutes after that.

They will not call you.

They do this because they claim if it was free, they would have to hire extra staff to take all the phone calls. On the embassy website it even says they tried free calling for awhile but it was too much to deal with.

I would have kept faxing them for free, but they were telling me two different things and not adressing the points in my faxes.
 
QUESTION ASKED A "DEAF" WOMAN DURING APPLICATION

process for Green Card(to see if the mariage is for real);
"Does your husband snore?"

Frank

:D :p
 
Back
Top Bottom