Right before Christmas 2000, when my employer told me that I needed to go, I started to prepare changing my visa status from E-2 (Investor Status) to H visa. My lawyer was confident that it could be changed and could be changed in relatively short time. I waited, waited, waited,
and received rejection notice. I tried to be re-hired by a group companies in US of my then employer, and could not get one. Economy was starting to be bad, dot com company recession. So, I needed to go out of US returned back to Japan, re-enter US as non-visa status. I continued to be back and forth between US and Japan for about a year.
My girl friend, my present wife, offered me to marry so that she can sponsor me for Green Card. She hoped that I continued to stay so that we could be together instead of 3 months in US and another month in Japan. If you continue to do this for long time, so many times, US Immigration starts to notice and start to give you problems. A couple of times in re-entry, I was sent to separate office and could not re-enter to US for 2 hours. So we married. I re-hired a lawyer and applied for Green Card. It took us almost another full year to get to the point of interview. We were so glad and happy to go to interview. We went to USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Service) and took interview. We thought it should have been no problem. Our marriage is real and we did not see any flaw. But my case was sent to higher position for re-examination. We needed to wait for another half a year to take next interview.
We took another interview 8 months later. Here I needed to point out that if you apply for Green Card, you need to obtain temporary work permit and emigration (traveling out from US) and re-entry permit for working and even traveling to outside US. Since they expire in 12 months and needed to re-apply for them, it was hectic process. USCIS attitude and reaction was far from friendly or cooperative. Even my lawyer advised me not to be angry no matter what they say or do. One day in USCIS office waiting for my turn, I found somebody curved cursing words to base of chair "XXXX USCIS". I myself would not have done that, but I could easily imagine the feeling.
The 2nd Interview was not so bad. Interviewer was friendly and cooperative. Since it took me so long time, I could get Green Card valid for 10 years straight. Usually they issue 3 year valid Green Card and wanted applicants to re-apply for next 10 years when 3 years have passed.
There are some people who are advertising in the net in Japanese saying that they can EASILY obtain Green Card for almost doing NOTHING. I hope they have a magic wand and help their clients. But my experience was quite different from what they advertise.
The lesson was "Be prepared, study all the possibility, make sure you are comfortable and confident. But be flexible enough to cope with unexpected happens." So the words I came across in a movie definitely helped. It was "Knowing the Path is Different from Walking the Path."
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