Oops, they did it again

USCIS have managed to reduce me to incoherent fury again. I believe I have now developed a twitch.

It has been established that my green card is lost in the post. It has been hinted that, somehow this is my fault. If you think about it, it is my fault, because if I hadn’t applied for a green card in the first place it couldn’t have got lost in the post, could it? Must immediately divest myself of all possessions so as not be guilty of incitement to burglary or mugging.

The only way to get a replacement green card is to fill in form I-90, and as I was eventually informed, said form must be posted to USCIS in Missouri to generate proof that I really have lost my green card and not sold it on the black market for illegal documentation. Only then will my local USCIS office stamp my passport so that I can prove to any interested party, such as, oh, perhaps my employer, that I am legally entitled to work. There is also the small matter that I can’t travel outside the US at the moment, since I now lack any documentation that says I’m entitled to return.

So, all this is annoying, but reasonably straightforward, you might assume. But there, dear reader, you are reckoning without the Byzantine anti-logic of government bureaucrats.

I have filled in and mailed off form I-90, along with what proof of non-receipt I could cobble together (USCIS procedure blithely demanding that its victims figure out how to prove a negative. Maths has never been my strong point.) Today, I thought I’d give a call and check what’s happening. We enter the scene at the point where my status as permanent resident who has not received her green card and has not changed address has now been established. Again.

USCIS Rep: Where did you mail the form to?
Me: Missouri, the centre that is dealing with my case.
USCIS Rep: It takes 180 days to process [about as long as the whole application took first time round], and they don’t send out a receipt of the form.
Me: But I was told I had to mail the form to get proof that the card was lost, so that I could get my passport restamped. And now you’re saying that the office doesn’t acknowledge receipt? [At every other stage in the procedure, I have received ‘Notice of action’ letters, informing me that forms have been received and of what the next stage in the procedure is]
USCIS Rep: Yes. The only way you could get proof is if you’d sent the form registered mail and had it signed for.
Me: I spoke to 3 different representatives and no one said that, nor does it say that anywhere on the supporting information or on the website. You’re telling me that USCIS does not provide the proof that USCIS demands?
USCIS Rep: Yes.
Me: Is there any way I can get proof of having mailed the form?
USCIS Rep: No.
Me: Can I contact a representative at the Missouri office?
USCIS Rep: No.
Me: Can you contact anyone at the Missouri office?
USCIS Rep: No.
Me: How will I know if they have received the form and anything is happening?
USCIS Rep: (Silence)
Me (voice now finally rising in exasperation): So, you’re telling me that I followed all the steps that I was told to follow, and I’ve landed in an absolute mess?
USCIS Rep: (Silence)
Me: The stamp in my passport expired yesterday. I now have no proof that I am entitled to work, and I can’t travel outside the country. Can you suggest any way that I can get proof of having mailed the I-90 so that I can get my passport re-stamped?
USCIS Rep: No.
Me: If I mail a duplicate form to Missouri, by registered mail, will that be ok or will that cause further confusion?
USCIS Rep: I can’t guarantee that.
Me: You can’t guarantee that it will cause confusion, or that it won’t cause confusion?
USCIS Rep: I can’t guarantee either.

The conversation appeared to have played itself out at that point; either that or I was going to dive into my telephone, speed down the wire and leap out at the other end to throttle the woman. I promise that her silences were not due to my intimidating manner, because I did not, in fact, yell or swear. At least, not until I had put the phone down, when I proceeded to have a minor meltdown, complete with vocabulary presented by Glorious Technicolor.

I am seething still, because this is a situation with which I am ill-equipped to deal. I hate problems I can’t solve; their impossibility doesn’t stop me thinking about them. Sometimes, I wish it did. My husband has passed the matter on to a local senator’s office and I really think this is the only way that forward progress can be made.

In the interim, I am reduced to the petty, but satisfying pastime of figuring out what the letters USCIS really stand for.

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5 thoughts on “Oops, they did it again

  1. Dorothy W.

    Oh my God — that is horrible. I, too, would be going completely and utterly insane with anger at this point! There is no way I can let these kinds of things go — I obsess and worry, even if there’s nothing I can do. I do hope you manage to get this resolved without its taking too, too long.

  2. Becky

    Thanks! Today I am reining in the teeth gnashing and pinning my hopes on the helpful aides at the senator’s office.
    A friend of mine who has lived here for years and had to renew her green card is suffering similarly. The renewal is lost in the system somewhere – so far it’s been 18 months.

  3. Emily Barton

    Ohmigod, you’re becoming a prisoner in the United States. I, too, want to know what USCIS stands for. When you find out, please enlighten me.

  4. Cam

    I can think of all sorts of potential for the acronym USCIS, but doubt that you’d want them appearing on your blog. My compliments to you for your composure in dealing with them — I would likely have been arrested for breaking some obscure law regarding being awful on the phone to an employee of the government. That is if I didn’t suffer from a heart attack, brought on from rising blood pressure induced by anger and stress first. The silent responses alone might have done me in.

    Your US Senator and US Reprsentative is a good place to start to resolve this. Best of luck to you in resolving this snafu.

  5. Becky

    Emily, I do feel a bit of a prisoner, even though my travel plans are not imminent.

    Cam, it sounds as though we’re thinking along similar lines for defining USCIS! We are now in touch with an aide at the senator’s office, who is being helpful, and has filed a complaint on my behalf. That in itself makes me feel better.

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