Welcome to my Blog ''Arrived in America'' It's all about my travels to America, My LDR for 19months with my husband, My immigration story and my New life in America. Im also looking for people to share their experiences with me and others who read. If you would like to add something to this blog, advice, pictures, or just your story please e-mail me!
I hope you enjoy it =)

Visa Journey

A lot of people don’t realize what it takes to get a visa to be able to immigrate to America and they act like it’s a piece of cake to go through the process but in all reality it’s a nerve wrecking process and costs a bit of money. I had it a lot easier than many people I speak to but it still wasn’t easy. After getting married, Jon and i went to JAG to find out what we had to do to start the process. The answer was ‘’you fill out the I-130 send it off wait for it to come back and you get your visa’’.. My ass!!! Lol we both figured out pretty quick this wasn’t going to be as easy as she made it out to be. We got married in October 2009 and it took us till January 2010 to figure out what exactly we had to do. I did days on end of research online. I had the I-130 that we was given to us from Jag but I found the forms online too so I filled them out on the computer and then printed them out. I had seen a lot online that people said that you have to be really careful with EVERYTHING you fill out. One mistake can cost you MONTHS of your visa process time. Jon as the Petitioner was actually the one who was meant to do it all but he’s a guy and I didn’t trust him so I did it by myself and just sent the stuff to him and all he had to do was sign stuff or add documents of his. Every time I would send him something he would receive and envelope with loads of documents covered in sticky notes with instructions because I was so scared he would mess up. So to start of the Visa process Jon had to file the I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative. This folder included:

· A cover letter asking for to file a petition for me
· A completed and signed I-130 form
· A check for the filing fee: 420$!!!!!
· G-325A Biographic info (Petitioner)
· G-325A Biographic info (Beneficiary)
· Copy of US Birth Certificate to prove US Citizenship
· Copy of marriage certificate
· Copy of Military Spouse ID (Proof)
· Copies of pictures of Petitioner & Beneficiary on different occasions (Proof)
· Copy of joint lease from our Townhouse (Proof)
· Copy of Plane tickets (Proof)

This was only the beginning and I was already nervous how things were going to go. I had to go into every little detail and explain things just so i didn’t risk us getting an RFE (Request for evidence). Jon sent it per Express mail on the 29.01.2010 to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) and we got our NOA1 (NOA-Notice of Action) in an email on Feb 5th confirming they had received our petition. The waiting began. Not knowing much about this whole visa thing we were never sure when and what was going to happen next even though I did a lot of research. It all just seemed a big mess to me. On March 5th I went to visit Jon for 2weeks. Usually when you apply for your visa, immigration State side gets really funky with you because they know you are trying to get in to America already and there is still a chance you will visit and then stay there illegally. The guy at Atlanta airport asked what my intentions were. I told him that we had applied for my visa and that I was going to visit him for 2 weeks as I had not seen him since we got married 5months ago. He then just asked how me and Jon had met and to thank Jon for his service and good luck to us both for the visa process.
I flew back to Germany March 20th and on March 24th we got our NOA-2 in an email saying are petition was approved :-D Awesome birthday present for both me (26th March) and Jon (25th March).   Wooo that was the first part done and it only took 47days! After we were approved we had to wait for the USCIS to send our petition onto the NVC (National Visa Center).
On March 30th the NVC received our petition and assigned us our Case Number. All I knew from this point on was we were waiting for our hardcopy of the NOA-2 and waiting for the next bill that needed to be paid to come through. What I didn’t realize was that while waiting I was meant to send the NVC an email with the DS-3032 - Choice of Attorney for Immigrant Visa. I waited and WASTED 2 weeks because I didn’t know and only found out because I came across a website called Visajourney.com and had told them that I was waiting for something to happen. At this point even though we weren’t too long into the process (about 2months) I was getting frustrated. We never received anything telling us about the DS-3032. As soon as I found out I had sent the email and 2days later I got an email saying it was accepted.
Between April 8th and May 6th we had recieved the AOS (Affidavit of Support I-864)  and the IV (DS-230 Application for CR-1 Immigrant Visa) fee bills and paid them and they both showed up as PAID on the NVC website where we could check our status. It was nice to be able to check up our Visa status but I was like a mad woman checking it 100 times a day to see if anything had changed and was always a little more disappointed when it hadn’t. The AOS bill was 70$ and the IV was 400$.
In the time we waited for the bills to show up as PAID we had to get a whole bunch more documents ready to send off to the NVC. I typed up the AOS and put the folder together and added paper in the order Jon had to add the supporting documents. The AOS folder included:

· I-864 Coversheet (with barcode)
· Form I-864
· Petitioners Birth certificate
· 2009 Tax returns
· 2008 Tax returns
· 2007 Tax returns
· Letter of Employment
· Pay stubs from the most recent 6months

The AOS was to prove to the NVC that Jon is able to support me so I don’t become a burden on America. Then we also had to send the IV package which included:

· CR-1 Coversheet (with barcode)
· 2 passport size photos of beneficiary (signed)
· DS-230 Part 1 completed and signed by beneficiary
· DS-230 Part 2 completed by beneficiary – unsigned as per instructions
· Photocopy of Biographic Data Page in beneficiary’s passport
· Certified Birth certificate of beneficiary and copies
· Certified Marriage certificate and copies
· Original Police certificate and copy

The passport photos had to be a certain size and were 20euros for just 4. My police certificate took 3weeks to get and cost me 15euros. The money and stress level was going up and even though this all may not seem like much it was a lot of work, I had to make sure it was all right and presentable just to ease my mind a little. Both packages were sent on May 10th and they were signed for right away the next day at the NVC. This next part killed me. From speaking with other people who had already been through it the NVC part with the AOS and IV package was the most important. It was either you get an RFE because you failed to give the right documents, you forgot fill something or you didn’t have enough evidence to show that the beneficiary has real and valid reasons to get a visa and wasn’t doing it just to get to America, or you were denied because the petitioner could not support you to their standards. I was trying to call the NVC every day to hear if our case had been updated that they had actually received the documents and if they had put it into the system yet. For anyone going through the visa process calling the NVC is a nightmare. You have to be lucky if you get through and if you did it was usually the AVR (automated voice response). I managed to get through to a person twice and both times I somehow was that nervous I put the phone down on them lol. 8 days after the NVC the AVR was finally updated eeeek I was buzzing by this time. When the NVC updates the AVR you wait for a Sign in Fail when checking your Visa Status online because that means your case is completed. On May 26th we finally got our SIGN IN FAIL! I wanted to cry…we were so close to being done. We got through the USCIS and NVC without any RFEs or any trouble. All we had was the nerve wrecking wait. On May 26th we received the email that our case was complete and that I would receive a letter shortly with my interview date. On June 11th my Interview date was assigned..July 12th 2010!!
Now I had 4 weeks to prepare myself for the interview. I had to get an appointment with a doctor in Dortmund, 3hours away. There are only certain docs in Germany that are allowed to give you the all clear when it comes to your Visa. I had to make sure all my vaccinations were up to date and get a chest x-ray and have a full body check up to show that I’m healthy. I got my vaccinations checked with my regular doctor in the town my parents live in. 4 of them needed updating. I have never been scared of needles and never had issues when I had ever got vaccinations before but this time I felt nervous and scared. For no reason at all because I know it’s not bad but I just felt fear for some reason. I got one in each arm and one in each butt cheek and I cried like a baby, it was horrible. On July 5th I had to get the train at 0430 to Dortmund for my X-ray and check ups. I was so worried they were going to find something wrong with me even though I knew I was fine. I got the all clear for my x-ray and then I had to get a taxi to another doctor. The nurse took some blood, did an eye test, checked my blood pressure and did some other little things and then I had to wait to go in to see the doctor for the end result. 45 mins and 150 Euros later it was my turn to see the doctor. He said everything seemed fine and signed off a letter for the consulate saying I was healthy. Phew now all I had left was my Interview. In the letter I got from the consulate with my interview date there was a list of things I needed to bring. On the Visa journey forum people wrote about their experiences and what happened and how to prepare yourself too and so I went by what others did aswell. I made sure I had a copy of every document we had ever sent to the USCIS and the NVC. One thing that a lot of people said would be important is proof. At the interview you will be asked questions and if they ask anything about you and your spouse they want to see proof too. I read some really scary stories how at the interview they would try and catch you out with sneaky questions to see if were lying about anything. I had nothing to worry about but I didn’t want to risk anything. It was the last step of the Journey to getting my visa and being with my Love. Everything had gone so well and I wasn’t going to let this interview get in the way of us now. All together for the interview I had:

· Hardcopy NOA1
· Hardcopy NOA2
· Printed DS-3032
· Payment Receipts
· Postage stamps and passport photos
· German & British passport
· German & British Birth certificate
· Vaccination booklet
· Medical Documentation
·  I-130 package
· AOS package
· IV DS-230 package
· Photo evidence folder
· Flight evidence folder
· Wedding evidence folder
· Other evidence folder
a) including receipts of places where me and Jon went
b) proof of joint bank account
c) cards written to the both of us

Everything had its own folder and it was all labeled so if I did get asked anything I knew where to look right away. So this is what the Journey looked like up until my Interview:

USCIS Journey
29.01.2010 I-130 sent!! Let the journey begin
05.02.2010 NOA1 received
08.02.2010 Received NOA1 Hardcopy
05.03.2010 Visiting my husband for 2 weeks <3
20.03.2010 Arrived back in Germany :(
24.03.2010 NOA2 Approved (received email)

I-130 was approved within 47days

NVC Journey
30.03.2010 NVC received - Case number assigned
01.04.2010 Gave NVC email addys
05.04.2010 Received NOA2 Hard copy
08.04.2010 Received AOS Bill
12.04.2010 Sent NVC E-mail
14.04.2010 Email from NVC, DS-3032 Accepted
14.04.2010 AOS Fee paid
15.04.2010 AOS Fee Shows PAID
02.05.2010 IV Fee paid
06.05.2010 Iv Fee shows PAID
10.05.2010 Sent AOS & IV packages 3:49pm
11.05.2010 NVC signed for packages 2:27pm
19.05.2010 AVR updated, NVC received  documents
26.05.2010 SIGN IN FAIL!
27.05.2010 Case Complete YAY!!!

11.06.2010 Interview date assigned 12th July 7.30am
05.07.2010 Medical in Dortmund

Here was my review I had posted on Visa Journey about my interview experience and how it went:
On July 11th I travelled to Frankfurt by train to stay in a hotel over night as my interview was at 0730 the next day. I had never been to Frankfurt before and getting there was a nightmare. It was horribly hot outside and a lot of trains were having problems with the Air conditioning. It was that bad they were giving out free water and checking up on everyone every 2 mins because we were literally soaking wet through from sweating so bad. After a LONG and HOT train ride I had to find a Tram to take me to the hotel I was staying at. Frankfurt is huge!! It was exciting trying to discover Frankfurt and riding on trams and after I had got myself to the hotel and had a quick 5mins to get fresh and then I got on a tram again to meet up with a friend Becca. I actually got in the Tram on the wrong road side and didn’t realize until I got out and had a think about which direction I came from earlier in the day while finding my hotel that I was heading further away from where I needed to be lol. Me and Becca had a stroll along the riverside and had a nice Salad and a chat and then I headed back to the Hotel as I had to be up early. I managed to get lost AGAIN and ended up walking around like a headless chicken in the dark trying to figure out where I was. I think my nerves started getting the better of me because I just felt like I was having a constant brain fart. I went to sleep at around 2300 and woke up every half hour because i was freaking out thinking i would miss my alarm clock. At 0445 i eventually gave up and just got up to get ready for the interview, my taxi was booked for 0645. I wasn’t really nervous but I couldn’t believe I had been waiting for this day for so long and today was THE day I would find out if mine and Jon’s future was looking good together or if we were screwed.
I got to the American Consulate at 0700 and there were 2 lines, one for non-immigrants and one for everyone else. There were only 3 people in front of me and loads of others in the non-immigrant lane. At about 0730 a guy came out and told us what was going to happen from there. Everyone in my lane got called up to a window outside one at a time to get a number. Mine was W601. We then had to go through a small building where security was and then into a bigger building. It was a huge hall that had I’d say about 300seats in and 30 odd office windows with every State flag hanging from the ceiling. I totally forgot that i needed more passport photos but luckily they had a machine there so I could quickly take some before it was my turn. I got called to window 23 and this mega grumpy lady was sat there Oh Boy!!..Pretty sure she wasn’t a Monday person by the look on her face lol. She made me a little nervous. I asked her if she needed anymore photos just to make sure as everyone submits millions of photos during the visa process. She looked at the ones i had sent to the NVC and said: ''You are wearing earings, thats not allowed!!'' I wasn’t sure what kind of earrings i was wearing so i gave her the photos i had just taken and she was like ''you’re wearing studs!!!! You are not allowed anything in your ears!'' So off i went to take them out and get more photos taken *sigh* I was already thinking to myself that this wasn’t looking good. There were another 2 girls retaking their photos as they had the same problem and were annoyed too. I had never read anywhere that we couldn’t wear any type of earrings including studs nor did the photographer at the photo shop say anything and those pictures cost a bomb and are meant to be professional. I took the second load of photos back to the lady and had to sit down again. I was hoping that not everyone there was in a ''beautiful'' mood like she was. After 15mins i got called up to window 19. A really friendly lady explained how the SSN worked and how long the visa would take and just asked for a permanent address for the next 12months as we were due to move in November if everything was going to go smooth so I had left it blank. She also told me when i get to the States IF I get approved that me and Jon could go to finance (he is U.S Army) and we could get some of the visa money refunded (Which ended up being Bull crap but never mind). After doing the last finishing touches to my paper work she told me i would get called to window 16 or 17 for my interview. I waited about 20mins. Some guy went behind window 17 and he looked like he was ‘’enjoying’’ his Monday morning too. I really hoped another employer would quickly go behind window 16 so i didn’t have to have my interview with him. It was weird that the whole time i wasn’t too nervous but then when i sat down again it hit me like a brick to the head. Every time they called a number up there would be like a 'ding dong' and then number .. to window .. and this happened every 30secs and every time it did my heart jumped lol. Then it was my turn..W601 to window 16!! Woop, i got some lady at window 16 and not the grumpy guy at 17! She was super friendly. She told me she wanted to take prints of my left hand..so what did miss brain fart Shareen do.. held up her right hand *oops*. All she asked me was how long me and Jon had been married, how we met and how long we had known each other for to see if she could catch me out lying or not. That was it! She then said ''If you have no other questions i have good news for you your finished here! Your visa has been approved!''

Within 10mins of my interview i was done! i couldn’t believe it..All the stories I had heard about how scary the interview is and how they treat you but I was done in 10mins. All that hard work I had put into my interview packaged and she wanted to see nothing lol. It was finally over and I was moving to America to be with my gorgeous husband and our puppy! I was over the moon.

They say you cant help who you fall in Love with and i fell in love my husband who happen to be American Soldier stationed in Germany but because of his job he had to go back to America and we were in a Long Distance Relationship for 19months and got to see each other for 5 weeks in that whole time. We spent roughly 2000$ on the visa process. We had to prove our Love is true. I had to prove i wasnt some disease infested person. We went through a whole lot of ups and downs waiting around. And the worst part..i had to be away from my Love (I understand being an Armywife its something that i am expecting, specially with Deployment Nr.1 coming up but the fact is, i wasnt even seperated because he was away doing his job like if he was deployed. We were just sepreated because of rules which made it so much harder knowing were both just living our lives in 2 different countries when we could have started our life together already). I understand America is trying to take care of who comes in and out BUT its crazy what you have to go through if you fall in love with an American. For some people this story may not even sound bad and i know people have had it a lot harder then i did but this was some experience for me and during this whole process of waiting around being away from my husband working in enviroment that i hated and constantly being stressed about what was going to happen next i started to suffer with anxiety.

My POE (Point of entry) was 27th July 2010. It was the next chapter of my life as his wife.