Sometimes Life Throws A Monkey Wrench Into Your plans, But This Time…

For a very long time we weren’t sure if we were going to leave in 2011 at all.

We’ve mentioned April as our starting date, but there was this one little thing that had prevented us from being truly committed to that date. That was partly why we haven’t even bought our tickets yet.

Jill’s Immigration Status Was In Limbo

I got my permanent resident card 2 years ago. But the name ‘permanent’ is misleading since it was a conditional permanent resident that expired 2 months ago.

Without a valid permanent resident card, I won’t be able to work or come back to the states. As required by the US immigration, I applied to remove my conditional status 2 years after our marriage date (so that was roughly in October 2010). The removal process of the ‘conditional’ status is a mysterious one. Sometimes they require another round of interview. Sometimes, they simply say ‘Congratulations, here’s your permanent card.’

But when that interview is going to be (or even if there’s going to be one) nobody knows. They usually send a notification letter and basically tell you, ‘Be here at this time and this place.’

On UCSICS site it says that the processing time for California center is 6 months, and that’s why we tentatively decided on leaving in April 2011 (6 months after October). However, we’ve been warned it could take up to a year for the process.

But you’ll never really know how long it would actually take.

What if I haven’t gotten my permanent green card by April 2011?

What if they decide to call us back for another round of interview while we’re on the other side of the world?

What if they demand us to send further documentations while we’re away on our travels?

Maybe we should wait until I got my permanent resident card?

The time in between my old card’s expiration date and until I get the new one leaves my legal status in somewhat of a limbo stage. I can travel during that time, but I’d be in the beck and call of the immigration office who can decide to call us for our interview at anytime. Definitely not an ideal time to take an extended trip.

We were ready to leave in April 2011 anyway and resigned to the fact that we might have to travel back to the US from wherever we happen to be for the interview. Missing this interview means my legal status would in a HUGE mess (and that’s an understatement) and it’d be a major pain to sort out. Needless to say, I’d do whatever it takes to make that interview happen.

However, going this route will mean that our travel would be overshadowed by this fear of missing the notification letter and the interruption the travel back to the US will bring.

But we were going to do it anyway.


Life has been known to throw a monkey-wrench even into the best-laid plans. But every now and then, it throws a bucketful of grease.

While sorting through our mail after we got back from Indonesia, we saw an official looking letter from the USCIS.

And you guessed it!

*big grinz*

Welcome Letter, still nice to see even though I'd lived here for 10 years.

To say that a big burden has been liften from my chest is an understatement.

While being an international student here in the US, I was used to carrying around a thick manila folder as proof of my legality to enter the US again.

But now, all I need is this little card.

And more importantly, there’s nothing stopping us from leaving on our RTW trip as planned.

I’m sooo taking this as a good sign. A sign that whatever deity is watching us from the big astral plain (the USCIS?) is giving our plan her blessing.

Thank you USCIS for taking only 4 months to process this (I’m being truly sincere here), and managing to send this card one day before Christmas. It’s the best New Year present!

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18 Replies to “Sometimes Life Throws A Monkey Wrench Into Your plans, But This Time…”

    1. Yep. I was so relieved I could've hugged an USCIS officer right there and then (which I'm sure wouldn't amuse him/her a bit. I know, I've met plenty of them)

  1. Yay! Congrats! I'm glad you got the card! The hubby and I are still on track to leave for our RTW trip in April 2011 too. In fact, we just bought our first tickets to Australia yesterday. It was exciting and a little nerve wracking at the same time since it meant we're committed now… it'll be exciting to hear when you two purchase your tickets!

    1. Yay on your tickets to OZ! We just bought our tickets too — to Colombia for April. I guess we'll be heading out at the same time, but to opposite directions.

  2. am really glad you got your PR card, i had a friend wait for hers and it was nerve wracking. she told me the wait is unbearable. at least now you are an American citizen and can go there any time you want

  3. OMG…that is the best news ever…and gave me shivers!! Congratulations! I can't imagine planning our trip and having something like this hanging over our heads…you must feel so free!! Woot woot!! Cheers!

  4. I'm a US citizen so I know nothing of all this silly nonsense the US does to immigrants. The weird thing? I hear all the time, "an immigrant can marry a US citizen and can stay permanently"

    Reading this post really thwarts my thinking, its not that simple is it? Doesn't appear to be, personally I disagree with the rules but that is that. I am sure other countries have similar rules to immigrants marrying a citizen of their country likewise.

    It would not matter to me who I married in country or not, but I'd hate to for my spouse to not be allowed to return, I think that would be a bit INSANE? I don't know what is wrong with the collective minds; they are almost borgs!

    Nonetheless, CONGRATS and welcome (again perhaps) and have fun in whatever you do 🙂 keep writing.

    1. It's a loooong (and bloody expensive) process to be a citizen through marriage. However, it has taught me that patience is a virtue (and paperwork management, and that you never want to mess with an immigration personnel, ever — they have all the power to make your life miserable).

  5. Hello, New here to your site coming from roundwego. It's really late here in Romania and I'll try to re-read and spend more time tomorrow, but
    congratulations for the resident card but read the information carefully: You cannot leave for more than a year and if you leave for more than 6 months they can revoke your resident card. Remember who you're dealing with. You might come back after 7month and find out at the airport that some guy doesn't let you in. Or you can just worry about it during your trip and have no problem when you get back.
    So you need to start to prepare to apply asap for a uscis reentry permit some form I-131. The reentry permit is good for 2 years, after you get it of course

    1. Thanks for coming by Mihai. Yeah, we're applying for form I-131 so hopefully that should cover us. If not, maybe I can convince Jack to take up Indonesian permanent residency :p ? Did you guys have to do the form I-131 too?

  6. Congratulations! That must be a big relief. We endured the same process years ago. My only question is with a permanent resident status how long can you be away from the US at any one time? Is there a limit? We are wondering if my wife's status would be in jeopardy living for a year plus outside of the US. I was going to call INS but maybe you know?

    1. Two things I know: it might disrupt the continual residency required for citizenship (I'm not too worried about this because I'm not planning to be a citizen, yet). Two, for stay longer than a year, they recommend (but not require) that you apply for a re-entry permit. Generally, they want to know about your intent of keeping the residency and will look at things such as US income tax filing, having US bank accounts, etc. You'd think that being married to a US citizen would be enough, but I'm not sure. Do let me know if you hear back from USCIS.

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