We have finally started traveling! This has been a mixed bag so far. It is good to finally be on the road, but we had to start off attempting to deal with Chris’s on going social security issue. We had to go to the USCIS office in Bloomington, our “local” office in reference to Onalaska despite being a three hour drive.
It did *not* go well. We need some serious advice. This is the situation:
We attempted on three occasions at two different offices to get Chris a social security number so he can work and pay taxes and all those fun things everyone loves doing. At our last attempt to get this number, the woman said something was up with the alien number on Chris’s temporary green card. The system couldn’t find it. As a result, we made an appointment that took two weeks to get with USCIS. We went and spoke to someone who knew very very little, other than she could tell us she also could not find the number in the system. She said it hadn’t been activated. The activation is dependent on a payment of 165 USD. She said maybe he didn’t pay or it didn’t go through for some reason, even though obviously, he absolutely did pay it back in February when we found out about it. He attempted to show proof of payment, and she said he should have had something else and then proceeded to get fixated on the fact that we paid with a UK credit card, and therefore, that the amount was in pounds rather than dollars and firmly believed a few pennies must have got lost in the conversion so it got rejected by USCIS, even though that is just not how international banking works. As a result of this fixation, we could not get any more info out of her and she actually recommended that Chris make another account with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services even though, to us at least, it sounded like that could verge on fraud and lead to a whole other series of problems. She recommended that we pay again through this second account.
After this highly frustrating encounter, we attempted to ring the government, which you just can’t bloody do. In order to speak to a human, we would have needed to have had a receipt ID that the phone system liked, and we failed to have one that satisfied it. We resorted to their preferred mode of communication: e-mailing a form.
The next day after a very rough night’s sleep, we did get an answer. We have been moved on from the Minnesota office to the TEXAS office. Yes, Texas, that giant state absolutely nowhere near here. Apparently takes about 18-20 hours to drive from Minnesota to Texas, just to the top of Texas.
Fortunately, we do want to travel. This is actually weirdly freeing, not in the absolute sense, but the woman from the Minnesota office was going on about Chris needing to come back to get his biometrics taken for his green card, even though the man at the airport said he would just be sent one and mentioned nothing of the sort. It looks like either way, Minnesota has been taken out of the equation so we won’t have to go back unless we want to rather than being forced to from the middle of who knows where, while we will probably make it to Texas eventually anyway, so maybe we can make it work if we actually have to physically see people from the Texas office.
We had an acceptable first night despite stress. We discovered at least some small hope for humanity in the reasonble rectifying of a mistake. In Chris’s tiredness and general frustration, he booked a non-refundable room at the Days Inn, Mankato, MN for two weeks from the day we wanted to stay. Fortunately, despite being non-refundable, a combination of ringing up within 30 minutes of the mistake and with the kind consent of Taylor, the manager of the hotel, we were able to cancel it and make a new booking for the day we actually wanted to stay without losing any money and with minimal stress. The bed was even comfortable once we got into the room.
If anyone has any advice for us on this horrible immigration problem, please let us know. Even though we are traveling, until we resolve this, Chris cannot work and it’s possible he can’t leave the country. We couldn’t get a straight answer on that, so if anyone has any experience or real information on this, please let us know.
If you’d rather watch the video explaining this plus some nice sights from Southern Minnesota, do check out the video below: