getting a US greencard – step 2

yesterday, bill and i completed step 2 of getting his u.s. greencard: biometric data. while this sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, it is actually quite simple.

fingerprinting and a photo.

we had received a letter about 2 weeks ago informing bill that he had to appear at the local USCIS (u.s. customs and immigration services) office in albuquerque to give his biometric data, and from what we read online, we knew that would involve fingerprinting. the tough part was going to be that the USCIS office in albuquerque is located in the south valley (they say that most offices are located in areas of “greatest need”, so you can be assured that they are almost always in the ghetto). since we are carless (read more about that here), we had to figure some way of getting from our little apartment near the university to the south valley at 8 am.

public transport in the ‘burque is crap, so we had to book a taxi to take us, which was fine in the end. i was worried it would cost like $40, but in the end it was only $13.60 and the driver got us there in about 15 minutes, which meant that we were there 15 minutes before the doors opened at 8. so, we stood around in the freezing cold and griped about the taxi driver, who didn’t have change (wtf!) and made guesses about which people in the nearby cars were immigrants getting their biometric data taken.

finally, we were let in to the office, which looked quite a bit like a DMV with a lot of open space and cheesy pictures of “DIVERSITY” hanging on the walls, which were painted blue. four rows of cheap plastic chairs were set up in the middle of the room, and as we entered, a very very old marine was keeping guard at an entrance table. he asked us to sign in and gave bill a form to fill out and asked me to put our bags in our car. i told him we had no car, so he agreed to let us leave our bags in the corner.

after filling out a short form with basic info (which, in fairness, we’ve already filled out and submitted about 10 times to date), bill was called to “the back” where i could barely see the top of his head over the small divider from my perch on one of the cheap chairs. all told, he was back there for about 7 minutes, during which time he had to give a 10 digital fingerprints and have his photo taken. comically, they also asked him to fill out a comment card on his experiences.

while i waited, i had a look at some of the other folks in the waiting room. there was the stereotypical middle aged mexican/south american couple who had a spanish translator with them, and they were laboriously going through some type of form. in front of them, a platinum blonde in leather boots was filling out another form (i guessed she was either german or scandinavian), and to my right, a couple with a baby wrapped in a large navajo blanket were murmuring together in a language i didn’t understand.

15 minutes later, we were out the door and waiting for the 53 bus to bring us downtown where we worked for the rest of the day. given that our wait for the bus was 3x the amount of time we were in the USCIS office, i’d say the experience was pretty hassle-free. if we’d had a car, it would’ve been almost unnoticable.

come back soon for another episode of “getting a US greencard”, when i will hopefully be recounting how bill’s work permit arrived!

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