Since a lot of you out there are expats in mixed-nationality relationships, I thought I would post something I found out about recently that was extremely shocking - yet it has received surprisingly little publicity:
As of yesterday, August 15, 2011, the US Embassies in France can no longer issue immigrant visas for US employment, fiancé visas or family visas. Everything must now be processed through the US Citizen and Immigration Services in Chicago! Meaning one office is going to process immigrant visas for most of the countries in the world. How insane is that?!
Here are the new instructions according to the American Embassy website:
Filing Instructions beginning August 15, 2011:
Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners residing overseas who wish to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, may do so as follows:
- If the petitioner resides in a country in which USCIS has a public counter presence, the Form I-130 may be filed directly with the USCIS field office (see instructions below) or through the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the below addresses.
- If the petitioner resides in a country where USCIS does not have a public counter presence, the Form I-130 must be filed with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the addresses below, unless the petitioner requests and is granted an exception based on one of the criteria described below:
USCIS Chicago Lockbox addresses for regular mail deliveries:
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107
USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and courier deliveries:
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
For additional information about how to file a Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago lockbox, please see the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov or contact USCIS by phone at 1-800-375-5283.
First of all, lockbox?? WTF? Couldn't they have come up with a more professional sounding word than that?
Secondly, I looked at the USCIS website, and apparently there are still some embassies in Europe who are allowed to issue these types of visas: Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy and the UK. So if you're in one of those countries, you're fine - but everyone else has to go through the US, unless you have a situation that "merits exception", in which case you can request one of the above countries to review your application (in France's case, it'd be Italy).
As a side note, I also came across this on the website regarding student visas: According to the US immigration law, foreign students are not allowed to attend public secondary school in F-1 student status unless they reimburse the school authority for an amount equal to the school's per capita cost of education.
If I'm reading that right, does that mean foreign students now have to pay full tuition? There are so many great exchange programs out there where schools just "swap" students and each pays their normal home country tuition, but the above makes it seems like this would be no longer possible?
I don't know...It just makes me angry that 1) our consular services have to suffer because of the budget crisis and 2) that we are making it harder & harder for qualified students & workers to come to our country. All of that talent is going elsewhere in the world, where it's easier to get in and receive funding. A lot of those people are researchers and scientists, and now all that knowledge is being shared with other countries. It's like people don't realize the long-term impact this insular thinking will have on the US and our prosperity...Not to mention that if C & I ever decide to go back to the US, it is going to be one big pain in the heinie!