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The Dreaded Yellow Letter

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The Dreaded Yellow Letter

On Friday last week my wife received the dreaded yellow letter inside an envelope marked from the USCIS. For those of you that don’t know, color coded letters are bad. Yellow, in this case, means they want more information.

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I want to make this as clear as a visualization and emotional state as is possible, so I’ll lead in here a little by giving some of the information to make you understand, even a little, as to the heart pounded we were about to have.

You see, it’s been a long time running since we started the process to get my wife here. It started in June 2009, after we met in the Philippines in person, shortly after being introduced by her Aunt, who lives here in the U.S. It all starts with paperwork. It is, after all, the United States government, and they do like their paperwork. Let’s just say, I think that with all the documentation we filed, copies we made and provided, and then copied again, and again over the last three and a half years, I feel as though I need to plant a small forest to make up for the amount of paper used in the process. Getting on with the story though, I should say that we have run into some… set backs. Delays, I’ll call them so that my blood pressure will stay relatively normal while I continue to write this article for our friend Bob. So, each delay we have had has been foreshadowed by an envelope from the USCIS, and contained within that envelope is a colored piece of paper… or more. Proceeding forward, my wife checks the mail at the mailbox, which we stop by because it is cold. She gets the mail, and I see her mouth the letters U. S. C. I. S. And then as she approaches the car, I hear her say, there is a yellow letter. Yes, the dear government doesn’t break it to you slowly, they tell you before you even open the envelope that you’re about to get bad news!! I still don’t know if this is a good thing or bad thing, as it does kind of let you know right away that it is NOT the good news that we were expecting. That of her citizenship test date.

She arrives to the car, and of course, we open it immediately. What is it that is about to ruin my day? Possibly, cause another delay in my move? WHAT NOW!? The first words seen, printed in BOLD PRINT are, “This is not a notice for a citizenship test”, or something similar. Oh, this is awesome. I didn’t think it would be, as I am starting to get used to the coded paper colors. So, what do you want now? It would seem as though they would like IRS forms for the previous three years. Why, I ask? I don’t understand why. Do you know why I don’t understand why? Because I have sent them to them two times already!!! TWICE!! Dalawa! Dos! TWO TIMES!!! So, apparently they want me to once again prove that we’re filing our paperwork together as a couple. Ok. I’m prepared for this. I know my government employees. I was one. We’re lazy. We lose stuff. We are, after all, only human. But, really? Three times is a charm I guess. So, we start to get the old tax forms together to take with us on her interview/test date, whenever that is… and there’s a problem. I can’t find one of the years. This is NOT GOOD!! Seriously, every year for the last FOUR years, but not 2010. 2009, ok. 2011, ok. 2012, ok. But nothing for 2010!!

Ok. Stress of the missing documents has caused me to postpone writing the rest of this article. My wife and I were beginning to worry that we would not have what we needed in time to get her interview testing date and would be pushed back again. But, I am writing now because we have it all ready to go!!!

This was NOT an easy task, and it kept me busy for almost 6, count them SIX hours on the phone and internet chat! I guess I should be thankful it wasn’t more time. My first call was to the IRS to get a transcript for each of those years sent to my house. I didn’t know if that would work or not, but I was praying they would. My next step was to call the USCIS to ask them if the tax transcripts would be sufficient as they said they needed what is called a FORM 1722. I didn’t know what it was, and apparently nobody on the internet did either. So, my wife and I were in panic mode, as her test date is so soon now. So, I FINALLY got someone to answer the hotline number, and they sounded as if they were simply reading from queue cards. Must have been hired by Obama himself. After the conversation with her was over, she asked if I still had any questions. Well, yes I did, since she didn’t answer the question I asked her. SERIOUSLY!! She didn’t say a yes or a no. She told me I should contact the IRS for copies of my taxes which take 2-3 months to get. Well, that obviously wasn’t going to work!

My next step? Get online at TurboTax and see if I could get access to my taxes from 2010, as that is where I did them that year. I could see the paper trail showing my 2010 taxes listed, but was unable to actually view or print them. Of course, for a small fee, they would give me access. So, of course, I paid the fee, which is to simply buy a version of their software again and voila I would have access. Only, that didn’t happen. So, the next day I called customer service and explained to them what I wanted to do. I needed a copy of my 2010 taxes I filed with them, and informed them I bought the latest version of my software which would allow me to go back to any they had on file. After 2.5 hours of trying, I had it. Well, at least according to them. What they gave me, was the 2010 version of their software to do my taxes for 2010. Obviously, not what I wanted.

So, I called them again and another 1.5 hours later, I had access to my files, printed them, and made another digital copy on my computer for future reference. Hopefully this file doesn’t become corrupt. I’ll make backups of my backups!

So, now we have all of the paperwork we need. We have made copied for the USCIS to keep and we’re ready to go. We’ve been studying the questions, and then some other things my wife thinks she may be asked, and she is ready for this!!

She has started a countdown, because as I write this, her test is one week from today!!

This has been a long journey, and one we’ve been trying to get through quicker than most people might want or need, but we’re in a hurry to get to the PI. We have family to see, and I’ve got some friendships to forge. Not to mention, it just snowed here in the Detroit area and we got about 8” on top of what was already sitting around, and we have more snow storms expected this weekend. I’m so sick of snow and this cold weather, a change of pace and temperature is on my TO DO list!!

Until next time, paalam, ingat, and God bless!

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Scott Fortune

At the time of this writing, I am 42 years old. I’ve been married to my Filipina wife since December 2009. She is from the Province of Pangasinan, Philippines. I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area in Michigan. I’ve worked in many fields throughout my short career, mostly in Architecture, computers, and law enforcement. I’m medically retired from the U.S. Government due to a back injury and look forward to our move to the Philippines. My interests here were yard work, guns, and hanging out with friends. But because of my back injury, I’ve had to shorten what I can do to just hanging out with friends. Not a bad thing when you’re retired, right!? Also, I’m sure I’ll find some new interests when I get to the RP. We don’t yet know where we will be moving to exactly, but I expect it to be on the main island of Luzon. I look forward to moving there, getting healthier, and experiencing island life.

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DaveW
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DaveW

Whenever I deal with the USCIS, as we currently are, my first thought is, “And they say the Philippines govt. is inefficient!”

But in the end it always works out and you will have what you need, Scott.

Good luck!

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

Dave, as far as I am concerned the Philippines government has been great in comparison. Everything my wife needed to get her on the Philippines side was FAST. Any time I’ve contacted the Philippines consulate, my response was fast as well. I can’t even get a U.S. Government employee to give me a straight answer… IF, you can get one on the phone!

You’re right… it will work out though!! Thanks for responding! 🙂

Axel
Guest

It’s been a long time since you’ve been writing for the blog, but…better late than never, I can see why. You have enough to think at with that citizenship. It seems like that international marriages are having problems in far most countries, as if we try to cheat the system for all values/money. Finding love in another country gives a lot of problems, almost no matter what your origin is. Just because we marry someone from another country, it doesn’t make us criminal, but somehow it looks like it. “Hey…you must be up to something”… Ok security is important now,… Read more »

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

Axel, Thanks for the response. Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve written. It’s been a no news type situation on our end. But things are changing, and they seem to be changing fast!! It’s been a hurry up and wait game for us, and now it’s all happening, and I’ve either been unprepared, or it snuck up on me. We’re closing in on a finalization date now. Thank God. It’s been difficult for me because of the Executive branch decisions to give illegal immigrants citizenship now. Seems like they should give me a refund on the thousands I’ve paid… Read more »

Jeff R.
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Jeff R.

Scott, I know this information is too late for you now but it may be of use to others reading this. On the USCIS web page where you download the N-400 and N-400 instructions there is another document titled “Documentation Checklist, Current Fees, Naturalization Eligibility Worksheet”. This document clearly outlines the specifics about required documentation to support the case. The following statements are listed: Documents referring to you and your spouse: a. Tax returns, bank accounts, leases, mortgages, or birth certificates of children; or b. Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-certified copies of the income tax forms that you both filed for… Read more »

Cordillera Cowboy
Guest

Oh Jeff… You’ve cut to the chase. FOLLOW THE MONEY!

Take care,
Pete

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

Jeff,

I’m glad you posted that as I’m sure it will come in handy for others going through the process. I will add one thing though… MAKE COPIES!! LOTS OF COPIES!! I have already provided all of this before. I don’t know if they lose it, or if they are just trying to discourage people, but they have all of this information already. 🙂 Crazy. It’s the only word I can think of that is family oriented that I can say about this process. 🙂

Thanks again Jeff.

Jim Sweeney
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Jim Sweeney

As a lawyer in LA with some clients in Asia, including the PI, I understand the maddening frustration of trying to deal with the CIS or any of the lettered agencies. The solution is to avoid all; claim to be Hispanic and Homeland Security will bow low before you, pay your and your kid’s school, health and food bills for starters whilst billionaires swear the country will go to the dumpster unless you are granted instant legalization and eventual citizenship. Test to be a citizen? Never. No wait times; no lines. The politicians are doing it all for you –… Read more »

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

Jim,

My thoughts exactly. I don’t understand it, other than to think that because of the huge influx of Hispanics coming over the border, the administration feels they can get their vote if they make them citizens. Kind of smart, actually, but it does disgust me.

bigp
Guest
bigp

I’m with Jim, probably be quicker to leave the country, slip back in over the southern border and apply for benefits. On the bright side one of these days you can kick back with a case of SMBs and discuss what a horrible time you had getting through the paper work nightmare.

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

AMEN!! I’m looking forward to looking back on this. It won’t be a happy look back, but I’ll be happy it’s done and over with!!

I am definitely looking forward to that! And looking forward to some beach time. 🙂

Thanks for replying Loren.

Bill S.
Guest
Bill S.

I too, share in your frustration Scott, in dealing with USCIS. I figure it should be good training though in my future dealings with PI govt. offices.

Best of luck on your wife’s upcoming citizenship test!

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

I’m hoping to avoid the PI offices as much as possible. I’m planning on going to Chicago to the Philippines consulate in order to get my immigration visa in advance, and while we’re there we’ll check out the Filipino shops, and probably open a bank account with PNB(Philippine National Bank) to cover some expenses when we first arrive and to ease money transfers, etc. At least, I hope that we will be able to make it easier by going there. 🙂 I’ve checked into it and I hope it will ease some pain when we fly into Manila. Thanks for… Read more »

PapaDuck
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PapaDuck

Scott, Have you completed your physical and application for your immigrant visa? It took less than a week for the Consulate to complete the Visa. It costs $150.00US. When its complete they will give you a sealed envelope with paperwork and your passport with a 1 year temporary visa in it. You have to give the sealed envelope to immigration at NAIA. They will open it. Then you have go to the Quarantine Dept and they will stamp your passport and than you will have to take the paperwork to the BI. Consulate was very helpful and easy to work… Read more »

Jamie
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Jamie

I find the comments made about Hispanics (by Jim Sweeney and BigP) on this thread to be repulsive and racist. I normally ignore the ignorance of many of y’all, because I believe that deep down you are basically good people. Just wanted to let you know that I find these comments personally offensive.

MindanaoBob
Guest

Hi Jamie – I don’t think their comments were anti-Hispanic, rather anti-US Government. That’s how I took it anyway.

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

Jamie, I agree with Bob. I don’t have anything against Hispanics. It’s the way that our government is handling the situation of citizenship where “we” have an issue. We’ve gone through the process which costs a lot of money to bring our life partners here. We’ve waited long lines. And gone through a lot for them to become citizens. But the government simply gives away a lot of things to people that have simply snuck into the states. We feel like we’ve gotten the short end of the stick on that area. I’m all for immigration, just doing it the… Read more »

joop
Guest

Scott, if you want to live in the Philippines anyway, why bother with all trhat paperwork?

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

Joop, I’m still a young guy. When I met my wife I didn’t intend on moving to the Philippines until I was somewhere between 50 and 57, when I would have been forced to retire due to the law requiring Federal Law Enforcement officers to retire at age 57. However, since I was injured, I was forced to retire early. I wasn’t happy at first, because I wanted to have more time to save money, and retire at MY time. However, God works in mysterious ways sometimes, and I was forced out. Since my injuries cause me sever back pain… Read more »

gerald glatt
Guest

Also will allow spouse your SS if hers is less when she is 62. Fe has a bit of trouble on tests in English, we are trying later this year, cross fingers.

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

My wife has not worked, so she isn’t eligible for SS until I pass away and until she is at least 70 years old. So, she needs me alive. LOL!! She would be eligible for my pension however.

I hope this helps.

Good luck on the test!!

John Reyes
Guest

Scott, you may want to double check with the Social Security Office about your wife not being eligible for Social Security benefits because she never worked. I could be wrong, but as far as I know, spouses who never contributed to Social Security can collect Social Security benefits when they become eligible to file for benefits even if their spouses are still alive based on their spouses’ record.

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

John,

I will have to do that!! I didn’t know that was possible. Also, things might change more because she will be a U.S. citizen this week, and I have no idea how it will all work after that occurs.

Thanks for the information again!! I’ll be checking. 🙂

Miss August
Guest
Miss August

If you have not worked or do not have enough Social Security credits and you are married, you may be eligible for Social Security benefits as a result of your spouse’s work. You and your children (younger than age 18 or younger than age 19 if still in secondary school or disabled before age 22) have Social Security protection through your spouse’s work. When your spouse retires, or if your spouse becomes disabled, you could be eligible for benefits as early as age 62. If you are caring for your child who is younger than age 16 or disabled and… Read more »

Mike
Guest
Mike

I wonder if you have just had long run of bad luck? I went through the same procedures for my wife to come to the USA on a fiance visa, get married in the US, apply for SSAN, apply for citizenship, then apply for dual citizenship. It all happened smoothly and in the time frame(s) we expected. I retired in October last year, and we are now living happily in the Philippines. Best of luck going forward.

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

As an update, all the paperwork they wanted, they didn’t even ask to see when she got there!!!! They were quizzing her, almost in an interrogation form, on whether or not we were actually a married couple. I said it before, but I CANNOT stress enough having a LOT of documentation with both people’s names on it. Bills, ownership of items, etc. bank statements too. They asked her why her name was NOT on my bank statement. And they did so repeatedly!!!! She felt hounded!! Very odd. She passed with flying colors by the way!! They said they had all… Read more »

wayne
Guest
wayne

Like Mike my wifes paperwork went threw pretty easy,we always gave them more than they asked for and no real problems.Was a breezy compared to any paper work I ever did in the Philippines. We have no children and I made sure I had her name on bills,bank acct,saved letters sent to her.Maybe scott you just ended up with a bad interviewer,have heard this has happened.

Scott Fortune
Guest
Scott Fortune

Wayne, That is where I messed up. I already had everything in my name, and didn’t see any point in switching it to both of our names. Laziness, egotistical, or whatever, I never updated anything. So, it was a problem for me. Which is why I was hoping anyone reading my articles could avoid the same mistakes. I’m glad your paperwork went through easily!! I do think she had a bad interviewer for her exam though. She really felt like she had been put through the ringer when she was done. She passed everything of course, but she felt like… Read more »

Jay
Guest
Jay

Hi Scott,

CONGRATULATIOS to you and your wife!!!

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