That was unexpected. But let me start at the beginning.
It was a long night for us. Not that we were terribly excited or
nervous….nope, for a change, we weren’t, and after all, it’s not like
we didn’t want to go to the Consulate. Right? So…after the other
guests in the hotel decided, finally, to SHUT THE HECK UP…sheesh, who
would have thought that an old building like that, brick and what not,
would be…let’s just say I was able to hear anything and everything
the others did. And I mean everything. Nothing interesting unless you
count excessive showering and what not as interesting. Yes, I heard
flushing as well, I mean…how couldn’t I???
So anyway, sometime
around six in the morning, the night was over. For a change, I didn’t
need an obnoxious alarm clock to tell me, and I woke even without being
reminded by the cats that it is 5:30 in the morning and that, yes, dear
human, we are about to starve,honestly, cross my claws, hope to die.
Maybe it was the lack of meowing and running around that woke me up.
Anyhow, we both decided on foregoing the shower thing due to the icky
factor and just was. A mistake, as would turn out later that day.
After breakfast, I paid the bill and we headed off to
the Consulate. Tomtom took good care of us, lead us well and we arrived
with time to spare only to see…a long queue. It did start to rain,
naturally…and the queue started OUTSIDE of the roofed area. But, hey,
old boyscout that I am (yes, I got kicked out after two weeks. So?), we
packed a squad supply of umbrellas in the back of our SUV, so we picked
the golf umbrella (good for two people at the same time), grabbed our
documents and headed over.
‘lo and behold though, there were
signs (Signs! I tell you, good sir, there were signs!). There actually
were provisions for two queues. The left one, the LONG one, read
‘non-immigrant visa’. Let’s just say there were more than 100 people
there at 7:30 in the morning…and then there was the queue for ‘all
other services’ with about 7 people ahead of us. Good thing the
Greencard is an immigrant visa. I managed in time to not smirk…and we
stood in line. Under the roof. No umbrella needed. Good times.
was the number we got and thus we entered into a huge hall, past a
thorough security check…in an entrance building. Once they checked us
out, made sure that we are safe and kept our umbrella for us (a good
thing as it turned out), they instruced us to follow the brick road to
the main building. We really ought to send them a bucket of yellow
paint, Mel and I just looked at each other and chuckled, both starting
to whistle ‘Follow the yellow brick road’. And off to the wizard we
Cue First Counter
Here we had to hand in our
passports, the invitation to the interview and our biometric photos.
Much to my surprise, the lady behind the counter was a German. Hahumm.
At least we thought we could hand in our photos, as the lady informed
us that, no, the bloody expensive pictures the photographer shot would
not suffice. We were wearing glasses on the picture, which would be
against regulations. But over yonder we’d find a photo booth and they’d
be rather quick. And expensive. Six euros for a stack of four. We both
had a bad hair day kinda-ish. It was presentable, mind you, but not
picture-presentable. Nor was there a lot of make-up to be found in the
face of the wife. I did shave in the morning, but the lack of sleep
showed on both of our faces. Nevertheless though, we took the pictures,
they looked as expected totally out of proportion to the five by five
regulations, but, hey, they accepted them pictures and if they ever
should have us on a reward poster, I doubt even our mothers would
recognize us. Maybe they had to pay the next rate for the spanking new
booths and were short on users. After that ordeal, we were instructed
to go to
Rather simple. 750 Dollars per
person in cash or credit card. We opted for credit card, gotta love the
low dollar as our credit cards don’t go for the bank exchange rate but
for the actual official conversion rate at that particular date. It’s
kinda horrible how fast those 1500 Dollars get processed though.
Return to First Counter
showed the receipt and got instructed to head over to the back part
where there’d be tables to make stacks of our documents in a certain
order. Also to sign a waiver that if we’d filled out the forms in any
way wrongly or in general would not fulfill the requirements, too bad,
the money’d be gone, we’d get no visa and the funds are non-refundable,
nyah nyah. *gulp*
Approach the Second Counter
the stacking was done, we waited our turn. Trust me, those minutes can
turn into ages for some reason. No clue why, but the sweep hand took
its own sweet time. Little git. Finally our number was called. Another
German lady behind the counter. Weird, but…well. Anyhow…our
mood…and her mood,quickly went down-hill. She did notice thatI just
had my 35th birthday and offered her belated best wishes, that was
about the only nicety we received though. To put it politely, the whole
exchange was very professional, distant and without emotion. First of
all, she had issues with my school stuff. What you need is 12 years of
school, period. If you don’t have those, you need to have worked in a
job that necessitates training for a period of no less than two years
sometime during the last five years. I went to grade 13 in Germany. I
got a visa to the US in ’98 to attend James Madison. I went to College.
She got hung up on the fact that I didn’t have a diploma for German
middle school or the certificate for the technical college which I both
claimed to have the qualifications for (if you attend that 10 year
program, you then go to vocational school for your job training over
here. Basically if you attend ‘Gymnasium’, the school that you have to
go to during the 13 year program to obtain your certificate to attend
University afterwards, you automatically get the qualification you’d
get in middle school but you don’t get an extra certificate. Nor do you
get one if you drop out during your 13th year, as this gives you, after
successfully passing the 12th grade, a certificate enabling you to
attend our special 4 year colleges in Germany. It’s much like
grandfathering. If you do this, you by default have this and that).
Unfortunately, that woman was from a different state than I was when I
went to school, so she apparently wasn’t familiar with that system.
Gotta love federal independence on the education sector. Every state a
different set of regulations. Let’s just say she wasn’t convinced and
gave me a hard time. What she wasn’t interested in though was in all of
my college stuff and my work certificates and what not. That I
qualified with my three years of network engineer status though for the
two years during the last five years period, she didn’t even bother
going there, she was like a terrier, clenching her jaws around the
school diplomas. Great. Then she turned on Melanie. She made the
mistake of actually daring to hand in a copy of the family registry en
lieu of her birth certificate. ‘But it doesn’t say Birth Certificate on
top!’ End of the song: we’d have to obtain one and send it ASAP to
them. This would delay our application until it arrived. We sighed as
we have our flights booked for March 24th, she went ballistic. How
ignorant of us, they’d explicitly state in their brochures for people
not to make plans to immigrate before the interview and the positive
outcome of it, yadda yadda yadda. It took us a while to get her
attention to the fact that it’d be a three week vacation we had planned
well in advance of their impromptu scheduling of the interview, as in
we booked the flights quite a long while before they contacted us.
Well, that’d be something she’d have no influence on, we could ask for
our passports back and could hand them back in after our vacation, but
this as well would postpone the final processing of our application and
there’d be a cut-off date in September, after this our application
would be null and void…but we should simply talk to the consule next,
take a seat over there.
At this point we were actually
considering to just call it a day, take a vacation in the US and forget
about the Greencard. It wasn’t very easy emotionally, our high spirits
were completely gone and basically…we were fed up while Mel was close
to tears. Great day.
The Wizard, a.k.a. The Consul
when the Consul called up our number, we went there with rather mixed
feelings. Fully expecting to be told that it’d take a long time for us
to receive our passports back if successful or just hear the ka’tching
of ‘thanks for your fees, but you won’t get the greencards’, we were
rather down. We opened the conversation with asking the man about what
all he’d need from us now, how long it’d take to process the
application further upon receiving whatever’d still be handed in and if
there’d be any chance at all that if we’d fax the stuff in or fed-ex
the documents next day that we’d make the flight in time. The guy, a
friendly American for a change by the way, looked over our documents.
Why, what would we like to send in, he’d have everything he’d need.
When we pointed out the lack of birth certificates of Melanie’s, eh
shrugged his shoulders, pointed to the copy of the family registry and
informed us that this’d be all he’d need, all the necessary data’d be
here, and no, he wouldn’t need anything else for further processing. As
to our close schedule, he’d simply start processing the whole stuff
today and’d issue the visas first thing next week, as the system’d need
24 hrs to update. At that moment, we were speechless. Mostly. We
checked twice with him to make sure we understood him correctly. Yes he
would issue the visas straight away, we’d be fine. The only thing
stopping us could be the German Postal Services now. With a smile, he
wished us a great week-end and a fun vacation. Let’s just say we were
dazed when we left the building.
Back to Kansas
Mel had a small break-down, she was sobbing on my shoulder, all the
emotional strain went out of her and she just let go. I felt totally
exhausted, all my energy was gone, so we just got into the car and told
our Tomtom to lead the way home. Basically, neither of us wasn’t really
sure if the Consul just wanted to get rid of us, telling us what he’d
think we’d like to hear for us not to cause a scene or if we’d really
‘won’. It felt all so unreal, after the treatment at the second
counter, we were convinced we’d not be able to go to the US in time nor
actually activating our Greencard during the trip, let alone being
issued a Greencard. Confused, I called the agency taking care of us
winners, basically they congratulated us, telling us that if our
application’d have been denied, they would have handed us our passports
straight back. Still, we weren’t in the mindset to be overjoyed, it was
like waking up out of a bad dream, halfway between being fully awake
and lightly asleep, everything felt so unreal, like it wouldn’t be
happening to us.
We’re reluctant to be happy, so basically we’ll
be fretting until the envelope arrives with our passports. As the
mailing is registered and they send it to our home address, we will
arrive at home, find a notification, worry the whole night and then get
to go to the postal office first thing in the morning to find out.
This is worse than waiting for SAT results and mailings from the Universities with their letters of acceptance…
not what we’d have expected everything to be like. Somehow, we do feel
cheated out of a memorable…wait, happily memorable experience. Time
will tell if it will get better in hindsight.