The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) began in 1891 under the Department of the Treasury. Only a few short years later (1895) it moved in to the Bureau of Immigration; then in 1903 the Department of Labor; 1906 Naturalization Service…and the changes and confusion did not stop there.
They would change names and departments another four times prior to being called the Immigration Naturalization Service or INS in 1940.
World changes in 2001 created a new Service. In 2003 three departments were created under the Department of Homeland Security; USCIS was one of those three.
Prior to 2013, I had never had an overwhelming need to understand the inner workings of the department. I, of course, had personal views of immigration but never had to directly deal with immigration services.
During the courtship of my wife (Yes, it was a courtship. Dad’s teach your sons!) I did everything I could to learn about immigration from the USCIS website. I might as well have been learning Hebrew. This is anything but a user friendly site for Americans… much less for those who have not grown up in the US.
My wife has spent more than 200 hours in preparing documentation for a single 45 minute interview. But it gets better. The US History and Civics test is a requirement for the infamous Green Card and Citizenship authorization. Funny thing is, immigrants know more about US History and Civics than our school kids, college graduates, and professors in most universities. Don’t believe me? You take the test!!!
Where were you when you learned: the 18, 19, and 23 Amendment, how many seats are in the House? The Senate? How long terms are… and the big one; What are the THREE Branches of Government and what are their functions?
(I’ll pause for dramatic effect for that last question)
I have died at least four times while helping my wife fill out forms and read complex instructions on what to fill out and what not to fill out. There is nothing positive to say to the USCIS folks in the arena of forms nor the volume of information collected. My wife, though, is and should produce the scores of documents required. Albeit, it’s killing me!
Far too much information is collected from the US Citizen sponsor. “Proof of my Citizenship,” Really? No thanks, you get to take my word. I feel like a Roman being challenged in his home town by a sojourning peasant farmer from a far away land–a Gaul.
Look, from the beginning, immigrants are what America is about. Not illegal, but legal.
The facts are this on immigration :
- It’s confusing, complicated, and convoluted. It is hard and you (the sponsor) will HATE IT!
- It can be a good thing (or bad)
- You will fill out more forms than any other group of people on the planet
- If you do not know who represents you in congress AND have never written them, shame on you– go correct your ways… Most immigrants DO know this information and have written their future representative. You will be better for it!
- Love your awesome spouse in this process. They are doing this for you.
A note on LJ:
My beloved wife reads, writes, and speaks, Afrikaans, Xshoa (spelling?), and English. She could brush up on her Dutch and master it again, very quickly. She is famous in her circle of influence. She has taught 1000’s kids; from the great grandson of Robert Louis Stevenson to the kids of senators and of well known rock stars. Trained and skilled on two continents as a certified Aux Pair; she is a tireless worker who loves Jesus, me, and the United States. She is clocking in her 2nd hour tonight pulling information together of our interview with the USCIS while I type away on this very long blog.
So, the next time you wonder about the Immigration topic, go read and learn about your own country… You’ll be glad you did…
LJ- You are a Rock Star and I am crazy about you!
Thanks for all the crazy hard work!