Chapter 2 – Waiting
I remained sick and exhausted until well after Thanksgiving. But I still got on the Internet at least once each day to chat with my new wife. When I recovered we were able to spend time chatting until we were back to our previous routine – once or twice each day and hours-long chats on Saturday mornings. We also frequently had hours-long chats on Friday nights (my time) and again on Saturday nights (my time). We called them our “weekend dates.” I didn’t need to be anywhere else anyway – I was a married man, again.
This routine continued for the next several months. At Christmas time I went to visit Mom in New York and was out of contact with Winnie for about ten days. Winnie did surprise me by calling several times while I was at Mom’s house, and Mom had a chance to talk with her new daughter-in-Law.
For the 14 months we were courting Winnie never asked me for any financial support. I offered several times after we were engaged but she always turned me down. Her self-sufficient nature was one of the many things I admired about her and greatly helped me trust her long before we met in person. But now, we were married.
Winnie had been going to English-language classes several times each week before we married besides working full time. Between her classes and the time we spent on-line, her English (at least written and reading skills) were rapidly improving. After Christmas she asked me if I would support her so she could quit work and go to classes “full-time,” which meant two classes each weekday and one on Saturdays. We discussed how much money she would need, and I agreed.
So Winnie became a full-time student, and I learned how to move money overseas.
Dad passed away in February without ever having a chance to meet his new Daughter-in-Law. I flew out to Los Angeles to help arrange the funeral while Winnie assured me she was observing the proper (Buddhist) rites on our behalf. Once again, we were mostly out of touch for several days.
I heard nothing from the USCIS and by May 2004 I started to become concerned. By USCIS rules, I could not contact them for at least six months after filing the I-129 (actually, I could contact them whenever I wanted to. But they would simply refuse to answer any inquires on applications less than six months old). I really didn’t care about the I-130, I already knew that would be several years coming. I just wanted to get Winnie to the US.
So, six months and one day after filing the I-129, I called the USCIS “Hot line” to find out what was happening. With the first call I made I knew something was seriously wrong. On the first call, the “helpful” USCIS agent explained she had no record of my application, even though I had the I-797 receipt in my hand.
She helpfully explained I was welcome to submit a formal inquiry, which would only take about three months for an answer. I initiated it, and then hung up. I was calling from work; it was early morning, so I stormed into my supervisor’s office and announced I was taking the rest of the day off. I drove over to the New Orleans USCIS office foolishly thinking a personal visit would solve everything.
It was just as well I decided not to wait. I never received a response to my formal inquiry.
In New Orleans, the agents graciously allowed me to talk with them but offered no information or help. One agent did take my name and phone number and promised me she’d investigate and call as soon as she knew something. When I didn’t hear anything by the following week, I went back to the New Orleans office. Once again, lots of promises, but no answers. I actually went back for a third visit the following week. On the third visit, the agents helpfully told me I was wasting my time visiting.