First, I need to apologize for how long it has taken me to update. Last I wrote, Tyler had received his Visa package in the mail and we were solidifying plans for him to move here. As an update, he is living here now and we married December 12, 2015. We’re not in the process of adjusting his status from a nonresident alien to a resident alien (AOS). This is a standard practice for those who enter the country on a K1 Visa.
To backtrack – my previous timeline is as follows:
I flew into New Brunswick, Canada on November 13, 2015. From there, Tyler and I drove is his tiny little Hyundai accent (wow cramped) filled with all of his belongings to the Maine Border POE. Here, we met with customs and border control officers who took the sealed package sent to him by the Embassy in Montreal and essentially created his entry Visa there. They asked a few silly questions (pretty much the same ones he answered at his visa which was annoying), searched the car which is normal for crossing the border, took his picture, swore his oath of information and put his new Visa inside his Canadian passport and we were off. The process took probably a little over 45 minutes. They were very nice just seemed a little inexperienced in adjudicating Visas. If I could do it all over I would have went through the entry at Houlton Maine rather than the one we did (forgot the name but it’s further south along the Maine, Canada border and looks to probably see less Visa traffic.
We got through, stayed the night and continued our trip the next morning.
Fast forward a few days; as soon as we somewhat settled in, we went to the local courthouse and filled the electronic application for a marriage license. All you need is a passport with the Visa in it. Once we got the license, I contacted a officiant and we were married December 12. It was a small 15 minute ceremony in my house. We’ll likely save a big event to later on.
After we were married and received all the proof of marriage, I started to get a bit of a head start on putting together the petition to adjust status (AOS) really just tons of paperwork and photocopies. By now I’ve become an expert in filling our mundane forms haha. I’ll go into detail about that on another post but I wanted to discuss some other things I call these maintenance items since they aren’t directly part of the AOS but important to do.
Social Security Number – From the time you enter the US until the time you I-94 expires, you may register for a SSN. You do this at your local office. It’s super easy to do and it’s all electronic. Your information is already in the system and just waiting for you to start the process by going in and signing everything in person. You want to make sure you do this prior to your I-94 expiring. BTW the I-94 is your arrival proof that you went through customs and border control. This is totally electronic so you can just visit the site: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/consent.html, enter in the information and you can print a copy of your I-94.
To recap: bring in I-94 print out, Visa, Passport, self, take a number, wait, talk to officer and done. So easy. Likely the easiest part of this whole journey.
If you do not go before your I-94 expires, you will have to wait until you get your authorization to work AFTER you petition for it. Fun.
Bank Account – To preface, legally, you do not need a SSN to open a bank account. However, it’s not a bad idea to just get it and avoid jumping through hoops later. To get a state ID, most places require proof of residency which means to a NRA (nonresident alien) more hoops to jump. To satisfy this you’ll utility bills or a cell phone bill, or a bank account in your name, or a lease etc. Most of these things are easy to get providing you have a US bank account and/or debit/credit card. See where I’m going here? Most larger banks are familiar with resident and non resident statuses. I’m not sure I would try to get an account at a local small bank. You will need to go into the location directly with your Visa, SSN if you have it, and passport. Your Visa counts as a government ID at this time but cannot be used for many purposes other than proving legal presence in the US. Fortunately most banks understand this.
Vehicle – This one is terrible. In most states, you have to register your vehicle with the local district which means you have to have a US title. In order to convert your foreign title to a US title, your vehicle has to be imported. In order to import your vehicle it must comply with all national highway and safety patrol laws as well as some environmental laws. So the result is either you get a letter from the vehicle manufacturer stating that it complies, or you have to have it imported by a specialty company who makes changes on your vehicle to allow it to comply. This can be very expensive. The only recommendation I truly can give is to either sell your vehicle in your native country before you even enter the US or (if you’re from Canada and moved somewhere within reasonable distance to Canada) try to sell it, after you move, to someone FROM your home country. Other than that, you should contact a nationally registered importer and get a quote for services before moving.
Even if you don’t intend to import your car right there at the border when you come in, you can still drive your call over (for fellow Canadians or South/Central Americans). You have a year to make a decision about what you’re going to do with your car. However, your state may have other deadlines you should research.
That essentially wraps up my maintenance list. Next post will talk about the AOS and possibly touch on my current Tax return filing worries. Oh the joys of immigration…