where to begin…

It’s a new week, and a new design, and apparently, a new life.

Friday after work I had some errands to run. Typical stuff: return a movie, pick up a few groceries, stop at the nursery for some more plants. I arrived home before dark, walking from the back of my house where I park my car up front, to survey the progress of the new grass seedlings and grab the mail. As I went inside, shuffling past another and yet another offer to refinance my mortgage, I found a letter from the American Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Let me state that I was not, under any circumstances, expecting this letter. I’m on several immigration forums daily, at times hourly. I am acquainted with a good number of people going through this process, and not only have there been no approvals from any June, July or August-filed waivers, there have been almost no approvals for nearly a month. This situation has caused a wave of disillusionment and relative unrest on the forums, with many husbands and wives feeling that in the wake of the pilot program, they were being forgotten.

Inside the envelope, I found a perplexing letter. I sat on the couch in the living room, and read: “This office is ready to begin final processing of the visa for the applicant name below…” The appointment date is July 10, 2007.

My first thought was that they screwed up. They misplaced our I-601, our hardship letter, and any record that Fermin already had his first interview in late August of 2006. They must have scheduled us another first interview, I thought. Great!
I took a moment to think about who to call, and quickly decided on my friends Erinn and Laura, both of whom I met on immigration forums. It’s not that Fermin, mom, dad or Sara are not more important in my normal life, but this mysterious letter demanded an explanation, and none of them were going to help me interpret it like Erinn and Laura.

Erinn suggested it sounded like an approval.

“But Erinn, how could I get an approval right now, that doesn’t make any sense!”

Erinn’s husband, by the way, has been in Mexico three weeks longer than Fermin. Their two children are living with him in his tiny hometown in Veracruz, while she works overtime to keep their bills current. She led me to immigrate2us from another forum, and we later realized we lived about a ten minute drive from one another in Milwaukee.

She affirmed what I thought, that sometimes an appointment letter arrives before one is notified that their waiver has actually been approved. If this was true, I assumed that a number of people had appointment letters sitting in their mailboxes at that moment, and that at least one or two of them were posting on immigrate2us right now about their surprising, exciting second appointments. While on the phone with Laura, I logged on to the forum and sadly found no news.

I called Fermin, and told him about the weird letter, and that I would call him right back after I called the 900 number on the letterheard for the Consulate. So I spent the best $1.25 per minute ever talking to a very helpful man named Ramiro at the Consulate.
Me: So, I received this appointment letter, but I don’t understand why I would receive a letter right now… what does this mean about our waiver?
Ramiro: Well, Ms. Bruss (maiden name), your waiver was approved on May 4th.
Me: What? What?! WHAT!! (I actually said “What?!” at least 10 times) How is that possible?!!
Ramiro: Yes, your waiver has been approved.
Me: Our waiver was approved on May 4th?
Ramiro: Yes, May 4th.
(Then I made him say that about 13 more times, and then I told him he was my favorite person in the whole world, except for my husband).

Then I called Fermin back and told him the insanely good but shocking news. He said he won’t believe it until he is back in the U.S., and I said I will definitely not either.

Then we hung up and, just to get a second opinion, called the Consulate number again.

Guess who answered? Ramiro.

Me: Ramiro! I thought someone else might answer, this is Laura Bruss again, I’m sorry, but I just cannot quite believe that we have been approved. I mean, I’m on this website for waivers and there are so many people who have been waiting longer than me, how could I get approved… (more senseless babbling) I mean, Ramiro, isn’t it weird that I got approved now?
Ramiro: ….
Me: You probably cannot comment on that, can you?
Ramiro: No, Ms. Bruss.
Me: So… you don’t have any idea why I would get approved so soon?
Ramiro: I’m not really sure why you were approved. Maybe, it’s because there are a lot of people working on waivers right now.
Me: Really?! So, do you think there will be a lot of approvals in the next few days?
Ramiro: (emphatically) Yes.
Me: (more relentless disbelieving babble, including a declaration of my love for Ramiro.)

By the way, Fermin already vetoed my plan to name our firstborn Ramiro, but at least he will be ever remembered in cyberspace on an obscure personal blog.

So yeah, that all really freaking happened.

Two nights later, I’m still just as much in shock as ever, and sadly, none of my cyber-pals have received approval letters. The investigative journalist in me has a difficult time not searching the dark corners of the gift horse’s mouth. I don’t feel particularly worthy of such an unexpectedly early approval, and can’t understand why anyone would have even been dealing with my waiver on May 4th.

The Consulate in Ciudad Juarez processes something like 800 waivers of ineligibility every month. Fermin’s interview was in late August, but I didn’t mail our hardship letter with all the documentation for nearly three more weeks. And although the forums I am a part of represent just a small sample of the people actually treading through this process, it seems unusual that we would be approved considering that the few months before have apparently not been touched.

In any case, it’s time to stop thinking and start sleeping.

Congratulations to us!


16 Responses to where to begin…

  1. Rachel. says:

    HUZZAH! YEAH FOR LAURA AND FERMIN! I am so excited for you both and can’t wait see the two of you together once again!
    Love and luck to both of you,
    P.S. I think Ramiro Fernandez would be a fantastic name for your first male and such a touching story. 🙂

  2. Steve Chevalier says:

    Dear Laura,
    This is great news. I had just read your Milwaukee Journal Sentinel column last week before leaving for a business trip, and now, upon returning to the office, I find this exciting turn of events. Good luck to you and Fermin. I hope the remaining process goes quickly and you are back together soon.

  3. lois bruss says:

    Laura & Fermin

    With this great news I hope everything goes through so we will be able to have a BIG PARTY to celebrate after July 10th ! !

    I’ve learned that good things like this news don’t happen that often
    and there could be some kind of error but that seems unlikely so I’m happy and grateful you two are getting a break.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Laura, Congratulations to you and Fermin. I have been praying for you and Fermin. So cool. Best of Luck to you both! Kristy

  5. jennie says:

    Oh my gosh! I’m so happy for you!!! I would have been just as skeptical – I’m glad you called back for reassurance.
    (LOVE the new look.)

  6. laurafern says:

    Thanks to everyone for the congrats on what will hopefully be the end of our immigration saga, as well as the new look.

  7. Barb and Rick Estrada says:

    Laura and Fermin
    This is such wonderful news. It’s been a long and I’m sure lonely journey for both of you. You deserve this happiness and we will be counting the time till you are together. In the meantime, you are in our thanksgiving prayers.

  8. mary says:

    Laura & Fermin,

    I am SO RIDICULOUSLY excited for you guys! Can’t believe it’s happening, and I most definitely can’t wait for you guys to be at my wedding TOGETHER! but like your mom said, we really need to have a party for you once fermin returns! yay!!!!!!

  9. xtinatheasiansensation says:

    YESSS!! Man, seriously, I’m so happy and excited for you and Fermin. I wish you the best of luck!! 😀 😀 😀 Woo-hoo!

    I think Ramiro would be an excellent name for your first born. He’d feel so special that his name is more than just that.

  10. Jen Janscha says:

    Laura–This is FABULOUS!!! You guys (and a lot f oher couples) have waited a ridiculously long time for this. I’m so glad you found out right away! I’m with your mom and Mary–we need to throw you two a big bash when Fermin gets back.

    However, I might suggest that we also do a little “pre-party”/ practice as soon as possible. Who ever is available should join to help celebrate. I’ll call you tonight to find out when (and if –I tend to jump the gun a bit) you’re available.

    I’m so excited for you, Laura!

  11. Barb and Rick Estrada says:

    Great News !! Let’s see, I checked our social calendar and we’re free on July 15th & the 22nd. Jack is throwing a party for you two isn’t he? I assumed that’s why he stained his deck last week. Personally, I think that Ricardo would be a fine name for the boy. My middle is Ernest, so Ernesto would not be too bad either. Glad I could help. Hope to see both of you together again very soon. P.S. I’ll bring a couple of 6-packs of Negra Modelo for the party.

  12. Yolanda says:

    Congratulations again Laura! I know you are so eager for your happily ever after to start again!

  13. […] for processing of our I-601 waiver of visa inadmissibility. We were approved on May 4th, and I received notice on May […]

  14. Sandra Gutierrez Lozano says:

    i am very happy for you and your husband Fermin. My husband Francisco has been in jalisco since June 2006 his first interview was July 7, 2006 at Ciudad Juarez. Two weeks ago received notice approval waiver from Cuidad Juarez still waiting for second interview

  15. […] the debate raged, we found out that Fermin would be re-admitted legally, and things have been looking up for those petitioning […]

  16. […] remember my immigration journey? If not, and you have a little time, refresh yourself here and here. If you are unable to invest a few extra minutes – Fermin was an undocumented immigrant when he […]

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