Archive for September, 2008

Hurricane IKE

September 25, 2008

The Houston District Office of CIS will remain closed indefinitely due to damage done by hurricane IKE.
This includes the site for Naturalization and Info Pass Appointments-126 North Point Drive

and the place for Permanent Residency Interviews: 16504 Central Green Boulevard

Only two fingerprinting sites: the one on 290 and the one on Bissonnet

The one on I-45 South remains closed.

All Natz and Permanent Residency interviews will be rescheduled. Individuals having infopass appointments need to reschedule on the internet.

The tentative date for opening the office is Monday, September 29.

Below is my experience with IKE:

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Everybody worked half day on Thursday Sept 11, 2008. We were told on Wednesday that the hurricane was coming at us. I filled up my gas, and went to Sam’s Club to buy canned tuna, peaches, and water. Not a whole lot of people were hurricane shopping.

Thursday everybody was frantic. Should they leave town, should they board up? Although it was sunny and about 92 degrees outside, the human emotional pressure was very strong. I closed down at 2 p.m., simply because I could not concentrate, and took some work home. I stopped at our local grocery store on the way back. It was lucky that I did. I got one of the last loafs of bread. Everything was gone. At least 5-6 people were buying water and beer, the essentials of survival in Texas.

Friday was a great day, but Houston looked like deserted town. Everything was closed, including Wal-Mart. I swam for what probably would be the last time for this season. We made hurricane preparations, laundry, dishwasher, cleared the outside for anything that could become a flying missile. We filled out the bathtubs for water if necessary.

At about 9:30 p.m. the winds started kicking up. I went outside, but aside from the strong wind, everything was in order. By 10 p.m. the cable went out, and by 10:30 the electricity. I went off to sleep.

I got up at what was probably 1;30 am or thereafter. The wind was howling outside. I opened the back door. There was a strange light outside. It was pea green, a mixture of green and yellow. It looked like dusk, I could see everything. It was strange. It was quiet, but intense, it felt like being inside a pea soup. There was fierce wind, but hardly any rain. There was a thin mist. It was probably the eye. I went back to sleep.

When I got up next, probably about 3 or 4 am, (I cannot be exact about the times, my electric clock was not working, and my watch was on my dresser), it was pitch black. It was raining horizontal, and there was thunder and lightning.

I got up to the sound of my cell phone ringing at 8:30 or 9 am. The back yard was flooded. Our street, which never floods, had water up to the curb. No electricity. Our pool lining was down. Some shingles from our roof were down. One medium branch from the oak tree in the back was down. The whole yard was littered with leaves and twigs. Some water came in through a water socket in one master bathroom sink.

The house in front of us had their whole big oak tree on the ground, obstructing half the road.

I went to the freezer and took out the fish and scallops. Our stove, with gas worked. I cooked the fish for lunch and scallops for supper. We really had good food that day.

In the evening we went for a walk on Tanglewood Boulevard. It looked like a hurricane had blown thorough. OK, I really cannot find another simile, because it is not like a war. There was no damage to any structure, no broken windows. But the trees took the hit. They were down everywhere. Some of the traffic lights were bent. It was kind of cool to look at the underside of the big oak trees.

On Saturday night it started raining again. The streets were flooded, but not much at least in out locale.

We got back electricity at my office in Sugar land on Sunday. We got our cable and hence internet and phone connection on July 20th. But our house was another matter.

At first we had fun kind of camping. We went to a friend’s block party in West U. The devastation there seemed more. Big trees littered their narrower streets. We came back to a dark house in the evening. In the morning we cleaned trees, worked in our yard, and walked around. In the evening, we sat in the dark, listened to the radio and went to bed early. George Bush’s neighborhood, two blocks from mine, had electricity on that same Saturday night, even though they had at least one bent electric pole. That was Sept 13. We would not get our electricity until Sept 24.

The novelty soon wore away as the weather grew hotter, and the mosquitoes invaded from the open window. Additionally the street lights were a mess. The lights in all the big intersection were out, though the small ones were up and running. Traffic jams in Houston shamed those in LA, for the first time. It took me more than an hour to reach my home from work, when it normally takes 20 minutes.

Centerpoint Energy first inspected my neighborhood on Tuesday Sept 23, 11 days after IKE hit. There were only minor fuses out. They finished the work in hours. But we had to wait all this time, in the heat, in the dark. People are still waiting, while Centerpoint gets to play God.

The New Naturalization Test

September 22, 2008

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The New Naturalization test is here. If you have your interview before October 01, 2008, you will be administered the OLD test.

If you file your case before October 01, 2008, you can choose between the old test and the new test. (That is if your interview is before October 01, 2009)

If you file after October 01, 2008, you will take the new test.

There is a rumor that the new test is harder. What I like about the new test is that it is organized into sections, and is therefore easier to remember. The old test was a jumble of questions with no logic or organization.

What I don’t like is that many of the questions are fuzzy. Remember this is the government that gave us “fuzzy math.” It has open ended questions like “what does the constitution do?” The constitution does so much, and there are only three right answers. (Of course this government does not even understand that the Constitution protects rights).

In general the new questions are more detailed and require a more thorough understanding of US Civics and History.

Why don’t you decide for yourself.

Take a look at the new test here:

http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/100q.pdf

Take a look at the old test: http://www.visatous.com, go to links, and click on naturalization Questions (fourth from the bottom)

If you find the new test harder, apply BEFORE October 01, 2008. (ie ASAP). If you want us to file, call us at 281-242-9139 or e mail me annie@visatous.com

For more general information on the New Test go to:

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=2de5bece

Marriage Based Interview

September 12, 2008

How to ACE a marriage based Interview at CIS

DO-Dress professionally. As in any interview, the interviewer forms an initial impression, which if negative is hard to shake. The clothes do not have to be expensive But have proper respect by wearing clothes that cover. This is a serious interview, not a dance club

DO- Tell the truth. There are no right or wrong thing in a marriage and making up lies really complicate matter. Apart from the fact that the officer places you under oath to “tell the truth” and lying to a federal officer is a felony, it does actually hurts your case. The officers are supposed to judge whether you are married or not under state law. Most state law defines marriage as:
1. Intent to be married
2. Having a ceremony of some sort for the marriage
3. Holdingout to others as man and wife

Marriage is ultimately a social declaraion of the intent of one man and one woman to be together and no other societal rules govern marriage.

In a separate interview once, for my clients, the husband was asked where he took his wife on the last date. The wife had already answered Mc Donalds. The husband did not want to say that he was that “cheap.” So he hesitated, and ultimately said “a nice restaurant.” We had trouble with that case, although the couple was happily married.

In another case, the male client had gone back to his village in Tanzania, while his pregnant wife stayed in the US. The question was whether when he was in Tanzania, did he call his wife. The man answered no. His village had no phones. His wife thought it would “look bad” that he never called his pregnant wife, so she answered yes. The nest question was how many time, and she answered three ties a day. One lie leads to another. We had to wait for the birth of the child for the officer to actually believe that the couple was in fact living together.

Do -Take all the documents with you. For instance:

Proof of Cohabitation – As many of these as you can get:

A. Copy of birth certificate of child together
B. Copy of joint mortgage documents
C. Copy of joint rental agreement
D. Copy of life insutrance where the spouse is the beneficiary
E. Copy of joint health insurance
F. Copy of joint car insurance
G. Copy of joint bank account
H. Copy of joint stock certificate
I. Copy of joint credit card bills
J. Copy of joint purchases, example car or furniture or appliances
K. Marriage album and pictures

ORIGINALS OF
a. Marriage certificate
b. Birth certificates of both spouses
c. Naturalization certificate for petitioner
d. Divorce decrees for both spouses, if applicable
e. All other documents submitted to the INS, like EAD card, or travel document like advance parole
f. Passport, driver’s license and SS Card for both spouses

Do- Be short and sweet. Just answer the specific question asked, nothing more. The officer has many interviews to do a day, and does not have time to hear your life story. Besides going off on tangents derails the officer, and make their job harder. If they forget something, they can ask you to come back later, delaying the time you have to get your green card.

DON’T Prepare for the interview other than collecting the documents. Very often clients ask me what type of questions are asked, with the intent of starting to memorize the answers. When one of my clients asked me that, I had told him that they may ask him questions about his wife, like her birth date, etc. At the interview, he told me he had memorized everything about his wife. I dont know whether that endeared him more to his wife, but for the interview purpose it was a complete waste of time. Again, since there are no rules in a marriage there is no rule as to what you should now. If you dont know, say “I dont know.” Dont make up an answer. A client was once asked what perume the other spouse wears. This couple knew the answer. But dear readers, I have been married for 22 years, and have raised two kids with my husband aged 21 and 20. And frankly I dont think my husband wears a perfume. My husband certainly does not know what perfume I wear. I dont know what perfume I wear, since they come from little bottles on my dresser that I get as presents. So, if you dont know, say “I dont know.”

DON’T-Act overly amorous or lovey-dovey. The officers are trained to recognize frauds and being overly amorous raises the suspicion as to whether you are really married. Act normal. You are always liked best when you are your natural self.

And above all DON’T file false petitions! That is a crime and will get you deported. If you are actually not living together as man and wife, immigration officers do find out. These officers are trained and do nothing but marriage cases about 7-8 a day for years!

Immigration and Sarah Palin

September 5, 2008

The legal stuff first: This blog is not true. Actually I dont think Governor Palin even knows what immigration means. This is just what I think, hopefully a blog whose value is only in its humor.

So, lets say, John McCain gets to be President, and then just dies of whatever carcinoma he has. We will then have President Palin. She is an ex Beauty Queen—- for Wasilla and second in Alaska! She majored in journalism from the University of Idaho. There are no immigrants in Alaska or Idaho. What does immigration actually mean? Oh and where is Iraq? In the middle east, just on the other side of the mid west.

She might think that EB (Employment Based) should be Excellence in Beauty. Yes, the categories will remain the same, except the judging criteria will be the same as the beauty contests. Indians and Chinese will never get on 2nd pref, (they will all be 3rd or less), so EB-2 for India and China will always be current. And probably most beneficiaries will be females, with husbands being derivative beneficiaries. (Nothing against guys, but there just isn’t any male beauty contests, and therefore no rules. And Congress of course will not pass anything).

Ok, so we will have only one type of employment based categories. OK, maybe 2. Oil Drillers and Fishermen. So if you are either, you come in. If not, leave NOW!

Maybe we will have a category for dogs. Palin is a self described “pitbull with lipstick”. I’m sure she likes huskies. So we should have unrestricted immigration for dogs. Family based categories for dogs.

Now do you see why it was a bad idea to buy Alaska from Russia? The Putin/Palin ticket has a great ring to it.