It’s been a little over a month since I came home from my visa interview in Cd. Juarez. I received my approval at my consular interview on November 26th, 2019 and was handed the “magical” green slip. The process from my first interview until I was actually able to pick up my visa took a total of 8 business days. The wait time provided by the consular officer was 2-3 weeks.
For those working to get their permanent residency, the following transcribed timeline will be helpful so you know what to expect.
Departed Rockford for Cd. Juarez: Wednesday, November 20th
Medical Exam: Friday, November 22nd
This process took about 3.5 hours. Everyone at the medical facility was very nice. There are different stations that you have to go to complete the medical exam. When you first arrive you are given a wristband with a barcode that has to be scanned at every station.
- The first is a chest x-ray where they may sure you don’t have major pulmonary issues.
- Here you go into a long room with 15-20 people. Once they confirm your identity and scan your barcode, your blood is drawn. This took about 15 minutes.
- You walk up to the nurse, she scans your barcode and gives you a cup to fill.
- This is actually a 2 part process. First, the nurse takes your height and weight. She then administers a vision test. Second, you do a physical exam with a doctor. You must remove all of your clothes except your underwear. You are checked for bruising, cuts, tattoos, or any sort of markings. The doctor will question you about your tattoos and what the significance is for each of them. They also ask alcohol and drug consumption questions. You are then sent to the next station. This can go one of two ways. Depending on the doctor’s observations, you will either be sent straight to vaccinations (the final station) or you will be sent to speak with a psychologist. I was sent to the psychologist.
- The psychologist really only goes over what was touched on with the doctor that did the medical exam. They ask a bit about your history, family life, why you’re applying for the application you are there for, etc. Then you have to take a second urine test. However, for this test a physician must enter the bathroom with you. I am assuming they check for drugs or recent alcohol use and this is reported to the consulate.
- This is where they give you ALL the vaccinations you need. I was able to find my immunization record and it was accepted but I still had to receive one vaccine. I highly recommend you find your vaccine history because they charge you for each vaccination.
When you finish with all the stations you are sent to the lobby to pay, and there you are given a ticket with instructions on when to pick up the medical exam results. You are given the results in a black sealed envelope that must be brought to the interview unopened.
Biometrics – Monday, November 25th
This process took about half an hour maybe less. My appointment was at 2:30 p.m. at CAS Centro de Atencion a Solicitantes. When you are called to the window you are asked to put your hands on a fingerprint scanner. They take a picture of your eyes for their database, and then they take the picture that will be put on your visa. The guy that helped me told me not to be serious and to smile really big. He then wished me luck and said he had a good feeling!
Visa Interview: Tuesday, November 26th
This process took about 3.5 hours. The majority of the time was spent waiting. My actual interview was probably only about 10 minutes long. I was asked about 10 questions. Some of the questions they asked were the following: Who is petitioning for you? Do you have any children? Do you have a copy of your 2018 taxes? How many times have you crossed the border? Is your wife a US citizen? Where do you live? Where do you plan on living? Do you work? How old is your daughter?
After the interview, the consular officer then said “Okay, Mr. Galarza you are granted your visa today.” He gave me a green slip and a pamphlet with my civil rights as a U.S. resident. I was told that my visa would be put on my Mexican passport and I would be able to pick up my documents in 2-3 weeks from the interview.
The last step of the overall process didn’t end at the consular interview. I was able to pick up my visa on Wednesday, December 3rd. Once I had my packet in hand I headed to the border to have my visa authorized by a border patrol agent. I think the interview with the border patrol agent was a lot more nerve wracking than with the consular officer. The border patrol agent asked me about 15 questions and was very aggressive and persistent. He asked me who was petitioning for me, where I was going, where I was staying in Mexico and what my plans were in the US. Once he stamped my passport with the admitted stamp he really changed his demeanor and was nice.
I returned home on Friday, December 6th, and I was able to surprise Haley and Luisa. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was to come home to my girls. Visiting Mexico and meeting family that I had never met before was such a phenomenal experience. Being able to see my mom again (who I have not seen in almost 4 years) was the greatest point of my trip. I went to the country of my birth, and I was able to experience only a sliver of what I would never have imagined ever happening.
Now what? This is the question that I have been asked the most since I have returned. I have acquired permanent residency. I am now lawfully present in the United States. I don’t have to apply for a driver’s license or state ID because I was able to acquire these things with my DACA. I was able to go to the social security office and have the restriction on my SSN removed. Unfortunately, I still cannot vote or hold any sort of federal employment. These are only benefits for a citizen. I have already been paying taxes so no, it’s not something I will have to “start” doing. Depending on the presidential administration, I will hopefully be able to apply for citizenship in about 3 years. For now we are taking a breath from this emotional journey. We are going to enjoy what we have accomplished and finally live in peace. The hard part is over.