Good Times with USCIS

Up until 6:00 p.m., today was quite frustrating.  Our VERY important paper from the USCIS that extends the approval our international adoption, the I171-H, has not arrived.  I did my part, but I really should have been on this MONTHS ago. I didn’t realize it was tardy as life got busy as per usual.  Our original I171-H expired in Feb., but in Jan. I sent in the request for the extension.  I did get an I171-H back, but it simply stated that our fingerprints were OK’d for another year and didn’t mention our approval date.  (I still can’t figure out how fingerprints expire???) Our case worker from Texas has been on this for more than a month but getting through to the Phoenix Field Office is like cracking the BIG case.  They do not answer the regular phone… you just leave a message.  They do not return phone calls in any mannerly fashion at all.  It is highly frustrating.

So I took the bull by the horns and drove downtown to the CIS office.  The bull was hiding behind a skinny, little door guard that wouldn’t even LET ME IN!  I explained that I needed to talk to someone inside about our adoption case.  He calmly explained (somewhat mockingly) that I had to make an appointment to get through the untouchable door.  I almost calmly explained that the CIS people do not answer their phone, so HOW COULD I GET AN APPOINTMENT?????   He handed me a brochure IN SPANISH that gave the website where I could set up an appointment to drive all the way back downtown and pay $5 to park AGAIN to talk to a human being behind the forbidden door.  I explained to the little man that the CIS office has deplorable customer service.  He calmly explained that I could let them know how I feel by following the directions on the pamphlet that he gave me.  I said, “IT’S IN SPANISH!”  I could have easily picked him up and swung him around over my head, but I didn’t want to make a scene… and it was 109 degrees today and that would’ve made me all sweaty.  So I left with some dignity intact.

When I arrived home, I whipped out my Spanish paper and went to make an appointment so I could go see the little man for a second time.  Well, seems you have to have a case number to make an appointment.  Adoption approvals don’t have case numbers.  I couldn’t even make an appointment.  I called the 1-800 number and talked to three people who could barely speak English all working for USCIS, who informed me that adoptions are only handled at the field offices.  I asked if anyone knew how I could talk to someone in the Phoenix office and all I got was an email address.  Someone would get back to me in 48 hours.  I emailed our dilemma and went to the kitchen to make dinner.

Rick arrived in the kitchen at that point and I explained how LAME our government offices are… in detail while the steam fumed from my ears.  I couldn’t even leave a complaint on the website without a case number.  Fried chicken and sliced potatoes kept my attention diverted for a while.  Then at 6:00 p.m. the phone rang.  Rick answered and started waving his arm at me while saying, “I think you need to talk to my wife.”  Unbelievably, it was an extremely intelligent, English speaking, kind-hearted woman from the Phoenix CIS Field Office.  She apologized profusely about the delay in our I171-H form.  She explained that she was moved to another office, but saw my email and checked on it herself.  She said it must have been put in…. (she hesitated and stammered)…  “Not the circular file?” I asked.  She laughed and thankfully said no.  Apparently I dotted every i and crossed every t to perfection but the form was not sent in reply.  She will mail out my form in the morning.  THEN she gave me her name and direct number in case I needed any help from CIS again.  I’m sure she was an angel.  I think she may be getting her wings for this act of kindness.  Thank you, kind angel.

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3 Responses to “Good Times with USCIS”

  1. A Visit with the USCIS Office « Zaza’s Adoption Blog Says:

    […] adoption, USCIS I ranted and raved today with an adoption story on my regular blog:  Go check it out.  […]

  2. Nancy Says:

    I guess it is part of the “fun” to depend on the government. So glad you were able to talk to a person and have your case resolved!

  3. Jill Says:

    No wonder there are so many kids awaiting adoption.

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