Catch I-20

I have ranted several times about the circular firing squad that our team meetings at school can be. I have to say now . . . “Thanks Team! You prepared me well for the nightmare that is our visa situation for my daughter.”

It is really very simple.

My daughter wants to spend 9 months in the States by her aunt and attend an American high school that she has been accepted into. Just like any HS exchange program except no host family.

catch 22Unfortunately, the post-9/11, illegal-alien-hysterical, and “Don’t call us. Please visit our website” world has thrown a few chinks (is that not PC?) into our plans. My daughter can’t get an F-1 visa because the school that accepted her is not allowed to issue the necessary I-20 form on their own. The exchange program they normally work with cannot provide the form, because the school is not on the officially accredited list. For that school, they can only provide the form for the J-1 cultural exchange visa, but under the condition that my daughter lives with strangers and not American relatives.

No form, no visa. You can’t even submit the application and then try to talk your way to a solution. The online system will not allow a form with an empty field to be transmitted. (And mind you – this is a machine making the decision of whether you can apply or not.)

So we went the citizenship route. According to the Child Citizenship Act of 2001, my adopted daughter is entitled to be treated equally to biological children. She has the right to automatic dual citizenship. All we need to do is apply for a “Certificate of Citizenship” once she arrives in the States. I read up on all of this and set the process in motion.  I gathered documents and asked my sister to call the nearest Immigration and Naturalization Office to set up an appointment for us right after our arrival. She did so immediately and was informed that this process was unnecessary. My daughter is already a citizen. All she needs is a passport. I should go get one from the Embassy.

That seemed like good news. I returned to that now very familiar website, but this time I read the entire “Citizen’s Service Section” and how to apply for a passport. Under the list of necessary documents I spotted “Certificate of Citizenship”.  Which can only be applied for inside the US.

At some point you simply put yourself in the hands of a higher power. I made an appointment at the Embassy for three days from now anyway. Then I started compiling every single document listed in the website along with every additional one I could think of that might be helpful – all the way down to my grade school report cards (which, by the way, repeatedly declare me to be “cooperative and courteous”).

If we end up having to give up our plans for my daughter’s exchange year in the States, then someone is going to have to look her in the eyes first and explain to her why she can’t go. That person is not going to be me.


8 thoughts on “Catch I-20

  1. As I was reading I was thinking you should go the citizenship route. Dealing with INS is no picnic and a bit like running around in circles. We Americans complain that there are too many illegals in our country, but the fact is it’s just easy to enter and stay illegally then to enter legally. The law states that an education cannot be denied to anyone regardless of immigration status (legal or otherwise). Well, I’m not certain if that is a federal law or a NY State law.
    Good luck. I hope you can cut through all the red tape and bureaucracy and get your daughter into School and keep your sanity in tact. Not an easy task.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Red tape is prone to endless loops, catch 22s, getting stuck to itself. The more we automate the process, the more bungled up it gets. I’ll pray that you eventually connect with a sympathetic human who can tell you how to navigate this mess. Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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