Monday, October 24, 2005

Some Progress, FBI Responses Received!

After coming back from vacation, we were somewhat disappointed to find no new materials in the mail pile. We obviously need to make a push to bring the remaining pieces in.

The first weekend after vacation, Alan and I sat down to review the entire application from start to finish and make notes on where we are. It's an interesting experience to assimilate all the information: there's what's specific on the application and there's what one hears via "the grapevine." What is truly wonderful is the generosity of those fellow netizens who are willing to share their experiences and empathy. It would be very difficult to get through this without the likes of Lgirl and Nick & Mason.

Anyway -- the big news is that the FBI clearances arrived on Monday a week ago! This is about eight weeks after we mailed the requests and about three weeks earlier than expected. What's funny is how unimpressive they are. There is a 7 x 5 inch multi-generation xerox stapled to the each of the fingerprint cards we submitted; the cards are stamped about three times with different dates with the critical one on the back: "no records found." That's what it comes down to. No eloquent letters, no seal of approval, nothing suitable for framing. But, hey, we're officially not criminals.

Throughout this process, we've realized that we have to feel comfortable with the completed application that we will sign and submit. With the required employment letters we have decided to submit letters that cover our 8 years in Seattle; further in the past is not possible for a variety of reasons (now including Katrina) and instead we'll provide detailed information and an explanation. To that end, we've managed to contact all parties about two months ago and secure promises from them. But some folks require more nudging on the follow-through than others.

I finally managed to wrangle one outstanding letter (received Saturday) and now I'm left wanting only one more -- ironically from my current employer! Linn has one he's working on, too.

I still haven't heard from one of the states for the clearance letter, so I called and found out that they had mailed the letter but it was returned back to them as "undeliverable." Odd, because they have the correct address and I've never had a problem before. In any case, they're going to send it again and we'll cross our fingers.

One funny discovery is the clearances from the states may be unnecessary. When reading the application, it only mentions countries where you have lived -- except once where it says "country/province/state" or some such. But still, they're slashes, not commas. Maybe we only need the FBI clearance after all. It's hard to say because even our Canadian sources are not clear. But at this point we've already made the investment, so it can't hurt. Maybe we'll get extra credit or an "A" for effort.

There's no doubt that I will need the clearance letter from Costa Rica where I taught English after college. I again called the closest consulate (which is in Fremont, California) to ask what I more I can do. The representative there is a volunteer and it's an honorary title. Anything she does is out of the goodness of her heart and the desire to serve her country. She has been trying very hard, but this is a new situation for her. The typical request she sees is a fellow citizen wanting a clearance letter for U.S. immigration purposes. A U.S. citizen, who was once a temporary resident of Costa Rica, wanting a clearance letter for purposes of Canadian immigration is a new one. At least she's heard something back from her government. They want a "certified" letter from me and payment of a fee for the official government stamp. I mailed what she requested on Saturday. More crossing of fingers.

In the meantime, we have some work at home still to do. I need to work on our associations list: every organization we've ever been a member of, affiliated with, or supported. Yikes! Well, one thing is for sure: it will be clear that we're gay lefties.

And there's some tidying up, formatting, etc -- deciding on the final presentation of the materials we're going to submit.

I will be so relieved when the application is complete, we mail it off, and get the CIC letter back. At least at that point, we're off the hook and we just wait. I'm sure the waiting can be excruciating at times, but at least there's nothing more to do.

Has anyone read all of this and remained awake?