I was going to take my driving test today. AJ’s been grilling me on all the rules of the road, I’ve been zooming around the streets like a local (or better: I actually use my blinker), and I was all psyched up and ready to go. I’d got my social security number, my UK licence, my passport, one piece of mail with my current address on it, and AJ to sign her life away by swearing I lived with her.
We went to the DMV a couple of weeks ago to check out everything we needed, so I was confident we were okay. When we finally got to the front of the line, I thought we were better than okay — the man dealing with my application said there was reciprocity between the UK and US drivers licenses. It turned out to be the first of many falsehoods the DMV told me.
First, my UK passport wasn’t acceptable. Then my visa wasn’t good enough. They needed the paperwork for my adjustment of status and — depending on who answered the phone when they called to check on it — the application alone might or might not be enough. That’s a big deal when the application approval can take up to two years, leaving me in temporary (and license-less) limbo in the meantime.
So, disappointed, home we went to file the paperwork. I’d already downloaded and half-completed half the forms and they hadn’t taken too long, so NBD, right? Wrong again. The cover letter with my application lists twenty-five separate forms and documents, providing everything from AJ’s last three tax returns to my family genealogy going back further than the history of the United States. Or at least, that’s how it feels.
Oh, and did I mention the fee for this? $1070 upfront with no guarantees. That’s on top of the $420 for the initial application, $500 for all the original documents I needed to support the application in the UK, $400 for a medical from the only doctor in the UK the US approves, $265 processing fees for the embassy interview, and another $30 to have the visa shipped to me. Because why not.
And then they ask us to prove we’re financially solvent, lmao.
We’ve now hit another roadblock because in order to pay the fees I need to have my money in the US, not the UK. To get my money to the US I need a bank account. To get a bank account I needed a social security number. To get the SSN I needed to be in the country at least 10 days, then wait two weeks for it to arrive after I’d applied for it. It took a month for me to get my SSN, and now I’ve got a bank account but I can’t access it in the branch or online until I’ve got my bank card, which has been in the mail for 10 days and counting. Without the card I can’t transfer my UK funds over, and when I do they’ll take a week to wind their way back to me. I’m easily two weeks away from actually being able to file this application.
Oh, and did I mention I can only use my UK license for so long before I’m not allowed to drive without a US license? And if I don’t get the application filed before my visa expires (a shorter date than it should have been thanks to Mr Stamp-Happy at Chicago who decided to cut it down by two weeks) then I get booted out of the country and we have to start all over again.
Sometimes it feels like we’re trapped in a web of paperwork, everything on a deadline and each new form dependent on the last. Once the forms are filed I can return to the DMV and throw myself on their mercy in hopes they’ll accept a pending application rather than approved adjustment of status. Being able to drive is kinda essential when I can’t even walk to the nearest store without taking my life into my hands.
I shouldn’t complain; once I’ve got my drivers license I have all the fun of buying and registering a car in front of me. If you hear screaming, don’t worry. It’ll just be me receiving a letter saying I didn’t properly cross a T on one of my forms so they’ve all been shredded and I need to refile.
In happier news (because not all I do is complain), AJ’s latest release, Reaping Havoc, is racing up the Amazon bestseller lists. If you’re in the mood for a madcap Colorado caper featuring prankster ghosts, pun-loving angels, and a not-so-grim reaper, why not check it out?