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Përditësimi: 2 ditë 20 orë më parë

Jo Shields: My name is Jo and this is home now

Mar, 29/10/2019 - 10:41pd

After just over three years, my family and I are now Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) of the United States of America. It’s been a long journey.

Acknowledgements

Before anything else, I want to credit those who made it possible to reach this point. My then-manager Duncan Mak, his manager Miguel de Icaza. Amy and Alex from work for bailing us out of a pickle. Microsoft’s immigration office/HR. Gigi, the “destination services consultant” from DwellWorks. The immigration attorneys at Fragomen LLP. Lynn Community Health Center. And my family, for their unwavering support.

The kick-off

It all began in July 2016. With support from my management chain, I went through the process of applying for an L-1 intracompany transferee visa – a 3-5 year dual-intent visa, essentially a time-limited secondment from Microsoft UK to Microsoft Corp. After a lot of paperwork and an in-person interview at the US consulate in London, we were finally granted the visa (and L-2 dependent visas for the family) in April 2017. We arranged the actual move in July 2017, giving us a short window to wind up our affairs in the UK as much as possible, and run out most of my eldest child’s school year.

We sold the house, sold the car, gave to family all the electronics which wouldn’t work in the US (even with a transformer), and stashed a few more goodies in my parents’ attic. Microsoft arranged for movers to come and pack up our lives; they arranged a car for us for the final week; and a hotel for the final week too (we rejected the initial golf-spa-resort they offered and opted for a budget hotel chain in our home town, to keep sending our eldest to school with minimal disruption). And on the final day we set off at the crack of dawn to Heathrow Airport, to fly to Boston, Massachusetts, and try for a new life in the USA.

Finding our footing

I cannot complain about the provisions made by Microsoft – although not without snags. The 3.5 hours we spent in Logan airport waiting at immigration due to some computer problem on the day did not help us relax. Neither did the cat arriving at our company-arranged temporary condo before we did (with no food, or litter, or anything). Nor did the fact that the satnav provided with the company-arranged hire car not work – and that when I tried using my phone to navigate, it shot under the passenger seat the first time I had to brake, leading to a fraught commute from Logan to Third St, Cambridge.

Nevertheless, the liquor store under our condo building, and my co-workers Amy and Alex dropping off an emergency run of cat essentials, helped calm things down. We managed a good first night’s exhausted sleep, and started the following day with pancakes and syrup at a place called The Friendly Toast.

With the support of Gigi, a consultant hired to help us with early-relocation basics like social security and bank accounts, we eventually made our way to our own rental in Melrose (a small suburb north of Boston, a shortish walk from the MBTA Orange Line); with our own car (once the money from selling our house in the UK finally arrived); with my eldest enrolled in a local school. Aiming for normality.

The process

Fairly soon after settling in to office life, the emails from Microsoft Immigration started, for the process to apply for permanent residency. We were acutely aware of the time ticking on the three year visas – and we already burned 3 months of time prior to the move. Work permits; permission to leave and re-enter; Department of Labor certification. Papers, forms, papers, forms. Swearing that none of us have ever recruited child soldiers, or engaged in sex trafficking.

Tick tock.

Months at a time without hearing anything from USCIS.

Tick tock.

Work permits for all, but big delays listed on the monthly USCIS visa bulletin.

Tick tock.

We got to August 2019, and I started to really worry about the next deadline – our eldest’s passport expiring, along with the initial visas a couple of weeks later.

Tick tock.

Then my wife had a smart idea for plan B, something better than the burned out Mad Max dystopia waiting for us back in the UK: Microsoft just opened a big .NET development office in Prague, so maybe I could make a business justification for relocation to the Czech Republic?

I start teaching myself Czech.

Duolingo screenshot, Czech language, “can you see my goose”

Tick tock.

Then, a month later, out of the blue, a notice from USCIS: our Adjustment of Status interviews (in theory the final piece before being granted green cards) were scheduled, for less than a month later. Suddenly we went from too much time, to too little.

Ti-…

October

The problem with the one month of notice is we had one crucial missing piece of paperwork – for each of us, an I-693 medical exam issued by a USCIS-certified civil surgeon. I started calling around, and got a response from an immigration clinic in Lynn, with a date in mid October. They also gave us a rough indication of medical exams and extra vaccinations required for the I-693 which we were told to source via our normal doctors (where they would be billable to insurance, if not free entirely). Any costs in the immigration clinic can’t go via insurance or an HSA, because they’re officially immigration paperwork, not medical paperwork. Total cost ends up being over a grand.

More calling around. We got scheduled for various shots and tests, and went to our medical appointment with everything sorted.

Except…

Turns out the TB tests the kids had were no longer recognised by USCIS. And all four of us had vaccination record gaps. So not only unexpected jabs after we promised them it was all over – unexpected bloodletting too. And a follow-up appointment for results and final paperwork, only 2 days prior to the AOS interview.

By this point, I’m something of a wreck. The whole middle of October has been a barrage of non-stop, short-term, absolutely critical appointments.

Any missing paperwork, any errors, and we can kiss our new lives in the US goodbye.

Wednesday, I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, and various other physiological issues. The AOS interview is the next day. I’m as prepared as I can be, but still more terrified than I ever have been.

Any missing paperwork, any errors, and we can kiss our new lives in the US goodbye.

I was never this worried about going through a comparable process when applying for the visa, because the worst case there was the status quo. Here the worst case is having to restart our green card process, with too little time to reapply before the visas expire. Having wasted two years of my family’s comfort with nothing to show for it. The year it took my son to settle again at school. All of it riding on one meeting.

Thursday

Our AOS interviews are perfectly timed to coincide with lunch, so we load the kids up on snacks, and head to the USCIS office in Lawrence.

After parking up, we head inside, and wait. We have all the paperwork we could reasonably be expected to have – birth certificates, passports, even wedding photos to prove that our marriage is legit.

To keep the kids entertained in the absence of electronics (due to a no camera rule which bars tablets and phones) we have paper and crayons. I suggest “America” as a drawing prompt for my eldest, and he produces a statue of liberty and some flags, which I guess covers the topic for a 7 year old.

Finally we’re called in to see an Immigration Support Officer, the end-boss of American bureaucracy and… It’s fine. It’s fine! She just goes through our green card forms and confirms every answer; takes our medical forms and photos; checks the passports; asks us about our (Caribbean) wedding and takes a look at our photos; and gracefully accepts the eldest’s drawing for her wall.

We’re in and out of her office in under an hour. She tells us that unless she finds an issue in our background checks, we should be fine – expect an approval notice within 3 weeks, or call up if there’s still nothing in 6. Her tone is congratulatory, but with nothing tangible, and still the “unless” lingering, it’s hard to feel much of anything. We head home, numb more than anything.

Aftermath

After two fraught weeks, we’re both not entirely sure how to process things. I had expected a stress headache then normality, but instead it was more… Gradual.

During the following days, little things like the colours of the leaves leave me tearing up – and as my wife and I talk, we realise the extent to which the stress has been getting to us. And, more to the point, the extent to which being adrift without having somewhere we can confidently call home has caused us to close ourselves off.

The first day back in the office after the interview, a co-worker pulls me aside and asks if I’m okay – and I realise how much the answer has been “no”. Friday is the first day where I can even begin to figure that out.

The weekend continues with emotions all over the place, but a feeling of cautious optimism alongside.

I-485 Adjustment of Status approval notifications

On Monday, 4 calendar days after the AOS interview, we receive our notifications, confirming that we can stay. I’m still not sure I’m processing it right. We can start making real, long term plans now. Buying a house, the works.

I had it easy, and don’t deserve any sympathy

I’m a white guy, who had thousands of dollars’ worth of support from a global megacorp and their army of lawyers. The immigration process was fraught enough for me that I couldn’t sleep or eat – and I went through the process in one of the easiest routes available.

Youtube video from HBO show Last Week Tonight, covering legal migration into the USA

I am acutely aware of how much more terrifying and exhausting the process might be, for anyone without my resources and support.

Never, for a second, think that migration to the US – legal or otherwise – is easy.

The subheading where I answer the inevitable question from the peanut gallery

My eldest started school in the UK in September 2015. Previously he’d been at nursery, and we’d picked him up around 6-6:30pm every work day. Once he started at school, instead he needed picking up before 3pm. But my entire team at Xamarin was on Boston time, and did not have the world’s earliest risers – meaning I couldn’t have any meaningful conversations with co-workers until I had a child underfoot and the TV blaring. It made remote working suck, when it had been fine just a few months earlier. Don’t underestimate the impact of time zones on remote workers with families. I had begun to consider, at this point, my future at Microsoft, purely for logistical reasons.

And then, in June 2016, the UK suffered from a collective case of brain worms, and voted for self immolation.

I relocated my family to the US, because I could make a business case for my employer to fund it. It was the fastest, cheapest way to move my family away from the uncertainty of life in the UK after the brain-worm-addled plan to deport 13% of NHS workers. To cut off 40% of the national food supply. To make basic medications like Metformin and Estradiol rarities, rationed by pharmacists.

I relocated my family to the US, because despite all the country’s problems, despite the last three years of bureaucracy, it still gave them a better chance at a safe, stable life than staying in the UK.

And even if time proves me wrong about Brexit, at least now we can make our new lives, permanently, regardless.

Costales: Podcast Ubuntu y otras hierbas S04E01: UbuCon Europe 2019 y análisis de Ubuntu 19.10

Sht, 26/10/2019 - 3:41md
Paco Molinero, Fernando Lanero, Javier Teruelo y Marcos Costales entrevistamos a Joan CiberSheep sobre la Ubucon Europe y analizamos la nueva versión de Ubuntu 19.10.

Ubuntu y otras hierbasEscúchanos en:

Josh Powers: Ubuntu 19.10 Released

Enj, 24/10/2019 - 2:00pd
The next development release of Ubuntu, the Eoan Ermine, was released last week! This was the last development release before our upcoming LTS, codenamed Focal Fossa. As a result, lots of bug fixes, new features, and experience improvements have made their way into the release. Some highlights include: New GNOME version to 3.34 Further refinement to the desktop yaro theme Latest upstream stable kernel 5.3 OpenSSL 1.1.1 support Experimental ZFS on root support in the desktop installer OpenStack Train support See the release notes for more details.