Don't let anyone tell you that you can't get a green card from a TN. I am living proof that you can! If you need more info on how to do it, read the second post below.
I had my interview yesterday at the Miami district office. Here are the details of what happened for anyone who is interested:
Arrived at the building on 79th Street 15 minutes before my interview. Walked past the long line of people waiting outside right up to the guard. The guard saw our interview appointments and let us go right in to take the elevator to the 8th floor. Met my lawyer there, and we put our appointment notices into a tray, and waited in a tiny waiting room for 50 minutes. Halfway through I just started praying that my case would not be held over because of a pending name check. I prayed that I got stamped today. We got called into the officerís office. There were piles of cases stacked on his desk. Actually there were so many on his huge desk that there was no room for him to use the desk. He used a clip board on his lap to write on, and I laid my briefcase on the floor, and pulled things out from there when asked. The lawyer told us earlier that the first thing he would do is swear us in, and then ask for photo Ids. It didn't happen exactly this way. He swore us in, and then asked for the new employment letter. He carefully read the entire letter, and then asked to see the company financials. The lawyer handed him a yearly report that is published for anyone who wants it, since my company is a publicly traded company. He scanned the financial booklet, and then asked me how long I've worked at my company. He put the financials aside, and looked at my case file. He asked us when we had our last fingerprints, and we told him the exact date in November 2004, then he found it in the computer, and confirmed with us. He asked my date of birth, my motherís name, my fatherís name, and my current address. My address was my old address so he corrected it. He asked the exact same questions of my wife and corrected the address also in his computer. He also asked if we have ever been convicted of any crimes. He asked to see the copies of our tax returns. Now he said that he needs a passport, or a birth certificate. We gave him our passports, and that was sufficient. He entered something into the computer, probably the passport numbers. Then he asked for all our EADs. At this point, in my mind, I knew I was going to get approved today, since he can't take my EAD if he's not going to approve me today. Then he asked each of us individually to sign a paper on both sides, and he took each of us to put a fingerprint of our right index finger on to the same paper. He asked if there was anything else we brought for him to review, and my lawyer offered my last 3 pay stubs. He reviewed the copies quite quickly, and didn't ask for the originals. He took out a stamp and gently stamped the passports, and then wrote in the A# and the expiry date, which is next year, 2005. I noted the exact time that the stamp hit the page in my passport. It was like the birth of a newborn! He told us that the cards are coming very quickly these days, about 2 months, so we should get them in the mail very soon, but he still has to tell us that it could take up to 6 months. Until then we can use the stamp to travel, and when crossing the border, we would be taken to secondary inspection for the officers to verify the stamp is valid. The whole thing took about 10 minutes!
He never asked for my I-94.
He never asked for my pay stubs, until my lawyer offered it.
He never asked for my Advance Paroles, and I still have the old ones.
He never looked at our birth certificates, or our marriage certificates.
A bit of history on my case, if you're interested:
I arrived here in 1998 in TN status from Canada. The first TN application I made at the border was a nightmare. There were problems with my employment letter, and other issues, and I think the INS officer just had a bad day with his wife or something and decided to take it out on me. After briefly reviewing my letter, he told me I was denied at this time, and yelled in my face army-style 3 inches from my face all the reasons why I was not being admitted. He told me to take the first U-turn on the highway (I was at a land crossing in Champlain, NY on I-87) and if I passed that U-turn, I would be in violation of such and such law, and would be subject to a 10 year bar. The immigration officers would proceed to deport me from the country. Of course, I complied, and drove back to Canada with my pride crushed, and newly born fear of border guards. The lawyer fixed my letter, and I returned a week later, and was approved in 5 minutes. Ever since then I've been absolutely horrified of crossing the border.
The job turned out to not be what I wanted, and I was not happy at all. The employer promised to consider doing a green card, but later denied ever talking about this, and refused to even consider the possibility of starting the process. It was time to move on, but at the time I thought it would be difficult to change jobs, because many of the people I worked with were on H1B's from other countries and the steps required to change jobs seems daunting at the time. I was considering going back to Canada. I soon realized that it was very simple to change jobs while on a TN. All I needed was a new letter of employment from the new employer with some specific verbiage, and I could fly to the border, and get a new TN status and fly back and work the next day. Contrary to popular belief, TN is not a visa, itís a status. And so I looked for a job that I would be happier doing.
Switched companies after about a year, again on another TN. It was a dot.com startup, and I could tell after about 3-4 months that things were not going to last here, so I started looking for a new job. I went from interview to interview asking the employers that seemed to like me, and the jobs that I would like, if they would process a green card for me. Most of them did not know what their involvement would be, so I walked them through it, and I'd say about 90% of employers at the time agreed to process it for me either from day one, or after a trial period of about 1-6 months. If you attempt this, make sure you know the steps involved for AOS, and specifically, what the employer needs to do for you, and the approximate timeframes. When explained clearly, most employers are willing to help you.
Started my current job in 2000, and they agreed during the interview to start a green card for me after about 3 months of working there. I was on my 3rd TN at this point. My first advertisement was in September 2000, and my labor certification was filed in December 2000. It got approved in June of 2001.
I got my 4th TN visa in June of 2001. (For all of you folks on an H1B, a TN is only good for 1 year)
Applied for my I-140 in July 2001 in EB category 3. There was no option to file my I-485 concurrently at the time. The lawyer asked if I wanted to do consular processing instead of adjustment of status, and he explained all the pros and cons. I wasn't worried about losing my job. I really wanted my wife to have permission to be able to work as soon as possible, and it seemed at the time that if we take the AOS route, then she would get an EAD sooner than she would get a green card if we took the consular route. Also I was a bit concerned about the dual intent thing since I was on a TN, and I wanted to have a lawyer that could defend that coherently if needed. He told me it almost never comes up, but if it does, he could help me. If I take the consular route, then itís out of his hands, and I'd be on my own. Again, this all seemed very daunting at the time, so I wanted to have the lawyer's help if needed, so I took the safer, yet longer option. I didn't know it would be THIS long though.
My I-140 was transferred to the Nebraska service center in February 2002. I discovered this forum at that time, and saw that many TSC I-140 filers were being transferred to NSC to have their cases processed more quickly, and to reduce the backlog at TSC. It got approved at NSC in March 2002 without any RFE's.
My lawyer filed to renew my TN via mail, even though it would only expire in another 4 months. Not out of the ordinary, since it takes about 3 months to process a TN at NSC. This was my 5th and last TN renewal.
A few weeks later in April of 2002, he filed my I-485, EAD's and AP's for both my wife and I. I finally felt like things were moving along. Little did I know what lay ahead.
My first EAD's and AP's arrived in May 2002, and then my 5th TN renewal arrived in June 2002. At this point my TN status was useless, since I was in AOS-pending status, and I had my approved EAD's and Advance Paroles, should I ever need them. My wife's TD status was also replaced with the same, and now she could work for the first time in the United States. My lawyer warned me that if I traveled out of the US, not to enter the United States using my TN status, but to use the AOS-pending status, and show my Advance Parole. I never traveled during this time out of fear of getting rejected at the border, and due to the experience I described above in 1998.
The processing time went from 600 days to 720 days to 850 days to 999 days. I was getting more and more depressed each time, and regretted not having taken the consular route. But at least I had a job that I liked, and it seemed as if there were no layoffs in site. Also my wife was able to find work easily and that made her feel better about herself, so the stress was down in the home front.
We bought a house in November 2002, and I realized that if you don't have a green card you don't qualify for Homestead exemption in Florida. Homestead exemption essentially does 2 things. It lowers your taxable property value by $25,000. It also caps the increase to your taxable property assessment at 3% per year (this is called the "Save our Home Value" law). This is a great law for Florida, since many people own investment property, and Homestead is only applicable if the home is your primary residence. So the counties get more property tax from the investment properties this way. Itís a good law and it makes sense, except if you're in a status other then permanent resident, or US Citizen and you've owned your home for many years. So just because the AOS process takes so long, you get screwed. Property values can increase 8-15% a year depending on the area you are in. So I really wanted the green card so as to prevent my property taxes from sky rocketing. Every year that went by, I cursed the INS for not approving my case, and making me pay more in property taxes. I did not think this was fair. So although its a good law for investment properties and foreigners or out-of-state residents that own a second home in Florida, I feel there needs to be some kind of an exception or amendment for immigrants who are stuck in the AOS process for such a long time, who have been here so long that they could basically be considered "permanent". The passport stamp is not enough proof to file for this. I need to wait for the plastic card. I guess they feel itís too easy to forge the stamp compared to the plastic card.
November 2002, I sent both AR-11 forms for my wife and me, called TSC to tell them I moved and change the address on all my pending cases. I even sent them a fax, just to be sure. My interview notice never made it to my current address regardless of all these efforts.
I called the TSC office directly about 3 times between Feb and April 2003 (back in the day before the stupid 1-800 number) and asked the Officers to issue a finger print notice. The first 3 times they said they cannot do anything. The third time, somebody actually had mercy on me and sent a request on my behalf. In June 2003 I received my notice and it was scheduled for August 2003 finger printing. My hopes were up, that maybe my case was nearing completion. Little did I know I would do my fingerprints a second time later next year.
February 2004, my lawyer moved to a new address, my USCIS mail continues to go to his old address ever since.
In May 2004, my case got transferred to the Miami local office. Many people with my receipt date were getting approvals on this forum, but my case got transferred. I got very depressed, and this of course brought my stress level up. Everyone on this forum was very helpful during that difficult time. My wife did not receive a transfer notice, and her online status remained the same. I visited the Miami office in June 2004, and we asked them to request her case from TSC. At first they refused, but with a little nagging, they finally agreed to send a fax, and gave us a copy of the fax that was sent. I personally sent a fax to TSC requesting my wife's case to be transferred, and then my old lawyer also sent a second fax.
May 28th 2004
My frustrations with the transfer: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=128272
Later my mother-in-law won the diversity visa lottery, and to guarantee that she would get a green card she either needed tons of money in the bank, or a job offer, or an affidavit of support from a USC, or a permanent resident. She didn't have the first 2 so I was going to sign the affidavit as soon as I got my green card. The stress level increased even more in fear of filing the application too late. Now I can do that for her. Hopefully visa numbers will not run out by the time she gets her consular interview.
September 2004, my company decided to change lawyers. I warned against it for my specific case because my old lawyer had already moved, and mail was already going to the wrong addresses, but they did not listen and switched lawyers anyways. Low and behold I was right. All further correspondences continued to go to my old address, and to my old lawyerís old address, regardless of what my new lawyer did.
Returned to the Miami office in October 2004, and discovered that my case physically arrived in Miami in August 2004. My wife's case was still not there.
October 21st 2004
More info on my transfer: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=147780
Sent an email to the FBI in October 2004 to get a status on my name check. It has not arrived to this day. I expect it will arrive in a week or so, but at this point itís only anecdotal since I'm already approved.
In late October 2004, my lawyer sent his AILA liason to talk to the Director of the Miami DO. The liason had other cases to discuss as well. The goal was to try to compel the director to expedite my case and schedule an interview, since it had already been pending for so long, and now my mother-in-law's arrival was at stake as well, since she would only be eligible to get a DV if she had someone with a GC that could spnsor her.
The Director made no promises, and in fact stated that my case may need to wait at least another 12-14 months before I get an interview notice.
November 2004, we got our second fingerprint notices from the Miami office, even though they were sent to all the wrong addresses. It took a month to get to me. There was no appointment time, it just said to go ASAP within the next 87 days. What I found encouraging was that both my wife and I got fingerprint notices, which led me to believe that Miami had both our cases ad this point.
November 5th 2004
Wrong Address on file in Miami Office: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=149785
Then we both finally got our interview notices, 2 weeks before the interview. Of course they went to the wrong addresses. The originals probably went to my old address, and they are forever lost. Was the interview notice triggered by the meeting with the Director? Nobody will ever know, and the Director will probably deny it until his death bed.
The same day after the interview we went to the Social Security office to get the INS restrictions removed. They could not locate our permanent resident file in the USCIS system, so they told us the new Social Security cards will arrive in about 8 weeks, after they get verification from USCIS of our permanent resident status.
We are expecting a baby in May, so having my wife's mother nearby will be loads of help. Hopefully the diversity visa gets approved at the consulate. I expect it to happen around April or so. We have no other family down here. The funny part is that the baby will have triple citizenship from its first day of life! US citizenship of course just because he/she is born here. Canadian citizenship because I am a Canadian, and the third comes from my wife's citizenship. Wow, 3 passports from day 1!
Next I need to get a new driver's license with a normal expiration. Currently we've had to renew every year. Finally it will be good for 5 years.
Thanks to everyone who supported me through these tough times. This is the best EB AOS forum that I have seen, and I've visited quite a few of them over the past 50 months. I wish everyone the bestest of luck, and you will all get approved in due time. Some may need to wait longer than others, but you will get approved, even if you're in TN status!
December 16th 2004
6 Welcome Letters: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=155434
December 17th 2004
Error on GC: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=155612
January 11th 2005
AP Approval after GC Approval: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=158516
January 28th 2005
Name Check Results after GC Approval: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=160653
February 2nd 2005
Got Corrected GC after I-90: http://www.immigrationportal.com/sho...d.php?t=161311
June 1st 2005
Mother-in-law has her DV interview, and gets the diversity visa the same day.
June 22nd 2005
Mother-in-law arrives in the US on her DV visa, only 3 months before the cutoff date for that year. Her green card arrives within a few weeks.
January 6th 2007
Strange letter from NSC requesting copies of my GC: