Thursday, October 28, 2004

And we're there

Travel and immigration is done: I am now officially resident in the USA.

The flights themselves were OK — even on a regular holiday the outward leg always seems to go much faster because of the anticipation, and it's all the more so when it's a one-way trip.

The Embassy had recommended allowing plenty of time to process the paperwork on entry to the USA, so we'd booked flights which gave us a 4-and-a-half hour stopover in Houston. (Why Houston? I'd wondered about that too, but it became apparent when we arrived: it's Continental's home city and their biggest hub.)

As it turned out, though, Immigration only took 30 minutes — and most of that we got for free because the plane landed early. And I got to see what was inside the mysterious sealed envelope: a disappointment, that's what. Mostly the same forms and photocopies that I'd given them in the first place.

We were taken off into a side room; I was fingerprinted yet again and gave two more signatures; the Immigration officer spend a long time tapping away on his computer and filling in forms; and soon enough I was called up, handed back my passport, and welcomed to the US. I now have a stamp which validates my visa and turns it into a temporary green card; the real one arrives in the post sometime in the next 9 months or so.

I can live here; I can work here; I can leave and re-enter; I am a free man. Although, as he was very careful to warn me, I am not a citizen: "do not try to vote in the election, if you do it's a deportable offence".

This is it: this is what we've worked towards for the last 7 months. It's a huge relief getting here.

But it's also scary as hell. Until now we've both been unable to see beyond this point; it's so significant a goal that we've been unable to focus beyond it. All our energy so far has gone into settling our affairs in the UK and moving us, and our stuff, to the US. But now that's done, the rest of the road opens out in front of us; we have to establish a life in the US.

There is still so much to do.

Oh, and the X-Ray? They didn't want to see it; I'm keeping it as a souvenir.