Miller’s Immigration (Part Two)
By Terry Miller
The first thing to know about immigration is that it is a very long, drawn-out process.
In my case, I came over with my family from England under what was then known as an “I” Visa, granted to foreign nationals who are journalists. So for my school years in New York, I had no problem.
When I came of age I had to apply for my own Visa (green card), which ended up being far more complicated than I thought.
You see, I had returned to the UK after high school, as I really wasn’t sure I wanted to live in the US anymore. Kind of a man without a country, really.
Low and behold after travelling back to England for a couple of years, I got “homesick” for the good old USA and my family.
It was Christmas in 1974 when I attempted to get on a plane back to New York, only to find out I was no longer covered under the I -Visa and had to apply for my own permanent residency.
The process was about three or four years in the making and my father had to fly back to the UK to confirm all my paperwork was legitimate. Finally, in 1979, the application was completed and approved and I received my “green card,” which at that time did not need to be renewed.
Move ahead 35 years … a trip to Mexico via Cunard’s Queen Victoria was offered to me – to see how things have changed since I first sailed on the original Queen Mary.
Leaving San Pedro was no problem. However, upon my return to the US, I presented my admittedly somewhat mutilated green card that had been in my wallets for the past 35 years to the customs chap.
Noting I looked a bit different, a rather large pair of Homeland Security Officers escorted me to an “interview room” where I was detained for the next couple of hours. I was not allowed to use a cell phone and only allowed to answer numerous questions to confirm that I was who I said I was. They were not amused.
Finally after numerous interrogations, the Office of Homeland Security finally agreed that I was who I said I was and allowed me back into the US, on the condition I get a new green card immediately or I will not be able to return to the states, should I attempt to do so.
The experience taught me a valuable lesson in life – don’t take anything for granted.
I was then offered a trip to Taiwan with several other journalists from all over the world.
It was then I realized not only was my green card invalid but I had not renewed my UK passport.
I applied for my new green card and passport from the UK … several hundreds of dollars and one year later I was able to travel to Taiwan.
If you look at the photo of the old green card, you can probably see why I may have looked suspicious to Homeland Security.
All part of life’s rich tapestry.