January 22 2005 I was a Temporary Permanent Resident of the United States of America.
On January 22 2005 I became a Permanent Permanent Resident of the United States of America.
Well there are two kinds of Permanent Residents of course. I was a conditional resident. Now I've been approved as an unconditional resident. Let me explain.
I'm here in the US because I'm married to a US Citizen. But my wife and I had been married less than 2 years when I applied for an immigration visa. Actually we'd been married for 6 days at the time. The US, not being stupid, are naturally suspicious of the bona fides of the marriage. So I entered the US as a conditional permanent resident, status CR-1. They sent me a greencard very quickly (2 weeks after I entered the US) and issued me a social security number even more quickly (1 week). My greencard was good for 2 years; it expired on November 17th 2004.
Anytime in the 90 days before the 2nd anniversary of my entering the US I needed to file a request for the removal of conditions. If I didn't file for removal of conditions within the 2 years I immediately became deportable! So I did. The immigration authorities (they're not INS anymore but I'm damned if I can remember what they're called now) sent me a letter stating that, pending adjustment of status, I was authorised to live and work in the US for a further 12 months and authorised to travel outside the US (this is a big deal - depending on how you enter the US it's possible that travel outside the US will forever bar you from returning). The letter also advised that I might not hear from INS for 330 days and it specifically enjoins me to not ring and enquire until those 330 days have elapsed. Phoenix INS has the reputation of being the slowest in the country.
I've travelled on the authority of that letter since then and it's not let me down.
On January 22 2005 I was approved for the removal of conditions! Say what? That's far less than 330 days! Yep - it was and it caught me on the hop. I'm guessing it's nationality based. I don't think there's a lot of immigration fraud based on marriage to Australians. If I were a Mexican Citizen or a Citizen of the Philippines I suspect there'd have been a lot more checking. So now I have to apply for a new (10 year green card). There are a bunch of requirements and the warning that it may take 6 months to issue the 10 year replacement.
There's also this interesting sentence.
'You should not travel outside the United States before receiving your new card unless you have first received a passport endorsement from this Service indicating that your new card is being processed'.
Given that I was outside the US when this letter arrived at my home I'm sure you can imagine that I was a trifle worried. Fortunately immigration let me return but I'm not going to push my luck again.