On Tuesday, a letter came from the USCIS, the immigration bureau. I handed it to Eli and he carefully opened it. I peered over his shoulder, and knowing the nature of American correspondence, skimmed to the top where I spotted the word "approved" and started jumping up and down and shrieking before he had figured out why.
It was a single piece of paper, with the title "Welcome to the United States of America." The first two lines read:
"This is to notify you that your application for permanent residence has been approved. It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to permanent resident status in the United States."
It's hard to explain how gratifying it is not only for Eli to get his residency, but also to see words like "pleasure" and "welcome" coming from the US government during the immigration process. It's not a fun process, and really puts you through the ringer to make sure you are very serious about what you're doing every step of the way. We started last December and nearly a year later, he's finally done it. The letter was also a welcome surprise, considering it only took about two and a half months to process his residency application, which I would say is pretty record time (we were expecting 3-4 months).
But like everything in immigration, just when we feel like we've finally finished and we finally can relax, it's not over yet. His residency is conditional, which means that in two years we will have to apply yet again to change his status, and then go to an immigration center and prove (with documents, photos, and what have you) we are still married in order for his permanent permanent residency to go through. Also, if he ever wants to leave the country before then, he'll have to apply for a special travel waiver.
Since he's not going anywhere for now, and since two years is a ways away, we're both just really happy and relieved that we can relax, at least about immigration. Ate que enfim.