For the last two months I’ve been dealing with the kids immigration paperwork to get their official Certificate of Citizenship. (Yes I know, it’s been 3 years. What can I say, the $1,100 fee kind of made me procrastinate.)
I had everything filled out and all the supporting documents done since early last year. Then they sat on my desk while I tried to clear up a question about whether or not Mark being a veteran counted toward their “no fee for veterans” policy. (It doesn’t. Only if the actual applicant is a veteran.) So then it sat until I could cough up the $1,100.
I finally mailed it in around Thanksgiving. About a week later the whole packet came back to me with a note that I had sent it to the wrong address. A couple weeks later I re-mailed it.
Somewhere in that week right after Christmas a big envelope came back. I was all excited and thought “Wow, that’s fast.” Instead it was all my original documents with a note that the forms were now “too old” and I needed to redo them, submit it, and attach this wonderful orange sheet that would give it priority processing.
We had a gazillion house guests and stuff going on that week, not to mention having to travel to Arkansas for Mark’s grandmother’s funeral. So I set the packet aside.
Three weeks ago I went to redo the forms.
Only I couldn’t find the packet. ANYWHERE. Seriously, how can you misplace a giant 11×14 gold envelope?? I was so annoyed because I rarely lose stuff. I literally looked EVERYWHERE for that stupid thing, nearly in tears. My main concern was the fact that they had kept my $1,100 payment and now I had no proof really.
I finally gave up and went through the hassle of gathering all my documents again. New passport pics and 2 new certified marriage licenses and I’d added $60 to the cost of this thing.
I looked at my check register for the check number and got online to confirm that they had cashed it. Only I couldn’t find the transaction in my checks paid.
Hm, well maybe they had sent back the original check in that packet and I hadn’t seen it? (I really hadn’t gone through the whole pile, I had just read the letter on the top.) It kind of made sense that they would send it back.
I actually felt a little better and figured maybe that was easier. We could just treat it like a brand new application with new payment and I wouldn’t have to worry.
I’m getting to the good part…
The papers have been sitting on my desk waiting for the money. Two days ago I got a donation receipt from a charity that we used to support via automatic-withdrawal. We had requested the donation be stopped in December, yet I got a receipt for a February donation. Before contacting them, I went online to see if the donation had actually come out of our checking and to see if January had as well.
I set a search for all my ACH withdrawals for December – February.
Lo and behold, there was my $1,100 transaction to the USCIS. They take paper checks and process them as electronic fund transfers so they show up under ACH, not checks where I had looked before.
I almost double paid them! And given usual government-efficiency and the paperwork mix up, I highly doubt they would have found the mistake.
Turns out the charity ACH never had come out of my account. So weird that I would get a receipt.
Coincidence? I think not. I totally think that was God looking out for us. That extra $1,100 would have really hurt!