A not-quite lunch date with USCIS

A biometrics appointment with USCIS can take exactly five minutes or two hours. The appointment will be sometime in the morning between breakfast and lunch. The office will never smell of coffee.

For those who don’t know (and I envy you for this bliss) USCIS is the abbreviation for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

There will be a poster of Obama or a poster of Trump taped to the formerly pristine white wall.

No employee will know how to speak Spanish. They will ask if anyone there does know Spanish. You will timidly look around, raise your hand, and walk up to the USCIS employee frowning at a small woman.

You will translate to her that she should not leave the country. That the paper doesn’t quite say what she thought it did. She still has 5 more years here. Sorry you were misinformed. That happens sometimes, the employee speaks through me to her.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Once you’ve warmed up the plastic seat they will call your number and they will read the very important paper that you’ve filled out on the clipboard given to you when you walked in. Then you will sit down again. They’ll call your number when they’re ready to photograph you. Your hair will always be in the way. Your expression will be somewhere between stupidity and severe boredom.

You’ll fixate on relaxing your fingers when they move your hand over glass and document the spirals that tell this country who you are to them. You will think of Mary Oliver’s line about over and over announcing your place / in the family of things and remind yourself that this country — here, now — is your home.

Comments (



  1. Sasha

    Well written. You convey your experience in a mere handful of powerful images and words.

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