Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Adventures with the CIS

In May 2005, we were fingerprinted by the CIS as part of our application to adopt a child from China. On August 17, 2006 our fingerprints will expire. (Some of you may be asking, as my mom did, how can fingerprints expire, aren't they unique, and unchanging? But that is not for us to consider. All we know is that if the CIS says they expire, they expire).

For the past couple of weeks we have been trying to make an appointment to be re-fingerprinted. We have called, we have written, we have couriered a certified check with our request to them, but to no avail. The CIS ignored us. Finally, Jerry figured out how to go online and schedule an appointment. He went to the CIS yesterday, prepared to raise hell about their shoddy treatment of us. However, as he sat in the lobby, and watched others giving the immigration officers a hard time, the old adage about catching more flies with honey occcurred to him. He resolved at that moment to be as charming and sweet as possible. Guess what? It worked. Everyone was super helpful and nice. (Scary Note: They searched for quite awhile, and eventually found the letter and check we had couriered to them, and which they had signed for on 7/26).

At first, Jerry was given an appointment letter for August 21, but then it was changed to state that we could come down any morning (except Wednesdays) to be fingerprinted. So of course, we went this morning. Here is an example of what it's like to go to the CIS: The door is locked, and there is a sign instructing you NOT to knock. You must stand patiently until they open the door. Then you are told you may go in, but you may not bring in cell phones, pagers, food (including gum!), drinks, weapons, or chemical sprays (including perfumes). Any of those items must be returned to your vehicle. Once inside, you must fill out paperwork, and wait patiently for your number to be called. You must not approach, or attempt to speak to the immigration officers, until it is your turn.

So Jerry was number 29, and I was number 30. Jerry was called totally out of order (probably they remembered how nice he was yesterday!) He was done in about 5 minutes. Then they called 24, 25, etc, until they got to 30, and it was my turn. My fingerprints took about 30 minutes to obtain. Here's why: Fingerprints are not done with ink nowadays. They press your finger onto a scanner, and watch as the print appears on the computer screen. If it is not good, the computer rejects it. Apparently this is a better, faster, less messy way to do fingerprints--unless you are like me, and have "very wide deltas", in which case it takes much longer, and in the end, is just as messy. I had two different officers working on my prints. When one of them would get the computer to accept a print, we would all cheer. When the computer had finally accepted all 10, they told me they'd better do inked prints as a back up, so I wouldn't have to come back if they were rejected somewhere down the road. Anything not to come back!!

We are happy to have one more thing behind us, but somehow our To Do list seems to be growing instead of shrinking!


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Emily & Erik said...

I (Erik) too have very hard to scan finger prints! They said I have no ridges. At least they did an ink backup for you. I got word two weeks later that I'd have to go in again. I had to write out a statement testifying to every speeding ticket and parking ticket I had EVER had. Then I had to swear an oath. Crazy.

Erik, Emily & Sadie

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Rina & John said...

Although we went through the CIS experience over one year ago I still remember how "poorly" we were treated.

We felt like they were treating us like terrorists... not to be trusted.

Good luck,


At 7:51 PM, Anonymous Kerri said...

What a bizarre process! The no knocking and no speaking thing just blows me away.


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