Peru – Day 20

Yes, I am still here. Peru is becoming the second country where I live the longest outside home. It’s getting too comfortable living in a hotel, working with Spanish keyboard, and getting around by using only hand gestures ;-).

As a data person, it is ironic that my return now depends on a single data entry in the US Consular database. This is how the lawyer explained it.

Once a H1B petition is approved by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), a copy will be sent to the Kentucky Consular Center. The Center will input the approved petition to a system called PIMS (Petition Information Management Service), through which the Consular posts around the world access the details of approved nonimmigrant visa. Although my most recent H1B petition was approved in Feb, 2010, somehow the Kentucky Center never updated the record. Without my petition record in PIMS, US consular in Peru could not issue the visa.

This situation begs a few questions.

a) Is USCIS database not connected to PIMS? If every approval record exists in USCIS, why is a separate database needed?

b) If the Peru Consular contacts USCIS, within a minute they will be able to confirm my petition. Instead, the “written” and therefore “right” process ask them to keep on hitting a button and check whether the record shows up in the PIMS.

c) What is the work efficiency in Kentucky Center? Anyone who has been waiting for green card for years can well imagine the efficiency of US immigration services. Backlogs are not news. However, once a missing record is identified, how long will it take for someone in the Kentucky Center to put it in the database?

Once a living person becomes a record and a record gets into systems after systems, be prepared for many people’s lives wasted in the “processes” and “procedures”.

I would never have imagined that I’ll be spending the July 4th in Lima.

On the brighter side, I made some breakthrough over the weekend. First time getting around by local public transportation on my own. Visited the most chic neighborhood (Miraflores) in town. Enjoyed the ocean view. Today I walked into a Chifa restaurant for the first time, after avoiding Chinese food for the past 20 days. The Chinese couple who opened the place six years ago were delighted to see me. The wife asked me to drop by for a chat any time and did not even want to take my money. What did I have for lunch? Stir fried rice with noodle with bean sprouts with chicken, accompanied by the Inca Cola.

Yes, I can survive in almost everywhere. So are Chinese restaurants :-).

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