The INS Vermont “Service” Center is unreachable by phone. The line is constantly busy, I’ve been trying for three days, hitting the redial button maybe a hundred times. I tried *66, but that’s disabled for toll-free numbers, and the INS carefully doesn’t publish a toll number.
So I called the national service center. They told me that it typically takes four months for the INS to send out a receipt saying that they actually received your application. The receipt gives a date even more months away when they’ll actually look at it, and acts as a visa extension. Of course, you’re not allowed to send the application in until 90 days before the expiry date on your card. Hmmm…
So I asked what to do about the fact that my resident alien card expires on February 8th. They said that I would need to go to my local INS office and apply for an extension.
So in summary, I need to go to the INS offices in Boston to apply for a visa extension to cover me until I get my visa extension which will let me wait for my permanent visa to be made permanent, because the INS wouldn’t let me send in my application until they were sure they wouldn’t be able to get me the visa extension in time.
I’m always amused that Americans hate and fear the IRS so much. The IRS are pussycats compared to the INS.