Coming home from the gym tonight, I read an email on my cell phone announcing that my petition for Hiromi to come to the U.S. has finally been approved.

It's a relief. It really only means that we've started round three of the waiting game, as the next layer of bureaucracy enters the picture. But the most grueling, time consuming part of this process is now over.

It's been 208 days since I filed the petition. We spent about 3 weeks after our minimalist wedding gathering documents, filling out forms, correcting forms, mailing them back and forth, reviewing them with my attorney and an immigration paralegal, and accumulating a small fortune in legal bills and government fees.

The approval means that we now wait again... in about a week, we should be assigned a visa number after the National Visa Center receives the petition, which will be forwarded to the consular service at Tokyo embassy. Sometime after that, Hiromi will receive a new stack of paperwork to fill out, and I expect I'll have to assemble a bunch of financial documents as well.

If we're lucky, within a month after the documents are sent off, Hiromi will get an appointment for a medical exam and an interview.

I'm not sure yet, but there's a reasonable chance Hiromi will be able to come to Seattle by late May.

Maybe I'll finally be able to concentrate during the daytime again...

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