A story written by Jakemond… If you missed part Fifty Two, read it HERE
My worries turned out to be baseless. A few days after my ordeal, the Spanish authorities granted my request and issued me a permanent resident’s permit. I was happy and willing to ignore the reason they had chosen to expedite the process for me. Obviously, their actions were a bit self-serving—to make themselves look good after the incident with the municipal police, which had brought about a potentially high-profile lawsuit—but it worked for me all the same. The authorities didn’t stop their manipulations at just issuing me a resident’s permit; they made sure that no stone was left unturned in manipulating the organization that was representing me.
After my release from detention, I kept visiting the organization’s office to find out the status of the lawsuit. At first, everyone seemed highly motivated and convinced that our case against the authorities was very strong, especially with all the evidence and the witnesses willing to testify on my behalf. However, as time passed, their enthusiasm started wearing thin. This started right about the same time the government issued my permit. Somehow, the organization became less straightforward with me and, once again, my hope for justice was dashed.
Meanwhile, the prospect of traveling to the U.S. for my education had never looked better now that I had my resident’s permit, and I wasted no time in getting the process started. First, I visited the American Institute in Barcelona, which was run by the U.S. consulate. I spent many hours in their library researching viable, affordable two-year colleges in the U.S. Finally, my efforts paid off: I found the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia. It was a two-year college that offered associate degrees in many fields. Annual tuition and fees came to $7,500, much cheaper than every other school I looked at. I took down the address and other necessary information, and the next day I placed a crucial call to the dean of students. He seemed very kind and was pleased to help me enroll in the school. He told me the exact requirements and everything else I needed to facilitate the process. Apart from completing the enrollment application, I had to show proof that I had the money to finance my studies for one year. This basically meant I had to obtain a bank statement showing that I had at least $7,500 in my account.
I knew that this was it—my last opportunity to reach the Promised Land—and I wasn’t going to let anything stop me. I put on all my charm with Maria Joana. It took me several days to get her to deposit $20,000 into my account, and when she grudgingly did, she made it very clear that she would take the money back as soon as I had completed my enrollment process. However, she later agreed to let the money stay until after I obtained my student visa. I mailed the completed application and the bank statement to the school, and within a couple of weeks I received a copy of Form I-20, which showed that I was eligible to apply through the U.S. embassy for an F-1 student visa. A duplicate copy of the form was sent to the embassy to let them know that the school had accepted my application.
Having Form I-20 did not, by any means, guarantee me a visa. I still had to go through the interview and would be granted a visa only if I passed. I wasn’t willing to leave anything to fate at this point; I had to work extra hard to make sure I had covered all my bases before going for my interview. The best thing I had going for me was that I had been smart enough to return to Nigeria and get my own passport, with my legitimate name and information. It would have been a great tragedy for me to have finally gotten into the U.S. bearing somebody else’s name and living their life. The issue that might pose a challenge was that I now had a virgin passport. Apart from the Spanish visa, the exit stamp from Nigeria, and the entry stamp to Spain, there was no proof that I was a regular traveler. It was widely believed that most embassies, especially the U.S., tended to refuse visas to people who had no proof of being frequent travelers. With that in mind, I embarked on a quest to obtain as many visas as possible from European Union countries. The task wouldn’t be difficult, given that the resident’s permit issued to me by the Spanish authorities was the new European Union permit.
To Be Continued…