In his May 20 op-ed column, "Green-Card Blues for America's Image," Tom Carver said that Americans never have to enter this world of bureaucracy. I disagree. I am an American who went through the permanent residency process with my husband, a native of Chile. Mr. Carver attributes problems such as long waiting periods and limited (if any) access to needed information to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but such problems existed well before then.

My husband applied for his green card in 1998 but did not receive it until 2001. In that time the Immigration and Naturalization Service made many mistakes with his application, including placing him in deportation proceedings and identifying him as a convicted felon from Mexico. Our application problems were caused by clerical errors and a lack of communication among INS departments, but our lawyer said our best hope was to abandon efforts to get the clerical side of the INS to fix its mess and to continue with the deportation proceedings. So we went to court, where a judge granted my husband permanent residency.

Many of our friends have experienced similar problems.

Some may argue that people who want to live in this country should be willing to accept the process. I agree. The process, however, should afford immigrants respect. As it stands it can be a degrading experience. Applicants also should be able to expect that the people handling their cases will do so competently.

Mr. Carver's column suggests that things have not improved much in the past six years.

GAIL MULLIGAN

Falls Church