Click here for Visa Update #1 and here for Visa Update #2.
Great news! I received my visa today!! The Consulate's website says you should expect to wait at least 2-3 weeks after sending off the paperwork before hearing anything, so when I tracked my return address label and saw that it had been mailed back after only 2 days, I was very worried that there was a problem. Then I had the absolute torture of the envelope not arriving when the tracking showed it would arrive and had to wait an extra day… It was horrible! I was imagining all of the worst case scenarios.
So what's next? I think I could technically go back because I just need the visa to enter the country. However, because I don't have any of the paperwork back to start the one-year residency process with the lawyer, I wouldn't be able to start that process within the 30 days the visa is good for. Extensions are granted sometimes, but because it could still take awhile for the other documents to be completed, it'd probably be better not to risk it. So, I'll still be home for a bit longer.