It’s been a couple of weeks since my visa interview, and I’ve been a little slack in blogging. I ran my first half marathon, which occupied most of my time since the interview and is the primary reason for not reporting on it so far.
We arrived in London the day before the interview, and checked out the embassy location, just to make sure we knew where we were going. We took the route from the hotel that we would in the morning, worked out the timings, you know, the usual. We wanted to make sure we had plenty of time.
The morning of the interview, we were up early, and after readying ourselves, made our way on the tube to Grosvenor Square. In case you are in any doubt as to whose the biggest house on the block is, the square is adorned by statues of Roosevelt, Eisenhower and an Eagle.
We joined the queue and had our appointment letter checked. We had to wait outside, and were grateful for bringing our umbrella! It rained. After waiting about 30 minutes, we went through a security checkpoint – think of it like going through security at an airport. We were inside.
Take a ticket, take a seat, wait for your number. The whole thing was somewhat reminiscent of my only DMV experience to-date. Only people were quieter, and not rude to the counter staff!
The waiting area was busy, there were no seats for some of the people waiting, and there was a constant stream of numbers being read of the PA system. Looking at the board, I figured we would be a while. 98% of the numbers started with the letter N and the remaining 2% an I. Quick deduction N = Non-immigrant; I = Immigrant.
Our ticket was stamped 8:33. With no electrical devices, and no large bags, the only thing we had was our folder. Well, other people had the foresight to bring books, news papers and magazines, this was perhaps our one mistake.
1 hour 45 minutes passes before we hear our number being read out, and we make our way to the counter. The immigration officer was polite and friendly, I was nervous.
First off my finger prints were taken. All of them. Four fingers or left hand. Four fingers of right hand. Both thumbs.
She asked for my birth certificate, police report, and other bits and pieces, I duly obliged. As I handed over our documents she checked them off on a list. I was asked some questions about have I been to the US before, how many times, the usual.
The officer handed me a sheet of paper, with my visa class checked, and instructed me to the teller window where I would pay before returning. $400 lighter ($355 for the visa application, $45 security surcharge), I presented my receipt. Another check on the form. I was handed my chest x-ray, to show the immigration officer upon my arrival in the US, and instructed to sit and wait for our number to be called. Again.
Another hour passes before we are called again, this time to a different window. This is the consular officer who will interview us. Again, the officer was friendly and amicable. My finger prints were taken again (I guess to verify I was the same person an hour ago?) and I swore an oath that I was telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Some basic questioning followed:
- Why do you want to live in America?
- How long have you known each other?
- When and where did you get married?
The consular officer was satisfied that we were legitimate, and even said he wanted to give us the visa there and then, however there were three pieces of information missing, and as such our visa application is suspended until we provide them. We felt a little deflated, but the gentleman was helpful and explained there is little to it. Once we have the documentation, we call the embassy courier, who will collect the evidence and passport, which will then be processed and we will have the visa in 3 days (pending approval).
So the three pieces of information?
Proof that Lara
has maintained a domicile in the United States or intends to re-establish one no later than my travel to the US.
Lara’s 2007 tax return.
Our sponsors 2008 tax return.
Let’s look at these in reverse:
When we had our sponsor complete the I-864, he hadn’t submitted 2008, and had filed an extension, however we provided 2005 through 2007, along with various information on asset ownership and value.
Lara didn’t work in the US in 2008, and therefore had insufficient earnings, exempting her from filing a 2008 return. We had an affidavit stating this, which was accepted, however they require a copy of her last filed tax return.
Proof of domicile? This was described by our consular officer as ‘fuzzy’. How do we prove that, if Lara hasn’t filed taxes? Well, he gave us some pointers, and we have begun assembling our documentation package.
All in all, it wasn’t a scary experience. We left feeling dejected, but ultimately satisfied. We had read somewhere about the domicile thing previously, but completely forgotten about it. It turns out we probably had suitable proof on our person, but racked by nerves and disappointment completely forgot about it.
I wish I could bear happier news, but at this time we are still waiting.