The coveted USA visa

So you’ve decided to visit the most powerful country in the world! (Debatable), you duly fill out your visa application which can be found  HERE  this is the Consular Electronic Application Centre for filling out your USA visa application. Your Application ID, five letters of your surname and a security answer becomes your password to return to the unfinished application once you start it.

Now you start your application, filling in all your details step wise. You try to remember the exact dates you went to college. For someone like me who is approaching their forty’s this could be quite a daunting task. Daunting because you have to delve into those heavy wooden chest of drawers that has been overburdened with files and papers but never really opened in the last fifteen years and so to avoid such physical labor I try to remember the dates, putting all the pressure on my brain supported by squinted eyes and crinkled forehead but all that strain yield no result. The chest of drawers cannot be avoided. I open it and rummage through my long forgotten past.

I finally put my correct dates, college addresses with pin codes, although how does that matter I have no idea. Having earned a couple of degrees and accolades slows down the process but then it gets done eventually. Then I call my parents to ask for their correct date of birth. Of course I know the day and the month, but what year they belong to I can never be certain and turns out neither are they. This is a national dilemma I presume and safely tick the box which says “I do not know,” after all I cannot put an assumed date.

The security section has some rather silly questions like, “Are you a terrorist or something along that line?” I giggle at the questions, I do terrorise my siblings now and then but I guess that doesn’t qualify for an affirmative hence I merit all the questions with a negative.

Then you pay the $160 visa fee registering at another portal, you can check it HERE  There are various options on how you can pay the fees, once the fee is paid you get the receipt number which you enter in your corresponding application section in the previous site. Now you can select your appointment dates, one for the biometrics and one for the interview, I select two consecutive days.

Then comes the document part, this one is tricky, there is no document checklist attached unlike the UK visa application where the checklist could be downloaded right after submission of application. This one says bring only the DS 160 confirmation page, your passports and appointment confirmation page. In place of documents, it says bring whatever you feel will support your application. Now that is vague. I go ballistic and prepare as many documents as possible, I download my last 6 months bank statement and send it to the bank for signatures at the bottom of the page where it says ‘Signature not required, this is an electronically generated statement.’

Being an Indian one cannot rely on such computer generated messages, so I get it signed and stamped by the bank.

Then I collect all my property papers, the term ‘all’ here applies strictly to the papers and not property:) 

Next I go to the Chartered Accountant to get myself evaluated. Never having done so before I had no idea how violated that would feel. Kidneys, lungs, two eyes, a nose and a heart didn’t amount to much. And I’m here thinking they’re important .

Now came the office NOC’s and salary slips, which were the easiest ones in the process so far.

The family front was little overwhelming, I had no idea what papers to provide confirming the family staying behind so I sought the help of an advocate.

An oath commissioner made me write saying that all these tykes are going to stay back home and make the house as dirty as possible when I am in America. Just the thought of my boys home alone with their dad is scary enough but I abide with all honesty and sign in front of him in a stamp paper. Although that much I could write myself in a plain paper and it would still hold true. I also enclose my marriage certificate just in case I forget.

Now someone said I also need to prove that I am me and live where I live! that one seemed the hardest to prove but I managed.

Now I sort out papers with different tags and clips for financials, property, NOC’s, family related papers and copies of everyone’s passports. A whole bunch of stack is ready which I put inside a transparent folder. Transparent folder is the only thing you can carry to your interview, no bags, no phones nothing else too.

The application itself is not to be carried to the interview, it says in bold:

“DO NOT BRING THIS TO THE INTERVIEW,” Naturally, I pack it along with the documents.

So on the day of the appointment I reach an hour early. By virtue of my nationality I am bound by the very fabric of my being to suffer in long queues so I stand in one. My appointment is at 10:30 and exactly at 10:25 the guard tells me to go in, Biometrics is barely a 5minutes task and I am done and out by 10:35. So believe me, when the application says be exactly on time it means exactly that.

I fret and fume at my folly and swear not to be early next time, so the next day for my 10 AM interview I reach at 9:00. Try as you may you cannot fight yourself and the system that’s ingrained in you. So I suffer in line for an hour, the sun is furiously warm and I am carrying a heavy bunch of documents which I have checked umpteenth number of times for fear of missing out any. My turn comes and the interview commences

Interviewer: “Good morning, your passport please.”

Me: “Good morning!” I give both my old and current passports.

Interviewer: “This is not required.” she returns back my old passport.

I have taken out all the documents from the folder and carrying it ready to hand it over.

Interviewer: “Is this your first visit to the US?”

Me: “Yes”

Interviewer: “You have any relatives living in the US?”

Me: “No.”

Interviewer: “Are you married?”

Me: “Yes”

Interviewer: “Do you have children?”

Me: “Yes”

Interviewer: “They are not travelling with you?”

Me: “They are too young to travel”

Interviewer: “Your visa is approved.”

Me: !!!!???? 🙂 Thank you?

Remember, back in school when you’ve studied everything to the dot but the exam paper is too easy and you don’t get to write everything you know? Yeah, that’s the feeling I came out with along with a whole bunch documents not required.

 Moral of this blogpost: 1. you can reach exactly on time 🙂

2. Most online application portals for visa applications are extremely easy and user friendly so you can cut out the agents while filling your applications and do it yourself.

3. Of course I can never say you need not take the documents right? All I can say is don’t fret too much about it though, and fill your application with utmost care and sincerity.

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