As I’ve mentioned before, I am moving to the states very soon. I graduated last October with a Master’s in Creative Media and decided that I’d sign up for the USIT Graduate Visa before the year ran out. I had my U.S. Embassy Visa Interview in Dublin yesterday and well, it was an experience to say the least.
When I booked my appointment a few weeks ago, I spent some time researching about the interview stage and what I should expect. I found some information on boards.ie, but the thread was more than 5 years old so I took that advice with a pinch of salt, because most likely things had changed since then. So I thought, anyway. Other than that, I didn’t find much information available and that made me even more nervous for the whole process. I wanted a general idea of how long it took, what the process involved and basically how scary it was! So here is how it all went…
My appointment was for 9am so my brother and I packed up the car and left on our little road trip at 3am. Because I always like to be early and factor in every situation that could possibly arise, we were almost 3 hours early.. my bad! Anyway, I decided to go in at about 8:15am, because I knew the first appointments of the day started at 8:30am so I expected to go in and sit down and wait for my appointment time. Wishful thinking on my behalf! So I got to security and it was very much like an airport security situation. There were a few American Police and they guided me on what I couldn’t take in (they took my FitBit and Jewellery and placed them in a locker). In an instructions manual I received prior to the appointment was I instructed not to bring any liquids/creams/makeup in my bag. I decided to just leave my bag in my car and just take my folder of documents with me.
When I got to the office, there was already a queue and quickly I realised this was more of a first come first serve basis rather than an allotted time appointment. The first queue felt like it went on forever, but it took about 50 minutes to get to the first counter where a woman took some of the documentation I had brought with me – this took about two minutes. Then I was told to move to another counter to take my finger prints. This only took about minute or so before I was instructed to join the ‘Interview’ queue and that’s when I knew it was going to be a long morning. This queue felt like it went on forever, and although there were about 20 people ahead of me, I was glad I got there when I did because by the time I had finished, the queue was about 3-4 hours long I’d imagine. I queued for about an hour and a half and all sorts were going through my head on what they’d ask me. I had nothing to be nervous about but it was one of those situations where everybody was trying to act all cool, calm and collected but everybody looked suspicious, ha ha!
One thing that stood out to me when standing in the queue was that the amount of paperwork varied dramatically. It kind of freaked me out at first because some people in front of me had hundreds of pages worth of documentation and I had about 30, so I thought I had misread and forgot a lot of stuff. However, once I had calmed down a little I realised that this all came down to the different types of visa’s, so there was nothing to be worried about.
Anyway, I got to the interview counter and a very kind American man asked me for my documentation, scanned it in and asked me what I had graduated in. I told him and he made some jokes and we laughed, which really made me feel comfortable. He tried making conversation with everybody he met and that definitely made the experience a lot easier. The ‘interview’ section took about 5 minutes – max! He asked a few questions about what I did, what area I’d like to work in, how my job/internship search was going, why I had chosen Boston, where I went to college and when I was leaving, and that was about it. He then told me my visa was approved but that it would go through another processing stage before I was 100% approved. I’d then be emailed and instructed to pick up my passport (hopefully with a Visa) in a local sorting office within 3-5 working days.
Overall, it was absolutely fine! I had envisioned all sorts of questions and possibilities, but it really was fine. I’m thankful to the man working there who put everybody at ease and done so with a big smile on his face.
And that’s it. It took over 2 hours in total but was a fairly easy process. The office was packed full of people even just as it opened, but I’d advise getting there as early as possible because although it looks busy at 8am, it’s much better than what it’s like at 10am.
This is just the start of my travel/moving diaries, but it’s not long until I officially pack everything up, so there will be plenty of posts coming up on the graduate visa in general, moving to the U.S. and much more. If you have any suggestions for a series title, I’d love to know – Tweet me @SincerelyZara and let me know what you think!