Thursday, January 3

American Visa

I was successfully awarded an American Visa for my time in the US yesterday. I had to visit the American embassy in London, Grosvenor Square.

The process was assisted by my sponser AILF in the states, and they sent me various documents that were necessary for the Visa. I also had to fill out many online forms that I needed to take with me, not much fun and a lot of repetition.

Luckily I was with Mitu, also on the Kauffman Fellowship, who had her interview at the same time.

Upon arriving at the embassy, in the freezing cold, I had to stand in a queue similar to that at a fairground to quickly check that I had all the documents necessary. Then through security, much like airport security, where they took any electrical equiment off me and I had to take off any metallic objects (including belts).

Into the embassy (past the armed guards) I entered a room, reminding me of a large doctors waiting room, with the obligitory paitent calling system. The first wait was for the handing in all the forms, and finger print scans. The second for the actual "interview" which only lasted 2 minutes, and consisited of simple questions like "what are you doing in the states?" and "what have you been doing since graduating?". Lastly there's a queue to organise to have your passport, including Visa sent back to you (at a cost of £14).

Although I had been warned this process could take 3 hours, I was lucky enough to get in and out in 1 1/2 hours. All in all, pretty straightforward and painless.

If I had any tips, then I would definately take a book, or something to do as it's could be a long wait. Despite what they say you can take a mobile, they will just take it off you at security, and I saw a few people with largish bags. Lastly, if you can then a later appointment seems best, as there were signs outside that suggest morning appointments would have to wait in the cold.

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