A couple of days ago I came home after spending some time in London when I went for my Visa interview for entry into the US. I thought I’d give a little insight into my experience as it can be really daunting and it’s something I personally wish I’d known more about.
The most important thing is your documents! Up to about a month before your interview, you’ll need to submit an application online, and then you should receive instructions for your Visa interview including a list of ‘essential’ as well as ‘helpful’ documents. Another note worth taking is that for your online application, you’ll need a Visa-style (for me it was specifically a US style) photo taken within the last 6 months. I didn’t realise this until the final stage of the application so I had to rush off at 4pm on a Sunday to Leicester train station, which was the only place with a photo booth still open, to quickly get my photo and get home again to continue my application! By the time I got home, my laptop had died anyway, but the website does fortunately allow you to log back into your unfinished application using a unique ID number that they will give you once you begin the application process.
The day before my interview, my mum and I decided to arrive early to make the most of our time in London and we booked a hotel for the night. This might be the best idea for those travelling from far away as most of the interviews at the American embassy seemed to be in the morning. If you do this, it’s a really good idea to find somewhere within walking distance of the embassy so that you’re relying only on your own two feet with no worries of public transport disasters. I found that staying the night before was particularly useful as we were able to practise the walk to the embassy so we could get our bearings a little and not worry about getting lost, which is important for someone like me with an impaired sense of direction. Alternatively, one of my friends opted instead for a very early morning train, which made sure she was in London and ready to head to the embassy within plenty of time.
On the day of my interview, which was scheduled for 10.30am, we arrived at around 10.05am, and the embassy asks that you don’t arrive more than half an hour before your interview time. We were greeted by a nice, big, lovely queue outside the embassy. After a couple of minutes in the queue, a woman asked us if we’d checked in, which we hadn’t, so we had to abandon our place and find a little gazebo near the start of the queue, where I had to show my Visa application confirmation, called a DS-160. This is just a little something to take note of so you don’t make the same mistake I did!
We queued outside for about 50 minutes while Britain pulled out some of its forever perfectly timed rain. When, finally, we made it to the end of the queue, I had to say goodbye to my mum (because only Visa interviewees are allowed in the building) and I showed some documents which allowed me to be directed into one of two security rooms. Meanwhile, my mum took some photos of the embassy for me to add to my blog!
In my next blog post, I’ll write about what happened once I finally made it inside the embassy.