In this series we follow the story of future expat Molly, a Brit seeking to join her American husband in Ohio. At EasyExpat we try to provide you all the latest and greatest in Expat News and Resources, but sometimes a personal journey can best explain the unique challenges and triumphs involved in moving abroad. Meet Molly and follow along on her adventure in the Move to America.
I thought I would use this article to share my experiences of the final stages of my quest for a Spousal Immigrant Visa of a U.S. Citizen (IR-1).
I know that as I progressed through the paperwork for the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and NVC (National Visa Center) I wanted to know what to expect from the medical and interview. I searched and searched and found some information, so I thought sharing what happened in my case would help others.
Once all paperwork was gathered and sent on to the U.S. Embassy by the NVC, I had to await an email that informed me of my interview appointment (usually in 4+ weeks time).
When my appointment did arrive, I had to schedule my medical examination with one of the two U.S. Embassy approved physicians. I made my appointment for a week before my interview as you have to allow time for results of various tests to be gathered and then sent to the embassy. The medical has a fee of £235, plus I had to pay an additional £73 for two vaccinations.
I also needed to take with me a copy of my medical history and vaccination records (obtained through my GP/doctor), my police certificate, passport and a colour (visa sized) photograph of myself and a health questionnaire that I had to download from the NVC website.
When I arrived, the appointment went as follows:
My chest x-ray and blood samples were then sent off to be tested, which took two days, and then sent to the embassy along with the findings of the doctor. They inform you that if you do not hear anything from them in that time, then all is fine and to go to the interview as normal.
My next step was my visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in London. My appointment was at 8:30am, but I arrived by 8am and waited in the queue outside the embassy for my turn to have my appointment letter and passport checked.
Once that had happened, I was directed to a second queue that lead to the security area where my bag was x-rayed. After that, I walked around to the entrance of the embassy and headed to the desk where I presented my letter again and was given some barcoded stickers. These stickers had my allotted number on and I was directed to the waiting room to wait for that number to be called.
Once I had found a seat, I spent my time looking at the computer screen that shows what numbers have been called. After well over an hour, my number came up and I was directed to a booth where a very nice young man went through my folder, took my fingerprints and sorted two more recent photographs. He then gave me a form to fill out for the courier desk (in the waiting room) for when the visa gets approved as they send your visa to you. I was then told to wait again to be called for my interview.
After another long wait, my number came up again and I was directed to another booth where a very polite and efficient woman asked me a series of questions and then went through my file once again. I was asked to give the following information:
• When and where I met my husband
• When we were married
• When we decided/discussed getting married
• What my husband's family thought of the marriage
At this point, if you get approved, you are given a form to take to the courier desk to show you have approval and to sort the details of where to send your visa.
I did not quite get to this stage as I needed two more small pieces of information which I did not have, so I was instructed to send them in to the embassy and then they will issue my visa.
At first I was so upset and disappointed that I did not get to finish the process on that day, but I am well on my way to getting what they require, so fingers crossed it will not be too much longer!
My tips for the US Visa interview:
• Arrive early and in plenty of time (half an hour before your stated interview time is good)
• Take something to read as I was there for three and a half hours
• Take enough money to pay for the courier service
If you want to find out what extra information I was asked to provide, you can visit my blog www.themovetoamerica.wordpress.com and have a look. If you have any questions about the whole process, please leave a comment, either here or on my blog and I will do my best to help.
Thanks for reading!
For more options for visas in the move to America, consult our expat Guides for the USA, and our article Obtaining a Visa to Live, Study and Work in: the United States of America. Also be sure to read about the other preparations Molly has made in her articles,
...and look out for a new article, The Visa for The Move to America, next month!