*Happy Dancing*

The day of reckoning dawned. 7 months and 5 days after TAS and I posted our petition for an Alien Fiancée I was going to the American Embassy in London for an interview. I say the day dawned – that’s not strictly true – it was WELL before dawn when my alarm clock went off, and I’d already been awake for an hour. As I currently live in Manchester and my appointment was at 9am on Thursday morning I had decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and stay at my sisters in Oxford on the Wednesday night. She lives a 10 min taxi ride from the station and it’s only an hour into west London a much cheaper plan than hotel in London and infinitely more practical than doing the trip from Manchester plus I got to spend some time with her before I leave.

So at 5am I’m up and waiting for my taxi to take me to the station. Time for one more last-minute pointless check on my docs. Let me take you through them:
I had a yellow folder with 4 A4 pockets (the ones with 2 sides open) containing my docs.In the first I had my passport, 3 passport photos (US size), appointment letter, receipt for my visa;
In the second copies of all the forms I had sent in, NOA1 and NOA2, birth certificate, police certificate (originals and copies);
In the third the affidavit of support signed by my TAS and all our supporting evidence – 6 payslips covering the last 3 months, letter from his bank, letter from his employer, last 3 years tax return (originals and copies);
In the fourth I had all the evidence about our relationship – copies of all our boarding cards, skype log of all our calls, a selection of IM conversations over the last 6 months, pictures of us together, updated letters of intent.

Train journey into Paddington I’m too tired and too nervous to read my book. I get to Paddington and using the TFL.gov.uk directions I walk from Paddington to Goulds Pharmacy (Wik 6ZL) where I hand in my rucksack and my phone for £6.

After the walk and baggage check it’s about 7.45 – timing is approximate because paying heed to the NO electrical items rule I only have my hearing aids in, no watch, no phone, no anything. I asked when I paid for my visa on the hideously expensive phone call if they would be OK. I feel adrift without my watch on like I’m on dream time or something.

I join the already sizeable queue out side the embassy. I thought it would look much more impressive like the Whitehouse or the other big houses round Mayfair all white façade and pillars instead I get what looks like a council office in Slough with a big gold eagle (?!) on the top that looks like its been melted.

Anyway I’m amazed at the number of people in the queue who don’t know you can’t take electricals in, and even more astounded at the number who come back from the pharmacy with earphones or their phone because they don’t realise they count as electricals.

I get to the front of the line and show my passport and appointment letter to the who is at the head of the queue. She ticks me off her list gives me a clear plastic bag to put my purse in and then ushers me to the next part of the queue. I wait again until I’m called forward and another security guy checks my passport and appointment letter. I get put into yet another part of the line. Next I get called with 3 other people into the little glass security hut. I put my yellow folder and book in a box where they are wiped and then scanned while we pass through a metal detector.

I’m through the first bit and now behind the fence surrounding the embassy. I walk round the corner of the building and up some steps. There’s another small queue and the guy on this reception desk asks for the appointment letter again. He sticks number I902 on my letter I know from my reading on britishexpats.com this means I’m the second Immigrant visa of the day and for a second I wonder who I901 is. I go up some more stairs into a large waiting area. There are windows down one side, TV screens with which window is serving which ticket number in the middle and a courier counter at the back by the entrance.

I take a seat and wait with my book. It’s hard to concentrate on the book because I’m worried I might miss my number being called. 20 or so N numbers have been called when my number comes up. I’m called to window 14 round the corner and I take my file.

A middle aged black woman asks for something. She’s very unclear so I switch my hearing aids to the T setting in the hope there is an induction loop. No luck – obviously the American embassy is exempt from the DDA. I tell her I am wearing hearing aids and having trouble hearing so could she speak slowly and clearly. She rolls her eyes and asks again – she wants my number. Mumbley Woman then proceeds to ignore my request throughout the following exchanges by talking fast while looking down.

I give her the appointment letter with the number on. Mumbley woman looks at it and then disappears off. When she comes back she has my file. She asks for my passport I give it to her. She asks if I’ve already paid for my visa. I tell her yes. So MW asks for the visa receipt. She asks me when I plan on travelling to the US. I tell that that if my visa is approved I want to fly on the 20th April.

Mumbly Woman asks me to sign one of the copies of the DS156 I sent in. She then asks for my police certificate and birth certificate. I push them under the window. She ignores them MW gives me the DS156K and tells me to sign. She then tells me off for signing it she meant to give me the other DS156 – my turn to roll my eyes, so I sign the other DS2001. And she asks me again for the police certificate and Birth certificate which are now on her side of the window.

MW then asks me all the questions which are on part 2 of the DS2001 which as a fiancée I didn’t have to fill in. She asks for my affidavit of support so I give her the form I-361. She’s then quite snotty when she asks if I have any supporting evidence. So I give her the supporting evidence. She takes the payslips, letter from the bank, letter from the employer and the copy of last years Tax form.

She asks for 2 of my American sized passport photos. Then she actually pauses and for the first time looking at me while she talks to me asks me if I want to retake them! I know they are spectacularly bad but I thought that was a bit cheeky.

MW gives me a pink courier form to fill in and my chest x-ray which she reminds me to take in my hand luggage when I go to the US and then tells me to go back to the waiting area when I’ll be called up again. The N Numbers are in the 60’s now.

I actually miss hearing my number being called and it’s only because I look up and see it on the board that I get up and go back to window 15. Luckily it’s not the same black woman it’s an older white man with an American accent who when I ask him to speak clearly does and keeps his head up so I can see his mouth.

He asks me to hold up my hand and swear or affirm that everything in my paperwork and everything I am telling is the truth to the best of my knowledge and asks me to re-sign the DS156 that I had previously signed for Mumbly Woman

He then asks how I met the TAS. What we have in common. When we met in person for the first time. If he’s been to visit me in the UK. If we’ve met each others family. What TAS does for a living. And again when I plan to travel to the US.

He then said congratulations you’ve been approved today. He then started talking about the terms of the visa… 90 days blah blah, AOS blah blah, sealed brown envelope blah blah… but I was just grinning like a fool and couldn’t take any of it in.

Approved! Yaaay!

He then asked if I had any other questions. Just one. I asked him what the time was as my watch was in Goulds pharmacy. He said “Now that’s not one I’ve heard before. It’s 8.52” I’ve finished my visa interview 8 mins before it was scheduled I’m definitely on dream time.

I take my pink courier slip to the queue and this (it has to be said rather tasty!) young man in the queue behind me asks if the slips are colour coded for sex as he has a blue one. I say I think that I have a pink one because I’ve just been approved to be allowed to marry my Fiancée and stay in US. I ask what his is for – it’s a work one as he’s going to be singing a solo with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on the 28th and 30th of April. We decide this is clearly a good omen and I agree to come and see him.

So now I have my visa approved, I’m officially NOT mental, the burgeoning OCD seems to be dissipating slightly (at least until we have to AOS- is my guess), my leaving party is scheduled for the 16th, a flight booked for the 20th, a good omen date with my Fiancée to the symphony on the 28th and a grin that hasn’t been this big since I heard my TAS was going to be OK back in November.

 

 

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