The US Embassy Visa Appointment

The day started with me getting a tube to Bond Street station. From there it was a 5 minute walk to the embassy. I knew I couldn't take my phone in (as of December 2016 you can now take a phone in which would have made a huge difference in helping the time pass) but I wanted to know if bags would be fine. They are: mine is a messenger bag that looks like this.

In order to store my belongings, I walked to Gould Pharmacy which is just a two minutes away from the embassy and I asked to store my phone, and have US-sized passport photos taken. You go into the shop and there are tables with staff sitting at them at the entrance. They get a grey bag and put your phone and headphones in and seal it (or car keys and other electronic devices). They you sign a declaration confirming what’s inside. You take this to the counter at the back of the shop and pay £3.

They were great at doing the passport photos; it was instant. They took a photo, printed it and cut it into the 2"x2" size for US visas. This costs £5 for 2 photos, or £7.50 for 4. I was paranoid and asked for 4 (I later found out that you only need one photo!).

I walked back to the pharmacy and security outside asked me to show my DS160 confirmation, my passport and my interview letter. I then went through security (this is airport style bag scanners and metal detector arches) and walked into the embassy.

Once inside, you go to reception and give them your appointment letter. They then give you a sticker with a number on which will be the number to remember throughout the day.

I walked up the steps and sat in the room waiting for my number. There were about 60 people in front of me and I was called within about 25 minutes. I then visited the first window and gave the woman my DS-160, MRV receipt, my interview confirmation letter, Disney offer letter, photo (not needed if you managed to upload one properly online!), and the DS2019. That’s pretty much all the documents you have. I took proof of address and proof of returning to the UK, as some people have been questioned about it it, but they never asked for it.

I then went and sat down again after having given in my documents, and was given a blue sheet to fill in so that if my Visa was approved the couriers would know where to return my passport. Then it was about a 30-40 minute wait until I was called to the second window. This wasn't too bad as the sheet I was given said the wait could be up to 4 hours!

I was then called to the second window and had possibly one of the quickest interviews ever, and I've heard this was the same for many of the other ICP applicants. Basically they asked what I was going to do, to confirm I was a student and that was it! The man I got was really friendly too so you won’t necessarily have a horrible immigration officer as some has made out. They also remind you to read the document about rights to work in the US linked on the interview confirmation page that was emailed to you. He then said he would approve my visa and it would be with me next week. He also said the DS2019 would come back with it and that it was the most important document and to definitely keep it safe! Note that they may ask you more questions about your application, but they didn't for me.

I walked back into the main hall, and went to the desk at the back where the courier is. I paid the basic fee which was £14.80, which means it will be delivered the day after the courier receives the passport from the embassy and at some point between 8am and 6pm. You can also opt for delivery before 12pm or 9am for an added cost too.

I walked out of the embassy, went back to the pharmacy and collected my phone and I was done. The whole process only took about 90 minutes, and everyone was really nice. It was nowhere near as stressful as I thought it'd be. To be fair, some of the other ICPs this year were kept for up to 4 hours so it really depends!

Update: My passport was delivered via secure courier exactly 1 week after my appointment but two of those days were bank holidays, so it only really took 3 working days!

Photo: TheAngloAmerican website

If you want to know what you've got to do BEFORE attending the interview, click here.

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