Ok, so here´s my play by play of my two visits to U.S. the Embassy in El Salvador. The timeline is just so you can see what a hassle it is just getting in.
Due to conflicting accounts I was unsure as to when to go, what days, what times. Discrepancy seems to mostly center on 7-9 am vs 7:30-9:30 am. I put this rough time line so you can decide for yourself when to go. If you want, just skip the timeline and view the visits, get there early at 7 am and call it a day =)
ROUGH TIMELINE of just trying to get into Embassy
July 6, 2008
Reviewed Info at hand, U.S. website, I-130 info, which all said to visit Embassy, had called Embassy previous week, but was just automated number.
July 7, 2008
Visited Embassy, was told to call Visa USA number ($15 a 8 min card), told my inquiry would not be answered at Embassy, and therefore could not go in.
July 8, 2008
Called VISA U.S.A. number they told me they could not help a DCF in El Salvador, I had to visit the embassy in person.
Went to U.S. Citizen services at the Embassy in El Salvador and they directed me to DHS Mon and Wed, 7-9 am.
Re-checked U.S. Embassy Website: Said I could make inquiries Mon and Wed 7:30-9:30am
July 9, 2008
First try, arrive at Embassy around 7:15am, wait in line, but when ask if I have until 9:30 to bring additional info embassy asked for, a U.S. embassy Promotor said they stopped serving at 9 am. Security guard told me service was Mon-Wed 7-9 am, and though he tried to verify online info of 7:30-9:30am no one answered his phone call.
July 14, 2008
Arrived early, before 7 am, first in line of three lines formed. Was told they started seeing my line at 7:30 am.
FIRST TRY to submit I-130 (Wed July 9, 2008)
Arrived around 7:15 am and joined waiting line at DHS entrance (which is not labeled as such but is first Embassy Entrance you come accross when coming from the corner of Boulevard Santa Elena and Conchagua).
Around 7:30am finally get to go through security, arrive at small room with lots of chairs, air conditioning, TV, and a little 'take one' ticket thing that no one uses. We all sit in order we arrive.
Around 7:50 get called to window via intercom which for some reason just clicks and you can barely hear her say "next"
The lady at the bank-teller-like window said all looked good to submit my I-130 except I needed proof of Residence for six months in El Salvador. I was told form of payment was credit card or cash. Told to return with proof of Residence next attending day, that is Monday, five days away. Passport is not enough to establish residence since it is "unreliable" so bring Movimiento Migratorio (see post) or other documents to show you've been here all that time.
Left Embassy around 9 am
Total Time Arrival to departure: 1 hour 45 minutes
SECOND TRY (Monday July 14, 2008)
Arrived early, before 7 am. (Read above about my confusion of arrival time)
I was the first in line, eventually one of three lines. (I believe the other lines were for people with appointments, and for non-immigrant visas)
7 am. Security Guard informed me that they would serve my line not starting at 7am, but at 7:30am
7:30 am first to go through security.
First in tiny waiting room, was about to sit and wait, but immediately called to window.
Show my Form I-130, and my proof of Residency. (I had brought copies of some documents which included Government Issued El Salvador ID, flight tickets, Mail, School Records and Bank Account Records of my El Salvador account, they kept copies I made, plus original school records which they said they'd return to me later)
Around 7:40am was given a small badge and directed to cashier's window in adjacent building to pay the $355 to submit form.
7:45 am. Grumpy guard told me my badge must show (it was backward) and directed me to next guard to pay fee. Next guard said Cashier's window was not available until 8 am.
8 am. Sent to Cashier's window, somewhere in a far corner, which of course had no cashier.
Around 8:10 am Cashier shows up with coffee and water. - Not for me though =) - Proccesses payment, and gives me a receipt with a copy for myself and one for Embassy.
8:15 am or so, return to window to show payment receipt. Told Form I-130 will be processed and we will be contacted. I ask which address since my husband and I, former full time students, don't yet have our own income to set up our own household. Told to write letter on the spot to explain why we don't live together. (Long story, but mostly monetary)
Around 8:30 am Finally leave embassy to se my husband who has been patiently waiting outside chatting with strangers on a bench outside.
Total Time Arrival to Departure: approx 1 hour 30 minutes
Thought all we'd have to do was wait patiently or impatiently for Embassy contact, but...
Around 3pm got call saying I forgot to put husband's birthday. (I had re-done all forms to change submitting date and retype some stuff and unfortunaly that little space remained blank.)
Tuesday July 15, 2008
Show up at embassy to DHS entrance. Not on "list" of course!
Guard is kind enough to take my name and inquire if I can go in. Five minutes later I am allowed in.
Once inside guard makes me put my stuff on inspection table, I pick it up and I go to check in with receptionist. My name is taken and I sit and wait.
The lady who called me and who accepted my form at the window the day before calls me to fill in blank void where my husband's birthday should be.
Out of U.S. Embassy and now free to worry for a while as to when we will be contacted.
DCF I-130 form accepted! El Salvador
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