|Consulate Review: London, United Kingdom
Review Topic: K1 Visa
|Review Date :
||November 14, 2017
|Embassy Review :
||My appointment at the embassy was at 10am, so I arrived at 9.15ish, thinking that there would likely be a queue for registration outside—which there was, probably 30 or 40 deep. People would pass up their paperwork and passport when they reached the front, they would be signed in, and then asked to stand either in a secondary line parallel to the first, where they would wait to be called into the security booth, or off to the other side, away from the building, if they were early (like I was) for a 10am interview.
I would say it only took 20 minutes or so to reach the front, in which time I’d managed to fix the messed-up clasps in my ring-binder and fish out my passport, DS-160 confirmation and appointment details. I handed those to one of the two ladies at the desk, and she then produced a clipboard from some nether shelf by her knees and highlighted my name, one of maybe 20 on the sheet. I realised after a few seconds that this was the appointment list for immigrant visa appointments rather than non-immigrant ones, and I was given a plastic bag for my watch, belt and phone (the last of which, contrary to many accounts, you are allowed to take into the embassy) and asked to wait just behind the desk, separate from the various other queues of jealous hopefuls. #VIPtreatment
At about 9.50, I was called up to wait for my turn to be screened in the security booth. Once you’re in, it’s essentially the same as the security check in any airport: your rucksack/purse/manbag goes through the x-ray machine, as does the plastic bag you’ve filled with all your metallic goodies, and then you walk through a scanner yourself. As long as nothing beeps and they don’t find nothing offensive in your bag, they hustle you out of there pretty quickly.
Around the corner, entering the embassy itself, I went up to the desk and was assigned a unique number: I906. The man serving me directed me up a few stairs to the left into the large room with banks of too-close seating on the left and interview windows along the right-hand wall. There’s a big screen at the front where different letter-number codes flash up to call people individually forward to one window or another, whenever your case comes up. The funny thing is that the same sound accompanies every new number on the screen, and it’s the Windows error noise—the one that you hear if you keep pressing backspace when there’s no more to delete on Word. Anyway, I was expecting to wait a little while, but I was called up to window no. 2 almost immediately.
I hadn’t even had time yet to put my watch and belt back on, so I just gathered up my folder and my passport and everything else and jogged up to the window with my trousers sagging rather lower than I would have chosen. The guy asked me for my birth certificate, my fiancée’s I-134affidavit of support and the letter from her employer to go with it, and my harrowing and all-too-large US-size passport photos, then took my fingerprints on the little green scanner. (In between document searches I managed to subtly re-dress myself.) I was told that the results of my medical (conducted 8 days earlier) had yet to be received by the embassy, but that that was no problem and they should get the paperwork in the next day or two. He sent me back to the seating and said I should wait to be called up again for the interview proper, and that I wouldn’t have to wait in a queue or anything, just go up to the window.
This, I assumed, would be the time-suck aspect of the whole thing—I was expecting twenty minutes at least, maybe half an hour squeezed into a seat. I sat and read the messages that scroll by on one side of the big screen, opposite the appointment number alerts, and the only interesting one related that the current average processing time for K-1 and similar visas, from the date of the interview, was 17 days. That was about all I had time to think about, though. My number came up again in two, three minutes at the most—called to, I want to say, window no. 14. Higher window numbers like that are just around the corner, and like the first guy had said, there was a queue half-blocking the way, but they were waiting for something else, and I squeezed by no problem.
The man I met on the other side of window no. 14 seemed profoundly disinterested as he asked me to hold up my right hand and promise not to perjure myself in the following interview. He didn’t ask for any of the additional paperwork that we (she) had so meticulously prepared, as I recall, and only asked a few pretty general questions: How did you meet your fiancée? How many times have you seen one another in the past two years? During those visits, did you meet her parents? Did she meet yours? Is she from San Diego (where she lives)? And, when I answered in the negative to the latter question, So where is she from? Nothing taxing.
And then it was done. He told me that all was well, and as long as the medical results were sent over with no problems recorded or additional details required, I could expect to receive my passport, with a shiny new visa appended, in two weeks’ time.