|Barbados|| Review on September 28, 2015:|
|Review Topic: K1 Visa|
Things went well and we were approved on September 22nd! Surprisingly, they were all so nice at the embassy. Come early, bring a bag for anything you want to eat or drink, because you'll be putting it in a locker along with your phone. They let in people 2 at a time to go through security, then you're escorted into the waiting room--I think they have an additional waiting room when the original one fills up.
The appointment was at 9am, but we got there at 7:30 via two buses. I thought we'd be too early, but it took like one hour to get through security, get ourselves situated, stop sweating, lol (the embassy is air conditioned, don't worry), and chill out to be ready for the interview. Both of us were allowed to go through the whole process together.
Once you get to the waiting room, you wait until you see an open window, and then give your appointment letter to a person at windows 1, 2 or 3--the other windows seemed to be for non K visa types. You sit back down and then they call the beneficiary's name over the loudspeaker (and the other visa types by a number) to come to a window. The lady who took our paperwork at window 3 was really nice: she asked a few basic questions like the beneficiary's address, then she requested all the records listed in the embassy letter in Packet 3, for the petitioner's address and phone number, and if we knew how much the visa fee was, then she sent us to the cashier to pay the fee and bring the receipt to her. We used U.S. dollars cash to pay the cashier and it was cool.
After paying the fee, receiving a receipt and taking it back to window 3, we sat down for about ten minutes and then a man called us to window 1 to interview us some more--he was nice as well. He had the beneficiary's file in front of him and any red flags they suspected were highlighted--they did make note of our age gap in the paper, but didn't ask us about it. They do scrutinize some cases more than others--and they do have records of your previous encounters with immigration, so tell the entire truth. He asked us how and when we met and how many times we'd seen each other. Since we had a notebook which is a replica of everything we'd sent in with our I-129, as we told him our story, we showed him pictures of my cousin who introduced us and even the pics we took during our visits.
Just come correct with all your information and make it a priority for both the petitioner and the beneficiary to attend the embassy interview, since I think they are also looking to see how the couples interact/look together. Each interview was about 10-20 minutes max, then the man interviewing us began describing how to process the passport and visa via DHL. I asked if we had it, he said yes and gave us a green sheet of paper with the DHL details -- we were done by 10am.
Final thoughts: if you have questions, start emailing the BridgetownIV and BridgetownACS addresses with your queries, send them screenshots if you need to prove they have stuff--remember, they DO NOT TAKE PHONECALLS, so keep on sending them [polite, but thorough] emails until they satisfy your queries, make sure you have all your paperwork together and organized for easy retrieval per what they ask for in the letter from packet 3, don't look nervous, make sure your fiance is with you at the interview and things should go alright.
Lastly, these are *specific* things we wish we'd known to ask BEFORE we left the embassy:
(1) directions how to deliver your passport to the embassy before leaving Barbados for your home country if you are a CARICOM national and can travel on your ID/driver's license--so you don't have to pay DHL for a two-way mailing
(2) as a CARICOM national, ask about getting an embassy letter showing that they have your passport for Barbados airport immigration (at the airport, my Fiance had to go through 2 people, fill out an additional document, and show his Dominica social security card along with his driver's license and other papers, before they'd let him through since he'd sent his passport back to the embassy before we left)
(3) ask the embassy about the procedures of flying to the U.S. (i.e., Puerto Rico) on a one-way ticket with LIAT airlines, as LIAT doesn't seem to know about K-1 visas and you'll get a warning pop-up when you try to book online, or some of the ticketing agents will not let you book a one-way ticket.
my rating of 4 stars = 5 stars for a Very Good Experience in person at the embassy itself - 1 star for the
--lack of communication on setting an appointment and paying the fee
--outdated Barbados embassy website with contradictory info
--refusal to answer any of the phone numbers they have on the embassy website
--terse bordering on snide email responses
--outdated VJ Barbados portal of information with no way to change it
--packet 3 and 4 being sent via international snail mail
--no DHL agent in the embassy (have to go to the airport one--that is closed on weekends and only open from 9 to 5--to send it back to the embassy)
--the embassy saying that they didn't have the paperwork but CEAC's website said they did, so I had to send a screenshot of CEAC's website to get packet 3
--the embassy not sending packet 4 until I sent an email with a screenshot of the DHL delivery slip when the embassy had received the signed letter from packet 3
(updated on September 27, 2015)