landr's US Immigration Timeline

blank avatar   Petitioner's Name: R
Beneficiary's Name: L
VJ Member: landr
Country: United Kingdom

Last Updated: 2014-11-18
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Immigration Checklist for R & L:

USCIS I-129F Petition:      
Dept of State K1 Visa:    
USCIS I-485 Petition:  
USCIS I-765 Petition:      
USCIS I-131 Petition:      
USCIS I-751 Petition:  
USCIS N-400 Petition:  


K1 Visa
Event Date
Service Center : California Service Center
Transferred? No
Consulate : London, United Kingdom
I-129F Sent : 2013-12-23
I-129F NOA1 : 2013-12-30
I-129F RFE(s) :
RFE Reply(s) :
I-129F NOA2 : 2014-01-30
NVC Received :
Date Case #, IIN, and BIN assigned :
NVC Left :
Consulate Received :
Packet 3 Received : 2014-02-27
Packet 3 Sent : 2014-02-28
Packet 4 Received : 2014-05-31
Interview Date : 2014-06-20
Interview Result : Approved
Second Interview
(If Required):
Second Interview Result:
Visa Received : 2014-06-27
US Entry : 2014-07-23
Marriage : 2014-09-04
Comments :
Processing
Estimates/Stats :
Your I-129f was approved in 31 days from your NOA1 date.

Your interview took 172 days from your I-129F NOA1 date.


Port of Entry Review
Event Date
Port of Entry : Los Angeles
POE Date : 2014-07-23
Got EAD Stamp : No
Biometrics Taken : Yes
Harassment Level : 0
Comments : I've included some information regarding my experience pre- and post-POE as those coming from the UK, particularly via Heathrow, might find it useful.


*** Pre-flight ***

Booked a return ticket with British Airways LHR-LAX a week beforehand at approximately 1200 pounds. This time of year, it is the high season and the beginning of the school holidays, so I expected prices to be a bit steep. I also booked a return because it was cheaper than a one-way and I have tentative plans to head back to visit my family in the UK around Christmas/New Year, pending Advance Parole.

Waited an hour for the baggage drop to open. Had wanted to get to the airport early because I was worried about a longer security check, but this wasn't necessary in the end. I ended up checking in a very large suitcase and a large expedition-style rucksack with a smaller business-style rucksack as my carry on. I paid approximately 100 pounds for the excess weight suitcase and an excess baggage fee for my large rucksack. For reference, a seat upgrade would have cost an extra 200-300 pounds.

There were signs that they'd implemented extra security screening for some passengers but if you are a fairly experienced flyer, it's not much of an additional hassle. During the week of my POE, they had implemented the extra scrutiny for electronic devices, particularly smartphones and tablets and in particular Apple and Samsung items. It was reported in the press that items could not be brought onto the plane if they could not be switched on (if requested) or show a full charge, with the warning that passengers might miss their flight and have to re-book.

I brought quite a few electronic items with me. I packed my electric toothbrush in my checked baggage. I took my Samsung 7 inch tablet, Motorola smartphone, small external battery and Buffalo Ministation (external hard drive) along with associated cables in my carry on. I put the tablet, smartphone and external hard drive in the grey security trays, though left the hard drive in its carrying case. I also took off my shoes and put my clear plastic baggy with my makeup in the trays. I did have to wait a little longer than usual as I'd joined the "family" screening line with various parents and their kids, but otherwise, no issues or comments from the security personnel and I didn't set off the alarms when walking through the security gate, so no pat down. I was not asked to switch on any of my devices or show if they had a full charge. Nor did they ask me to open up the case containing the hard drive.

The last time I was at Terminal 5, it felt nice and airy with lots of space. But with the summer holiday crowd, it seemed just as rowdy and fraught as Terminal 2. Though one highlight is that, while I was taking a breather, Samantha Cameron (British Prime Minster's wife) walked past me with one of her aides. Unless you're at one of the departure gates, there aren't very many seating options in the post-security shopping areas of Terminal 5, so a few of us had to improvise using the metal footrails around the glass partitions enclosing the escalators.

The queuing at the departure gate was very haphazard. I thought I'd reached the gate in good time given that I took the shuttle only few minutes after the gate number had been announced. However, when I arrived at the gate, it was already full of passengers and the electronic notice boards were asking passengers to wait for their seat rows to be called, suggesting that they hadn't started boarding yet. Confusingly, a few minutes later, they announced general boarding, which meant that everyone descended like locusts into the tiny queuing area.

Two flight attendants checked that the passenger surname for the boarding pass and passport matched. One flight attendant called out the surname on the boarding pass and the other flight attendant responded with the surname on the passport.

In the corridors just before boarding the plane, I saw quite a few passengers being "picked off" for extra screening. From what I could tell, they'd been asked to empty their carry one items onto a table so they could be screened further.

*** Flight ***

Despite being a small woman and able to fit into most places without feeling claustrophobic, this flight experience was not comfortable. Chose a window seat at the back of the plane (A380) on the upper deck. Very small overhead bins but access to shallow window bins next to the window seats in this section. Unfortunately, the space underneath the seat in front was also limited due to two (IDE) boxes on either side of the seat "legs". The wall of the airplane next to my seat was also very low. Reaching down to get something from underneath the seat in front meant that my face was very close to the seat in front. The passenger next to me had brought a small wheely cabin bag and was not able to fit it into the overhead bins above our seats. The flight attendant ended up putting his bag in one of the overhead bins above the middle seats above the aisle.

We only had two services during the flight, an evening meal (about 2-3 hours into the flight) and a lunch/sandwich meal (about an hour before landing). Our section was one of the last to be served as they started service at the front of the plane.

I also managed to catch a feverish headachey cold from one of the passengers. A family (from Egypt) had been coughing and sneezing throughout the flight and by the end of it, I could hear about five of us in that section coughing and sneezing.

With hindsight, I probably overpaid and will most likely go back to Virgin Atlantic for my next set of flights as I don't think the famous British Airways experience is up to scratch anymore.

*** Arrival in the US ***

Arrived mid-evening in LAX. Arrivals hall was busy (the line was longer than the barriers) but it moved very quickly. I waited approximately 15-20 minutes in the visitors line before I got to a POE officer.

The POE officer was friendly and jovial. As soon as I slapped my file and passport on his desk, he asked me if I was, "here to immigrate." He then looked at the line and said we would be here all day. When I asked him if processing me would take a while and if I'd have to go into secondary processing, he said that would only happen if there were mistakes in my file. And he said that the hall was busy for that time of day. But when I asked if I'd arrived at a bad time, he said that I'd arrived at a great time!

He asked me what kind of visa I had then went through the spiel about getting married within 90 days and that he recommended not leaving it to the last minute. He also made a joke that if I decided my intended and I were not in love, then that would be another story. I stated that I was hoping to get married within the first month after my arrival.

While he was looking through my file, I asked him what kind of mistakes he was looking for. He mentioned that the file had to have the right kind of stamps and that it's good if my intended and I have met previously as he's seen some cases where they haven't met and it makes it more difficult for him to let them through. We joked about my multiple previous visits.

He also asked me if I wanted to keep any of the envelopes that came with my file. Otherwise, they had a special place to dispose of all of the extraneous packaging.

He asked me if I had brought any money with me. I didn't mention money on my customs form and just put "Household Goods" and a value of $0. I stated that I hadn't brought any US money with me as I plan to use my credit card and I also managed to open a US bank account from the UK, so would be using that to withdraw money for daily spending. He probed a bit further and I mentioned that I had about 100 British pounds in cash with me. I also said that I'd be looking for a job once my employment authorisation comes through, and the sooner I get married, the sooner I can apply for AOS/AP/EAD and also potentially visit my family in the UK. He shushed me and said that I shouldn't say that as I should want to stay in the US forever! I also had my fingerprints and photograph taken, as per previous visits.

I was with him for about 10-15 minutes. He never asked for my chest X-ray or any other documents, just the sealed packet from the US embassy in London and my passport and customs form. He returned my passport and customs form to me, showed me where he'd stamped the edge of my visa with the entry stamp and written the deadline for marriage (90 days). He also welcomed me to the US.

Initially, I was worried because I saw him processing the previous person and it seemed to take a while. However, throughout my "interview" I had a huge grin on my face because of the POE officer's banter - I couldn't have wished for a more pleasant POE experience.

Afterwards, I collected my bags from the luggage carousel (waited about 5 minutes) and then handed my customs form to the customs officer. I then entered the arrivals hall, a bit like a "deer in headlights" because it's a circular arena and passengers are like gladiators entering the coliseum with those waiting for them standing behind the barriers.

When I got home with my fiance, I opened up my suitcase and rucksack to see if my checked bags had been searched; the vacuum bags I'd used were still intact, so that was a relief.

*** SSN ***

About a week an a half after my POE, my fiance and I went to our local SSA office. We arrived a few minutes after they'd opened and there was already a small queue outside and some people had made it inside. We waited about 15 minutes before we could enter the building. My handbag was checked - they asked me to open it while they poked at the contents. My fiance was asked to empty his pockets. For those who are not familiar with this, my fiance tells me that security checks are standard for all federal buildings.

I had completed and printed off form SS-5, the memo stating that K-1 visa holders are authorised to work and my electronic I-94 (last entry). I'd also brought my passport (with visa) and a certified copy of my birth certificate (same one I used for my K-1 visa).

After security, we selected our query from an electronic kiosk and received a printed ticket number. We waited about an hour before we were seen. The process is pretty much similar to the experience at the US embassy in London where you wait for your ticket number to be called on the screens and go to the designated window. They also have different prefixes so that you're seen by someone who can deal with your query.

I told the SSA officer that I'd come over on a K-1 visa and that I was there to apply for an SSN. After I handed over my documents, the SSA officer asked me if I had the original birth certificate. In the US, I think they are used to seeing a raised seal for official documents, but my certified copy direct from the local authority where I was born didn't have a raised seal - the original birth certificate is held by the local authority. She also asked me if I'm authorised to work and if I'd ever applied for an SSN before - I said "no" to both. She spent quite a bit of time typing on her PCto enter the information that was on my SS-5. Finally, she gave me a printout of the information that would be submitted and asked me to check it for errors. When I gave it back to her and said that everything was in order, she gave me a letter/receipt that confirmed my application for an SSN and that I should receive my card within 2 weeks.

After reading some of the experiences on VJ about SSA officers turning away K-1 visa holders, I was prepared for a bit of a fight. But, in the end, I didn't have to bring out the memo about work authorisation. For reference, we went to an SSA in SoCal.


Adjustment of Status
Event Date
CIS Office : San Bernadino CA
Date Filed : 2014-10-16
NOA Date : 2014-10-22
RFE(s) :
Bio. Appt. : 2014-11-17
AOS Transfer** :
Interview Date :
Approval / Denial Date :
Approved :
Got I551 Stamp :
Greencard Received:
Comments : Nov 10, 2014 - Riverside, CA - Early walk-in biometrics unsuccessful.

The location is exactly as per instructions behind the Coco's restaurant in a small one storey outdoor mall. The sign just says "Application Support Center." Everything looked very run down. Arrived a few minutes after they opened. There were already people milling about outside and people sitting down inside. No queue. There was a guard at a table immediately on the left as soon as I walked in. I showed her my appointment letter and asked if it was possible to do a walk-in. I was told, "No, you must come back on your date." Guard was firm and unfriendly. Didn't help that the woman in front of me was arguing with another member of staff about her appt date.

Nov 17, 2014 - Riverside, CA - Original Biometrics Appointment Date (12 noon) successful

Arrived around 11.40am. Same guard. Seemed nicer this time. Much busier than last week's early Monday morning. Guard told everyone who had a 12 noon appointment to join the queue running down the aisle between the chairs in first small waiting area facing the front of the building. There were about 5 people in front of me. When I got to the guard, she asked for my appointment letter and picture ID - I showed my military ID, which had my married name on it. As a precaution I'd also brought my NOA1 receipts, SSN card, marriage certificate, UK passport and birth certificate, but didn't need them. The guard asked previous people in the queue to show their hands so that she could check that their biometrics could be done without any problems, but she didn't ask me. She handed me a clipboard with a form, my ID and appointment letter clipped to it and asked me to fill in my details in the white space in the top half of the form (bottom shaded half was for internal use).

The form asked for: full name, date of birth, application numbers (use the ones that are on your appointment letter above the bar codes), A# (alien number), SSN if no A# number, height (ft and inches), weight (pounds), hair colour, eye colour, telephone number. Surprisingly, no email address requested on the form.

I didn't bring a bag but noticed that, despite there being a tray on her desk, similar to the ones at airport security, the guard did not check anyone's bags. And there were also a few people walking around with their mobile phones in their hand. As an aside, there were male and female restrooms to the right of the waiting area, but I didn't use them, so can't say much about them other than they were there and available to use.

Once I'd filled out my form, I waited in line at a desk to the right of the waiting area. There were a couple of people in front of me. The clerk at the desk checked my form and stamped my appointment letter in red ink so that the biometrics technician could initial and date the form to confirm that I'd completed the biometrics. While she was checking my details, she made small talk and asked if my husband is active duty. I was then directed to a second small waiting area.

At the front of the second waiting area, there was a line of booths. There were four biometrics booths with 2 terminals per booth. Only four biometrics technicians working that day. Waited about 20 minutes for my number to be shown/called. There were about 15 people ahead of me, based on my ticket number (549).

When my number was called by a technician, I followed her to her workstation. She squirted some solution (hand sanitizer, I think) onto my hands and asked me to rub it into both hands on both sides. Then she asked me to stand to her right and to check the information on the screen was correct as she filled in some of the details on the form. For UK applicants, they use "UN" for the UK and not "UK," as that would be Ukraine. She then asked me to place my right hand on the small biometrics panel. She scanned one finger at a time and then did the same with my left hand. I asked her what the red areas on my fingerprints meant on the screen and she told me that having too many red areas or a large area of red could mean that the fingerprint scan is rejected. Unfortunately, she had to scan my fingers multiple times because quite a few were rejected.

For those who haven't had biometric digital fingerprints taken, it is not the same as ink fingerprints or even the same as the ones at the airport or K-1 interview (London). Your fingers are scanned one at a time and you must try to relax and let the technician roll and manipulate your finger herself/himself. There is also a box on the top right-hand corner of the screen that turns red and says "reject" if the fingerprint is not acceptable. It turns green and says "pass" if the fingerprint is okay.

After about 10-15 minutes, we managed to get all my fingerprints to "pass." The technician then asked me to take a seat against the wall and she counted to three then took my photo. She didn't give me a chance to okay it, but I took a quick look on the screen and thankfully it was fine. She then returned my appointment form back after she'd initialed it and also gave me a yellow customer comments slip to fill in. She said that I must keep the white paper and fill in the yellow paper before putting it in the box at the front of the second waiting area (next to another exit). I thanked her then filled out the comments form and left. Took about 50 minutes altogether from entering to leaving the building.


Employment Authorization Document
Event Date
CIS Office : San Bernadino CA
Filing Method : Mail
Filing Instance : First
Date Filed : 2014-10-16
NOA Date : 2014-10-22
RFE(s) :
Bio. Appt. : 2014-11-17
Approved Date :
Date Card Received :
Comments : Nov 10, 2014 - Riverside, CA - Early walk-in biometrics unsuccessful.

The location is exactly as per instructions behind the Coco's restaurant in a small one storey outdoor mall. The sign just says "Application Support Center." Everything looked very run down. Arrived a few minutes after they opened. There were already people milling about outside and people sitting down inside. No queue. There was a guard at a table immediately on the left as soon as I walked in. I showed her my appointment letter and asked if it was possible to do a walk-in. I was told, "No, you must come back on your date." Guard was firm and unfriendly. Didn't help that the woman in front of me was arguing with another member of staff about her appt date.

Nov 17, 2014 - Riverside, CA - Original Biometrics Appointment Date (12 noon) successful

Arrived around 11.40am. Same guard. Seemed nicer this time. Much busier than last week's early Monday morning. Guard told everyone who had a 12 noon appointment to join the queue running down the aisle between the chairs in first small waiting area facing the front of the building. There were about 5 people in front of me. When I got to the guard, she asked for my appointment letter and picture ID - I showed my military ID, which had my married name on it. As a precaution I'd also brought my NOA1 receipts, SSN card, marriage certificate, UK passport and birth certificate, but didn't need them. The guard asked previous people in the queue to show their hands so that she could check that their biometrics could be done without any problems, but she didn't ask me. She handed me a clipboard with a form, my ID and appointment letter clipped to it and asked me to fill in my details in the white space in the top half of the form (bottom shaded half was for internal use).

The form asked for: full name, date of birth, application numbers (use the ones that are on your appointment letter above the bar codes), A# (alien number), SSN if no A# number, height (ft and inches), weight (pounds), hair colour, eye colour, telephone number. Surprisingly, no email address requested on the form.

I didn't bring a bag but noticed that, despite there being a tray on her desk, similar to the ones at airport security, the guard did not check anyone's bags. And there were also a few people walking around with their mobile phones in their hand. As an aside, there were male and female restrooms to the right of the waiting area, but I didn't use them, so can't say much about them other than they were there and available to use.

Once I'd filled out my form, I waited in line at a desk to the right of the waiting area. There were a couple of people in front of me. The clerk at the desk checked my form and stamped my appointment letter in red ink so that the biometrics technician could initial and date the form to confirm that I'd completed the biometrics. While she was checking my details, she made small talk and asked if my husband is active duty. I was then directed to a second small waiting area.

At the front of the second waiting area, there was a line of booths. There were four biometrics booths with 2 terminals per booth. Only four biometrics technicians working that day. Waited about 20 minutes for my number to be shown/called. There were about 15 people ahead of me, based on my ticket number (549).

When my number was called by a technician, I followed her to her workstation. She squirted some solution (hand sanitizer, I think) onto my hands and asked me to rub it into both hands on both sides. Then she asked me to stand to her right and to check the information on the screen was correct as she filled in some of the details on the form. For UK applicants, they use "UN" for the UK and not "UK," as that would be Ukraine. She then asked me to place my right hand on the small biometrics panel. She scanned one finger at a time and then did the same with my left hand. I asked her what the red areas on my fingerprints meant on the screen and she told me that having too many red areas or a large area of red could mean that the fingerprint scan is rejected. Unfortunately, she had to scan my fingers multiple times because quite a few were rejected.

For those who haven't had biometric digital fingerprints taken, it is not the same as ink fingerprints or even the same as the ones at the airport or K-1 interview (London). Your fingers are scanned one at a time and you must try to relax and let the technician roll and manipulate your finger herself/himself. There is also a box on the top right-hand corner of the screen that turns red and says "reject" if the fingerprint is not acceptable. It turns green and says "pass" if the fingerprint is okay.

After about 10-15 minutes, we managed to get all my fingerprints to "pass." The technician then asked me to take a seat against the wall and she counted to three then took my photo. She didn't give me a chance to okay it, but I took a quick look on the screen and thankfully it was fine. She then returned my appointment form back after she'd initialed it and also gave me a yellow customer comments slip to fill in. She said that I must keep the white paper and fill in the yellow paper before putting it in the box at the front of the second waiting area (next to another exit). I thanked her then filled out the comments form and left. Took about 50 minutes altogether from entering to leaving the building.
Processing
Estimates/Stats :
Based on timeline data, your EAD may be adjudicated between May 19, 2015 and June 21, 2015*.

If this date range has passed or your application is past due per USCIS processing times then you should consider calling the USCIS to inquire on your petition. If you have been approved please update your timeline.


Advance Parole
Event Date
CIS Office : San Bernadino CA
Filing Method :  
Filing Instance : First
Date Filed : 2014-10-16
NOA Date : 2014-10-22
RFE(s) :
Date Received :
Comments : Biometrics aren't needed for Advance Parole, but I've added a review in case there are people going for the EAD/AP combo card as biometrics must be done for the EAD.

Nov 10, 2014 - Riverside, CA - Early walk-in biometrics unsuccessful.

The location is exactly as per instructions behind the Coco's restaurant in a small one storey outdoor mall. The sign just says "Application Support Center." Everything looked very run down. Arrived a few minutes after they opened. There were already people milling about outside and people sitting down inside. No queue. There was a guard at a table immediately on the left as soon as I walked in. I showed her my appointment letter and asked if it was possible to do a walk-in. I was told, "No, you must come back on your date." Guard was firm and unfriendly. Didn't help that the woman in front of me was arguing with another member of staff about her appt date.

Nov 17, 2014 - Riverside, CA - Original Biometrics Appointment Date (12 noon) successful

Arrived around 11.40am. Same guard. Seemed nicer this time. Much busier than last week's early Monday morning. Guard told everyone who had a 12 noon appointment to join the queue running down the aisle between the chairs in first small waiting area facing the front of the building. There were about 5 people in front of me. When I got to the guard, she asked for my appointment letter and picture ID - I showed my military ID, which had my married name on it. As a precaution I'd also brought my NOA1 receipts, SSN card, marriage certificate, UK passport and birth certificate, but didn't need them. The guard asked previous people in the queue to show their hands so that she could check that their biometrics could be done without any problems, but she didn't ask me. She handed me a clipboard with a form, my ID and appointment letter clipped to it and asked me to fill in my details in the white space in the top half of the form (bottom shaded half was for internal use).

The form asked for: full name, date of birth, application numbers (use the ones that are on your appointment letter above the bar codes), A# (alien number), SSN if no A# number, height (ft and inches), weight (pounds), hair colour, eye colour, telephone number. Surprisingly, no email address requested on the form.

I didn't bring a bag but noticed that, despite there being a tray on her desk, similar to the ones at airport security, the guard did not check anyone's bags. And there were also a few people walking around with their mobile phones in their hand. As an aside, there were male and female restrooms to the right of the waiting area, but I didn't use them, so can't say much about them other than they were there and available to use.

Once I'd filled out my form, I waited in line at a desk to the right of the waiting area. There were a couple of people in front of me. The clerk at the desk checked my form and stamped my appointment letter in red ink so that the biometrics technician could initial and date the form to confirm that I'd completed the biometrics. While she was checking my details, she made small talk and asked if my husband is active duty. I was then directed to a second small waiting area.

At the front of the second waiting area, there was a line of booths. There were four biometrics booths with 2 terminals per booth. Only four biometrics technicians working that day. Waited about 20 minutes for my number to be shown/called. There were about 15 people ahead of me, based on my ticket number (549).

When my number was called by a technician, I followed her to her workstation. She squirted some solution (hand sanitizer, I think) onto my hands and asked me to rub it into both hands on both sides. Then she asked me to stand to her right and to check the information on the screen was correct as she filled in some of the details on the form. For UK applicants, they use "UN" for the UK and not "UK," as that would be Ukraine. She then asked me to place my right hand on the small biometrics panel. She scanned one finger at a time and then did the same with my left hand. I asked her what the red areas on my fingerprints meant on the screen and she told me that having too many red areas or a large area of red could mean that the fingerprint scan is rejected. Unfortunately, she had to scan my fingers multiple times because quite a few were rejected.

For those who haven't had biometric digital fingerprints taken, it is not the same as ink fingerprints or even the same as the ones at the airport or K-1 interview (London). Your fingers are scanned one at a time and you must try to relax and let the technician roll and manipulate your finger herself/himself. There is also a box on the top right-hand corner of the screen that turns red and says "reject" if the fingerprint is not acceptable. It turns green and says "pass" if the fingerprint is okay.

After about 10-15 minutes, we managed to get all my fingerprints to "pass." The technician then asked me to take a seat against the wall and she counted to three then took my photo. She didn't give me a chance to okay it, but I took a quick look on the screen and thankfully it was fine. She then returned my appointment form back after she'd initialed it and also gave me a yellow customer comments slip to fill in. She said that I must keep the white paper and fill in the yellow paper before putting it in the box at the front of the second waiting area (next to another exit). I thanked her then filled out the comments form and left. Took about 50 minutes altogether from entering to leaving the building.
Processing
Estimates/Stats :
Based on timeline data, your AP may be adjudicated between May 18, 2015 and June 25, 2015*.

If this date range has passed or your application is past due per USCIS processing times then you should consider calling the USCIS to inquire on your petition. If you have been approved please update your timeline.


Member Reviews:

Consulate Review: London, United Kingdom
Review Topic: K1 Visa
Event Description
Review Date : June 20, 2014
Embassy Review : ***Getting there ***

I walked from Marble Arch tube station. It took approximately 10 minutes using the route plotted by Google Maps. I walked down Oxford Street (the Marble Arch behind me) and then turned right onto Park Street just after the big Primark. The last section (Culross Street) is not accessible as it is behind black metal fencing. I had to go around the outside, following the fencing until I reached the other side of the embassy, with Grosvenor Square Gardens on my right.

***US Embassy ***

Entrance to the Embassy for visa interviewees is via the glass and gold office on the right, which also houses the security screening machine. I got to this area a few minutes before 7am for an 8am appointment. There were about seven people scattered around the area (including a family of 3). No real queue to speak of. Then between 7am and 7.15am, embassy staff wheeled out two mobile desks and some noticeboards on the side of the bollards closest to the Gardens. The desks were approximately in line with the white bin situated in the middle of the row of black bollards. So if you stand near the bin, to the right of the bollards (on the side that's closest to the Gardens rather than the Embassy), you should find yourself near the front of the queue when they ask everyone to line up. You want to be on the side of the mobile desk that doesn't have the doors as the embassy personnel will be on the side of the desk with the doors.

Since there's no shelter unless you're in the security office or main building, I'm glad that it was warm and the sun had already been up for a couple of hours or more. Otherwise, I can't imagine that it would be fun standing in the cold, dark or rain. So those with autumn/winter interviews might want to make sure that they wear suitable clothing.

Initially, we were asked to form three queues. The first queue at the desk closest to the Gardens was anyone who had an immigrant visa appointment after 8am. The middle queue (second desk) was everyone who had an 8.00am appointment. The third queue, behind these desks and next to a noticeboard, was for other appointments. I joined the middle queue and had about four people in front of me. An embassy staff member went through the queue asking for:

- DS-160 confirmation printout
- passport
- appointment letter

She checked my appointment letter and circled the appointment time. When I got to the front of the queue (thankfully, there were two members of staff at this desk, so the line moved quickly), a guy checked my three items again and checked that I was on the list to be interviewed. He also asked if I was by myself or not. By this time, there were easily dozens of people in both the immigrant visa queues.

I was then asked to join a fourth line to the right, which was interweaving through the black bollards. In this queue, we were given small plastic bags to put our belts, watches and mobile phones. I asked if I could keep my mobile in my backpack. The staff member said that I had to take out the phone and put it into the plastic bag as it would be scanned separately. She also confirmed that tablets were allowed but not laptops. Then another staff member checked my passport again and I was ushered towards the glass and gold office on the right. I waited outside the office for the security person to open the door. This is the bit that's a bit like going through security screening at the airport. I was asked to put everything in my hands in a tray and they also took my backpack, these were all put through the x-ray machine. I walked through the security gate - I didn't have to remove my coat or shoes.

After picking up my things from the tray and my backpack on the other side of the security gate, I left the glass and gold office and followed the path to the right, around the edge of the building to the side entrance. Up a few steps, and then into the building's reception area. There are two receptionists. I handed one of them my three items (DS-160 confirmation page, passport and appointment letter). She stuck a printed set of labels (ticket number) on my appointment letter, told me to take a seat and wait for my ticket number to be called on the screens. The time-stamp on my labels was 7.38am.

Up a few more steps from reception and into a big hall, which was not unlike an airport lounge with rows of joined seating. The building's windows on the left overlook the queues to get in. On the right were a series of window booths (1-11), similar to those at a bank or train station. Windows 12-25 were around the corner, after the toilets on the right and the two photo booths on the left (£7 for 4 US size photos) - both photo booths seemed to be working as far as I could tell. At the front of the hall, there are a number of large TV/LCD screens. As the screens were switched off, I was expecting to hear my number being called rather than flashing up on the screen, as per previous visa interview reviews. However, after a 10-minute wait, the screens were switched on. The first two columns showed the ticket numbers called: first column shows the list of tickets numbers and corresponding window booths, the second column displays one ticket number and the corresponding window number enlarged. There is also a beep when the individual number gets updated. Since there is a list, don't worry if you don't catch your number when they show it individually, as you can still check the list to see if you have been assigned a window number. And as far as I could tell, they kept the number up there during the person's interview and they don't clear the number until the person has finished their interview. The middle three screen columns give you instructions about which documents you are meant to have with you as well as the 5-step process for the interview, starting with waiting for your number. The remaining screens show weather/news/travel programmes similar to those you'd find during an airplane journey, but you can't really follow them as the sound wasn't turned on or wasn't loud enough to be heard in the hall. And only one seemed to have the subtitles switched on.

Underneath the screens, there is a canteen area along the front of the hall - no seating, so you take your food and drink back to your seat in the main hall. They had hot and cold drinks plus hot and cold snacks. I bought a packet of Walker's cheese and onion crisps and a Double Decker bar for £2.10. I already had a bottle of water with me, otherwise that might have been another £1 or £2! So, bring snacks if you think you might get peckish. They didn't have a wide selection, but it's not really the type of situation in which you'd be able to have a full meal as there aren't any tables. If you are stuck for reading matter, there's some brochures about the US near the windows.

I couldn't see a clock, so I used my mobile to check the time. You can use your mobile in the main hall, but there are notices asking you to keep it switched off during the interview.

*** Documents and Fingerprints ***

Just before 8am, my number was one of the first ones to flash up on the screen. I suspect that it wasn't first-come-first-served in terms of the queue at the beginning as there were a few people in front of me who hadn't been called. I went to window 13 and was greeted by an African American lady. She was very cheery and congratulated me on my engagement. Asked me if I had everything planned, colours, etc. I told her no, because I was waiting on the visa first! She asked for my documents in order: appointment letter (she removed some of the labels the receptionist stuck on my letter and put them on the cover of my file), DS-160 confirmation page, passport, birth certificate+copy, police certificate+copy, I-134+supporting evidence. As I gave her each item, she ticked it off the checklist in front of her. She put the originals and copies in separate piles. She also asked for two US size photos. I only had one with me. She said it was fine as there might be another one in the bag. She also asked if I was adopted, if I had ever been married, if I've ever served in the military, if I've ever been to the US before, if I've ever been refused a visa and if I've ever changed my name. I asked if she wanted updated letters of intent as my petition had expired and she took them. I suspect that she wouldn't have asked if I hadn't mentioned it, though that doesn't mean others shouldn't bring theirs. Note, these letters weren't notarised as my Packet 3 letter didn't ask for notarised letters. When I handed these over to her, she made a note on her checklist sheet. I wasn't asked for any relationship evidence. And we didn't provide any in the petition except a handful of photos of the two of us and one with his family. So, no Skype logs, receipts, boarding passes etc.

I had all my documents organised, in order, in hole-punched plastic wallets in a plastic cover, so was able to find each item quickly as she asked for them. I recommend doing something similar so that you're not fumbling about for papers, as there isn't much room on your side of the window booth.

She then took my fingerprints. First the left hand, four fingers. Then right hand, four fingers. Then two thumbs. I asked her if they were okay as I've read on here that a few people have been asked to go back to take them again. Thankfully, she said they were fine. She gave me a white A5 envelope, which she said contains my X-ray from the medical. She said that I should carry that in my hand luggage as they may want to see it at the POE. She also said that I need to be wary of the date written on it (6 months after my medical) as I need to enter the US by that date. She then asked me to take a seat and told me that an investigator will call my number out for the interview. I was with her for about 15 minutes.

*** Visa Interview ***

I waited about 15 minutes and ate the packet of crisps and chocolate bar. Then my number flashed up on the big screen (same ticket number throughout) and I made my way to window 14. I was greeted by an American lady in her 40s. She was not as cheery as the first lady. Seemed a little irritated. Though she did smile occasionally throughout the interview. As I responded to her questions, she referred to her computer screen and also typed things into her computer. Firstly, she took my fingerprints again (right hand, four fingers) to verify my identify. Then, I was asked to raise my right hand and taken through an oath to tell the truth. Then she asked me the following questions:

- how did you meet?
- when did you meet?
- how did your relationship progress?
- so you've been together since [first trip we met in person]?
- does he have kids?
- what does he do?
- what's he studying?
- do you know how much he makes?
- what do you do? do you consult for companies?
- have you ever been refused a visa or refused when applying for the visa waiver (ESTA) program?
- have you ever been arrested in the US?
- when did you last talk to him?

When I mentioned that my fiance is divorced, she asked if I had any paperwork to show this. Was a bit surprised as I thought this detail would have been covered at the USCIS/NVC stage, so I directed her to the original petition she had in front of her. She seemed satisfied after she reviewed the documents. When I mentioned that my fiance is a student and that he has children from a previous reltionship, she looked at the I-134 and stated that it only shows assets, so she asked about his income. I gave her details about his income (army pension and benefits) and told her that he is only partially financially responsible since the children don't live with him and one child graduated high school recently. I also mentioned that she has a copy of my bank statement showing that I have £25K+ savings, which will be transferred to the US. I also said that I will be looking for employment as soon as my EAD comes through. She seemed satisfied with all these answers and said that she was going to recommend that my visa application is approved. She said that I would receive my passport and visa within 2 weeks. She also mentioned that I would receive a package that is marked, "do not open." And I mustn't open it. She returned the originals of my birth certificate and police certificate to me and kept my passport. She tried to return the I-134+supporting documents and updated letters of intent, but I insisted that she kept them. Then I thanked her and left. I think I was with her for about 15 minutes.

The exit is opposite the third (last) set of window booths (windows 17-25, if I remember correctly) - first set of window booths (1-11) is in the main hall, second set (12-16) is after the corridor with the photo booths and toilets and then the third set can be accessed through the gap to the right of window 16. This means that you don't go back through the main hall or the way that you came, until you leave the building. Once you leave the building, you mingle with the people coming in. There are signs for the exit, but the layout of the corridors inside the building is a little confusing. I left the embassy just before 9am, making it the visit approximately 2 hours in total from arrival and queuing to interview and leaving the embassy.

*** Overall ***

Everyone was pleasant and it was a fairly smooth process, except for the haphazard non-queuing at the beginning. The interview wasn't as easy as others I've read on here. Not sure if that was down to our case or the individual "investigator" being very thorough and probing. Nonetheless, we were recommended for approval, so that's all that matters! Hopefully, Administrative Processing doesn't take too long and I can get my visa in-hand within the 1-2 weeks they specified. At the time of writing (1.15pm), my CEAC status has been updated with today's date and is showing as "Ready."

*** Recommendations ***

- check the weather and bring a brolly and/or suitable coat as you might be standing outside in the queue for quite some time
- queue near the white bin in the middle of the black bollards, on the side of the bollards that is closest to the Gardens rather than the embassy;
- have your DS-160 confirmation page, passport and appointment letter ready for inspection before you enter the building, you'll go through three checkpoints before taking a seat in the main hall;
- bring snacks and a drink if you think you'll get peckish;
- bring 2 US-size passport photos with you; there are two photo booths at the embassy but there's no guarantee they will be working on the day of your interview;
- organise your paperwork:
1) DS-160 confirmation page, passport, appointment letter;
2) birth certificate+copy;
3) police certificate+copy;
4) I-134+supporting documents;
5) updated letters of intent (if your petition has expired, which is 4 months after the priority date on your packet 3 letter);
6) any other evidence (just in case), e.g., photos, if you feel better having them with you.
If you have additional documents such as military records, divorce documents, etc., organise these as per the list on the US embassy London website, as this is the checklist embassy staff will be using.
- watch the London embassy videos about visa interviews and document-checking so that you can get a feel for the interview situation - it's a standing interview at a window booth;
- review everything you've submitted as part of this process, especially the I-129F petition and the DS-160 application, as they can refer to any of this information and ask you to elaborate or confirm - it's not a math test, so you don't have to worry about memorising answers, but I suspect that you do need to demonstrate that you are familiar with the information that was submitted and you know your fiance well (bona fide relationship).
- talk to your fiance/e and make sure that there isn't anything in his/her background that could come up during the interview to surprise you, e.g., past brushes with the police or immigration

(updated on June 21, 2014)
Rating : Good


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*Notice about estimates: The estimates are based off averages of other members recent experiences
(documented in their timelines) for the same benefit/petition/application at the same filing location.
Individual results may vary as every case is not always 'average'. Past performance does not necessarily
predict future results. The 'as early as date' may change over time based on current reported processing
times from members. There have historically been cases where a benefit/petition/application processing
briefly slows down or stops and this can not be predicted. Use these dates as reference only and do not
rely on them for planning. As always you should check the USCIS processing times to see if your application
is past due.

** Not all cases are transfered

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