|Consulate Review: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Review Topic: K1 Visa
|Review Date :
||March 1, 2008
|Embassy Review :
||We got up before 6am and got the Consulate by taxi before 8am. The guards pointed us to the entrance for Visas and we got the security wand check before we were able to proceed to stand in line in a open air room that after going thru a gated turnstile went back out on the street, then you're directed to the short line that went into the Consulate. That's the main security check there.
While in line in the open air room we saw 8.5x11 papers in Vietnamese and English saying her passport photo copy needed a real photo attached besides the photo that is part of the passport. That means you need 5 photos not 4 that the Consulate said in our Appointment letter. When we got the line back on the street to go into the Consulate, they wouldn't let me in. I gave Thi the 20 or so pounds of evidence and told her I'd wait outside for her.
Waiting was very boring as I was only one of 3 American fiances there (the other two were across the street with the crowd of vendors, taxis, others waiting for people to finish their business with Consulate). I don't like crowds SO I walked around the block, A very big block since the French, US Consulates and two hotels are all the same block. There's one guard with an AK47 on each street (two guards by the US Consulate visitors entrance) but unless you park too long or sit down, they leave you alone. I also walked by the British Council. The US Consulate is busy but the French and British had no lines or crowds.
There's a several shops around the Consulate, restaurants, internet store, flowers, etc mainly on Mac Dinh Chi so you can find things to do if you want. I'd suggest to pre arrange a meeting place unless you want to hang out like I did. Your fiance won't have a cell phone since that and other electronic devices aren't allowed inside the Consulate. There are two phone booths close by, one across the street from the Consulate, another across from the French Consulate by the corner of Le Duan and Dai Lo Hai Ba Trung.
While waiting I had seen women come out but I couldn't tell if they got pink slips or not. I did see 3 who did one was the woman in line that let Thi use a paper clip since the Consulate didn't say in their appointment letter you needed to put a photo on your photocopy of your passport (Yes there is a photo on the passport but they want the current photo clipped there too ......) Her English was very good so I'm sure that helped. Most had blue (means there's a problem) and one green (Adminstrative Review bad problems).
A little after 11 am she came out. Thi was looking across the street for me but I was waiting on the Consulate side so I walked up to her and she said "I got the frin". Which sounded more like I got the green which is Adminstative review which would be a shock. But she opened large IOM bag that has her X rays (for her entry to the US) and there was a pink slip! We got a taxi and went to Khanh's.
She first had to give the forms to a Vietnamese woman who didn't ask for original or photocopies, just told Thi to give her everything in the Appointment letter. She also asked for something that wasn't in the letter, a certificate that she is single that Hoa (a fiancee from Visa Journey member who got a Blue slip a few weeks ago that Thi had talked to about her interview). The woman was a little upset that Thi didn't have a photo for the photocopy of the passport but that didn't cause a problem. Thi had decided not to use one of the four photos for the passport.
She was interviewed by a "young Handsome American man" and a Vietnamese
translator (also a man). She greeted them "Good morning sir" In English and spoke English for the entire interview. She said both were very polite and understanding of her pronounciation when she didn't pronounce words correctly. The Vietnamese translator translated every question even if she didn't need help with the question. She didn't always hear the English because the translator was say it in Vietnamese so she would then listen to that without trying to figure out the English. She showed the bag of evidence to them they were surprised how much was there and only asked to see a month of chats/emails !!! Thi let him pick the which one, he picked June 2007. No pictures, receipts or anything besides the forms, birth certificates, etc in the Appointment letters.
He asked her a total of eleven questons (we had been practicing over 200).
How did you meet your fiance?
When did you first meet your fiance?
Do you have a computer at home? Kind of trick question because the I-129f stated I had bought her a computer so she didn't have to go to the internet store.
What kind of computer is it? She doesn't know much about computers so she answered I don't remember hoping that sounded better than I don't know. He smiled when she said I don't remember, how many people do know what kind of computer they have?
When did the relationship turn romantic?
When did he propose to you? I never actually proposed, we had decided that if we felt the same in person on we did online and her family agreed, then we would get engaged. Again that was in our original petition.
How many trips has he made to see you? And when? This was good because she got to tell him I was here in Vietnam for her interview.
What does your fiance do with his free time?
Where does your fiance ski? One of the things I like to do is skiing which she knows but didn't remember any of the names of the ski areas I've been to lately. Again "I don't remember" was her answer which was ok by him.
Do you know this parents?
I had organized the evidence as follows:
Interview pouch -Everything the Appointment letter asked for in order the letter said to have it. I-134 was in a folder arranged in order per it's instructions.
Original I-129f petiton pouch -Everything that I originally filed including the original receipts, etc. Also seperated the photos into "Engagement" and "When we meet March trip" plastic bags so they would be easy to remove and see if needed.
Ongoing relationship/September pouch -That was divided into an Ongoing relationship folder which included phone logs, cards, letters, my February tickets for her interview, pictures I had sent Thi, anything not in the email/chat logs. I made a cover letter that listed everything and had it arranged loose but in order in the folder. I also included the Single Certificate which Thi ended up needing. (Older Appointment letters did ask for it but ours didn't). I also had additional evidence incase it was required. For exampe, we had meet online but didn't have any of our first chats because we didn't think we'd need them and the dating site VietSingle doesn't store them if you delete your profile and doesn't let you foward them out of their system. We did have the emails saying there were messages but not the messages. I had drafted a statement explaining that incase it was necessary. The September Trip folder had a cover leter that listed everything relating to the trip, credit card statements for purchases, tickets, etc and a time line (matching the pictures I included) for the trip. The pictures were also in a bag. Everything was loose but in order matching the cover letter.
The chats/emails were bound by month but loose in the Red bag that we carried all the evidence in.
After he looked over the emails, he everything was fine and told her had her visa. Her pink slip listed the pick up date on the Vietnamese translation not the English and in day/month/year format. The American signed and dated the slip in the US format month/day/year. At first I thought her visa pick up was May 3, 2008! That didn't make sense since the pick up date was written by someone different from the American (probably Vietnamese which explains the different date formats). When I called to see if she could get her visa before I left bacjk to the US on March 5th, the consulate did confirm the original date was March 5. However they would have to call me back later that day (the interview date is when I called) or the next day, the person had to check with someone if it was possible. When they didn't call by the next afternoon, I called and got the person who could decide that on the phone. She moved it up February 29th.
On February 29, we went to the Consulate and about twenty minutes later she had her visa as well as my original filing evidence for the I-129f (including the address label from mailing it in). They only kept the forms and some photocopies, ie birth certificate, passport.
I like to think the I-129f petition and it's original evidence did most of the work so her interview was simple and easy. But I don't know.
Over all the experience was a positive one with the exception that the Consulate doesn't seem to know what they want or what policy is all the time. Speaking with them, they were polite and tried to be helpful. Paperwork/email questions are a different story. Our Appointment letter had the wrong price for the medical exams (It's now $100 for an adult), wrong price for the MRV (It went up on January 1st to $131 from $100). It was an out of date form letter, That's good way to end up getting a blue slip because of their mistake. For example, they asked for evidence not listed, the Single Certificate. Had Hoa not told Thi to get it, we might have gotten a blue slip (Hoa's interview was January 28th)
Before the interview I had emailed them about the fact we had discovered Thi's mother's birthplace was incorrectly listed due to miscommuniation when we filled out the original I-129f (her G325a form) back in March. The first email to them about it was a reply about Thi's birthplace records being wrong not her mother's. Thi's phone call to them got a "not a problem, fix it at the interview". I also called and got a similar reply. A second email got a detail reply on what to do, write a statement explaining it and submit it at the interview. They never asked for it at the interview and Thi forgot to ask them about it. When she tried to ask about it when she picked up her visa, the person had no clue what to do and didn't want to take the time to find out. It may be a non issue now as the last DS230 did have the correct information. But I will check to find out for sure.
As a US citizen I'm a little disappointed with how the Consulate treats those who wait while their loved one is inside doing business with the Consulate. I think something could be done to make it more comfortable to wait but it may not "fit" the Vietnamese culture. The Vietnamese I have talked to don't think it's a problem. For example, the new terminal at the airport isn't much of an improvement over the old one for those waiting for someone to arrive. Now there's a roof where there wasn't before....but it's still outside in the weather will little seating. The area across from the Consulate may be "private" property so there be nothing the US Consulate can do there and putting something on their grounds could be a security risk they don't want to take.