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Grad School 2: The saga continuoms. 
9th-Jun-2010 11:10 pm
go baby go
This moving-to-the-States thing may or may not kill me before I get to go.

Mostly it's Visa application things. For me to get a visa, first my college has to issue a specific form, that I have to take to the Embassy in London. That was a nightmare and a half, I can tell you, as I had to fax off paperwork, and then fax off more paperwork, and then wrangle with the kind of admin that replies to one email a day in a less than helpful manner (instead of saying "Can you find $4,000 to cover your living costs?" I got a "I need a letter from your employer and a bank statement in dollars".) I dealt badly with a lot of that, and the result was a couple of weeks in which I didn't eat properly, didn't respond to other people properly, didn't keep up with my practice, and generally was a total mess.

I'm better now.

Anyway, the form arrived yesterday and armed, with that, I went on a trail of getting myself a visa.

Oh My.

So first I had to go to the website and fill in another application. This was a complex series of questions like "give the details of your last five trips to the USA"; "What is your parent's DoB?" "Have you ever committed genocide?" You know, the usual. Only every time I had to leave my chair to find my passport, phone my parents to check how old they really are, or check my criminal histroy for genocide*, the form timed out and I had to start again through the twenty-minute or so many mnay pages. I eventually figured out how to save my progress to file, but that didn't work consistently.

Eventually that was completed! Now all I had to do was phone the US Embassy, pay a fee, and book myself an appointment to interview for a Visa.

The US Embassy in London has an 09.. premium rate number.
Charging £1.20 a minute.
And a predicted waiting time of 8-10 minutes.

This is on the website and everything, but still everytime I called, I got a prerecorded message saying that they were 'experiencing an unprecedented volume of calls'. Yeah, 'cause if it's been going on for so long you've had time to put it onyuor website and record a message, it's not unprecedented.

I say 'every time' I called because all day yesterday and for a while this morning, I'd call and they'd play prerecorded messages at me and then hang up. At £1.20 a time.

Eventually I got through, and gave all my details and answered security questions and spelled all my names out and paid a fee for the appointment and was told I'd have to go pay another fee and have the receipt ready for the interview.

By this time I've completely lost track of how much I'm spending on what. A little voice in my head starts telling me this is what it's like to be American ALL THE TIME. I have preconceptions, sue me. anyway,I think I've just paid $140 for the honour of going to the interview. I now have to go and pay $200 to the US government for... actually, I have no idea what the SEVIS fee pays for. I guess further processing? Whichever, I book an appointment for next week and go online to pay the fee, which I'm told I'd have to do 3 days before the interview.

When I get to the website, I discover that I'll need to print the final page RIGHT THEN AND THERE, no emailed or saved receipts for me! My computer is not connected to a printer so I have to wait for Izzy to get home, which I do. Then I go on and fill out the form and pay my money and...

...and I'm given a choice between two postal methods. Standard, for which I'd have to wait up to three weeks, and Express, which is another $35 and would be another week. My interview is on the seventeenth. By this time I'm too frazzled to panic. I fork out the extra $35 and remibnd myself that people owe me money I just have to ask for if I run out of food money.

It later occurs to me that I could've used the printout next week and the official hard cover was for entry into the USA in August. WTFever, at this point. I'm frazzled and I want my gorram visa.

And now I think you're up to date.


This post is also posted at InnerBrat @ Dreamwidth. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.
9th-Jun-2010 10:18 pm (UTC)
I have been giggling at your pain on Twitter and am now laughing even more.

I'm so sorry.

But seriously, idek why this crap is so complicated. It actually sounds even worse than when I had to go through it all four years ago (I don't remember an online quiz thingy, maybe I blanked it out), and whoa was that one hell of a summer for me. JUST THINK, THOUGH: IT WILL ALL BE WORTH IT IN THE END.

I mean, you may have to live on ramen noodles when you get there what with all the fees and the phone call and all, but still.
9th-Jun-2010 10:22 pm (UTC)

Actually, I have a cunning plan that involves rushin_doll feeding me.


I plan to hunt down ingredients. I m firmly of the belief that if I just look in the right places, I can find ingredients cheaper than processed food, right?

(Deleted comment)
9th-Jun-2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
She's right. And if you need any extra help, my parents will feed you. They're good like that.
10th-Jun-2010 07:24 am (UTC)
I freaking love that I have a pre-prepared support group in my new city. WIN
9th-Jun-2010 11:19 pm (UTC)
Vegetables and ingredients in my/potentially your neighborhood are actually pretty cheap! Brooklyn is decent for that.
9th-Jun-2010 11:18 pm (UTC)
That premium-rate phone line was the one thing that got me about the whole process. It's just... outrageous. I mean, WHAT?
10th-Jun-2010 07:25 am (UTC)
I'm sure it's just needless profiteering. These things need to be applied for and set up and things, it's not like it's just convenient for them or anything.
10th-Jun-2010 09:00 am (UTC)
Exactly, it's just such an obvious bit of obnoxious greed. Bastards.
9th-Jun-2010 11:28 pm (UTC)
I'll need to print the final page RIGHT THEN AND THERE, no emailed or saved receipts for me! My computer is not connected to a printer

This happened to me once, but it was for something like a cheap air ticket, so no major stress. At the time, I didn't own a printer. Fortunately, I did have a PDF driver installed (back when they were quite difficult to get hold of).

Definitely a very useful workaround to have.

I hope it all goes OK. You may, however, find this wryly amusing:
The schizophrenia of the land of the ‘free’
10th-Jun-2010 12:23 am (UTC)
The SEVIS fee (in case you're actually curious) is to maintain the registration database that'll track your status while you're in the States. It's operated through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement...which is not to be confused with U.S. Customs and Border Protection...which is not to be confused with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services...can you tell I occasionally do work for Homeland Security?

At any rate, visa hoop-jumping is so incredibly aggravating -- I think the only thing worse is attempting to get a security clearance. I do hope the worst of it's over for you.
10th-Jun-2010 12:31 am (UTC)
And I thought getting an Australian Visa was irritating. D:

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