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One Year Ago Today

One Year Ago Today

Old Nov 15th 2003, 2:27 am
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I just realised, a year ago today was my visa interview in London! What a day that was, and in celebration I have decided to post my experience of the day again!

They have obviously reduced the amount you can put in since last year as it won't let post the whole thing in one go so....Part One

I-130 Interview London

Background. Ellen and I have been married for 7 years and lived in England for the whole time. We decided (after our vacation in April) that it was time to go back to the USA but because of economic climate we would leave it a year, in the end we got impatient and in September decided just to go for it. Although she was under no obligation to do so, my wife told her boss what we where doing (she works in contracts and they need a lot of time to hand them over) and her boss offered her a job in their head office.

Timeline

Date__________________Event_______________________ ______Day

September 2nd__________I-130 Filed _________________________0
September 2nd__________Applied for UK Police Certificate _______0
September 3rd__________DS-230 Filed _______________________1
September 10th_________$130 deducted from Credit Card_________10
September 23rd_________Received Provisional Case Number ______21
October 1st ____________ Received UK Police Certificate ________ 29
October 1st ____________ OF-169 Filed ______________________ 29
October 9th ____________ I-130 Approved____________________37
October 12th ___________ NOA received _____________________ 40
October 26th ____________ Packet 4 arrived ___________________ 54
November 14th __________Interview and Medical______________ 72

The first bit of advice I have is easy to give and difficult to take but don’t worry about the interview and medical, they really aren’t as bad as think they are going to be.

Preamble – if you only want to read about the day then go to the Day of the interview

We decided when we got the interview date that we should go down the day before and stay in a hotel even though we only live 1 hour away and not put our fate in the hands of British Rail, as it happened it was a splendid decision as the Firemen went on strike for 48 hours the day before our interview and some of the tube stations where closed. We stayed at the Radisson Edwardian Savoy Court which was about 7 minutes walk to both the embassy and Dr Phelans. The rooms where small but OK and the breakfast was good. The night before the interview we wandered down near the embassy and found a great Italian restaurant called the “La Genova�, highly recommended. As we walked close to the embassy all we could hear was chants of “stop the war� I didn’t want to mention it but surely they are 57 years too late! We then went to see the Musical “We will rock you� which is good, we got our tickets from Leicester Square Box Office (lbos.co.uk) for £18 (half price and not bad old seats). Non of these are adverts, if they where crap I would tell you not to use them but as it is they where good – in fact the Italian restaurant was the best Italian food I have had outside Italy and not too expensive (not cheap though)

Day of the interview

I woke up really early and had a really long shower – I remembered reading that during the medical the doctor will do the ‘cough and drop’ test so I doubled soaped my genitals to make sure they where extra clean. (For those unfamiliar with the ‘cough and drop’ test it is where the doctor holds onto your testicles and asks you to cough)

I got to the Dr Phelans office at 7.30 and was first there, Ellen decided to stay in hotel until the Medical was over but I didn’t have to wait long for others to arrive. By about 7.45 there was a group of us all talking and having a laugh at our fears for the day. At about 7.50 Angela and Laura turned up (Paul E’s wife and daughter) and I shouted out “hello Ange�, she instantly shouted back “hello Patrick� although we have never met or spoke to each other ever, so I made her come to the front of the queue (line) and join the group that where already life long friends. For anyone interested some people where in suits, some jeans and some smart casual so dress how you feel you want to dress. At exactly 8 o’ clock the doors opened and we all went in, a woman stood at the front and handed out a green folder to everyone and told them to read the instructions, put the medical questionnaire, jab record and a photograph in the folder and hand it back into the front desk.

We didn’t have to wait too long before the first people where called, the first 4 people called where the 4 girls, the next person called was me. The tannoy system is amazingly bad and you just have to guess if its you or not, I went to the front desk and paid my £125 then went down stairs to the other waiting room. The girls all went through quite quickly then there was a little wait until I was called. First I had to give blood and I am petrified of needles but the nurse was brilliant, I didn’t even know I had had the blood taken. I went back and sat in the waiting room, by now almost all the guys had come down. I took this opportunity to check out the infamous toilet and it is worth the wait I can tell you. Its at the end of the hall at the front of the building and when you get there its like something out of Alice through the looking glass as the door is about1/2 the size of any other door in the building. You then enter the toilet (on you hands and knees almost) and the room is an arched shape painted Aluminium, it is truly bizarre and yes I did bang my head on the way out.

I was then called in for the X-ray and Medical by the doctor. Paul (the x-ray guy) called me in and asked me to strip to my waist, I then went into the radiography room and had my X-ray, almost as soon as I finished the Doctor called me in. The doctor did introduce herself but I forgot her name. She was excellent, she went through my jab record and then took my blood pressure, listened to my chest and heart and then asked me to lie on the bed. She then felt my stomach and did the cough and drop but not in the traditional way but by applying pressure to my lower abdomen and asking me to cough – the double soap was a waste of time.

I came out of the doctors room and was asked to do the X-ray again as I had moved, it didn’t take too long for the second one to be developed – he showed me the X-ray and said I was normal – he then clarified it by saying my lungs where normal then wrapped it for me and told me to carry it in my hand luggage to the USA. When I got out everyone in the waiting room said “message from Angela – will you wait for her and walk to the Embassy with her�. So I waited for Angela and Laura and on the way to the Embassy swang passed the hotel and picked up my wife. It has to be said that everyone at the doctor’s office was really nice.
Suddenly the Pirate ship Nawti attacked led by the infamous Pirate Cap'n Brown (with a slight tinge of ginger around the edges) Beard. I drew my sabre and I think they admired my penmanship, one of the pirates remarked it was good enough to go in a gallery. I quickly realised that Art was not the answer and unsheathed my sword. Cap'n Brown (with a slight tinge of ginger around the edges) Beard swiftly attacked, blow after blow after blow, but it was no good, the candles wouldn't go out. He lunged towards me with his sabre gleaming in the sun so I swiftly turned and ran, screaming like a seven-year-old girl as I went.

We arrived at the Embassy not long after nine (so the medical had taken less than an hour), of course security was extra tight and there was no sign of the anti-war protesters that where there the night before. At the outer perimeter fencing we had to show the interview letter and passports then had our bag inspected, before that though we had to queue behind a bunch of people who where all turned away as they had no letters of appointment. We then walked around to the front entrance and had to check our phones in and went through a metal detector and had our bags scanned. We then went into the Immigration visa section which looks like a branch of HSBC bank but with lots of chairs, we handed in our letters at desk 1 and then sat down. We then waited 2 hours before we where called, this was mainly due to someone who was being denied a visa, she could not speak English and this took a long time to sort out. There is no way of getting a drink or any kind of refreshments in there so if you have kids I recommend you bring drinks and crisps in with you.
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Old Nov 15th 2003, 2:27 am
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Part 2

We all formed up in our little group again and discussed the medical, there was me, Angela and Laura, a girl called Ruth who was going to Houston, a guy called Simon going to Denver, a guy called Steve going to SC and a called Mike going to CA. Angela told us about the doctor doing a breast exam and said she poked and prodded and squeezed them – Ruth was quite unhappy at this as she only got the old 4 touch test and I think she felt let down at not being groped by the doctor, I volunteered to give her an independent breast exam. When I regained consciousness we still hadn’t been called. We then brought up the cough and drop test and Angela (who hadn’t realised that the doctor did the new technique) started talking about how embarrassing it would be if during the test you got excited. This led to a whole new topic of conversation. The cleanliness of my nether regions, ready for the test, seemed a hot topic as well.

At just after 11 o’ clock Angela and I where called up at the same time, she was called to desk 4 and I was called to desk 3. The INS guy (called John) started taking my documents in the order on the letter except for my military records. I had everything in the order on the sheet and was pre-empting him by passing the documents before he asked for them so it really through us both when I handed in my military records and he was asking for my Police certificate. He made two piles on the desk, one of originals and one of copies and ticked them off the list as I passed them over. The only slight problem was he wanted proof of Ellen’s work but she had forgotten her pay slip, but luckily we had gotten her employer to write a letter about her job offer in Wilmington and it began Ellen is currently employed by us … so that was OK. He was really nice and said everything was in order, gave me yellow slip and asked me to pay for the visa at the window at the back of the room. I paid it and brought back the receipt and he asked me to sit back down until I was called.

While I was handing over my documents at desk 4 Angela was busy with the INS guy and Laura (who is about 6 – guess as I don’t know) was getting slightly impatient. From the top of the interview desk she got hold of an elastic band and a paper clip and then launched the paper clip over the desk into the INS bit using the elastic band. Everyone who was watching burst out laughing. When we sat back down Angela said she was really embarrassed so to offset that I showed everyone my stars and strips boxers – it was then Ellen’s turn to be embarrassed.

We then started to be called up, Ruth was called up first and when she finished her successful interview she said she had to come back between 12.30 and 1, it was now about 1110 so we all agreed that once we had finished our interview we would all meet in the pub just up the road.

You must remember that I have been absolutely petrified about this interview as I have a conviction for a misdemeanour. I got a conditional discharge (which means if I get caught for something else I will be given a sentence for both crimes) and although I knew I would come under the sentencing clause I was still scared. I was called up next and I thought that the visa was put into my Passport so when I got to the desk and he handed back all my original copies and then my passport you must have been able to hear my heart sink in America – I asked (in a panicked and very high voice) “don’t you want to keep my passport to put the visa in� and he said we don’t put your visa in your passport. The initial scare panicked me and then I wouldn’t let him get on with the interview until he sorted out the conviction query so he went away and came back about 30 seconds later and said that I came under the sentencing clause and not to worry. He then went through my documents slowly carefully packing them in the brown envelope as he went. He did not ask us one question, not even about my conviction, he was very nice but I was slightly put off by the blood trickling from the paperclip embedded in his forehead. If I hadn’t been a royal pain in the arse about the conviction it would have taken 2 minutes as it was it took 4. He then told us the same as he told Ruth.

We went to the pub and there was Ruth at the other end of the bar so I ran through the bar screaming with my arms outstretched, by the time I got to the other end of the bar Ruth had decided she better prepare herself and the panicked look on her face was replaced by a smile and she opened her arms ready for the hug. When Angela appeared at the door she got the same treatment, so did Simon and Steve. We all swapped email addresses in the pub as we had had such a good time making each other laugh and keeping our spirits up whilst waiting. 2 beers later we all set of as a gang back to the embassy, when we got to the security guard we said that we have come back for our visa’s, the guard then said that there was no way he could let us in to get them so Ruth jumped on the guy giving him a really big hug saying let us in – it was really funny. He let us in (I think he had to in case I jumped on him and gave him a hug, btw the armed police at the entrance just laughed when Ruth did it) and we went through the same rigmarole as before to get in, when I got in the guy behind the desk watching us come in pointed at me and said I had already been called. I went to the desk and was asked to check my details on the visa and then I was free to go if it was all OK. It was fine so I went over to the chairs to say goodbye to everyone and it became a huge hug fest with everyone hugging each other, we had all bonded together and all helped each other through the day so it was truly emotional.

Before we caught the train Ellen and I went to Leicester square (to the China town part just behind it) and had a wonderful Chinese meal in the Golden Dragon – I highly recommend it if you are in London.

My bits of advice to everyone.

Don’t worry too much, everyone there had a “guilty secret� that they thought would exclude them but they all told the truth and where fine (as the song goes the truth will set you free)
If you have children take some drink and crisps, it’s a long day and there is nothing in the embassy.
Take Rogers advice and take a brolly as it rained all day.
Take a big-ish bag for the brown envelope, we just took a nap-sack and we the envelope wouldn’t fit in it so we where wandering through rainy London with this envelope stuck up my coat.
You don’t have to double soap
Try not to kill too many of the INS people with a rubber band and paperclip weapon.

I asked the K1ers what questions they where asked and it seemed pretty routine – where, when and how did you meet – has your fiancé ever been to the UK, what is your fiancés date of birth and how long is your penis. (Sorry, I made one of those up, they didn’t really ask the fiancés date of birth)

The neighbour who was looking after our cat and rabbits decided to show our house to a friend of hers while we where in London. So when we got home (we kept drinking on the train so it didn’t really sink in at first) she greeted us with the news that someone wanted to buy our house – I rang her (which could have been a bad idea) and she agreed on the price which we had planned to sell it for. Remember that we had not put the house on the market, as we did not have the visa, or asked our neighbour to look for buyers so without even trying we have sold our house. A visa, a house sale and Peking duck all in one day – life is great.

Ellen has been asked to start work in March so we are going over in January to house hunt and then come back to finish off here but it is all going swimmingly at the moment. God Bless you all for your help and support, I have to give special thanks to Rita, Scarlett, Roger, Lisa, Kate, Stu *, Matt and others far to numerous and gorgeous to mention. To those have still to go through this Good Luck and God speed and don’t worry too much as everyone is really nice and friendly.

* - I wrote this in word and the spell checker wanted to change Stu to stud – is there something we don’t know Stu.
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Old Nov 15th 2003, 12:07 pm
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I'd like to say thanks Patrick for your posting you have put my mind at ease, I've been married to a USC and living over in the UK for the past 5 years and its my interview and medical in Dec and quite frankly i've been shitting myself, now its getting closer i've been having trouble sleeping, I suppose i've been working myself up for no reason but all this is alien to me it was bad enough with all the forms and the dealing with the IRS because Wendi hadn't filed because she is a student nurse. So thank you for going into detail about what to expect on the day
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Old Nov 15th 2003, 12:42 pm
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Awwww...Patrick. You sounded almost human! Kidding aside...congratulations on your first anniversary. How long afterwards did it take you to stop shaking and worrying?
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Old Nov 15th 2003, 2:42 pm
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Fantastic read Patrick!

Some days are for doing things and some days are for memories!

Have you been in touch with the others?
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