Thursday, February 01, 2007

Run Dalida run + cue for a bit longer

For those who are born under the lucky star of 'visaless' travel my experience may not offer much except a glimpse of understanding what it takes to travel when holding less privileged booklet.

It was just last week that I thought I will try, first time in my life, to apply for American visa and attend a training held in Orlando. Once a year opportunity triggered will to go and try although, I have to admit, I have been in somewhat stage of helplessness even thinking about the possibility to travel to States.

As it goes with shattered beliefs, after receiving invitation letter from the organizer of the seminar, I learned that I had to do the following in order to apply for an interview:

  1. Pay $100 at the bank for visa fee (non refundable)
  2. Buy a phone card which allows me an excess to a number where I set an appointment (total 8 or 12 minutes available)
  3. Call the embassy and set the appointment
  4. Fill in the application forms
  5. Provide 50x50mm photos (quite unusual format, I must say)
  6. Write an employment letter, stamp it
  7. Provide bank statement of my account
Now, many would agree that getting the appointment may take a long time - however, they said - come in two days, total surprise! Rushing and getting all the documents was just a minor added stress in comparison to expectations for the approval: will I get to go? I felt like a little girl waiting for parents to allow first-time-after-midnight-party-time.

I got the appointment for 9am. I was there 20 minutes earlier, I cued for 10. Once in the building I thought it was just the matter of time, however... I found out that I couldn't bring my mobile in, ok, I understand. What to do?

"Go to the building accross the street, purchase locker key, and leave it there"

I run.

I still have time, I get back and give my jacket for the scan.

"You have Ipod?"

Yes, I do.

"You can't bring Ipod in."

What do I do with it?

"Go to the building accross the street, purchase locker key, and leave it there"

OK, I have the key, I just need time....

I run.

I come back - still smiling gracefully and they let me in.

I cue... 20 minutes, hand documents in exchange for a light blue card. I joing the light blue group... I cue....30 minutes.

Fingerprints are taken, and they show us to the other section of the hall. We are not allowed to talk, at least not loudly.

I cue... 20 minutes

My interview time is here... 3 minutes. With a smile and a comment that he has never handled a Yugoslavian passport before visa officer informs me that I got a 3 year multiple entry visa.

I smile back, I turn and walk back home. I am still confused - I broke my helpless mode, got visa and after few runs, patient cues and printed fingertips the road has opened.

I am going to America.

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