So last Monday I had my official VISA interview. Because I’ll be working in the US for a year I need an official piece of paper that says I’m there for the right reasons. In order to get that I had to go to the American consulate where they would conduct an interview and they would determine if I was worth issuing that VISA.
I had my appointment at 2 pm. Of course, being the stresshead that I am, I was already restless from worrying about being on time and finding the place. I needn’t have worried because as soon as I stepped out of the tram, I saw a big building, surrounded by high gates, several security cameras and (if that weren’t enough indicators) the American flag proudly waving in the wind.
Well, call me crazy but if I have an appointment somewhere, I presume that I would be able to enter the building upon arrival. I was wrong. There was a small tent outside where you could get shelter from the rain. Seeing as the door was closed and barred, I asked the people standing there what we were supposed to be doing. “You just have to wait till they come and get you”, the answer was. So I just stood there in the cold and rain, waiting for some sign of life from inside. After a while a security guard came outside, asked us for our names, scanned us with the fancy ‘bad things finder’ and ushered us inside. There we had to give them all our non-necessary stuff like bags and what not, move through the airport-style body scanner, have our necessary stuff by an airport-style bag scanner, and moved into the next room. Here I encountered my first obstacle.
I retrieved my stuff from the scanner and tried to open the door leading into the next room but found it wouldn’t budge. I tried it again a couple of times but it stayed shut, so I turned back to the security guard who frowned at me and said ‘you can move on’, and I was like ‘.. ehm…’ so I tried it again and found that it was only the heaviest door in the history of doors. My right arm is ripped now. So much muscle. I felt so embarrassed.
Anyway, I moved to the waiting area where I would sit till my number (number 7) was called and I could proceed to window 1 or 2 where they would sign me in. I was only just sitting when I saw a girl on the other side of the door having the same problem as I had. I motioned to her to pull really hard and when she got through she sat next to me and we got to talking. Turns out she is also going to be an Au Pair but in New Jersey, so we had a couple of things in common. It was nice to have someone to share my nervousness with.
When they called my number I almost tripped on the way to the window and my hands were shaking when I pulled out the papers that he needed to have. I gave him my passport (which they keep there because they need to put the VISA in there, so they mail it back to you), signed a form in the wrong place (*facepalm*) scanned my finger prints and went back to my seat to get called to window 3 or 4. This wait took a lot longer but when I finally did get called up, I was glad to see that my voice had stopped shaking. This was the interview part; this man would decide whether or not I was an opportunist fraud.
The conversation went something like this:
Him: So Emma, you’re becoming an au pair?
Me: Yes, I am.
Him: Are you qualified to take care of infants?
Me: Yes, I have a degree in pedagogy, a Masters in Educational Science and three years of work experience in several childcare facilities.
Him: Where are you going?
Me: Chicago, more specifically ********** (privacy, you understand)
Him: How many kids will you be taking care of?
Him: How old are they?
Me: 8 months, three and nearly five. Two girls and a boy.
Him: Okay. Do you know what the parents do for a living?
Me: I think they work at an ****** firm.
Him: Got any family in the US?
Him: Got a boyfriend or girlfriend in the US? (Which I thought was very inclusive and politically correct. Yay government officer)
Him: Okay that’s it, thank you.
Me: That’s it? Really?
Him: Yep. We’ll send you your passport with the VISA in 3 -4 working days.
Me: Okay.. thank you!
You have to understand, this was a rapid fire Q&A. It took maybe all of 2 minutes if that. I didn’t even have to show him my placement letter or my letter of intent to return to the Dutchland. I was stunned. But anywho, it was kinda fun. It was definitely a lot less of an interrogation than I had anticipated.
So now I just have to wait till I get my passport back in the mail and I’ll officially be all set to go. I just took out travel insurance for the whole year (€400.. *cries*) and that was the last bit of paperwork that needed done, I think. I’m officially all set to go! Weeheee.