Singapore Expats Forum

Interview for visa at US embassy

Discuss about the latest news & interesting topics, real life experience or other out of topic discussions with locals & expatriates in Singapore.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 06 Aug 2010 5:18 am

nakatago wrote:
longstebe wrote: They have asked how long my stay is for. Of course it's better to have one with you to show if needed.
.


well, that's the idea, given that US visa guidelines are vague*--I was basically asking for anything that has a chance--even a slim one--of helping me prove that I will not overstay. anyway, I've decided to pester my hosts for info and addresses and will be booking a flight with an agent (see prior posts) as soon as I clear another hurdle.


*just like PR applications/rejections criteria/reasons as of late.


Carteki has it right, above. They want assurance that you won't want to stay. Job, family, property in Singapore... ties, and reasons to return are what you need to dwell on.

I've grubbed up something I posted on another site c. 4 years ago, which I will repost here. Currant's post was great by the way. The front to back low-down. Mine concerns getting a visa from the embassy in London... but might yield some clues on the way their process works...

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 06 Aug 2010 5:31 am

I had a 9am appointmnent, and arrived early at 8.45. Others must have been arriving earlier for maybe 8am /8.30 appointmtes(?). The visa embassy is totally surrounded by metal barircades and the queues for visas forms on the embassy side of Grosvenor Square.

A big fat security bloke orchestrates things here, and tells you to go and talk to a girl with a clipboard nearby. She takes your name, checks your interview invite letter, your payment recipt, asks if you have liquids, cosmetcs, drinks etc (not allowed in) and then points to the queue to stand in. When I arrived, there were probably 15 people in front of me. There were already other people forming a queue for the '9.30' appointments, adjacent to us. If you are carrying stuff, it makes sense to have a bag to put it in. You will have to for anything metal anyway in your bag, or if not they will give you a clear plastic bag to put such things in.

Come your appointment time they'll start taking in your particular queue in one at a time (yellow line style, stay where you are until called etc). Your name is checked and passport checked by the big fat guy. He asks if you have anything metal on you (in which case you need to put it in a bag). This guy is helpful, openly laughs and jokes at peoples passport photos etc., to be honest though I think people are too stressed out to laugh much with him.

Then you file through barricades down the south side of the embassy. This queue seems to be kept pretty short, until you get you get in front of the main entrance, where there is a like a little portacabin. You go through the middle of this, where there is a counter, and they x-ray any bags, check your interview invite and passport and then you go through a detecting arch.

Then, for a visa, you walk all the way around to the back of the embassy, not the main entrance right in front of you, (beyond where you started from) and enter.

You present your interview invite, which is scanned. And you are given a strip of two numbered lables. Mine was #168. By now it was 9.10am. He also checked you had your photo and payment receipt.


You sit down in what is a large room. Reminiscent of an airline departure lounge, with seats for maybe 300-400, with a row of bank branch windows up one side. There is snack-bar area, the courier counter, a photobooth (�3.50 for two pix), PCs to access the automated application forms, toilets.

An automated PA announces 'Now serving customer x, please go to window y'. The windows in this room are numbered from 1-11. The PA goes pretty constantly actually, making it hard to read, study etc, as you are always having to concentrate on it. But after a while you get the hang of what is happening. For some people (in the loos etc?) some numbers get called out up to five times. 'Final and last call for number xyz'

They are calling people to hand over their applications for the first stage, then after a variable wait these people are being called again for the interview. The interviews happen at a second set of windows in an adjacent attached large room. These windows are #12-25. But you are all in one waiting area. So you'll have calls to windows #1-11 in escalating order, but then at the same time to 12-25 in pretty much randon order depending on how long the applications have taken to process. After handing over your application at the first stage, you are not called for interview until they have run through it and are ready to ask you any final points.

Once you have handed over your application, (and been fingerprinted electronically) you sit again and wait. The guy I spoke to though was very helpful, and courtious. If your application is straight forward, you might wait an hour. If it is more complex, like mine, I waited over 4 hours, before being called to interview. They give you a blue piece of paper at 'stage 1', telling you what to expect next, and asking for contact info for the couriers to return your passport to you.

Some people seem to go in and out of the interview area in five minutes, 10-15 seems more normal. Window 17 in the corner seems to be the one that 'problem cases' are called to. It is the only one in a booth with a door, all others are again like walking up to bank windows. The staff at the first stage are 'local', English. At stage two they are American.

In the interview, they sum up some of the main points, when are you going, how long for, who are you visiting. Most of this I had alreay desribed very clearly in my application (I wondered if they had checked it, or were re-checking to see if I could recall what I had claimed). They query anything unusual as well. If they say they will grant you a visa (takes circa a week), you go and hand in your blue courier form back in 'room 1' and you're done.

They might say they need more info and explain what... or other things I can't say what other outcomes might be....

What I will say is that the staff are overall, very helpful, in what is clearly a big stressful situation for everyone. Sitting in a room of up to 300 nervous people for hours was certainly an interesting experience!

The initial application forms are rigorous, (and pretty scary to be honest). It is good if you have done everything correctly. As indicated if you do need to change a passport photo, or re-print the automated application form, there are facilities... but certainly for the PC's (two teminals)... you could be waiting hours. Much better to have got it right when you arrive. (I was not however pleased to have paid �10 to get two US size passport photos from Snappy Snaps, to see the photo-booth in the embassy provides them at �3.50... but then again if that latter machine is out of order, you are probably not in a good situation for the sake of �6.50 potentially saved).

There are some plasma screens up in the first big room.. but they all indicated one line of text 'Disc read error'... so I have no idea, what these screens might usually be for.

By the time I left at circa 2.30pm. They were calling ticket number 400 and something to stage 1, and there were still hundreds of people int he waiting room...

Hope that helps.

p.s. Other little stuff...
You get refingerprinted after stage 1 and right before the interview.
There is a water fountain outside the loo's, so you could take in an empty water water bottle and fill it up here if you like...

User avatar
longstebe
Chatter
Chatter
Posts: 257
Joined: Thu, 24 Sep 2009
Location: Netherlands

Postby longstebe » Fri, 06 Aug 2010 5:36 am

It may also depend on where your from and what passport you hold.
It shouldn't do, but I'm sure some sort of profiling goes on. Like I say, it's best to have all your paperwork in order before you even start. The whole saga with the Arizona law is kicking up a fuss at the moment and I can see some changes being made in the near future.

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 06 Aug 2010 8:44 am

I'm more concerned because of the profiling--I blame my countrymen who abused privileges. I'm more-or-less aware that I have to establish ties, which admittedly, I don't have much of right now (I had a friend who was told "young, single engineers don't come back" but that was back home and he just quit his job back then). I'm hoping my company HR would "help" me with that with the letter. And that I really just want to go sightseeing. Come on, let's admit it--the US economy ain't exactly bustling.

In any case, just by being on EP on Singapore gave me a fighting chance of getting that visa as opposed to applying for one from my country. I've been told that it's easier to get one here but there are also instances that fail.

@JR8: I'm confused. Is your recount set in London or Singapore? You said previously London, but the layout kinda sounds like Singapore. If it's London, I wish Singapore would also have a jolly, helpful fat guy. In any case, the embassy layout or 299 nervous applicants are the least of my worries. :-|

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 06 Aug 2010 9:20 am

@Nakatago

That was in London applying for a B1/2

I posted that only to give some perspective of how the process works, and so others might have an idea what you might generically expect....

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 06 Aug 2010 9:40 am

JR8 wrote:@Nakatago

That was in London applying for a B1/2

I posted that only to give some perspective of how the process works, and so others might have an idea what you might generically expect....


Aaah. Because the US embassy in Singapore also posts the procedure and even basic layout sans the helpful guys and 299 nervous applicants. Also read it from numerous websites.

And the water fountain.

vivienshoshanna
Member
Member
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri, 23 Jul 2010

Postby vivienshoshanna » Fri, 06 Aug 2010 1:16 pm

moto wrote:one of the best pieces of advice i have received regarding these visa interviews?

keep your answers short.

listen carefully to the question and if it can be answered by a monosyllable, do so. you do not need to elaborate unless otherwise asked to. and even then, keep your reply very direct to the point. extended answers make you sound defensive and insecure, and only provide more cues for extended interviewing... and the longer the interview gets, the more you become nervous and the interviewer's senses heightened.

good luck!
]

those pieces of advice could really help out.. thanks.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 3:38 pm

moto wrote:one of the best pieces of advice i have received regarding these visa interviews?

keep your answers short.

listen carefully to the question and if it can be answered by a monosyllable, do so. you do not need to elaborate unless otherwise asked to. and even then, keep your reply very direct to the point. extended answers make you sound defensive and insecure, and only provide more cues for extended interviewing... and the longer the interview gets, the more you become nervous and the interviewer's senses heightened.


I agree to the extent of saying listen to the questions, and answer them. Spilling out a whole unwanted sob-story won't do anything for you, and wastes their time.

I'm not sure that you get increasingly nervous the longer the interview goes on (I didn't). It is not an interrogation. In fact the woman who interviewed me was as calm, courteous and helpful as one might expect from somebody in her role.

Just consider that until they get to speak to you, all they've had to go on are your forms. They have a partially painted picture of you, some of which might not be quite right. Your job at interview is to guide them to completing the picture in the way you'd like them to.

p.s. And since they have probably done 30+ of these interviews a day for perhaps years, I think you better believe they have a well honed bull**** detector!

Nakatago... can't you get ESTA clearance for your 'sight seeing'... or do you have a bit of 'Moral Turpitude' in your past? :wink:

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 3:48 pm

JR8 wrote:Nakatago... can't you get ESTA clearance for your 'sight seeing'... or do you have a bit of 'Moral Turpitude' in your past? :wink:


My bloody country's not in with the program and my passport's still not machine-readable (it expires on 2012). And no, no red flags in my past. I'm a square and the only thing going against me is my countrymen who've abused the system. And yes, I'm only sight seeing--a notch in the list of my s#!+ I gotta do before I turn **.

Good lord; I just booked my interview and it won't be until next month! I'm afraid how much tickets would already cost by then!

morenangpinay
Reporter
Reporter
Posts: 890
Joined: Mon, 02 Mar 2009

Postby morenangpinay » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 4:34 pm

[quote="nakatagoIf it's London, I wish Singapore would also have a jolly, helpful fat guy. :-|[/quote]

but there is a Santa Claus! :shock: dont tell me he's not reaaal :cry:

But goodluck nakatags :)

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 4:45 pm

Oh, that's a bit of a damned pain (no ESTA).

Had you considered replacing your passport if solely to do away with the rather archaic one you currently have?

What duration B1/B2 are you seeking. Keep in mind that the standard (at least in London) granted is 10 years multiple entry. They reduce that down according to how much you worry them. I got 3 8-)

If you get a long US visa in a soon to expire passport. Then you will have to go through some process to get your US visa carried over into your new passport. Or maybe always travel to the US with both?

Yes, I think the lead time from lodging my application to interview was certainly 3 weeks. Take the interim time to ensure that you've '100% sure' met every requirement, and you're prepared with dox coming out of your wazoo. Then you should have no trouble at all.

Best of luck!

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 5:23 pm

JR8 wrote:Oh, that's a bit of a damned pain (no ESTA).

Had you considered replacing your passport if solely to do away with the rather archaic one you currently have?


Not really; the peeps at my embassy said that my passport will still be honored until expiry and I haven't had heard any great difference in processing time between stamping and scanning so I decided not to get the new type. Also, since ESTA-like schemes are next to nil for my country, I see no significant advantage in getting a machine-readable passport early.

What duration B1/B2 are you seeking. Keep in mind that the standard (at least in London) granted is 10 years multiple entry. They reduce that down according to how much you worry them. I got 3 8-)

If you get a long US visa in a soon to expire passport. Then you will have to go through some process to get your US visa carried over into your new passport. Or maybe always travel to the US with both?


I'm not really aiming for any duration longer than my planned vacation. Given that tickets can be expensive and I plan to see other places first, I'll just be grateful if they give me multiple-entry and reserve my resources for other destinations (gotta check off items of my list). About expiring passports, I've read somewhere in the state department sites that I can still use a valid visa on an expired passport, as long as I bring said passport with the valid one. There may be extra procedures but I don't remember it all. All I'm sure of is that it's not a big deal.

Yes, I think the lead time from lodging my application to interview was certainly 3 weeks. Take the interim time to ensure that you've '100% sure' met every requirement, and you're prepared with dox coming out of your wazoo. Then you should have no trouble at all.

Best of luck!


Thanks!

I was advised to lurk around the appointment site and someone gave up a slot for Monday so I'm off to the US embassy on Monday (yay).

I also have my docs in order (our company HR executives are lovely people--my company's my only tie to Singapore). I've actually been mulling over docs long before I submitted my application so I'm confident I've done everything I can within my influence. I've also contacted a travel agent to check some flights for me so I can also show a flight itinerary if asked.

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 5:44 pm

You have to tell me what 'Plaese Porfread' means. It sounds Welsh.

User avatar
nakatago
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 8333
Joined: Tue, 01 Sep 2009
Location: Sister Margaret’s School for Wayward Children
Contact:

Postby nakatago » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 5:47 pm

JR8 wrote:You have to tell me what 'Plaese Porfread' means. It sounds Welsh.


It's a misspelling of "Please proofread." :cool:

User avatar
JR8
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 16514
Joined: Wed, 24 Mar 2010
Location: K. Puki Manis

Postby JR8 » Fri, 13 Aug 2010 6:30 pm

nakatago wrote:
JR8 wrote:You have to tell me what 'Plaese Porfread' means. It sounds Welsh.


It's a misspelling of "Please proofread." :cool:


Yeah ok!... ...


good stuff you're smoking issit? :wink:


  • Similar Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Return to “General Discussions”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests