My life on 5 pages

I never expected filling in the visa application, for our US adventures, to be easy or straight forward.  We’ve been to the US in the past and fully understand the security set-up, so it came as no surprise when we were asked to completed the DS-160.

Thankfully, the majority of the work had been completed already, by the legal team in the US looking after my transfer, so we simply had to fill in the more personal details –  a personal touch sort of speak.

The first thing you need to know about filling in the DS-160 is that you need to save regularly, which in other terms means after EVERY screen.  Otherwise you might run the risk that the application times out, forcing you to redo the previous 11 screens 🙂

In a nutshell, here’s what you need for completing the form:

  1. Tons of patience
  2. Your passports
  3. A bit more patience
  4. The completed petition documentation
  5. Plenty of time and patience
  6. A super wife who wants to fill in the form

…and, if you planning on bringing the entire family along with you, then you need to complete a form for each individual.

The form itself is actually not too bad, except for some of the questions + which I will cover shortly.  The biggest problem we had was that questionnaire kept timing out, which meant starting over again.  Thankfully my dear wife saved the form regularly, as advised on the web site.

Passport Photo 

In this day and age it’s great to actual use an online application that allows you to upload a photo, instead of having to venture down to the local photo-booth.  So, for our visa application, we used our own camera to take pictures of each family member.

You have no idea how difficult it is to get a 12 month old baby to sit still, look straight at the camera and not make some weird face.

My own picture looks like a mug shot, my wife was fairly distracted, our oldest daughter thought she was posing for a photo shoot and our son was frantically trying to escape resulting in several pictures in motion.

All in all, it was pretty clear that we are not going to make a living taking passport photos.

The Online Form

Like any other application, you are presented with numerous amount of questions, all trying to catch you out and ensuring you are not some lunatic.  Some of the questions could probably be rephrased, but I sort of understand why they are there.

There’s about 10 sections, with some sub sections, and most questions are related to the individual answering the form.

As I am the primary application, my form was a lot more detailed – or so it seemed – whereas my wife’s form was slightly shorter.  Obviously, we are only talking appearance here, as I’m certain she was asked the same questions.

The most annoying thing, from an admin perspective, was that the kids were being asked the same questions as the adults.  You would have hoped that once you enter in the age of the child(ren) the application would determine that some questions were not required to be answered … such as:

  • have you held a US driver’s license?
  • primary occupation and description
  • served in the military
  • special skills, such as biological experience (other than lethal farts and pooh!)
  • paramilitary links
  • engaged in prostitution
  • involved with espionage
  • participated in genocide, torture or other acts of violence
  • attended public school without reimbursing the school

The last question, when completing the forms, was “have you received help completing this form?” – that’s probably my favorite question.  How on Earth is a 12 month old baby suppose to answer these?

Anyway, we answered “mummy“.

Next Steps

It’s a bit like waiting for the exam results in college.  You think you did shite or brilliantly, but then you start doubting yourself.  What if I answered something incorrectly or can my answer be mis-interpreted?

We had completed the written exam (the online form) and had to sit the verbal exam too.

After having spent hours online, and completed the tasks, I had to make an appointment with the local US Embassy.  They of course want to meet us in person, to verify that we are sane people.  I fully respect that, especially after seeing the result of my home-made passport photo.

I called the embassy and was talking to a nice call center lady, who kindly helped me with the booking.  As part of the call, she gave me a list of items that we have to bring to the meeting.

The kind lady gave us a date in two weeks at 8am, to which I asked if she had anything later in the day.  Who was I for thinking that I could call the shots or be asking for flexibility.

I was just dreading having to drag them out of bed, get them presentable and into town for an 7.45am meeting.  Furthermore, you are not allowed to bring any bags into the embassy, so not too sure how to conceal the diapers for the baby.  The kids were thankfully not required to attend.

To be honest, I had no idea what to expect or how the interview was going to be.  We were as presentable as we could be and answered all the questions truthfully, even if that meant revealing some very personal secrets about our pasts – and no, I’m not revealing these to you!

In The End

I hope we come across as reliable individuals and that we get the visa.  Fingers crossed.

We are looking very much forward to the new opportunities, and the new life + challenges life in the US will give us.  It’ll be fantastic for us and the kids.

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