Posted in Visa

US Immigrant Visa Interview Experience (F1)

My initial interview date was 13 June 2017.  However, I fractured my ankle in Shanghai which resulted to an open fixation surgery that I had to postpone my interview to a later date.  After moving my date thrice, this morning at 7:10, my schedule pushed through.
Since I still can’t bear weight on my ankle, my sister graciously dropped me at the no loading zone at the embassy to lessen the steps I need to take with my crutches.  When I arrived, a young Filipino staff greeted me and asked what time my schedule and type of visa.  He also asked if I have someone to accompany me so that they could lend their wheelchair and have someone just to push me inside.  I told him that my sister would need to park the car and I can manage with my crutches.
I was directed to line 3 where another staff asked for a printout of my DS-260 and passport.  They put a label on the print-out with a barcode, unique ID number and stamped with priority.  For other individuals, they gave either a green or a yellow card.  After they hand back your passport in a zip lock bag plus your DS-260, you will be asked to proceed to the security check.
On your appointment confirmation, they informed all interview applicants to leave their electronic devices with someone outside the embassy.  I didn’t bring anything except for my documents in a bag and crutches.  Before I even entered the door, the security guard asked what’s on my left arm.  I told him it’s a fitbit.  He asked if someone accompanied me and I told him that no one is accompanying me and that my sister is parking the car somewhere.  Apparently, FITBIT and the like are not allowed.  I’m just grateful that the lady sneakily safekeep my fitbit.  When my sister went through security check after she parked, they also asked her to leave the plug of her mobile phone somewhere as it’s not allowed.  The enterprising lady outside the embassy who can safekeep your gadgets for a fee charges Php 200.
After the security check where even my crutches went on the x-ray machine, the signs led me to another staff who asked if it’s for immigrant or non-immigrant.  Normally, they would ask you to have a seat outside to reduce the number of people inside.  Since I have a priority status, they asked me to proceed to door #2.  I’m grateful for the assistance the staff gave me as the door was a bit heavy for me to open with my crutches.
Inside door #2 was another bag check and security check.  Once cleared, check the letter on your document whether A, B or C.  The staff will lead you to to the seats for the assigned group.  You will be asked to wait for a Filipino staff to do a pre-screening.
I went to Window 46 and pre-screening commenced.  The flow as I recall:
  • Give the DS-260 and passport to the staff
  • Questions:  What is my name?  When is my birthday?  Who petitioned you?  What is the full name of the petitioner?  Am I married?  Do I have any kids?
  • Since I’m single, she gave me a sheet of paper which she asked me to read and sign.  After I signed it, she asked me if I understand what it says.  I gave the white paper to her and the yellow paper I kept.   Basically, the sheet of paper states, that my application will be render void if I marry prior to entering the US with my green card visa (if approved).
  • She asked for the envelope which St. Luke’s gave me and I handed it over to her.
  • Questions:  How did my mom migrated to the US?  What is the nature of her job?
  • She asked for the original copies of my NBI clearance, birth certificate and CENOMAR.  I asked if I need to give a copy of my China police clearance and she asked me if I lived there?  I said yes.  I handed over the requested documents.
  • She asked for photos with the petitioner as proof of relationship.  I gave her the recent set of photos I had with my mom on my visit to the US.  She had a look and handed it back to me.
  • She asked how many siblings I have and how many are in the US.  She asked if there are any with a pending petition.
  • She asked for my aunt’s I-867A form since it was missing.  (Note:  My aunt is a joint sponsor since my mom’s income is not sufficient to sponsor me alone).
  • She asked if I’ve been to the US.  I said yes, 3 times.  She asked where the passport with my visa is, I said it’s the same passport that I handed to her and the visa is towards the end of the passport.  Instead of the page with my passport details opened in the zip lock bag, she changed it to the page where my US visa was in and put the passport back inside the zip lock bag.
  • She said I’m priority and proceed to window 43 for fingerprinting.  She handed me back the DS-260 printout.
At window 43, an American staff handles the fingerprinting.  I gave him my DS-260 printout and asked for my full name and birth date.  Afterwards, he asked me to press the four fingers (except thumb) on my left hand on the scanner.  Then the four fingers (except thumb) on my right hand. Then my two thumbs together.  If the scan is not clear, he might ask you to repeat the scanning.  After the finger printing, he handed back the DS-260 and told me to proceed to interview.
Just off section C is the line for interview.  At that time there were 4 or 5 windows open with consuls.  I was asked to wait after the lady at window 63 is done.  Usually, you have to stand in line for this but since I was a bit tired from standing at the pre-screening, the staff allowed me to have a sit while waiting.
When the lady was done, the staff asked me to proceed to the window.  The consul was not at the window at that time so I had to wait for about a minute.  When he came, he was all serious and we exchanged pleasantries.
  • He asked me for my name, date of birth, petitioner’s name and my relationship with the petitioner.
  • He asked how my mom got her US citizenship, when did she migrate to the US, when did she get her citizenship and what does my mom do for a living?
  • He asked for photos as proof of relationship which he checked against the photo on the US citizenship photocopy which I submitted way back in January.  I informed him that the photo may not be the same as my mom had cancer.
  • He checked my passport and asked how many times I’ve been to the US, what’s the longest time I’ve been there, how long did I stay in Turkey (I visited Turkey in 2015 with my sis).
  • He checked my documents and noticed my police clearance from China and in a serious tone joked that I don’t need to provide my China police clearance since if I committed a crime there, I won’t be allowed to leave.
  • He checked the affidavit of support documents and asked what is my relationship with the joint sponsor and informed him that she’s my aunt.  What is my aunt’s job and he jokingly mentioned that money must run in the family which I just smiled at him.
  • After checking through everything,  he informed me that my visa is approved and to expect my passport with the visa delivered to the address I registered within 2 weeks.  He also gave me a sheet of paper informing me to register or check my address online to ensure timely delivery of my visa.  He thanked me and I thanked him in return.
At that time, my sister was able to enter the embassy and assisted me with my bag as I exit.  I asked her how she got in, and she said that the staff at the entrance remembered me and informed him that she was the person who was supposed to accompany me.  As we exit, the security lady sneakily handed my fitbit back to me.   All in all, it took me from 6:55am to 8:15am to complete the entire process.
As I checked my case status on CEAC, they have already authorized issuance of my visa.  After I receive my packet, I believe there will be a seminar which I have to attend.  I will keep you updated with my immigrant visa journey.
It’s a long tedious process which I hope is worth it in the end.  I’m thankful and blessed with the interview outcome this morning.