February 27, 2007

US visa application

The process was quite simple and efficient. All I had to do was visit the embassy website, fill up the online form, make an appointment to the embassy online, make payment at any RHB bank, and get all my documentations ready.

My appointment was at 9.45am and by the time I got there, there was already a long queue. The guard admitted us into the embassy building in accordance to the appointment time, even though there were people ahead of me. Despite that, it still took me close to an hour in the queue before I was finally admitted into the building at 10.30am.

Visitors had to pass through a security scan and have their camera, mobile phone, keys, etc left at the entrance. I then walked over to the main consular building and waited for turn to be interviewed. The interview takes place over the counter and as most of the officers speak into the microphone, every conversation could actually be heard loud and clear. This, I thought, was rather intrusive and impersonal.

I waited for close to 45 minutes before my number was called and thankfully, the interview was painless enough. Having an official invitation letter from US headquarters and a confirmation of employment letter from HR no doubt made the process easier. My visa was approved but I was asked to apply for a new passport before the visa will be issued as there's a slight damage to the front page of my passport, where the cover has kind of separated into two pieces at the edge. The officer said this is to avoid me having any trouble while entering US as the immigration officers at US entry checkpoint may think that my passport is fraudulent.

I went to the Subang immigration office to apply for a new passport as advised, though I still have about three years validity with my current passport. The immigration however, refused to process my application as they do not deem my passport damaged! The officer suggested that I simply glue the cover back in place. I told them of the instruction given by the US embassy but the officer said that if I insist on applying for a new passport, they would have to lodge a case for investigation, as they deemed my passport as still valid. So there I was, caught in-between the requirement of the US embassy, and our local immigration regulations.

I then went back to the US embassy and related my experience at the immigration to them. The officer was understanding and proceeded to issue me a visa, but not before reiterating his warning that I should be prepared to face difficulties that may arise while entering US. My visa would be ready for collection the next day. I didn’t pick it up until just before the Chinese New Year holidays, as the counter is only open from 2 – 3 pm daily and I have been so bogged down with work. So I finally have my 10-year US visa and is now waiting to board my flight; I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed that people at US immigration won't give me a hard time.

1 comment:

Liew said...

By now you shld be have landed and passed thru immigration w/o problem rite? Otherwise ur hubby wud hv told us that u kena kick back ;)

Enjoy urself in US :)