After you pay you will receive an email confirmation with a receipt number. Print a copy of the confirmation and make a note of the receipt number, you’ll need it for your visa interview.
You will need three pieces of information to book your interview appointment:
You can schedule your appointment by clicking the link on your account home page. The site will show you the available time slots at your chosen consulate for you to pick from. Remember that the wait times vary a lot depending on the consulate. I booked my appointment on a Wednesday and the first available slot was the following Tuesday, but that was in Perth, which has very short wait times. Sydney and Melbourne can have wait times of two weeks or more, depending on the time of year. Canada and the U.K. tend to be longer, Barbados shorter. You should take this into account when booking any flights.
If you’re in a rush, you can request an emergency appointment, but only in certain (and very rare) circumstances. If you don’t qualify for an emergency appointment, your best bet is to keep checking your account for an earlier availability to open up due to a cancellation.
What documents should I bring?
In most cases the interview is verrrrrrrrry straightforward, but you do hear some horror stories so it’s always better to be over-prepared. You should check this website to make sure you have all the required documents, but the following is a list of documents that I brought with me to my interview:
What was the process on the day?
The interview confirmation states that you should arrive no more than 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. I arrived for my 10am interview at 9:50am. Security put my bag through an X-ray machine, asked me to walk through a metal detector, and once that was all clear, asked me to put my bag, laptop, phone and other electronic devices in a locker. I could only take my documents and wallet through with me to the interview.
A security guard then escorted me via elevator up to the interview area, where I was told to take a numbered ticket and wait until my number was called.
When my number was called, I went to the appropriate counter to speak with a consular officer. The consular office sits behind a glass security screen, similar to a bank teller. The officer scanned my fingerprints and asked me to pass my documents through to him. He then reviewed the documents and asked me to sit down and wait to be called for my interview.2
It took half an hour until my name was called for my interview with another consular officer, but the interview itself was very straightforward. The officer looked over my documents and asked me three questions:
(i) What does my company do?
(ii) What is my new job title?
(iii) Where have I been traveling in the last year?
That was it. The officer said my visa was approved and that I could expect my passport and visa to be returned by courier within a couple of days. Security then escorted me back downstairs to collect my bag and other belongings and I was done. The whole process took approximately an hour and a half.
How long does it take to get my passport and visa back?
It depends on your location, but you can track the status of your visa on this site. My passport was back within two days. I had my interview at 10am on a Monday, and the tracker indicated that my passport was logged for processing for the remainder of Monday. I then received confirmation of dispatch on Tuesday, and the courier attempted delivery at 1pm Wednesday. I wasn’t home at the time, but I was able to collect my passport from the courier depot on Thursday, ready for my flight back to the U.S. on the Saturday.
Important Note: When you get your passport back, double check that all of the information on the visa is correct and matches your passport information. If not, contact the embassy to get it fixed before you head back stateside.
I arrived back in New York via a connecting flight in Abu Dhabi, so I went through U.S. customs at their pre-check service in Abu Dhabi.
The customs officer asked me what the purpose of my trip was, and I explained that I had a job and visa approval. The officer took a quick look at my visa, asked me what the job was, and then stamped my passport for two years to match the two-year visa period. He didn’t ask to see any other documents, but I had my letter of offer, DS-160 confirmation and LCA handy just in case.
After that is was on to New York and my new home.
Final Note: A lot of people have contacted me to ask how they can thank me for the advice in this guide. A few options are below:
Have fun in NYC 😉