It’s official. The end of September hubby and I will be leaving on a jet plane bound for New York City. I am more excited about this trip than a six year old child on Christmas morning. I can almost loose bladder control – I am that thrilled! The only part of the trip I am not looking forward too is spending 8 hours in economy class, then a 3 hour layover in Abu Dhabi and then another 13 hours again in Economy class until we finally touchdown at JFK in New York. I have wanted to visit New York for a very long time and now it is finally going to happen. The only thing that currently stands between me and New York is the Visa application.
As some of my regular readers know I have travelled for work and for pleasure to some interesting countries in the past. Hubby and I have been to Egypt and Madagascar twice respectively, I have been to Kenya three times and a while back I travelled to Luxembourg for a meeting. Some of these countries required visas with some visa applications being more labor intensive than others. The procedure normally is simple. You complete the plethora of forms; attach the supplementary documents, photos and your passport, all of which normally would take you less than an hour to complete. You drop your application off, pay the fee and wait between 3 to 5 days and you are done. So when I needed to apply for the US visa I assumed to process would be similar, but I was wrong.
You can apply for your US visa online and as such one would assume that the process is fast and simple, but it really isn’t. You complete the DS-160 Nonimmigrant Visa Application online and it takes just over an hour (86 minutes to be exact). The reason it takes so freaking long is because there are so many questions one need to answer. Some questions are quite relevant but others are pretty odd. While completing the forms, at one stage, I got so confused that I had to phone a friend. I was searching a good twenty one minutes for a number in my passport that did not exist. It was frustrating and nearly drove me nuts. To add further pressure and frustration, if you take more than 20 minutes before answering a question (while for example you are searching for a fictitious number in your passport) and you did not write down your application ID number you have to start the whole process afresh. I can guarantee you that you will only make this mistake once.
After completing your personal details, travel plans, education and work experience you get to the security related questions. It is here were it gets a little bizarre. “Are you planning on engaging in prostitution or have you in the last 10 years engaged in prostitution? Are you the child of human traffickers? Have you ever received any specialized training in weapons, chemical weapons or nuclear weapons? Have you ever been involved in any Nazi activities? Have you ever been involved in overthrowing a government or plotting to do so? Are you a terrorist? Are you associated with a terrorist group? Do you fund terrorists?” These are just some of the questions that had me scratching my head.
Now don’t get me wrong, I do understand and have a full appreciation for why some of these questions are being asked. The US is currently still involved in a war and after 9/11 the world has never been the same. But with that said if a terrorist, a spy, human trafficker or former Nazi complete the visa application form what are the chances that they will answer yes to any of these questions? It is not like human traffickers wear t-shirts that reads “I can sell your daughter, ask me how?” or drug traffickers will pitch up at the consulate with a t-shirt that reads “I can carry 22 condom wrapped heroin bullets in my intestines, can you?”
Sure some people at whom these questions are directed will lie when completing these forms and it is for this reason, I suppose, the US consulate schedule the personal interviews. After you completed what feels like a thousand questions you submit your application and print out your application page with a barcode on it. Then you are directed to another website and a good hour later you have paid for your visa (which is non-refundable of course) and have scheduled your personal interview. Our interviews have been scheduled for July 13 at 8am. I hope that this is not a bad omen. It is Friday the 13th and it is early and I am not a morning person. I hope I will be more articulate and dazzling than what I expect I will be after having had to get up at 5:30am in order to drag my tired gay ass all the way to the US consulate in Johannesburg in peak hour traffic.
Look, I don’t see any good reason why our visa applications could be denied. As far as I know we are not on any terror watch lists, don’t know how to assemble a nuclear weapon or are involved in drug smuggling or human trafficking. And the only countries that I know off which definitely would deny me entry are Uganda and Zimbabwe only because I am gay and they despise my blog. So in the mean time while we wait for our personal interviews hubby and I are busy researching and planning what we want to do while in New York. There are so many places we want to visit, Broadway shows we want to watch and famous landmarks we want to see that for the short time we are going to be there I suspect we will not be getting a lot of sleep.
With me being a tad OCD and hubby being a typical Virgo and meticulous planner I know that we will have one hell of a detailed and tight itinerary. Every second from the moment we land to the moment we leave will be accounted for with a comprehensive multimedia schedule uploaded to my iPad paired with a New York City app. I am so looking forward to it. I can barely contain myself. Punch me in the gut and call me Betty. We are going to New York!
Till next time.