I am not trying to brag about they joy of getting my US Visa application approved. Because I believed most of you had it 10 years ago when I never thought that I will ever be on the plane to The State. Not in my dream. But life is like that. When you learn to dream hard and wish big, the universe hear you and make it happen.
I just wanted to share my experience about US Visa Application so that all of you quit worrying like I did.
First thing that I ALWAYS heard from EVERYBODY about US Visa Application (for the non immigrant) was - "Oh, they are very strict. You need to have a solid reason why you want to go there. Good luck with that". But, tell me, what is more solid than "Tours and Sightseeing?". That is solid, concrete enough for being the reason why you fly abroad, besides work and running away.
Then it follows with:
1) You need letter of Invitation from someone in USA.
2) You need to have a lot of money inside your bank account to show that you can afford to fund your expenses for the whole period of stay.
3) You need to know about the map / area you're going to visit
4) You need to show them the proof of ALL properties you own in Malaysia
5) They wanted to see your bank statement
6) They wanted to see your payslip
7) They wanted to see your staff confirmation letter as well as staff letter offer
8) They wanted to see tour program and proof that you are going for sightseeing
9) Never mention you going alone
10) If you are single, and going alone, the % to get rejected is almost 100% So please be married
11) Wear proper, professional outfit
12) Take train. It's very hard to park your car nearby the Embassy.
...and the list continues.
I mean, that's bullshit. And I must admit. I got bulshitted - big time.
Same as Japan Visa Application. People said that you need at least RM10,000 in your saving account to be able to visit Japan.
Expensive paper work's processing fee of RM512 is TRUE though. Approved or rejected, it costs you non refundable RM512.
I was dreading to apply US Visa because of that amount. I can handle the failure and rejection. But not with such cost. Anyways, sooner or later, I still have to go through this. But I choose sooner to find it out by myself.
The feeling of attending JPJ Driving License test come rolling in all over again.
After following the necessary, create my account profile for online registration purpose at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ , filled up DS-160 online, print out the deposit slip, make that payment at Standard Chartered Bank, log in again and set the interview appointment according to my date and time preference, all set up and my anxiety mounting. I won't list down the steps because that's your job to read the procedures, tips and advice on that website for your own sake.
I was ill worry from the stage of filling up DS-160. But Mike's advice is 1 - BE HONEST and tell the truth, but not the unnecessary truth.
I was torn between the two. Between telling all truth and get rejected, or lie and still get rejected. FML. That is not torn between the TWO. That's negative thinking! I am a very positive person but what was written on forum, blogs, article and rants I read online about Malaysian's experience in getting US Visa ... sent me downhill.
So, I chose 14 February for the interview appointment, 9.20am. Smooth traffic from Shah Alam to Ampang, I manage to arrive the Embassy early. Earlier than advised - 20 minutes before the appointment. Parking is easy. Just park at open space car park with guard next to Micasa Hotel for RM8 per entry with VALET service. Walked about 2 minutes, there you see dreadful line right along of lifeless colored US Embassy's wall.
My advice - try to be there 1 hour before the interview appointment. Not 20 minutes. Because you still be at the gate by the time of your supposed appointment. So I ended up queuing and waiting for almost 3 hours outside of the building plus TWO waiting rooms. When they call up your number, don't be so happy that the waiting is over - because the FIRST call is only for you to hand out your passport with 1 white background 2 x 2 inch passport photograph. SECOND call is just to take ALL of your 10 fingerprints. Lucky they didn't request for the footprints as well. Plus saliva and blood sample.
I was so envy to see people around me. They came in with minimum group of 3, friends, office mate or family. Some with official letter from their office management sending them off for conference. Some is following the husband attending conference. Some with flight booking and tour program. Some are the spouses of flight crews.
And as I sat there alone observing, I was busy thinking how to answer to all the TRUTHS that I filled up in DS-160. Im SINGLE, going ALONE, I don't have RM30,000 in my saving for my 1 MONTH STAY in USA, I don't have exact date to buy my flight ticket, I don't have invitation letter, I don't have all the most of other people has.
All I have is my career, my monthly salary, my passport with a lot of stamps in and out of the country, my cheap possession, my expensive dream and my extravagant wishes :(
But I put on a nice dress that day though :)
And I can do the snoop dog rap :|
Finally I got called in. And the magic questions were;
1) What is your purpose of visiting USA? - I swear I already prepared a brilliant intro for that. I was going to say "it is for sightseeing, experience and knowledge. Since I am working with tourism related industry, I can implement everything that I've gained during my visit into my work"
But hell, he cut me off with "OK" right after I said "sightseeing.."
2) Is somebody going with you? - Alone
3) Do you have family in USA? - NO
4) Do you travel a lot? - Yes. And he asked me to list the countries that I already visited. And again he cut me off in the middle again right after I mentioned the fourth countries.
He looked at his computer screen, and switched back at me with the words I longed to hear. "it make sense, I got no problem to approve your application. Here's your ticket for visa collection. Oh, we will courier it to this address" He circled the paper contained my office address. (You can asked them to courier it to you. No need to pick it up. That's a part of paper processing fee is for)
All the documents that I prepared a week earlier, - untouched. So I used it to cover up my head from the rain while I walked back to my car.
It was the sweetest moment that happen to me in less than 1 minute. Quicker than pre mature ejaculation. That's my Valentines' Gift this year.
But, you may still get rejected to enter US soil at the port, tho'.