It’s Like a Chinese Fire Drill of Death

There are few things that will clarify the mind at 5 in the morning than a bucket of ice cold water thrown in your face. The other is finding out that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service has been playing musical chairs with the documents they require for an upcoming immigration interview. Let me share my dread with you.

To put this in context; in seven days your fiancee will be interviewed at the U.S. Embassy, in London, which decides if she can move to the U.S. As with any governmental entity, spawned from the forth circle of Hell, it lives, eats, and breathes on red tape. They go to great lengths to devise forms for everything. In fact you need some forms to document that you’ve got other forms.
The USICS has thoughtfully detailed all the forms and documents needed for the K1 Visa interview… and subject to change without notification. Which means that you might think you’re fully prepared but they may have changed what you need, and no, they won’t tell you, which is what happened less than a week from Karens interview.

… soooooooo the USICS now expects her to have a slew of documents including statements from an officer from the bank stating deposit history, balances, etc, signed statements from the employer regarding salary, employment history, etc, personal property value, income, past years tax documentation, and like that.

Did I mention that they want this information from you, not her?
Did I mention that you have to get it to her in less than six days and over six thousand miles away? No problem, right? You’ve got six days. Except that it’ll take two to three days to ship it. But that’s still three days, so it’s cool. Except one of the days is on a Sunday and nobody ships on Sunday. That leaves you two days. It’s all good. But oh, that’s right, the fiancee will be traveling one of those days to London, so deduct another day, and of course the interview is in the morning of the next day and the shipper doesn’t deliver until noon, so that gives you exactly… hmmmm one day. One day to compile all of this information and ship it out.

Oh, and did I mention that the USCIS only tells you half of what you really need leaving the rest for you to find out on your own?
Fiancee: Hello, I have a question about what documents are needed for my Visa interview.
Embassy Monkey: You can find that information on our web site. We’ve spent tons of money so it will be terribly informative. We’re quite proud of it. Do you want the link?
Fiancee: No thanks. I read the web site, but I’m still confused about what documents I need to provide for my interview.
Embassy Monkey: Alright. What do you need to know?
Fiancee: Does the bank statement need to be signed?
Embassy Monkey: I don’t know. It should say on the I-134 instruction form. You can download that from our web site. I can give you the link.
Fiancee: Actually, it doesn’t say. Does the employer statement need to be signed and does it matter if it’s signed by a manger or someone in a higher position.
Embassy Monkey: I don’t know.I can give you the link to our…
Fiancee: That’s okay. Um, is that all I’ll need?
Embassy Monkey: Yes, that’s all.
Fiancee: I won’t need anything like tax records?
Embassy Monkey: You might. I can give you the link.
Fiancee: Does the link tell me if I need tax records?
Embassy Monkey: No.
Fiancee: Can you tell me if I need tax records?
Embassy Monkey: No.
Fiancee: …Then … how do I know what they’ll ask for at the interview.
Embassy Monkey:    …
Embassy Monkey: Just bring everything.

There is a quagmire of unofficial immigration sites on the internet and what each one will tell you can, and will, conflict with what you’ll read some place else.

I felt like a runner in the middle of a featureless desert and somebody fired off a starters pistol. RUN! But… which way? Where am I going? How far? Don’t ask, just RUN!
So while Karen scoured immigration sites for information I went after the documents on my list. Then I’d get an email from Karen saying I needed Thing A. I’d be scratching my head wondering how I’ll get that when she’d send another email saying I needed to send two copies of Thing A but only one needs to be an original. Another email saying we don’t need Thing A, after all, then another saying Thing A is back on the list.

This video pretty much sums up what I looked like.

In this middle of all of this dread and chaos there was a moment where a voice in my head, that would be the voice that wasn’t screaming in panic, yeah the other voice that was saying that maybe I should have a prayer. And I did.
Although I didn’t feel any calmer after praying, things did start to fall into place.

The manager at my local bank was able to print out all the information I needed and even went so far as to run up a bunch of variations of the data in case the Embassy asked.
While a manager at work wasn’t comfortable with signing off the employment document I put together, she did recommend that our Admin might be able to write something up. In fact, the Admin had written up this same kind of thing for a few other people what were working at our company and she snapped out a beautiful document.
I was able to get copies of everything else needed except for my taxes, but after a few emails to my tax-guy, he scanned what I needed and emailed those to me.

By the early afternoon, I’d put together a packet of originals, copies, scans, and what-nots. Plopped them into a trusty FedEx envelope and, with the help of the lady at the counter, got the right form filled out and all set to go international priority.

Looking back on it now I can still feel that cold, heavy weight drop in my stomach and the steel band of tension constrict around my chest yesterday morning. I’m frankly surprised that I was able to get everything I needed in such a short amount of time.
It goes without saying I’m deeply grateful to Heavenly Father for His help in all of this.

Yet, you’d have better luck getting a straight answer from a Magic Eight Ball than from the U.S. Embassy about what you’ll need for the interview. So, while we’re hoping for the best we simply don’t know what to expect come the day of the interview.


One thought on “It’s Like a Chinese Fire Drill of Death

  1. Did what I could to help Karen when she told me about the problem on Tuesday evening when we met for our usual Tuesday Indian meal. Not much I could do except be sympathetic, lend her a shoulder (she was, understandably, upset) then babysit her flat until the package came. When it did I phoned her straight away and she shouted out loud for a minute or so despite being in a crowded office.
    Think that your story about the happenings is lucid and very well written.You should try writing a book!
    BTW, what on earth did I do before iD. ( iPhone day) What did I do without it.

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