It is going to be 10 years since my first visit to the USA, the land of opportunities. I still remember the first trip when we took a taxi to the Best Western hotel, Chicago sometime in the evening and then I called my mom who just woke up and was making her morning coffee. It was exciting to see or feel in real that there can be day in one part of the world while the other part is sleeping.
Coming back to the renewal of my US VB1/B2 Visa, you can get all the information at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-visarenew.asp
This is what I did.
- Paid the visa fees using NEFT
- Completed DS-160 – http://www.ustraveldocs.com/in/in-niv-ds160info.asp
- I registered and created a profile at https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/?language=English&country=India to schedule a visit for today at 8.15am.
The system asks you a few questions to check if you are eligible for interview waiver and thankfully I was one of them. It would be good to renew your Visa before the expiry date. Though this is not the only criteria for interview waiver it would be helpful.
I reached the Visa Application Centre at 7.45am and while passing the building I saw a long queue in the road and I managed to find a parking spot in the main road. Walked to the gate and enquired with the security who informed me that 8am appointments are allowed inside. 8.15 would be next. I then went back to the queue and waited while autos and cars either zipped past us or cursed us for blocking the road. Not that we wanted to, but as you would understand no point explaining anything to Chennai auto annas.
The security allowed a few people and then the line stopped, I was curious and asked the gentleman in front of me what time is his appointment and he stated that his was 8.30am. I then went to the security and he allowed me to get in as I was for 8.15am.
There was a queue inside where two staff verified the documents and let us go into the main building where we were welcomed by the staff who once again verified the docs, let us pass to another counter who scanned the bar code and let us into another room – security check – switch off mobile – then to another counter who stuck another bar code on my passport and directed me to another counter where the staff gave me a token and the counter number to go.
The counters were free and the staff were professional and courteous. She advised me to read a paper which basically mentioned that by putting in the finger prints I undertake that whatever I have mentioned in my application is true and any false information would amount to perjury. Agreed.
She took a photo, scanned the prints and explained how I will collect my passport. Gave me the acknowledgement and off I go. I was out by 8.18am and on my way to office.
What could be improved.
- The waiting queue can be inside the building. There is lots of space. Only applicants can be allowed to enter this area. This way we avoid the risk of the applicants getting hurt/killed on the road or cause traffic jams and hardship to other road users.
- The mike/speaker setup in the counter is just too loud or echoing. I saw it was a very good brand (I forgot the name) but still I had to ask her to repeat the questions several times.
For the applicants and the relatives: We should understand that the most of them applying for the Visa renewal or whatever are mature adults and does not require the whole family to come. It’s not even the airport for heaven’s sake. By accompanying them you are causing them more trouble than any help. Off course this is my opinion. To one his own.
Overall the whole experience was good and very effective.