Friday, November 9, 2007

US Visas

I have done something immensely stupid. I found this out last night from Carl. Yes, I underestimated the time required to apply for a US visa.

Nvidia got some attorneys to put together the application for my visa. The process started all the way back in July when they first contacted me and I finally received a thick wad of documents on the 25th October. The cover letter stated:

You will be required to present the enclosed original approval notice at a U.S. Consulate in order to apply for a visa stamp to enter the U.S. in H-3 status. Please be advised that you will only be able to apply for the H-3 visa stamp up to 10 days prior to the validity date as indicated on the enclosed approval notice.
So I wait until 10 days before, which happens to be today. Bad idea! Turns out I was supposed to book an appointment for 10 days before and that an appointment has to be booked at least two weeks in advance. So I anxiously call the US embassy this morning, which by the way entails purchasing credit from Pick 'n Pay first, and they inform me that the first opening is on 28 November. Yikes! But I'm leaving on the 17th! Double yikes!

Fortunately they allow for emergency applications under special conditions. That required me to send a lengthy email to the embassy explaining why, when, how and more. I was just a tad nervous while doing this as thoughts went through my mind about what would happen if I didn't get accepted for an emergency application. My flights are booked, my start date set and everything. Would have been a nightmare!

About an hour ago I get this wonderful email:
Your request for an emergency visa appointment has been approved for the 14th of November at 8am at the Cape Town Consulate General. Please print this email and bring it with you to your appointment. Please adhere to the requirements for the visa application process listed in the attached file.
What's more, the "attached file" outlines what to bring better than any other page on the embassy's website. To read it click here.


  1. Wow, that's some detailed requirement document. Love the bolds :D

    Hope the process will be smooth for you.

    In Indonesia, during the peak months, scheduling for an appointment must be done one month in front. During the off months, it'd possible to do that just one week in front. The problem is, no one knows when it's peak time.

    When dealing with this kinds of things, I always call the embassy way before I need to apply things, just to know how the process runs (mostly because I'm rather paranoid with bureaucratic things, and I had my bad share of things went wrong).

  2. Thing is I have an Italian passport and so travelling/working in the EU doesn't require a Visa. Even when travelling to the US for holiday/contest purposes there's the visa waiver program. The only time I have ever had to apply for a visa was for the ICPC in Shanghai and that was straight forward.

    So this is the first time going through the process for real. I also thought the attorneys had sorted out most of the process. Now I know for next time!

    And those forms you have to fill in -- they specifically require the Adobe plugin. For some reason it doesn't work otherwise, even though it just spews out a pdf document! Wonderful!!

  3. aah the US visa application process. What really sucks is that they don't stick to the advertised timelines - you may have an appointment at 8 but may only get round to actually getting to the counter at 10! So be prepared for that - although, at 8 am, it should be better service.

  4. I really hope that doesn't happen! Although, being an emergency appointment I wonder if that might make them less likely to stick to the schedule.

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