I am definitely not Heather “Anish” Anderson and there is no way that I will be able to finish the Appalachian Trail in 54 days! Nor is it possible for me to finish the trail in 92 days/3 months – if I could then as an Australian I would be able to use the Visa Waiver Program and not have to apply for a tourist visa.
But I am not that fit, as you will see from my Hard Slog section. The online B2 Visa application process has been quite easy to follow so far.
Process for Aussies
Step 1 – get electronic and hard copy passport photos from Australia Post
Step 2 – fill out the DS-160 application form online, you will need your electronic photo to complete along with your passport etc. You are able to partially complete the form and come back to it.
Step 3 – create your online account, and link application
Step 4 – pay the application fee of $224 AUD via credit card, the system does not allow you to book an interview until you pay
Step 5 – book appointment with your local US Consulate. This must be the same consulate you picked when filling out your DS-160
Step 6 – attend your interview
Step 7 – Wait for your visa and passport in the mail
I filled out the 160 application form, paid my fee and then booked an interview – The only trouble I did have is I accidentally created two online profiles, so had to ring through to the US Consulate in Melbourne and have this corrected.
The interview: remember that you are asking someone who doesn’t know you to make a positive judgment call on your character in the space of an hour, so treat your interview seriously if you really want the visa.
The paper work I took to the interview:
- Appointment confirmation form
- Confirmation of submission of my Non immigrant visa application
- Proof of payment for application
- 6 recent payslips
- Letter from my employer highlighting my yearly gross salary, any leave owing, length of my employment with the organisation, my position title and brief description of my role
- My leave application documents
- My itinerary while in the US
- Proposed budget while in the US with substantiating documents
- A print out of my bank accounts – to show how much money I have, although it is still 7 months out, but I thought I will take it in case required
Interview tips: (Some of these tips come from other applicants sites I found)
- go to the interview prepared take all documents they ask for
- dress as you would for work
- remember you are the one being interviewed not the other way around
- don’t give more information than asked for – you never know what questions might arise from your excess information and are you prepared for these
- Don’t be late, they recommend turning up at least 15 minutes before the interview
Melbourne US Consulate: The process
The consulate is at 553 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Victoria. The only real indication you’re at the right building is the USA flag. It’s a typical city shared building.
You go inside and outside the US consulate door you wait in the lounge area until your appointment time is called. You cannot just enter.
My appointment was at 10.00am, got there at 9.45am. At about 9.55am guy opens the door and asked the 10.00am and 10:15am appointments to line up at the door and wait.
5mins later the consulate officer opened the door again and let in the first three people. I was in the second group of three.
You had to have your passport out, when I got inside you had to register your attendance online.
You had to turn off your phone and hand over your paperwork and handbag/phone etc which were put in trays like at airport customs then walk throu a metal detector.
You were only handed back your wallet, passport, paperwork and visitor pass. Once the three of us were done we were escorted in the lift to the next checkpoint.
At the next checkpoint we had to show passport and appointment confirmation then were directed to stand in line 1.
Interview 1 – At line 1 I was called up to the window and had to give over my passport, appointment confirmation and DS-160 application confirmation.
I had to have my four fingers on both hands scanned, I was asked how long I wanted the visa for – I could have done 1 or 5 years, I just said 1. If I want to do something like this again in the US I will just apply again. Standard questions like, why do you want to travel to the US, do you have family in the US and so on.
This was the ‘verification that you should be granted a visa interview’ interview.
Interview 2 – At the end of this first interview I was told to line up at line 2 which I did. The interviewer is behind a pane of glass which reminded me of petrol station night pay windows. There were three interviewers.
There is no privacy as such/no private rooms or anything. Here I had to scan my prints again and had the actual visa interview. From what I could hear, everyone was asked different questions and to produce different documentation.
The whole interview for me lasted about 10mins and at the end he said to me ‘your visa has been approved. Thank you and goodbye’.
Not at all scary but the officers are definitely on the job and serious.
Got back to the car and pumped the air with excitement – I am off to do the Appalachian trail! 😊🎉👏🏽🎊
Something I never thought about: my visa started from the day it was approved and of course ends a year later.
I thought the visa started from when I entered the USA – but it doesn’t. So I had to rejig my entire itinerary to make sure I leave the States on time. Learnings: make sure when you apply That you take this into account.