Monday, 28 March 2011

Goofy's How to Guide: FAQs about applying for a Visa

There have been lots of questions appearing on the various ICP groups about Visas so here are some of the common ones. I highly recommend logging into the Yummy Jobs website and downloading their visa guide. It runs through the process step-by-step and makes the whole thing a lot easier.

What is the address of the US Embassy in London?
24 Grosvenor Square
London, W1A 2LQ

What is the phone number to call the Embassy?
09042 450100. Calls cost £1.23/min so make sure you use a landline. Phone lines are open Mon-Fri 8am-9pm and Sat 9am-4pm.

What forms do I need to fill out?
You'll need to fill out a Sevis form and a DS-160. Both are electronic and can be found at the following links:
Note that you cannot start the visa process until you are in receipt of a DS-2019 which Yummy Jobs will send you in your Disney Welcome Pack.

Can anyone come with me to my visa appointment?
Only visa applicants are allowed into the US Embassy. This means that parents/partners/etc must wait outside. The only exceptions are where the applicant is under 18 or disabled and requires assistance or a translator. Further information can be found here

What documents do I need to take with me?
You'll need:

- written confirmation of the appointment and the MRV (appointment fee) receipt. These will have been e-mailed to you after you booked your appointment.
- A copy of the Sevis receipt. This can either be the copy provided electronically immediately after the transaction (make sure you've printed it out though!) or the copy posted to you.
- A copy of the DS-160. This should have a barcode on the front and the barcode needs to be clear enough to be scanned.
- Your passport.
- Any supporting documents. For example, proof that you'll be returning to the UK.
- Money to pay for the courier that will return your passport.

What can I take with me into the Embassy?
Large bags and electronic equipment are not permitted. This means no suitcases, phones, ipods, electronic car keys, etc. There are pharmacies nearby that can provide secure left luggage services for a small fee. Books, magazines,etc are allowed though.

How long will I be in the Embassy for?
This varies quite drastically and is impossible to accurately predict. Current wait times seem to be between 2-5 hours at the moment.

How long does it take for my passport to be returned?
Again, this varies. You'll be told at the embassy whether your application has been approved. It then takes up to 2 weeks for your passport to be returned. The US Embassy currently states a processing time of 4 working days. Last year I received my passport the next day.

I'm having problems uploading a photo. Help!!!
If the photo thing is really proving difficult then I suggest going to a photo company like Snappy Snaps to have one done. They can provide you with both paper and digital copies. Last year I had both done and uploaded the digital one to the DS-160 and took the paper one along to the appointment as back up.

How much is the visa process going to cost?
Here's the current breakdown (excluding transport costs):
- $140 MRV fee (paid for over the phone at time of appointment booking by Visa, MasterCard or Amex. NOT Visa Electron or Maestro).
- $30 SEVIS fee (paid online during the Sevis process)
- £14.50 Courier fee. This varies depending on exactly which service you pick and is payable by debit or credit card only.
- Cost of phone call to the embassy. £1.23/min. Length of call varies.

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