• Atisha Sooklall

The visa experience

The first thing we had to do was apply for our visas. We thought this would be an easy process, instead it turned out to be an extensive process of getting a whole bunch of documents together. Since we were coming across for work purposes instead of as tourists, there were original documents that we needed to submit at the visa interview. We were worried that we would not receive the documents in time, as it was coming from America. Luckily, we got the documents the day before the interview. We had everything that we needed, we even got new photo’s ensuring that we met all the requirements as requested. The lawyers prepared us for the interview, and we were confident that the interview would go well.

We woke up fresh and excited to attend the interview at the Embassy in Sandton. Our interview was at 10 am, we got there early and decided to grab a quick coffee at the Sandton City Mall. We waited patiently outside the embassy until we were assisted by security to enter the building. Upon arrival we had to empty our pockets or handbags, leave behind any electronics, and go through the metal detectors. Once we were done with the security check, we had to proceed to the main office. Outside the office there was an embassy representative that verified your paperwork before you entered the main office for the interview. The representative said we needed to have three copies of the original documents that came from America, we assured her that the embassy website requested only one copy. After a back and forth discussion, they insisted that we needed three copies and we had to leave. We were heartbroken, after all the planning and preparation that went into this, we were right there, at the final step and we were turned away.

Disheartened, we let the lawyers know what had happen and they arranged for the remaining two original copies to arrive as soon as possible. In the meantime, we had to reapply for the interviews. We got new dates and the remaining documents arrived in time. The embassy was much busier the second time around and we waited patiently with the hope that everything would work out. We passed the document verification step, next was the fingerprints and finally the interview. The embassy officer that was interviewing us was so poker face that we didn’t know if it was going well or heading south quickly. It’s quite strange, we were both so nervous, it felt like we were waiting for our matric results.

Finally, the officer said she would be keeping our passports and we would receive them via courier once the visas had been published. As we exited the office, we both felt a sigh of relief. It was the first step to starting our journey and we successfully completed it together. With this positive news, it meant our journey had officially began and the packing was soon to follow.

Catch up soon, another day with another story…

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