I’m absolutely crapping myself.
When I decided to embark on this trip, I applied for a visa at the US embassy. I figured that a 6 month tourist visa would give me more flexibility than the 90 days that come with a visa waiver. What a great idea that’s turned out to be. I should have known this would back fire – I’ve hardly had an easy ride with regards to my visa:
On my first appointment at the US embassy I went without my passport. No, I’m not that stupid. An opportunity to travel to India came up at work, so I naturally jumped at the chance. After being assured my passport would be returned to me in good time, I figured I’d be ok. I had already booked a train to London and a hotel, so I thought I’d be ok. Whoops! My passport did not get returned to me in time. It was a tricky situation because I had yet to inform my employer that I was going to leave, so explaining that I needed my passport for a visa to the US would not have been easy. As everything was booked and it was too late to cancel without losing the money, I thought I may as well go anyway. Needless to say, I got turned away at the door.
So I rescheduled my appointment. This time I had everything in order: my appointment info, my forms and my passport. It takes a while to get into the embassy and once in you need to be ready to wait. Eventually I got called to a booth where they checked my forms were filled in properly, etc. Then I waited as the forms I handed in get passed to whoever does my interview. Many hours passed and I finally got my chance. My interview lasted all of 30 seconds. Although I showed that I could afford to support myself, I did not show sufficient ties to the UK in order for me to return. This was mostly down to the fact that I was not really intending to return to the UK when I left the US. I also had no tickets booked or anything else. But, what sort of a person buys a ticket without knowing if they have a visa to be there in the first place?
Unperturbed by this set back, I decided to modify my plans and enter the US on a visa waiver. I would only stay for the 90 days and I would trim my original itinerary to suit that time frame.
Now, this all seems fair enough to me, but oh no. It doesn’t work like that. Now I have on my record that I was turned down for a visa, it means that I will come under further scrutiny when trying to enter the US on a visa waiver. The upshot of this is that unless I convince the immigration officers at JFK airport when I arrive that I fully intend to leave the country within the 90 day visa waiver period, they could put me on the next plane home. My adventure could be over before it begins.
So, what can I do? I’m going to call the US embassy and explain the situation. It may mean that I have to apply again for a visa and try to ensure I get it by having a return ticket to the UK. Or I could turn up on US soil with my travel itinerary and a return ticket to the UK. I figure a return to the UK makes the most sense and it’s hardly a hindrance to me , as it is my mother’s 60th birthday around the time my 90 days is up, so it would make for a nice surprise…unless my mum reads this, then it will not be so much of a surprise.
On the bright side, it means that my blog entry before I leave for the US will be quite a cliff hanger!
If I am refused entry to the US, I’ll just go somewhere else. Although I would like to see the states, there are plenty of other places in the world and I can go to any of them…visa permitting! So I’m open to suggestions.