Five Interview Lessons from the American Consulate


Interviewing for an American Visa was a nerve-racking experience, as I watched applicant after applicant being denied a visa, while I stood in queue waiting my turn. I would have saved myself unnecessary doubts and fears if I had known the following five points:

  1. Forgetting a Birthday Could Cost You An American Visa
Think, woman! ©
Think, woman! ©

The sharp look from the American interviewer when I reluctantly admitted to not knowing my brother’s birthday made my throat itch. He had every right to be suspicious, I mean, who doesn’t know their sibling’s birthday, right? Truth is, I’m really bad with dates. Back in my college years, I enjoyed History lessons only for their stories but not the dates. The uncomfortable silence that followed my confession was enough reason for me to expect the worse.

  1. There’s a No-phone Policy Inside The US Consulate Building

This is standard procedure, but because I was ill prepared for the interview, this policy came as a shock to me. Had it not been the case, a simple phone call would have resolved the birthday issue.

  1. Bring Along Every Supporting Document That Can Affirm Your Need of a Visa

Interestingly, I knew about this from a previous experience at the British Consulate where they had insisted on seeing a passport biometric page and recent salary pay slips of the person I was visiting –lest I became a financial liability to their beloved Queen! My American interviewer was furiously typing away on his computer after the birthday confession and never at any stage asked to see my supporting documents. I guess it was irrelevant information to him but I still think it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  1. Never Forget Your Destination Details

I’m talking here about knowing the full address of your destination to avoid triggering another suspicious look. I came close to messing this one up but to my defense, address details are somewhat a foreign concept to some of us. In my ancestral hometown, we can easily navigate our way around with a handful of simple pointers like church buildings and popular shops. But hey, when it comes to America, better learn those street names and numbers.

  1. Owning Businesses is No Guarantee To Acquiring an American Visa

This was a shocking discovery to me! An Indian gentleman whose 30 employees did not convince the jury had been sent packing. As I stood quietly at the counter waiting for my fate to be revealed, I looked across the interview counter to my right – four Chinese nationals were listing the businesses they own in South Africa through an English interpreter. I wondered what fate had in store for them. When my interviewer finally looked up from his computer, I held my breath:

“Your visa has been approved. You can collect it in a day or two.”

Phew! I left the Chinese still counting their businesses. The struggle to get into proudly pussy-grabbing-Trump’s America is real, people! Good luck in your endeavors; may you never hear “You’re Fired!” Amen.

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