I recently completed the process of renewing my US Visa. This is the first renewal of my crew C1/D visa that permits me multiple entry into the States as part of an operating Airline Crew Crew Member – it was issued while I was working for Emirates in 2005.
Though dimmed by the mists of time, I recall the process as incredibly convoluted – complicated as you would expect by the fact of being it a US Embassy in the Middle East post 9-11. Multiple lines, multiple security procedures, scans searches, finger printing, photographs and men with guns.
Q : Are you coming to the United States to engage in prostitution or unlawful commercialized vice or have you been engaged in prostitution or procuring prostitutes within the past 10 years?
A : Hmmm. Thinking back … No.
Last week I realised that this visa of five years expires in a month. Initially concerned – I realised I was in real trouble when the requirement to undergo this visa renewal process is coupled with a busy roster (Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles & two weeks of sim) and a family holiday. I knew I’d have to get onto it right away.
Q : Do you seek to engage in espionage, sabotage, export control violations, or any other illegal activity while in the United States?
A : Errr. No.
So of course I started with Google and ended up on the US Consulate’s Sydney Office. From there I ended up on the Canberra site, but only after reading about Hilary touring her way through Canberra. As I started reading through reams of requirements and background data – I focussed on the Fingerprint Re-issue/Re-Use Program. This looked to be my salvation – I could fill in the online form, send of my passports and supporting paper work and my passport would come back in the mail. All based on the fact that I was ten-finger printed when I was processed for the initial visa. Suddenly I was feeling more kindly towards the vetting we were subjected to back in 2005. Time to move into the online form.
Q : Have youever ordered, incited, committed, assisted, or otherwise participated in genocide?
A : Well … No.
Three hours, two dropped internet connections/web site timeouts, dozens and dozens of pointless questions, and many many words of encouragement from Meg and the form was done. Just selecting the countries I’ve visited over the past five years was a tour de force of website/browser interaction. I had to roam through the list, select a country, add another list, roam through the new list … and so on. The resultant list is hardly definitive. There are a couple of countries I couldn’t find … of course it’s not unusual – most airline pilots have a long list of places they’ve flown to and hardly seen anything of …
BANGLADESH; BRAZIL; CANADA; CHINA; CYPRUS; EGYPT; FRANCE; GERMANY; GREECE; HONG KONG SAR; INDIA; INDONESIA; ITALY; JAPAN; KENYA; KOREA, REPUBLIC OF (SOUTH); KUWAIT; MALAYSIA; MAURITIUS; NEW ZEALAND; OMAN; PAKISTAN; PHILIPPINES; SINGAPORE; SWITZERLAND; THAILAND; UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.
Having finally gotten through the form, I bundled up both passports (the expired one with the US Visa and my current one) printouts from the Consulate web site, a letter from the company, a self-addressed return express post envelope, etc, etc – and posted it off the consulate. Because the return postal address is Melbourne, it had to go to the US Consulate in Melbourne. I managed to find an e-mail address to contact if I required an expedited visa for work purposes. Might as well do it, I thought. Now all I have to do is wait for the passport to come back. 11 days until I next need my passport to fly … should be a no brainer.
Q: Have you committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in extrajudicial killings, political killings, or other acts of violence?
A : No.
The next afternoon I received an e-mail from the Melbourne consulate. For an un-specified reason I was now required to front up for an interview. 10 days and counting. I registered for the request an interview process ($15) and requested an interview slot. Fortunately I was given one before my next flight – the morning before. Right.
- 08:15 am : Interview with the US Consulate for Visa issue in Melbourne
- 12:15 am : Pushback to depart for Phuket (with my passport still at the Consulate, for expedited visa processing)
Ok, so this wasn’t going to work.
Q: Are you a member or representative of a terrorist organization?
A : Not presently.
Summarising the rest … I managed through several e-mails to gain an early interview on the Friday before the Thursday I’m required to operate to Phuket. Presenting for the interview is another story …
Next : The Interview (if it’s worth writing about).