Ever seen that show 90 Day Fiance? Well that’s going to be me in a couple of weeks. I’m getting married to my american fiancé and I’ve got 90 days to do so. I’ll blog about my wedding planning experiences soon, but until then I wanted to write up my experience of the medical and the interview to help other K1 couples. If you have any questions feel free to comment and I’ll get back to you.
11 December 2014 – NOA1
24 November 2015 – NOA2 (hardest wait of our lives! The Texas service centre sucks)
03 December 2015 – Documents left NVC
11 December 2015 – London embassy received our documents
22 December 2015 – Notification of readiness sent
29 December 2015 – Packet 3 received
08 January 2016 – Medical in London
16 January 2016 – Packet 4 (interview date) received
02 February 2016 – Interview – APPROVED
09 February 2016 – Visa described as ‘Issued’ on CEAC
11 February 2016 – Tracking information received by email
12 February 2016 – Visa in hand…(427 days from NOA1)
Scheduling the medical was the hardest part of the process. On the day I realised that London had received our case files (11 December 2015) I started calling Knightsbridge Doctors to get my appointment booked. The phone rang and rang. A girl picked up at one point and then hung up. I decided to give them an hour and then call them after lunch by which point they had closed. It was so frustrating. So I tried again on Monday morning and after 15 minutes of the phone ringing they finally picked up.
I booked my appointment for Friday 08 January 2016 at 13.10 (they did have appointment dates sooner however I wanted to get my immunisations in order and I wanted a long weekend in London). My medical was performed at the clinic at 4 Bentinck Mansions. When I asked my doctor at the appointment he said that this clinic was specifically for visa medicals and was not a regular GP unlike their sister clinic 15 Basil Mansions.
So I arrived at the clinic for 1pm, there was a buzzer that let me into the main building. I entered a foyer and the door to the clinic was on the right. Inside I was checked in at reception which was a hole in the wall that led into an office. They asked for:
- 4 photographs (regular sized were fine they did not need to be the larger US visa size)
- Vaccination records
- Passport, driving license or photo license;
- Police certificate issued by ACPO
- Medical questionnaire.
They then gave me another questionnaire to fill out which was almost exactly the same as the medical questionnaire that has to be filled out before you get there. I went into the waiting room, filled it out, and then brought in back a few minutes later. The waiting room was a typical room with a few sofas and chairs, magazines and a jug of water with cups.
At 13.20 I was called through to have my x-ray. The technician was very friendly. I was wearing a red jumper with stars on it and he made jokes about it looking quite American. I went behind a screen and took of my top and bra (note: do not wear a dress to your medical unless you want it hanging around your waist at this point) and put on the short robe that he provided me with. I then had an x-ray of my lungs taken. He took a quick look at it on the screen and said that there didn’t look as though there was anything to worry about but it would be sent off along with my other tests.
By 13.30 I was shown to the ladies waiting room, where I was still wearing the robe and my jeans. Five minutes later I was called in to have a chat with a male doctor called Doctor Chaudhry. He went through my medical questionnaire with me, then I was shown to a bed where I was asked to de-robe. He felt my stomach, listened to my lungs, gave me a blood test and tested my blood pressure. He also performed an external exam of my lady parts. The US are mainly concerned about TB (which is why you have the x-ray and your lungs listened to) and syphilis (which is why they check your external nether-regions). Also the doctor needs to check down there to ensure that you are the gender you say you are…the US ask them to.
After this was over I got dressed, made my way back to the main waiting room which is where I was first of all when I filled out my questionnaire. Five minutes later I was called in to see the nurse, my immunisations were all up-to-date so I was good to go.
I stopped by reception to pay the £250 fee. They also gave me a document that I need to keep for my Adjustment of Status (AOS) once in the states. They told me that my results would be with the embassy within four working days and as long as I didn’t hear from them then my results were all good. Thankfully, I didn’t hear from them again and a week later I had received my interview date. I wasn’t expecting to hear that quickly but when I sent my notice of readiness form to the embassy I did put on there that I wanted to get married at the beginning of February rather than some far off date.
(Note: this is not like a job interview so feel free to go as casual as you want. I wore trainers.)
I was so nervous for the interview, even though I knew the chance of getting rejected was basically impossible. I think it was just the anticipation of waiting for so long to get to this point. My appointment was for 8am and after reading other people’s experiences I decided to get there early.
I left my house in Hampshire at 5.30am and made it to the embassy in Grosvenor Square by 6:58 (the sun hadn’t even risen!). (Take the underground to Bond Street and walk from there, it’s the closest station). Already there were seven people queuing up. Though as I found out later I was the first queuing for an immigration visa. By quarter past seven there were already about forty people in line behind me. It definitely pays to get there early if you have an 8am appointment.
At 7:25 staff came out and set up their station and they began to sort people by immigration visa (i.e. the K1), non-immigrant visa (i.e. a J1) and those who had a later appointment (i.e. 8:30am and had just gotten there mega-early). They only asked to see my interview letter and passport at this point. As I was a K1 I bypassed the people in front of me who had non-immigrant visas and went straight through security. (Note: the security guard also asked to see my passport and letter).
The security check is in a small glass building. They asked if I had any jewellery; I wasn’t wearing a watch or a belt and was allowed to keep my ring on. I had to put my iPad and iPhone in a clear plastic bag that they gave me and then everything went into a plastic tray just like at the airport. Unlike the airport, I was allowed to keep my bulky coat and hat on as I walked through the security scanner.
I was inside by 7:36 where I was checked in at reception. I handed over my letter and passport (I might have given my DS-160 too, I don’t recall) and the man on reception attached a few stickers to it. I was given the number: I901, which is the first immigrant visa of the day! Yay!
After that I walked upstairs into a large waiting room where all chairs point towards a screen at one end of the room. Surrounding the room are what look like bank teller stations where immigrant officers sit behind glass screens. Stations 1-11 are in the main hall and 12 – 25 are around the corner where a Photo-Me Photobooth and the toilets are. By 8am the screen was pinging and numbers were flashing up assigning a station to a number. At 8.05 my station pinged up, number 16.
The man behind my booth was very friendly. He congratulated me on my engagement and asked me to hand over my documents. Here is a checklist of what to bring to your K1 interview. In addition to this you need to bring your appointment letter and your print-out confirming how you want your passport delivered as they do ask to see both. Please note that you do not need to bring photocopies of everything…I did and the officer did not want them. This may just be a London embassy thing though. The man took a scan of my picture and then gave it back to me and asked me a few questions, have I been in the military, married before, when am I planning to fly out (I said as soon as I have the visa in hand). He also gave me an envelope containing a CD of my x-ray. By 8.14 I was finished with him and back in the waiting room which had filled up with more people.
The screen pings so frequently that I didn’t want to read a book (and also my nerves were on edge). If you miss your number they will ping it again so feel free to use the loo or read a book or whatever. At 8.55am my number pinged again and my legs felt like jelly as I walked towards the booth that would determine mine and my fiancé’s future. It was the same booth as before but the officer was different. He asked me to raise my right hand and swear to tell the truth. He then asked me a few questions about how me and my fiancé met, when he proposed. Then he threw me by asking what annoys me about my fiancé (I said his laid back demeanour haha). And then he told me I approved! Yay! He said ‘as long as I hadn’t bombed a bank in Thailand or something that’ I’ll have my visa in hand in two weeks. I had popped to the loo and was out of the embassy by 9.01!