The American Dream may start anywhere – college, well-to-do siblings, parental pressure, but eventually it has to make a mandatory stop to get a colorful stamp in the passport. Its the american visa, and many a bright soul has spent sleepless weeks, months even, going through and fearing that ordeal.
Here’s how it works.
You pay the application fees at HDFC bank, and WAIT for two days. Apparently that is the amount of time it takes for them to activate your application, and only then you can enter their system.
Now starts the interesting part. You need to get a visa appointment date. Sounds easier than it is. You go in to the most user-unfriendly website to check the dates availability, and find out that the dates are not open yet. No dates. “Sorry, no dates are available” (or something to that effect). The beauty is that they don’t tell you when dates will open up. Its all random. Any day they will open up the dates. Some of them. 2-3 days or maybe a week at a time. The ball’s in your court and it is your job to keep checking the site every few days if you want an appointment next month, or probably every hour if you want one next week.
Who needs the IPL to get their adrenaline going if you are a prospective visa applicant?
Oh, and there’s a little twist to make things interesting. They will keep your saved forms for upto 7 days. If you dont get an appointment in that much time (very likely you wont) the application will get deleted. Go fill it up every week. All three forms.
(today was a lucky day….dates available!)
Wasnt always so bad. Till some years back, you could get the next available date whenever that was. Maybe two months from now, but at least you had a clear idea of what you were looking at and could plan accordingly.
Things have got better in terms of the waiting time since then. Apparently the wait to get an appointment is just a few days. Then why all this drama? What about people who need to plan their trips more than a few days in advance and dont have the time and resources to keep checking availability every 60 minutes? So many people have had to reschedule their travel plans because the appointment that they thought they would get didn’t materialize. I know at least two. One of them is writing this.
Is it the monopolistic attitude driving this system? “You have to go through us…just grin and bear it”. Or just plain arrogance? Or is it as simple as dumb people running VFS (the company responsible for the visa appointment process). I have nothing against the embassy. I have found the visa officers quite nice and friendly. Maybe they just dont know what VFS is making people go through to get to them!
Word of wisdom for visa seekers: Never get complacent and think that the wait is 3 (or whatever) days so you will get the appointment easily. You want the visa, you’ll have to earn it.
Of course, getting the visa appointment isn’t the only process that gives people sleepless nights. There is the whole – will i or wont i get the visa question! But that’s another post ;)