Visa fatigue

If you want TLDR of the story skip to The Interview heading.

Yay! Got the ticket for the React Conf in San Francisco (one of the biggest events for Javascript developers in the world). I’m so excited about this, specially that I’ve never had a chance to be in the US before and this is going to be my first time. Also so excited to meet all the people I “know” or work with online, in the real life!

OK! The only thing I need is a visa. Surely it can’t be that difficult to get. I’m a Polish citizen and surprisingly Poland is one of a few european countries who are in the EU and Schengen and doesn’t have Visa Waiver Program (in short, this Program allows citizens of specific countries to travel to the United States for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa).

Cool, not everything is easy. I just apply for a visa, not a big deal. It takes around 20 mins online to fill up all of the forms. Then schedule the appointment, pay $160 and done. It was easy!

Three days later, this morning, I’m on my way for the appointment to the US embassy in London. From the distance I can see this massive group of people standing in front of the embassy, not waiting a second I made a joke to my girlfriend: “Look, everyone is waiting for the famous Mateusz Zatorski”. Turns out it was the queue to the security check.

Spent around 50 mins there, OK I’m in! Got the number, waiting in the another queue. Used hour and a half on reading a book on my Kindle (laptops are not allowed there). My turn, super strict guy asks for: my passport, appointment confirmation, photo. Before the finger prints he asks me a few questions:

- What is the purpose of your visit?
Me: I’m going for the tech conference
- Where is your invitation letter?
Me: Here is my ticket for the conference
- This is not good to me. I need an invitation letter.
Me: My ticket is my invitation, I don’t have any other invitation.
- This is not good to me!
Me: So am I not going to get my visa!
- I didn’t say that, here is your stuff, take a sit and wait for someone to call you for the interview.
Me: Thank you, Sir.

Back on my seat. Kindle out, reading more… Another hour and a half passed by, I get the call for the actual interview! Finally!

The interview

Me: Good morning, how are you?
- Why are you going there?
Me: I’m going for the tech conference.
- What conference?
Me: It’s called: React Conf, it’s a ver well known conference for developers.
- How long are you in the UK?
Me: Around 4 years.
- Why did you come here?
Me: I came here to study, I actually came a year before doing university, then I studied for 3 years.
- What’s your degree?
Me: BSc Software Engineering.
- Is that what you do now?
Me: Yes, I work as a developer, software engineer.
- Where do you work?
Me: I’m self-employed, working as a contractor.
- What does it mean?
Me: Usually I would solve web related problems, either myself or I work together with other developers.
- Who do you work for at the moment?
Me: The US company.
- Why don’t you move there?
Me: Because I have a brother here who I need to support, girlfriend and also I like living here.
- This doesn’t make sense to me…
- OK, why are you going for this conference? You want to get a job in the US, right?
Me: No, I’m going there to meet new people, make some new contacts and gain knowledge about the technologies I use at work.
- This doesn’t make sense.
- Where do you live?
Me: giving my address in the UK
- Who do you live with?
Me: My younger brother.
- This doesn’t make sense to me! You said in you application that you make this big money and yet you still live with other people?! This doesn’t make sense!
Me: I told you that I support my brother, and also I want to do some savings.
- What does your brother do?
Me: He works in the pub, and is going to go to uni next year.
- So are you helping him or is he helping you?!
Me: WHAT?!
- All this does not make any sense to me… Explain something to me, you do all of this cool and well paid tech jobs and yet your brother works in the pub?! Doesn’t make sense to me…
Me: What do I have to do with what my brother is doing? He is young and is going to uni next year. And what is wrong with working in the pub? I don’t understand your question…
- Do you have anything to prove your income?
Me: Yes, here are my bank statements from last 3 months.
- Hmmm… You said that you contracting now, right?
Me: Yes.
- Where is the money, I can’t see anything here…
Me: I get paid monthly, as I said I started my contract in January.
- Yeah, I get that, but where is the money?
Me: Has the month finished?
- No.
Me: That’s why there is no money for this contract.
- You know what, all of this does not make any sense to me! Literally nothing makes sense here! Unfortunately I can’t process your visa application, good luck next time!

So I wasted 4 hours of my time and also some money. Not a very pleasant experience. Not sure if it’s only me, thinking that this is all wrong. I don’t see what doesn’t make sense in what I said…

Sigh… I won’t be at React Conf, but looking forward to all of the talks, and I’ll watch them all, I promise!

See you later America!

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