Biometrics in, Application Out

Double and tripled-checked my application paperwork and trotted over to the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) office here in town this afternoon to get fingerprinted and have yet ANOTHER photo taken. I am really glad we have an office here in town, because some people have to drive across their states to get to one. Ouch.

It was completely empty besides myself and the staff at the desk, and I was told that it’s usually that way with only one person an hour or so. They seemed a little surprised that I was applying for a student visa, as most of their applicants for visas are the LDS missionaries (I live in a predominantly LDS/Mormon region of the United States) or people doing international adoptions.

I showed up 20 minutes early thinking it’d be like any other governmental procedure and was actually in and out the door before my appointment time of 1 ever came around. For the UK visas at least, you have to bring an email printout of confirmation that you did the online application. I had printed the emails they sent me, but apparently they weren’t the right ones. :O However, the guy in charge told me that recently everyone but the Kuwaitis have been bringing in the wrong print out and just wrote down the missing info on the paper before stamping it. Gotta love online applications.

The whole ordeal only takes like 15 minutes and at least here, they’re really nice about it. After they see and stamp your paperwork and government ID, you get taken over to a machine and have your fingerprints digitally scanned instead of the old school ink and paper method. I was warned to drink a ton of water last night and did, but my hands are naturally dry all the time, so the woman scanning my fingers had to keep moisturizing them with a wet wipe. After they get both still and rolled fingerprints from both hands, you’re sat down and have what may be your third official photograph taken if you just got your passport. Again, you can’t smile (well, you can’t show teeth, but the closed mouth smiles are never that great), so I have another hilarious evilly-plotting Kate photo on my official record. After that, they sign and date some papers for you and you’re out the door!

Being the mildly neurotic person that I am, I promptly took the completed paperwork pile I’ve been amassing to the post office to overnight to New York City. Of course it would be a federal holiday tomorrow, and the 3rd was the only time open for the biometrics appointment, so even overnighting wouldn’t get there until Saturday and they probably won’t even be in the office until Monday. I went ahead and sent it with a tracking code and after some help from the handy and nice (a rarity!) postal worker, everything is now out of my hands again until I hear back from the UK agency. I didn’t pay the additional $170 to fast-track my application, so I probably won’t hear back until the end of the month. Looks like I just need to sit back and enjoy what’s probably my last free summer until I retire. :p

— Kate

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