A Big Leap

Last year me and two colleagues of mine have decided to do a trip which is a little bit out of the ordinary: a West Coast to East Coast road-trip in the U.S. 🙂 . Well, our plans started to develop and develop right to the point when we have started to take our first steps to get there: get a passport and then apply for a visa.

The passport part was fairly easy: my new biometric passport was ready in a few weeks and I was really surprised of the promptness and speed of the authorities this time. But this was the first and easiest step of all, the biggest was the one that followed: apply for a U.S. travel Visa.
Big Leap
So how does one apply for a U.S. Travel Visa nowadays in Romania? Just follow these steps:
Step1: Pay 141$ at BT for the interview
Step2: Pay $11 at a BT for a scheduling-code
Step3: DS-160 application form (upload a photo also)
Step4: Print the confirmation page and put it into a folder
Step5: Arrange a meeting (scheduling-code+application ID)
Step6: Make another photo, different from the one used for the application
Step7: Add any other helpful document (e.g. proof from your company that you work there, previous visa etc.)
Step8: Go with the folder and passport to the U.S. Embassy
The exact information can be found here.

So far simple, right? Well, after following these steps, on February the 2nd at 9:15 me and my friend (the third person had to abandon 🙁 ) arrived promptly to the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest. I was actually “happily disappointed” by the changes they made since my last visit 5 years ago (J1 Visa for 3 months). Now there are lockers for your bags and for your phones which are kept secure while you are inside the building. There is also a reception where you can hand in the most important documents (DS-160 confirmation page and passport) so you don’t have to carry it in. It seems they really have developed over the past 5 years, something I cannot say about Bucharest: unfortunately now it looked much worse than before (I honestly cannot even compare it to Cluj).

After two halls in which I had to wait to be called into the next one and after a fingerprint session (even though I had them taken 5 years ago) I finally arrived to the agent. This was the moment of truth: could I apply for a U.S. Travel Visa without an invitation, without a contact person or without even any proof of having any real-estate which assures that I will get back? The answer is: YES, the words “Your Visa has been approved” never sounded more reassuring: getting to the U.S. is not a big thing anymore. I can travel there anywhere for the next 10 years 😀 .
In my case having had previously a visa helped, but my friend has never had one and yet he received the visa even so. A few things they liked: we have both traveled a lot in Europe already, we had stable jobs back home and we spoke English fluently (although the agents spoke also quite understandable Romanian <= respect 😉 ) The next day we already bought the airplane tickets: on Expedia our purchase has been confirmed. This means that the big step has been made: we are off. If nothing goes wrong, I might just have quite a few things to blog about 🙂 .


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