When we last left off my tale of our struggle to get Mario a green card, we had sent in all our documents to the NVC (National Visa Center), and we were waiting. Again. The NVC tells you that you will have to wait at least 60 days. If there is any error in the mountains of paperwork, you will have to fix them, and wait for another 60 days. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
I decided to call the NVC on December 13, after about 90 days, to get an update on Mario’s status. I was dreading the phone call, in a way, because I knew there was a chance they would tell me I had committed some mistake, and there would be another 60-day waiting period. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I punched in the number and put the phone to my ear. I had a chance to calm myself, though, due to the 40-minute wait I went through! Is there anything worse than the music when you’re waiting to speak to someone at a call center? I wish there would just be … well, anything besides what they normally put out! The worst are the repeated messages that your call is important to them, blah, blah, blah. I get it!
Finally, though, a nice lady picked up the phone. I gave her our Case Number, and she informed that it was, and I quote, “Done.” Done? What did that mean, done? Complete? Everything’s okay? I think my rapid-fire style of questioning made her laugh, because she told me that, yes, we were approved.
We did it!
I asked her about the next step, the interview with a consular officer at the embassy. She told me that Mario would be scheduled for his interview in January, meaning the interview would be in February.
The Medical Exam
Before you do the interview, you have to schedule an appointment to have a medical exam. At this exam, they test you for syphilis (errr) and do a chest X-ray to make sure you do not have tuberculosis. You have to prove you have been inoculated against certain diseases, including measles, mumps, rubella, etc. This also varies depending on your age.
You need to bring:
- Your immunization records. Mario went to his doctor to get these, and he also had a blood test done to show he had the antibodies against the chicken pox virus, because he never got the vaccination. You know, the 80s.
- Any prior chest X-rays
- Copies of your medical history records
- Your passport
- 215 euros (in Madrid)
Does this all seem ridiculous and excessive? Good, then, it’s not just us.
I had been told that the interview would be very short. Two minutes. Two minutes? How could they do any sort of interview in two minutes? I was also told to bring pictures of the wedding. We knew someone whose husband forgot to bring pictures, was told to return with them, and they barely got his visa before their flight left! Yikes. So we brought a lot of pictures, but only of the wedding.
We showed up that day, a Thursday. I felt giddy as I handed over my phone and purse to have it scanned. We sat down in the waiting room, where they play a video explaining America to people. It really is quite hilarious to watch that video and ponder what people think as they watch it. Featured are national parks, bald eagles and other fauna, New York City, baseball, and other (stereo)typical American things. We watched that video on repeat as we waited our turn.
There was a short briefing with a Spanish officer and then it was time for the actual interview. Mario was prepared to speak in English (of course!), but the American officer spoken to him in heavily-accented Spanish. Whatever floats their boat, I guess. The man who was interviewed before us had spoke at length of trips with his partner, shown multiple photos, and just basically told their whole story. We were a bit nervous, as we had only brought photos of the wedding and not of other occasions. Did we not bring enough?!
No worries! There were literally only two questions: Where are you from? Where did you meet? That’s it! The man did not ask to see any pictures. It seemed like a done deal. He told us that we would be receiving the visa (which would be stamped inside Mario’s passport) within the next week via a private carrier.
Next Monday morning there was a knock on our door at 8:30 a.m. (Okay, not a knock, a buzz!) Yes, it was the letter-carrier service, informing us we had a package from the U.S. Embassy! This was it! The visa! What a relief it was to see it, evidence and proof of all our hard work and struggles over the past year. Finally, we had a visa.
We bought our plane tickets for March 10, 2015. It was time to go!
Next step? Mario struggles to establish himself in the U.S. You are nothing without a social security number! More on that next time.
Someone asked on my last post why I called Mario an “immigrant” while I referred to myself as an “expat.” A valid question, and there are some reasons. First of all, we got Mario an “immigrant visa,” whereas I never had that. It was just convenient to refer to him that way. Secondly, Mario himself told me that he would call himself an immigrant, because we mean to remain in the U.S. permanently, while we always saw living in Spain (and especially Madrid!) as temporary. We hope to make this country our home and our future children’s home. That is why.
- Welcome to the United States—A Guide for New Immigrants (This does include advice to use your local phone book, which … Kind of out of date, but it does have some helpful information.)
- FAQs about Immigrant Visa Processing
- Prepare for the Interview