Our interview - 1998
I-day : the story behind the curtains.
One would think of a room for the interview, something dramatic. No cigarette smoke, it's not in these days, but nevertheless some inquisitive questions, raised eyebrows, sharp looks. Nothing like that, the process we went through has been very friendly, and this has been confirmed by many people in the following years.
The only thing missing, at least in Naples ( the only city in Italy where they handle immigration matters), was the room. Views, we got plenty, Naples was a rare threat. The whole interview process takes two days, during which you will be medically examined, spend time at different counters, pay money, but never, ever, spend any time talking in a room. It might be different in other countries, and if you went through the process please tell us your story in the Forum.
D-day one
Day one is the medical check-up: they look for Tuberculosis, Aids, general health. You pay for it, they'll say how much in the package.
Advice: bring all the proofs of vaccination you have, at least measles and tetanus.
In Italy if you don't have all your updates, they will send you to a local public hospital where they vaccinate you and you must bring the certificate back the following day. Not a show stopper as you can see, big deal here, but check carefully what happens in your country: call ahead and ask, you do not want any last minute surprises, I assure you.
D-day two: next one, please.
It's a big room, with two counters where they handle two cases at the same time; everybody in the room can hear what you say, forget privacy.
When you receive the Interview package, they say it bold and underlined: if you do not bring all required documents and copies with you to your interview you may not receive a visa.
Trust me, they mean it. I have seen it happen to somebody. Triple check everything in the list they provide with the package. Not that they read everything carefully at that time (may be they do it later, don't know). But it must be there.
A local employee will handle first the winner than the other members of the family, so stack them not by type but by person, they like it when you're organized.
Most remarkable question? Give me a marriage certificate for you and one for your wife. We just looked at her, and said: no problem! We gave her the original marriage certificate and the French translation made by the French Embassy at the time (yes, my wife is French). We did not even smile, a bit too worried for that. Anyway, make sure that each individual stack of documents is complete, make copies if necessary.
The actual interview
After that, went back to our seats, listened to what was going on, and suddenly they called our name again.
This time was the Vice-Consul, very kind and speaking Italian. I switched to English, and it helped. Questions you may expect: previous experience, do you have a job offer, what do you plan to do if you don't. Nothing unusual, but write down your answers to the most likely questions and memorize them. Be sincere and positive in attitude. If you have already worked abroad point it out, stress whatever quality or achievement you can think of. No understatements, it's not the English Consul you are dealing with.
After quite a short time, he smiled, and said: please go upstairs to pay for the visa issuance fee. When you hear these words it means you have made it! My knees wobbly, I hugged my wife and, without a word, walked upstairs. The U.S.A. did greet us with a cashier, which is quite befitting don't you think?