Sunday, November 15, 2009

First step on American soil since 2002

Today, I had my first visit to the American Embassy in Oslo, which is American soil, with American rules and American security. This I could see straigtaway when I entered the building. There were guards and metal detectors that had to be passed, and papers that had to be shown before I could enter.

The American embassy ion Norway is located in Henrik Ibsens gate 48 in Oslo, which is a 10 minute walk from the National Theater along Henrik Ibsens gate in the direction of the Palace. The easiest way is to catch the train from Oslo Central Station to Asker, get out at the National Theater, which is the first stop and just follow the street with all the white Henrik Ibsen quotations until you see the big building on the left side with American flags.

The meetings took less than 10 minutes and went well. I had to wait in line for about half and hour, and when they called out my number, I just went up to the reception and talked to them. They were very straigt to the case, and did not mention anything about my delay (which was about 3 hours).

When you are at the American Embassy there are certain things you should consider to make it go as smoothly as possible:
  1. Have everything ready, like the papers you need to bring (The I-901 Form, I-20 form, DS-156 Form, DS 157 form, DS-158 Form and a paper showing that you will get financial support from the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund ), stamps (110NOK to cover the expenses of sending you passport back to you after you got the visa), passport, the Non-Refundable Application Fee (800 NOK or 131 USD cash in exact exchange)  and a picture less than six months old (has to be a standard photo where you have a direct eye gaze, your ears visible unless long hear covers them and no smile).
  2. Do not have any wounds on your hands or fingers, because everyone have to make a fingerscan, and if your wounds are not completely healed you will have to come back again some other time. When enterring, the guards wipe your hands with a cloth and scan this for radiactive activity, gunpower residue and other suspicious materials, so try to keep your hands clean when enterring.
  3. Remember that the consular officers who are working there are under considerable time pressure to conduct a quick and efficient interview. Keep you answers short and to the point.
  4. Have a positive attitude (some of the consular officers might seem strict at first, but by showing that you are willing to cooperate, they soften a bit)
  5. Do not say, under any circumstances that you want to work in the US after you have finished your studies in the US.Your main purpose for getting a visa is your studies. You may work besides your studies, but keep in mind that this is not why you came there. 
  6. Do not mention the word "terrorism", under any circumstances. Just doing what you have to do, and saying the most neccessary you will be out of the embassy before you know it. Making jokes to the Consular Officer or the guards may make you have to go to jail and ban you from entering the US ever again.
If there is something that the Consular Officer is not satisfied with (that you have filled out the forms wrong, or if you have wounds or small rifts on your fingers) you might have to arrange a new meeing and pay the Non- Refundable Application Fee again, so this is why you need to take this meeting seriosly and be prepared on beforehand.

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