Monday, 7 September 2009


This should be my last entry.

From the UK.

My P.O.E. is Las Vegas - Foofer is waiting...

see you on the flip side
(as the young people say)


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Less than a week to go...


All the stuff I want to go to the US has gone and is now all paid for. My sister has been through my house and found so much stuff that I simply couldn't take - it's heartbreaking.

Selling the House

The company buying my house is doing everything in a weird order. I had to pay a deposit to get them to value my property. They sent me an offer without looking at the house. I've now got a solicitor (lawyer) who has put together the paperwork and sent it to the buyers. Now the buyers want to view the house. This is all taking time and should, in theory, delay my emigration.

Leaving the UK

As I've filled in US customs forms declaring the actual date of my immigration, I will be entering the US on that date - no matter what else is happening.

I'm hiring a car, driving it down to Gatwick, using Virgin's "Twilight Check-in" (nothing to do with sparkly vampires) to get rid of my luggage the night before, sleeping in a hotel, dropping off the rental car at the airport and strolling into the airport with only hand luggage.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Eight more days

I'm a bad bad blogger. Tons of entries from Vlad and only one other entry by me. Perhaps I'll get the hang of it one day.

When we first met, Vlad and I tried so hard not to like one another. Clearly, we failed miserably. It hasn't been easy. Not nearly enough face to face time, an eight hour time difference, mounds of immigration paperwork and all the work Vlad has had to do to move countries. Initially it seemed like it would be an unbearable amount of time until we could finally be together. And now - eight more days.

I guess I've run out of things to write as I am just sitting here....smiling.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Some more expenses

So, selling a house involves the odd extra expense.

Legal bills - If a company is buying your house they may pay for some/all of your legal bills (mine is). I have picked a solicitor that uses email (as it's faster).

Energy Performance Certificate - As I live in the EU I have to have my home "energy rated" and receive an EPC before I can sell it. I have paid a company that will rush this through and email me the certificate (which I can forward to my solicitor).

House clearing - Finally, I have to get rid of the stuff left in my house that not only didn't go to the US but got rejected by my family.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


The house buying company made a bid for my house without even looking at it.

The offer was less than I hoped for but more than I feared.

I'm now finding a solicitor (lawyer) to push the paperwork through for me. I'd like it to be quick as I'm leaving the UK in about two weeks...

Yes, in two weeks I'll be Coming To America (see what I did there?)

A Moving Experience

  • The movers themselves were excellent.
  • They just didn't seem to know anything about filling in the forms.
  • They called head office who talked me through the bits of the 3299 that I wasn't sure of.
  • They were professional and polite.
  • They hardly talked to each other.
  • It was all over in less than two hours.
  • Once it goes onto a container I will be given its details (so that I can track it on its way to Los Angeles)

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Oh good - a new form! "The 3299"

I could have sworn that, in the guides I read at the start of the year, that the moving company did all of the paperwork for you. Oh well . . . here we go with form 3299 "Declaration For Free Entry Of Unaccompanied Articles". It has to be filled in in blue ink apparently and (according to the mover's instructions accompanying it) should be handed over at time of pickup (but, according to the cover note in the package, the form is one of the things that I should send to them before the time of pickup).

BTW I've sent my movers my insurance evaluation form plus copies of my passport and visa, as they requested.

The 3299 itself is a strange looking form, my movers provide lots of notes to stop me from screwing it up. There is even more information on Google (though searching for "3299" will get you the form but little else).

The 3299 arrived with a "Supplementary Declaration For Unaccompanied Personal And Household Effects" an "Alcohol Inventory" (fortunately I don't drink) and, more worryingly, a Power of Attorney form...

Monday, 17 August 2009

Sorted . . . nearly


It turns out that I have a LOT more stuff than I thought. It's killing my back, sorting through books, DVDs and various ephemera. I also noticed that, even though I told my movers that my belongings will be going into storage in Las Vegas, they've opted to send everything by air. I've got to contact them this morning to try to get them to ship it.

Also I'm moving along with my house sale. I'm using a quick sale company - Note: None of them seem to answer their emails so, if you're in a hurry you'll have to phone them. The first one I called was very unenthusiastic and hasn't called me back. The second was pretty keen but charge an up-front fee. The third ones finally phoned me after I'd given up and gone with the second ones.

We'll see how things progress...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Milestones of Homesickness

I was chatting to a consultant at work today who has moved country more than once in his life and he shared these pearls of wisdom with me: The Milestones of Homesickness.

1. Six months - The impression of being on holiday fades and you're left in a strange country, feeling uncomfortable. You have the urge to get on a plane and just go home.

2. Three-Four years - This one is like a wall, you hit it and can come to a stop. This is when you have to decide whether you really want to live in this new country or not.

3. Ten years - Not as strong as the other two but, fuelled mostly by nostalgia, it's still pretty potent.

I don't know how relevant these will be to me but "forewarned is forearmed".

Monday, 10 August 2009

Progress Bar (aka an update)

Okay, I finish work in seventeen days.
  • I'm talking to a moving firm to come and take my stuff next week (they should be ringing me back with the details soon).
  • Once I have a removal date I'll prepare to get rid of the house too.
  • I've cashed in my endowment policy which should hit my bank at the end of this week.
  • I've arranged for my pounds to be converted to dollars at the end of the month (when my bank account should be at its fattest) at last week's rate. I'm banking on last week being a high-point for the pound.
  • My résumé is in California and Nevada, hopefully my contact is passing it around to the right people...
  • My flight is set. I changed the date online (Virgin's flexible tickets, "free" to change, cost £13 to change).
  • Foofer awaits me.

Monday, 27 July 2009

The "Vegas Face"

Them "So, where are you emigrating to?"

Me "The US."

Them "Oooh, that's nice! Whereabouts?"

Me "Las Vegas!"

You often get a noise, usually a weird "wooh" type of sigh, but you always get the face - a strange look of surprise, jealousy, incredulity, amusement and, mostly, "WTF???".

I've grown used to seeing the "Vegas Face". People ask me where I'm going and, when I tell them, I'm rewarded with the "Vegas Face". I know that some people think I'm lying ("Poor guy - trying to get attention before he flies out to Buttfuck, Nebraska") and I'm stunned that some women start to flirt with me immediately (some even try to continue once I've mentioned my wife, who I'm flying out to live with) but the one constant is that I'm seeing the "Vegas Face" again.

BTW - packing continues (with Foof telling me to use a "don't know" pile to speed things up and my friend Bananas telling me that I don't have to sort through the things left at my Mum's house quite so carefully as she's guessing that my Mum will look after anything I forget to take) and I've started to send out my résumé - though I'm still at the stage of emailing it to a select group of people - I'm not at the point of sending it to every agency in the South West quite yet.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Being Brutal

Clothes, books, CDs, DVDs, electronics, "collectibles" - it's amazing the amount of stuff I've collected over my 40+ years on this planet.

I have to sort them into three piles:

Stuff to take with me on the plane. Obviously the smallest pile but, as I'm planning on everything else going into storage, I have to be clever about what to pick. I have to have anything that I'll really need in the next few months.

Stuff to put into storage. And to eventually move to the US, where I'll store it again (for a while). I have to learn to tell the difference between the things that should be in this pile and the shiny stuff that really truly should be in the next one...

Stuff to dump/give away. This is where I have to be brutal. I don't want to leave a huge pile of junk at my Mother's place. I'll bin the obvious rubbish but I want to give anyone who wants to a brief window to scavenge whatever they want of my old clothes, VHS cassettes etc. before I throw them all away.

I have to be brutal - I tried this earlier in the year, threw out a load of shit and thought I'd done a good job until I looked at what I'd saved. I shall devote an hour per day (starting tomorrow (oh dear - is that procrastination?)) to sorting through my stuff.


Edit: This post helped me to put everything in perspective. I had previously thought of sorting through my stuff as "what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to throw away". This was a bad way of thinking as "keep" seemed to imply (at the time) (maybe some of) the things remaining in the UK.

What I need to do is just look at what I want to drag 5,000 miles with me into the desert.

And forget the rest.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Busy busy busy

I now have an interesting list of things to do, both before and after I travel.

I shall leave the stuff I have to do once I'm in the US to another post, now I'll deal with the journey ahead, the journey to my POE (Vegas Baby!).

  • My flight is a fully flexible one that I shall move to the end of August.
  • I have to sell my car.
  • I have to sell my house .
  • I have an endowment policy on the house that needs cashing in.
  • I have to end all my financial affairs (close (or, at least, put in hibernation) bank account(s), kill credit cards, freeze pension).
  • I have to arrange for my things to be put into storage, then shipped to the US (once I've passed though the POE) and then put into storage again.
  • I have to sell, give away or dump any of my stuff that I'm not taking.
  • I have to finish work.
  • I'd like to find a job in the US.
  • I have to get to Gatwick - I've pretty much decided on option two from this post.
This list is more for my reference than for yours but I will add to it if I suddenly remember/discover any "gotchas" so it may help you prospective/potential immigrants too.

And yes, I've taken my time with this (Both Foof and I are incredible procrastinators - it's amazing how far we've come in this time considering) - expect a mad panic shortly.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The End?

So, gentle reader, you have followed our journey, it's highs and (thankfully few) lows, and in six short months the process that we thought would take until about November is complete.

But not quite.

You see, I'm still in the UK.

I resigned from my job a few weeks ago but this job has a lengthy notice period so I can't actually leave for America until the end of August.

In that time I have a house and car to get rid of. I have a bank account to close, a pension fund to put into "hibernation" plus many other things to sort out.

I also have to get my stuff over to Nevada but I'll have to put it in storage as Foof's one bedroom apartment isn't big enough for her possessions, let alone my crap as well.

So, plenty still to happen here.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The Package... a dark blue plastic bag, about A3 size, with one of the stickers from my interview letter stuck in the top right-hand corner. Below it, an address sticker (including my contact phone number).

Okay, I'm opening it...

  • Passport (a cursory glance shows the big "Welcome" sticker (from the set stuck to my interview letter) on the front of it)
  • "Important Information" Letter (it's the same one that I received from the first (British) guy at the Embassy)
  • Large Envelope (With a sheet of paper stapled to the back of it)
Okay, now we look a little closer.

The passport has something that looks a lot like this in it:
Okay, mine has a few differences, especially the fact that I'm a man (with a beard) but this is a (sufficiently blurry) example from the interwebs to be a decent illustration.

It's a (very impressive and official-looking) sticker a few pages in and it's, technically, only half of my visa.

The other half is the large envelope.
On the front it has the following:


To be opened only by the United States Immigration or Public Health Service Officer.

This is your Visa. It must be surrendered to the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Entry into the United States.

Do not pack it - it must be hand carried.

On the back of the envelope is an "Immigrant Data Summary (this is not a visa)" sheet with lots of lovely biographical data about me on it. There is even a picture of me as well as room for a barcode and an admission stamp.

The "Important Information" Letter has details about not opening the envelope, the Green Card, conditional statuses (as I have a CR-1 visa), paying taxes (eek!) and the SSN.

Visa Las Vegas!

At 8.35am BST on 11th July 2009, I received a phone call.

From the couriers.

This was unexpected to say the least.

"Would you mind having your package early?"

"er . . . when?" I replied is a slight state of confusion.

"Ten minutes?"

So I now have a package from the Embassy . . .

Note - Shortly after this the status on the courier tracking site changed to:

Our records indicate the item has been delivered. If not received please call 0870 389 1000


Friday, 10 July 2009

3-5 Working Days

The nice lady at the courier counter at the Embassy said that my visa should be processed in three to five working days and then would be couriered to me overnight.

She also told me that I should check their website,, every evening after five o'clock to see if my visa will be delivered the following day.

So, this morning (about 5.15am), while chatting to Foof (isn't Skype wonderful?) I logged onto their website for a trial run.

Currently their website has the above tracking box on the right side of the main page. Just enter the ten digit invoice number and click the "find" button.

You are then asked to enter the post code of the delivery address.

My "Delivery Status" told me that my package was due for delivery on July 13th.


What happened to 3-5 working days??

I shall be in from 6am - 8am on Monday morning, just in case this is for real.

After the Interview

Still feeling a bit light-headed and confused, I queued up at the courier's counter and, when called forwards, handed the lady my (pink) form.

I paid for early morning (6am-8am) delivery (you can track your package too) and ended up paying just under forty pounds on my debit card as they had no change.

The courier chatted to me and made that weird noise that I get a lot when I tell people that I'm going to live in Vegas.

I walked back to the pharmacy, retrieved my phone and called Foofer (even though it was 1:50am in Vegas). We talked for a long time, I moved to a side-street (called Red Place) as it was quieter there.

Afterwards I texted practically everyone I knew.

The Interview (part two)

You queue at reception and show them your letter - they scan the barcode, print off some stickers and stick them to your letter.

You will have a number on the stickers.
Non-immigrants will have N100, N102 etc
Immigrants (on my day at least) have I851, I852 etc.

You go and sit in the seats and stare at the screens. There is a shop and some toilets. There also seemed to be free internet facilities but there was a queue and I didn't want to get distracted. There is also a photo-booth near to the cashier.

I may have put window 11 in the wrong place.

You sit until you are called. They start calling at eight. At first the calls are in order but, as soon as people start getting called back a second time, it appears to degenerate into chaos.

The non-immigrants vastly outnumber the immigrants which mean that the (first and second) calls for immigrants are easier to follow.

On my day the non-immigrants were called first, there only seemed to be a handful of immigrants. The ratio of 7:1 held out for the first hour but then the number of non-immigrants seemed to swell.

I was called to window 14, given my x-ray from the medical, asked a few simple questions (non-interview mainly) and gave my fingerprints. The guy checked my documents were all there (thanks NVC), said the fee was already paid and had some fresh photos from me.

I sat back down.

An eternity later I was called to window 16 where a friendly American gentleman checked my fingerprints (to see if it was really me) and asked me to raise my right hand and swear an oath to tell the truth.

He then asked:

"How many times have you been to Vegas?"
"What's the longest time you've stayed in the US?"
"When did you get married?"
"How did you meet?"

He then asked:
"If I was going to approve your visa, when would you be travelling?"

Then he told me to go to the courier and arrange delivery of my visa. I stood there dumbfounded. I was sure I'd misunderstood.

I asked him if that was all . . . he answered "Yes, your visa is approved!"


The Interview (part one)

I was at Goulds chemists at 7.30 when it opened.

I stored two mobile phones there for the massive sum of £3.

I walked towards the Embassy, crossed the zebra crossing and joined the smallish queue ahead of me.

You're called forwards and asked for your interview letter.

They ask if you have any electronics on you or metal. Those with electronics are sent up to the chemists while you are given a clear plastic bag for your metal (keys, change, belt).

You then join another queue where you will get called forwards to show your passport.

You then join another queue where you will get called forwards to go through a metal detector and put your bag and papers through an x-ray machine.

You then walk around to the North of the Embassy which is where the visa entrance is.

You queue at reception and show them your letter...

Thursday, 9 July 2009


Okay - tells me that it shouldn't be raining while I'm standing outside the embassy. is a simple way to show me the best way around the Tube through I also check to check for delays (and there are a few today).

I'm also putting together a checklist of things to take:
  • Passport
  • Interview letter
  • Money
  • Passport-sized Photos (I'm taking three)
I'll also have the following:
  • More relationship evidence
  • Birth & Police back-up certificates (& 2 copies)
  • My mobile phone in a bag, ready for the pharmacy drop-off
  • Train tickets
  • Hotel reservation
  • Tube route (see above)
  • Door key (I must remember to leave my car keys at home as they are banned from the Embassy)
  • 2 cards (1 credit, 1 debit)
And while we're at it - deodorant, battery shaver, toothbrush, toothpaste - all to be thrown away at the hotel so I haven't got any baggage. I'm wearing an old shirt now and underwear/socks I won't miss. I'm taking a (plastic) bag with underwear/socks and a nice shirt to wear on the day.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Medical Notes

Amersham Station.

If you don't know your way here it can be tricky to find. The station itself is small and cramped with ticket booth #2 well hidden.

View Larger Map

Finchley Road.

Yes, it is simply a case of crossing over the platform but, remember, the train you're leaving is a tube train. It's doors don't stay open for long. A large group of people on the train with me were chatting and joking as they were getting off and seemed not to notice the "doors closing " alarm. Some got stuck on the train (and I'm guessing had to swap for the Jubilee Line at Baker Street instead - a much more complicated step).

Bentinck Street

No, I didn't find it first time - I was distracted by Hinde Street Methodist Church (it was surprising to see a church wedged into such a tiny area) and didn't notice that Hinde Street turns into Bentinck Street.

Waiting Room Advice

Have your medical form filled out with as much information as possible. There was one guy there who didn't know what a case number was (I repeat - it's not that he didn't know what his case number was, he didn't know that you were given a case number by the NVC - he had to phone his fiancée for advice (not the last time he had to do that too)). Be prepared. Read all the immigration forums/blogs you can (example). Have your £180 in a little bundle/envelope, ready to pay.

Other Advice

  • Always get there early and do some scouting (applies to the medical and the interview).
  • So far Foof & I have had no major hiccups, that's mainly because we keep planning ahead and we check and re-check each other's paperwork.
  • These people are all just doing a job. If something goes wrong it's better to ask their advice than to give your opinion.

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Very useful map
(click it for a more legible size)

So, while I was waiting for my appointment at the doctors', I wandered down to the American Embassy to do a little reconnaissance for my interview on Friday. As there are many exits from Bond St. tube station I haven't tried to draw a route on the above map, I've just provided some shops to use as references to get your bearings.

Points of note are the chemists:

View Larger Map

and the embassy itself:

View Larger Map

Friday, 3 July 2009

What's Up Doc? Part 2

So, once you've come back from your x-ray (mine was done in a back room by a very friendly gentleman) you will wait in the waiting room again.

Eventually you'll get called for your examination - the doctor will come for you personally (or at least greet you at the door of the examining room).

As this will be different for everyone I shall just go over what happened to me:

First, a chat. This showed that the form you bring in is, essentially, a waste of time. The doctor sat down with me and filled in another, more official looking, form. She went over anything unusual in my medical history and double checked my vaccinations.

Then I was measured. Weight (I was 2.5kg heavier than when I'd weighed myself earlier that week - oops), height (at least I hadn't shrunk/grown) and, moving me over to stand by the examining "couch", my eyesight

As I was standing by the examining couch... I removed my shirt, sat on the bed/couch and breathed as an ice cold stethoscope was pressed against parts of my torso. I had my blood-pressure taken too. At some point she checked my ears too.

So I might as well lie down... Now I had various parts of my body pressed upon as my lymphatic system was given a thorough MOT.

And while I'm relaxed... My jeans had to be opened up and I had to turn my head and cough (really!) - also, if they need to look at any part of you that's still covered up, (operation scars, extra testicles etc.), this is when they'll ask.

Bloodshed, literally Finally she took a blood sample (for HIV and syphilis) and informed me that, pending results from my blood test/x-ray, I'd passed and that my details would be sent to the US Embassy next week. If there were any issues they would call me immediately. I had the correct vaccinations (yay!) and immunities (I'd had chicken pox as a kid) and went back to the waiting room while they wrote up the bill. I started to bleed again and got taken to a store room where I got patched up.

A short while later I paid my £180 (in cash as it seemed the quickest way to do it) and I was off, back towards Bond Street and a long journey home...

What's Up Doc? Part 1

View Larger Map
That's the door, the doorbell is on the right.
Press the button and you'll get buzzed in.

Once inside, walk forwards and head right.

Reception is just through the next door and it has two hatches.

You'll hand in your passport (which they'll photocopy and give back) your medical form (plus any additional sheets) and any vaccination records. They'll then send you around to the waiting room (straight on, turn right - I'll hack together a bad floorplan and include it in the second part of this post).

Once in the waiting room they'll surprise you with a quiz. It will be mostly the stuff from your medical form, just answer the yes/no questions on the top half of the first page and sign the HIV disclaimer on the last sheet.

Hand the forms back and sit in the waiting room until they call you for your x-ray.


I arrived in Amersham at 9am and parked in the multi-storey car park that's just to the east of the station.

I paid for parking (£5) and walked to the station where I paid a further £9 for a return ticket to Bond Street (zone 1) which turned out to be an "off-peak day travelcard".

The train pulled into the station as I approached the platform (as this is the first stop the train was empty) and it left (with me on board) at 9.20

At Finchley Road station I stepped off my train, walked across the platform and stepped onto the Southbound Jubilee line train that would take me to Bond Street.

I arrived at Bond Street at 10.20, headed north (I had a tiny compass on my £5 backpack) from Oxford Street into Stratford Place and then realised that this was a dead end and had to come back. I wandered up Marylebone Lane until I saw the church at Hinde Street and knew I was at the doctors'...

View Larger Map
If you're looking at the church from this angle, you have your back to the doctors'

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


As you may (or may not) recall, I decided to have some vaccinations prior to my medical to save some money as the NHS will give me them for free. I needed the MMR for measles, mumps and rubella and the Tdap for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough).

So the nurse gave me my two vaccinations, the first being the MMR (a live vaccine apparently). The second, she explained, had been for tetanus, diphtheria and polio. Sorry? Polio?

It turns out that the NHS don't do the Tdap.

So I'm a little confused as to what happens next.

Logically, as the Tdap is not a live vaccine, I can have that on Friday but who knows.

Stay tuned...

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Interview Letter - in detail (part two)

The rest of page two tells you that your case has now moved beyond the NVC and, if you have any questions, you should now only communicate with the US embassy. You are given the address of the embassy and are told what details (Case number, Principal Applicant, Category & "Foreign State of Chargeability*") to include when communicating.

The third and final page is entitled "Notice to Visa Applicants".

There's a subheading "Visa Interview Requirements" that I will copy (almost) verbatim.
VLAD THE IMPALA must bring the following to the visa interview:
  • Any original documents that were requested by the NVC but were not submitted to the NVC
  • The medical examination results if not submitted to the Embassy/Consulate by the physician
  • The correct size and number of photographs
  • Valid passport for all traveling applicants
Point three is beautifully vague.

Finally there is a very scary looking table of "documents requested" that (in my case) names seventeen documents needed for the interview. Each document has a code letter by it. As most of my original documents were sent to the NVC (or the USCIS) this is a little intimidating.

Then you look up the codes. Basically you're looking for codes 'A' (to be acquired), 'I' (is incomplete) 'T' (translation needed) or 'S' (scanned document received), though a 'U' (document unavailable) is pretty scary too. My application had none of these codes - mine was full of F's, O's and Y's ("not required", "original document already submitted" and "document received and accepted").

I also had a document status of 'C' for a document called "Correspondence Instructions" - this was not explained in the notes. I have to assume that, as this was the first document named, that it's self-referential and is talking about the interview letter itself (as that has to be brought to the interview).

And that's about it...

*is that a real word? Really?

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Interview Letter - in detail (part one)

It arrived in a weird, side-opening envelope a few days after Foof received her copy. It came directly from the NVC in New Hampshire and is (according to the text) the last time that the NVC will communicate with me. It's printed on US "Letter" paper and not A4 so it will be a little too wide for those cute plastic covers that you've been storing all your other paperwork in.

Just like Foof's letter it's dated June 9th. It gives a summary of where we are in the process (i.e. just finishing with the NVC), reminds me of my case number and tells me that my petition has been forwarded to the London Embassy.

The second paragraph gives the interview date and time.

There's then a section marked "Important Information" that points you to the website and tells you to follow all its instructions carefully so that your application isn't "refused at the initial interview". You are instructed to take this letter with you to the interview (or you won't get in, obviously).

The next page lists everyone who should attend the interview (i.e. me).

There is then a list of "reminders", asking you to bring along any documents you've missed, medical results (if they've not already been sent to the embassy), a "number" of passport-sized photographs (5cm x 5cm), Foofer's income tax return (if needed) and the final "reminder" is another "refused at the initial interview" threat if you don't bring all your documents.

Part two will detail the rest of this letter including the list of what you must bring to the interview...

Invitation to an Interview

As you're not allowed into the US Embassy without a written invitation, I'd asked Foof to send me the letter she had received from the NVC as soon as possible. This turned out to be a waste of time and mail as they have sent me my own copy - which I received today.


Where does it hurt?

A little more information on the UK medical can be found here.

(Obviously immigration medicals in/for different countries will differ wildly so only take this seriously if you're in the same position as your friendly author (okay "blogger"))

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

You'll Feel a Slight Prick

Okay - don't freak out over the picture - it's just a magic trick.

I went to my GP (British for "Doctor") today to get my vaccination records. For your enjoyment they are listed below:

1. None that are in date

So that was a wasted journey. Once I know what vaccinations I need I can call them and they will arrange to stab me with needles until I'm immune. This will be tricky as I'm donating blood components next Wednesday and need my blood to be clean before then.

To find out exactly what I'll need, I checked here at the US Embassy website (if the link has vanished you'll just have to go and look for it yourself). Being a male in his 40s, the chart tells me that I need to get Tdap, MMR and, weirdly, a Chickenpox jab (Varicella) that you can't get in the UK (but I had chickenpox as a kid so I don't know if that counts). Checking the price list, this would cost me £60 so I'm hoping that my own doctors can do this for less.

Update 1.
I called my doctors and asked about having a Tdap and an MMR. They had no idea what a Tdap was. I read them the description form Wikipedia and they're going to get back to me. This, of course, fills me with confidence.

Update 2.

They can do the injections. The time that would suit me would be Wednesday afternoon/evening or Thursday evening (1st/2nd July). The Sister is not available on the Thursday and is fully booked on the Wednesday (which is apparently "half-hour appointment day") so they'll have a think and get back to me. I actually offered to forget about it and I'd do it during my medical (It's kinda worth £60 just to avoid this kind of hassle) but they said they'd get back to me.

Update 3.
Having to number your updates is never a good sign. Still, we're now on for 3.30pm next Wednesday (July 1st).

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Turn Your Head & Cough

So now we know when the interview is, I need to book my medical (the final letter from the NVC actually tells you to log on to their website and follow the instructions (for your country) to prepare for your interview).

For this I will need the following:
  • Passport
  • Passport photo
  • £180
  • Vaccination records
  • Completed USA Medical Questionnaire
The first three items I have (or can get), the vaccination records I will get from my GP tomorrow (I called them and they seemed pretty cool about it) and the (country specific) Medical Questionnaire I have downloaded from (as the NVC letter states).

The Medical Questionnaire itself is a one page form at the end of the downloadable medical pdf (which contains some FAQ, directions, vaccination details etc…) which requires your case number, interview date, name, address, nationality etc... and then goes on to ask 21 medical questions. If you answer "YES" to any of these questions you must use a separate sheet of paper to give further details.

I rang a very nice lady at Knightsbridge Doctors who, even though they were busy, managed to get me a medical on the day I wanted (I am donating platelets on July 1st so I didn't want to have any vaccinations until after then) at a time that was convenient. Note: All immigration medicals are performed at their site in Bentinck Mansions.

I now have my medical booked for July 3rd.
Exactly one week before my interview…

Monday, 22 June 2009

Interview Date Set!!

So Foofer just got a letter from the NVC, dated June 9th, telling us that my interview at the London Embassy is set for July 10th. At first we weren't sure why this was sent to Foof. then we realised - they must really take this "agent" stuff seriously.


This is also the last time we deal with the NVC. The letter states that, from now on, we should talk directly to the embassy.

Now, while Foof sends the interview letter to me (so that I can get into the embassy), I have to organise my medical.

It's suddenly all happening!!!
(and I couldn't be happier)

Friday, 19 June 2009

From Londonderry(NH) to Lambeth(London)

(Clicky 4 bigger)

So the paperwork has reached the US Embassy.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Coming to England

Have just heard, via the final NVC automated message, that my papers were despatched (or is it dispatched?) to the London Embassy on June 16th. My case is coming to England.


The next thing that should happen (I think) is that the embassy will contact me for a medical. But before that, there is a(n unofficial) way for me to follow my paperwork from the NVC to the UK:

Every day the NVC posts a batch of immigration forms to various embassies/consulates around the world. The always use the same format for their tracking "EXP dd MMM yyyyA" where dd = day, MMM = month (JAN, FEB etc) and (guess what?) yyyy = year (the "EXP" and "A" don't change).

Some examples are: "EXP 08 JUN 2009A", "EXP 24 DEC 2006A" & "EXP 16 OCT 2008A"

The date you will be after is the date mentioned on the automated message (or maybe the day before/after that). Go to this site and enter your reference. This will give you a list of the packages sent on that day. Find your country and track your package...
(update: Mine (9343816182) has gone from Londonderry NH to Boston MA to Wilmington OH (I know that looks like the wrong way but DHL have a major site in Wilmington) and should be in the UK tomorrow(ish))

It's not a great help but, for some reason, it helps...

Sunday, 14 June 2009

150 Days and Counting

The timer that I set on January 14th (go check - I'll wait) now* reads 150 Days**.

We're a LOT farther along this process than I dared hope.


*Obviously, if you're reading this after June14th*** then the counter will show more than 150 days.
**It would also read exactly 5 months, but the site I picked, doesn't do months.
***Two points:
1- Notice I'm using the US term and I'm not saying "14th of June"
2 - If you are reading this on June 14th 2009, er, "welcome" and "who, how, why?"

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

NVC Automated Messages

For your own reference (and timeline) here are the main automated messages:

NVC Assigns a Case#:
"...This case was entered in the NVC computer system on _______. The case number assignned by the NVC is (Case #). Please allow 6-8 week from this date for the beneficiary to receive the documents"

DS3032/ AOS Fee Bill Generated:
"...NVC will mail...the beneficiary..." OR "DS3032 and AOS Fee Bill has been generated on________"

DS3032 Entered in the System:
"...NVC has received the DS3032, Choice of Agent and Address form on______.
Please allow 4-6 weeks before you will be notified by NVC..."

AOS Fee Processed:
"...NVC has received the DS3032, Choice of Agent and Address form on______.
and will send further instructions within the next few weeks..."

IV Fee Bill Generation:
"...The Immigration Visa Fee Bill letter has been generated on ____and will be sent within the next few weeks..."

IV Fee Bill Processed:
"NVC has received IV fee bill on ______ and will send further instructions within next few weeks. "

DS-230 Generation:
"NVC is expecting return of the biographic forms by the petitioner... "

DS-230 Receipt:
"The NVC has received the checklist letter response on ______"

"The NVC received your documents on ______. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks..."

Case Complete:
"... your Case was completed on ______. Please allow 8 weeks for further instructions..."

Case Forwarded to Embassy:
"...The NVC has completed the case and forwarded it to the Embassy or Consulate in..."

Note - If you're outside the US, try a service like Skype to save on call costs (especially as, if you're like me, you'll be calling the NVC a lot more than you'd like to admit)

NVC - Complete

Our case was completed at the NVC yesterday.


Thursday, 28 May 2009

All Documents at the NVC

The automated number at the NVC now states that, as of May 27th 2009, all documents are now with them at the NVC (er, you've had them for a week guys). They also state that there should be a decision in about six to eight weeks.

As I've said before, we're hoping for a much shorter waiting period...

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

NVC (kinda) Acknowledges the Affidavit of Support

The automated message from the NVC has changed to one stating that it's awaiting (my) biographical information . . . which is strange as the forms were sent together (albeit in separate envelopes) and arrived at the NVC at exactly the same time. So they are (sorta) acknowledging that they have the AOS (that's Affidavit of Support not Adjustment of Status).

The message says that, once they have my biographical information (clue: it's in your building, guys!) they will make a decision within six to eight weeks.

The good people of give us some extra hope here. Their records show that decisions are currently taking less than two weeks. The feedback is usually one of three things:
  1. Accepted - paperwork will proceed to Embassy
  2. Queried - more information required
  3. Investigated - mostly happens to engaged couples (and, hopefully, not married ones). This is a bad thing, cases are in a form of limbo for months...
There may be a fourth, rejection, but I have yet to hear of a case that has ended here. More fun to pass the case to the Embassy and let them deliver the bad news...

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Going For It!

We've had a discussion and, as the information from the NVC says you should wait to hear from them AND it also says you should not proceed before paying... as we've paid, we're going for it...

Should we wait?
(The NVC case-line tells us to)
Can we sent our stuff now?
The website hints that maybe we can...

We'll just have to see...

Monday, 18 May 2009

Still waiting for the NVC

It's been just under four weeks since payment was acknowledged by the NVC and we've heard nothing. We should have had some forms through by now (either the I-864 "Affidavit of Support" form or the DS-230 "me" forms). The official position is that if you haven't heard from the NVC in six weeks you can contact them.

Foof is going to call them tomorrow. I'm amazed at how patient she's been.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Two Pinball Machines = One Premium Economy Ticket

So today I managed to sell my two pinball tables for roughly three times what I paid for them (I'm sure they were worth lots more than that but one wasn't working properly (and they're very big and heavy) so I was glad that someone came and dismantled & collected them). I used the money to pay for a fully flexible one-way (premium economy) ticket to Las Vegas. I know I haven't even had the interview date yet but I wanted to get this detail out of the way.

I'll be flying with Virgin Atlantic, non-stop from Gatwick. As I live a couple of hundred miles away from Gatwick I'll have to work out how to get there - I have a number of options:
1. Drive there on the morning of the flight. As I have to be there for about 8.30am, diving (a hire car) that morning would mean I had to leave my (UK) home at about 3.30am.
2. Drive there (or part way) the day before. If I drive (my hire car) down the day before, I have to work out where I want to spend the night (though I'd probably be able to talk to Foofer early the following morning).
3. Take a train the day before and stop in a hotel near the airport. The bad side of this is that, especially if I take lots of luggage, I have to struggle through London's Underground system. Also, hotels near to airports are not the best/cheapest and the travelling between station/hotel/airport would be time-consuming, costly, painful or any combination of the three. Being able to chat to Foofer on the morning of the flight helps somewhat though.
4. Fly there on the morning. There's a flight that gets me into Gatwick, from Manchester, at 8.10 - just in time. The questions I have with this are "How do I get to Manchester for 5am?" and "What happens if the plane is delayed/cancelled?".
5. Fly there the evening before...well, maybe, but I'd need some convincing.

So far the first two options are my favourites as I'll probably already have a hire car once I've handed my company car back to work.

(and yes, this means that Sin City will be my POE)

Friday, 8 May 2009


I know it's only been just over two weeks since Foof paid but it feels like forever.

Of course this will be replaced by sheer panic once I have my visa and haven't settled everything here in the UK. Just a quick note concerning that - I have various large items for sale, a car to get rid of, my belongings will have to be put into storage prior to my move to Nevada and I'll have to sell my house (roughly in that order). I'm making a start on that list tomorrow...

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Waiting Game

Obviously, the trick I've used before of resigning myself to waiting a long time for results, only for the NVC or USCIS to respond almost instantly, isn't going to work again but I'm trying it anyway. According to their automated update system, the NVC generated the next pack for us a day after Foof paid online (I assume it's my DS-230 pack and not the tax stuff for Foofer) but they stated that it could take some weeks to reach us.

As we have all of our paperwork filled in (or filled out if you're on the western side of the Atlantic) in advance and our documents (both original and certified copies) ready, we have nothing left to do at the moment except to spend hours on Skype chatting to each other, waiting for things to arrive in the mail.

And sometimes the mail at Foof's apartment complex gets screwed up.

So we wait.


Friday, 24 April 2009


With my birth certificate and police certificate safely with Foofer (I took them with me to the US), I now have to prepare to fill in my DS-230.

Okay, as well as my name and address (and Foof's too), I need to know the following information - Employment history for the last ten years (easy - I have a c.v. (a résumé)), every town in which I've lived since I turned 16 (I've always lived in the same town), all educational establishments I've attended (I checked and they want higher education - diplomas or degrees, they don't care about my infant school) and details of every visit I've made to the US (which may be tricky as they cater for a "from/to" "month/year" layout and I'm pretty sure that I've visited New Jersey twice in the same month).

Also, they'll need to know the year in which my father died.

I drew a blank.

I asked my Mum and . . . she wasn't sure either.

We couldn't find the death certificate but, fortunately, I found an old email where I mention it to a friend.

Thank goodness for the interwebz.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


...and I'm back!

That was a lovely break (The Dairy Queen in Ludlow, CA will always remain a special memory).

As I mentioned before, I took the DS-3032 with me and we posted it on the ninth (or maybe it was the tenth - I was kinda tired).

We had our honeymoon in NV, AZ and CA.

Just before Foofer started the sad sad task of driving me to the airport yesterday, she checked her mail. The NVC had contacted her, as my agent, in a letter dated 16th April. They were asking for $400 but it still cheered us up as things are progressing (and they're progressing fast).

The letter also contained instructions about how, three days after (online*) payment Foof should go back to the website she paid on and, once payment was acknowledged, download the next round of forms.

Things are speeding up...

*There were instructions about paying by mail but we skipped those - viva la intrawebz.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A Very Late Honeymoon

This blog should be quiet for the next week or two. I'm flying over to McCarran to see my Foof and take her on a very late mini-honeymoon.

We'll be touring the Mojave Desert.

Aren't you jealous?

As my DS-3032 only arrived yesterday, I'm taking it with me and posting it in the US so that it will reach the NVC ASAP. Okay?


Tuesday, 7 April 2009

More mail!

My DS-3032, Choice of Agent, form arrived today. For some reason it came to the UK via Germany (Deutsche Post in Frankfurt to be exact (or, maybe, Niederaula (as that's on the envelope too))). The DS-3032 is a strange form where you have to enter some of the information twice (why? I do not know).

I have a dilemma.

Do I fill this in and send it or, as I'll be in Las Vegas in 48 hours, do I post it from Sin City? I see that a new option (discussed on is to email the NVC directly, claiming that you haven't received your form yet and proposing your spouse as your agent.

I will be IMing with Foof later today so we'll decide what to do then.