After a very anxious morning, and a wait of 12 days instead of the advised 3, we visited the US Embassy in Hanoi for our B1/B2 tourist visa interviews.
The interview process was very fast. You’re not allowed to enter the building more than 20 minutes before and after the scheduled appointment time. So, after loitering outside the correct building stealing wifi from the Highlands Coffee chain, at twenty minutes before on the dot we joined the two person queue and surprised the staff. I don’t think they usually get non-vietnamese visitors. With smiles and polite English, our phones and driving licenses (a form of national ID) were taken from us, bags sent through the x-ray machine and we walked ourselves through the metal detector.
Up the stairs and into the right room, we handed over the DS160 application and appointment confirmations along with our passports. She looked at mine and said excellent. I was pointed to window C. Here my awkwardly sized 5x5cm photo I had had taken in Hue was handed over.
The same difficult question came up. “Are you family?” said the smartly dressed Vietnamese man guiding me to the various windows. Legally we are not family, despite being together for nearly 9 years we have nothing legal linking us. Well, does a joint bank account count? Families should interview together it turns out, but they let me go first.
At the second window my finger prints were taken, I had been ‘ten-printed’. Finally, behind the last window was my interviewer. What brought you to Vietnam? How long do you intend to stay in the US? And with a quick clarification to explain that we couldn’t use an ESTA to enter by cargo ship, I handed over my passport and it was added to the pile. Interview complete.
The whole process took 15 minutes. In theory our passports complete with visas will be processed in one day then posted back to our hostel in 1-2 days.