Thursday I applied for – and received – my E3 visa which allows me (and, if I were married, my partner) to work in the US for up to two years. But that meant that I had to deal with the US Consulate. This is the second time that I’ve had to deal with the consulate and it’s a painful process.
First you have to book an appointment. To do that you have to use their website which, let’s be succinct, is crap. Not to mention that you have to pay US$14 to even look at the schedule and get any real information. There is no other way1. Usually there won’t be an appointment available for weeks.
Then you have to get the reams of paperwork together. I understand the need for it but it’s still a PITA to get it all in order. And don’t forget to bring a passport photo – that is, an American-sized passport photo, quite different to the Aussie size. Why can’t all countries have the same size photos? A two-inch square photo is a little challenging to get but Michael’s in the city does them for $29 (ouch!) for four prints.
Then we come to the interview. The whole experience took the better part of three hours. Which isn’t too bad on the surface. Except that just ten minutes were used to interview me. The rest of the time I was in queues or sitting in waiting rooms. So. Damn. Boring. And because you’ve had your laptop, mobile, iPod, even pens, taken off you there’s little to do. They kindly supplied one Herald Sun for everyone to share. There were anywhere from six to thirty people in the waiting room.
Thankfully, the people that interviewed me were reasonably friendly though the second person bode me an unusual farewell, “Have a nice trip, don’t get in trouble with the police and ensure you don’t stay!”.
[Update: At this stage I’m only planning on working in the US for two weeks. There’s a chance it may extend out a little further than that but I can’t see myself working there for a significant chunk of time. Melbourne is too nice a city to live in.]
 There is a phone number you can call to actually speak to a person at rates of between $1.05 and $11.00. But don’t bother, they’ll just refer you to the website after taking your money.