A Romanian travels New York: Getting my visa for the USA and Boarding for New York

The Stressful Process Of Applying For The USA Visa (Interview Details) In 3 Steps

Getting The Visa For Travelling To The US And Boarding For New York

Most travellers still need to apply in person, last the embassy, to get the USA visa.

Coming from Romania, travelling to Western countries can be challenging from a budget point of view. And sometimes, it requires a lot of preparation and applications.

As much as Romania is thriving in the IT industry and jobs are better paid than ever, not all Romanians work in a developing industry, and the financial gap between the local economic market and other more famous ones remains.

Travelling abroad has significantly improved since Romania joined the EU in 2007, but Romanians still need visas for some countries, including the US.

A Romanian travels New York: Getting my visa for the USA and Boarding for New York

Getting the visa for the United States

Some countries ask for a visa just as a formality, and there is no way to not get except for some situations when you didn’t fill the form with the correct information.

However, this is not the case for the US visa. The process is the most complicated visa process I ever been through and it caused me some stress.

1. Fill the online form for the USA visa (B1/B2 tourism visa)

I recommend that you check the official information right on their website: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas.html. There you can also find info on how many days you need to wait to schedule and appointment for your local embasy and much more.

A Romanian (and everyone else needing a visa) needs to fill his/her entire life details in their online forms, save it, remember (save) the number of the application, and upload the correct photo.

Do notice that everything comes with extremely strict guidelines, and at some point, I became paranoid that I wrote something wrong and did the entire process again from the beginning. Even if you have every piece of information on hand, it can easily take 1 hour to complete the online form. Don’t forget to save it.

Recently, I read a news article that said social media accounts need to be linked to the application. It was not the case when I applied, but this is required now. My boyfriend applied in 2024 and he was asked about his social media profiles links. Imagine someone staring at your pictures and stalking you on the internet.

Once the form is submitted, it cannot be modified or checked. Of course, you can always start from the beginning. Fortunately, there are dozens of blogs and websites explaining how this should be done.

2. Pay visa fee and schedule the USA visa interview at the embassy

The next step is to set up an account on another website, for scheduling the interview at the embassy. This can only be done, after linking the details of the application to your account and paying the visa fee.

I can’t share an exact link because this will be different for each country.

The fee was $160 when I applied (it was 2019). For Romanians, this is not a small fee. The minimum salary in Romania in 2019 was 446,02 EUR before taxes. That leaves you with 267 Euros. Unbelievable, considering that this is the average price for a hotel per night in New York. That’s why I wrote a blog about the mistakes to avoid in New York City, to keep your budget low.

But let’s get back to the USA visa. The interview for the USA visa was set in 2 weeks from the moment I did everything online. At least you can choose the day, starting from the first available day. Yes, it is complicated and expensive and still, crowded.

The days before the interview, I was more nervous than ever.

The numerous stories I’ve heard about getting and not getting the visa and the theories of what could disqualify me were all running through my head on an endless loop.

At some point, I was terrified that my middle name was not on the second website where I scheduled my interview. I was upset before knowing what was about to happen. I confess, I tend to overthink, and this can have devastating effects on my mental health. I advise you not to do the same if you can.

USA visa

3. The interview for the US visa at the US embassy

I got to the Embassy one hour before my interview.

To my surprise, everyone was waiting on the other side of the embassy, as you are not allowed to wait in front of it. There was also a considerable crowd of 30-40 people.

After observing the crowd, I realized there was a coordinator of the whole thing, asking people who have interviews from a certain hour to cross the street to wait in front of the entrance. They scheduled groups every 15 minutes for 2 hours. I realized I was in the last possible group.

Once I was waiting in a queue in front of the embassy, the same guy was asking everyone their names, to double-check it on a list, and was arranging people in the queue. It was necessary, too. I think I was sweating at this point. And I don’t usually sweat.

I get invited inside. Inside was a small security room, just like in the airport. No lighters were allowed. I think the lady there asked about other stuff too, like my car keys and scarf, but I was too stressed to concentrate.

I got out and redirected towards the next building.

Here, I was asked for my printed confirmation of the application. The guy at the reception scanned it and asked again for my passport and the type of visa I was applying for. He gave me a printed ticket with a number.

Then I saw this rather narrow and long hall, with counters on the left side and waiting seats on the other. Every couple of seconds, a number was called in the speakers.

I was first called at the first counter, where a Romanian man double-checked my personal details (name, phone number, check my passport). He then sent me back to wait.

A couple of minutes later, they called my number again, and it was the 3rd counter, where this lovely American lady asked for my passport and took my fingerprints. Everything was very specific. Then she asked me to take a seat and wait for my number again.

I was confused about the process since I had no idea where and when the actual interview was.

Then I heard my number again, and I went to the respective counter. The title of the guy sitting on the other side of the glass was consul. He was around 40. He said Hello in Romanian, and I replied in English. He asked me in English in which language I prefer to communicate. I said I could do both. We spoke in English.

Finally, all the stories I’ve heard were about to be shattered.

The consul asked me my name and what I work for.

Then, he asked me where I wanted to go, and I answered New York and briefly explained I have a cousin there and how a wonderful opportunity this would be for my blog.

He asked the name of my blog and then laughed when he heard “JuliaSomething”.

He asked where my cousin works and what does she do there. He also asked when I was planning on going and for how long. It is worth mentioning that I had all of these details in my application form. Basically, he was double-checking everything while studying me.

Then he said the magic words: “Your visa application has been granted.” I was beyond surprised, and all I could do was a thank you sign like the one you do in yoga when you say “namaste” and say thank you 3 times like a crazy kid.

He mentioned that it would probably take at least until tomorrow to get my passport back. I said thank you once more and fled that place like I was afraid he would change his mind. I was out of the embassy in less than 2 minutes.

As I got out, I couldn’t control my smile and realized I was by myself there and there was nobody waiting for me. But it was so unusual to feel this release after all those days of stress. It was like passing a reputable hard exam. I have to mention that everyone I’ve seen that day exiting the embassy was happy that their visa was granted as well.

I don’t know why I am so negative some days.

The next day I bought my plane ticket for New York. I bought it before getting my passport back.

Looking back, I realize it wasn’t hard to get a visa for the US, but there is a myth around it that it is hard to get it, and that can bring on a lot of stress.

Also, I felt that everything is written as a precaution measure, so you can’t complain if you did something wrong. But the amount of information is enormous and at times I felt like it was meant to overload you and perhaps discourage you.

USA visa for Romanians: my conclusions

Was it stressful? Yes, but I tend to overthink everything, so it might have been for me, but not so much for others.

I don’t think it is difficult getting the visa now, but the one filling out the form should be extra careful with everything required and double-check with the all-mighty Google if there are any confusing questions.

Get ready to be told what to do and where to sit. Even when you arrive in the US, it takes a while to double-check everything once more, as they take a lot of security measures with everything.

Actually, they have a thing called SSSS, which is like a code they print on your boarding pass if you get really lucky (like I did).

A Romanian travels New York: Getting my visa for the USA and Boarding for New York

I wrote all the details of what happened before boarding for the US if you get the SSSS on the boarding pass. It’s not something to desire but unfortunately, some of us will still get it. It happened to me on my first trip to the US, and it was dreadful.

But after all was said and done, I still got to New York City.

Even the US visa or SSSS didn’t stop me from getting there. And I had a blast.

Can one of the most expensive cities in the world be visited on a budget? YES. Here are my tips for saving money when travelling to New York City.

A Romanian travels New York: Getting my visa for the USA and Boarding for New York
Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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