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Author Topic: Trip to Berdyansk, Ukraine and K-1 Interview in Kiev  (Read 3113 times)

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Offline ielocal

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Trip to Berdyansk, Ukraine and K-1 Interview in Kiev
« on: April 22, 2007, 02:22:25 PM »
While looking through some of my old files, I ran across a trip report I had filed on the old board. This is going on a couple years old now, so some of the information may be date. Especially in regards to the length of the K-1 interview as this was before the IMBA legislation. I will post the parts in the original parts that I filed them before once I have a chance to read through it and edit out the content specific to that board. So, give me some time.
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Offline ielocal

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Re: Trip to Berdyansk, Ukraine and K-1 Interview in Kiev Post #1
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2007, 02:29:12 PM »
First thing Monday I will be departing on my 4th trip to Ukraine.  In the past, I have not posted much for trip reports. I don't have the literary abilities of others to keep a story going. And mostly since my previous trips have been to Kiev, you can find ton's of information on Kiev. Been there, done that. 

This trip is a little different. For one thing as I entered this weekend I noticed that I was coming up on my 1,000th post at that board.  Well I've seen others who have started threads about this with something to say or special comments made. So I thought hey why not. I'll use this post to start my trip report with some comment on 1,000th post. I can say that in my time reading and participating on these boards, I have learned A LOT.  I have also learned with all that, that I still have a lot to learn.  But, I do know with the assistance of “food for thought” gained in many threads from many posters; that I am much better prepared for the journey ahead than I would have been without these boards. So to me what does it mean when I hit 1,000 posts… Very simple, I have WAY too much  time on my hands.  Dang, I guess I definitely need to get out more. 

Another reason for a report where I usually don’t is I am visiting a city that I have not found any trip reports on, Berdyansk, Ukraine. It is located on the sea of Azov in between Melitopol and Mariopol. I am going down to join my fiancée N, for a few days and then we will go to Kiev for her K-1 interview and spend some more time in Kiev. I have not been able to find a lot of information on Berdyansk here, but I did find a little on the Visa Journey site. Not a great tourist destination for Westerners.  But having talked about the city with N through 2 summers now, I know its beaches are a destination for many Ukrainians and Russians during the summer. This is evident also by the train schedule there. The train from Kiev runs every day in June-Aug. Then in Sept. it changes to every other day, then stops until next summer. I am catching the next to last train for this year.

During this trip I will also be attending the interview for N’s visa. In Kiev, the petitioner is allowed to attend the interview also.  When we were arranging the “next trip” we were having difficulty with the dates. We were planning on meeting last month. But, since we had used up all of her available holiday time on the previous trips, this created a time problem. We had selected dates for a trip but she didn’t what me to spend as much on airfare during the summer to get there and we were also about ready to schedule her interview. In those discussions her nervousness about the interview came up and we discussed me attending the interview. At that time I wasn’t sure I could enter the consulate, but I thought I should be there to support her even if I had to stand at the gate and wait. So, the dates were selected based on the interview date and we were both pleased to learn that I wouldn’t have to wait at the gate. 

So, for the arrangements, the flight over will be the same as I have taken on my previous trips: Ontario, CA to Kiev via Minneapolis and Amsterdam. With the long layovers, I am getting to know those airports soooo well. On my past trips it has taken about 23 hours from leaving my door to arriving in the flat in Kiev. This trip will be worse as I will be arriving in Kiev and then about 4 hours later boarding a train for 18 hours. I think it works out to about 47 hours “in transit”.  I am not looking forward to the travel time but I know that seeing N’s smiling face upon arrival will make it all worth it. 

At this time I can not say much about the arrangements in Berdyansk. N and I are way past using an agency. There are no internet sites I could find to locate a flat and she would not allow me to book one through an agency. I do have a contact there that can make arrangements but N wouldn’t hear of it. She located a flat went to visit it to make sure it was alright and will meet me at the train station with a taxi.  When she told me stories of some of the rental flats having a common bathroom/shower for the building (outside the building)  , we definitely did have some requirements.  Besides being clean, it must have private indoor plumbing. I had no trouble with her on this point (when she wasn’t teasing me). 

So, upon my return I will try to update this with additional information about the town and the trip. I don’t know how much I will remember to be able to arrange into usable information, but I will try. Of course, since upon my return I will have about a month to prepare for her arrival, I am sure I will be limited on time. Plus, as I noted above, I guess I’ve already spent too much  time here.
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Offline ielocal

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Re: Trip to Berdyansk, Ukraine and K-1 Interview in Kiev
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2007, 11:16:07 PM »
The flights to Kiev were as usual uneventful. Leaving my home at 4:30 AM Mon. California time, I was prepared for the long trip. As usual I arrived at Ontario airport with a lot of time to spare. Although, when I arrived a check-in I did receive a surprise. The luggage allowance had been lowered at the beginning of September and I did not check the weight of my bag… I was 10 lbs over the limit. The clerk offered to give me a box to lower the weight and shuffle things around. I decided to go ahead and pay the $25.00 charge. My actual bag was inside of a bigger bag that I was bringing to my fiancée for her use when she comes to the US. It would have been real easy to split the bags up but I had visions of me in the Kiev airport trying to get them all to fit together again in preparations of catching the train.  Not a pretty mental image. 

On the flights I didn’t get a lot of sleep but this didn’t matter too much. I still had the train trip ahead and I figured it would be better to sleep that time away then sit with little to do. On the flight across the Atlantic I did remember a couple things I forgot. I was so preoccupied with bringing all the documents for the visa interview; I didn’t include my tour guide of Kiev and my Russian phrase book.  The tour guide didn’t matter too much as we weren’t going to many sites, I just like to have good maps of the towns I visit. The phrase book I was concerned that I forgot. I have only needed it once on my trips but this time I thought I would need it on the train. So, while in Amsterdam, I checked the shops there looking to buy a new one. They had a large selection of phrase books (some very strange), but none in Russian.  Gosh, doesn’t everyone visit Russian speaking countries? 

Arriving in Kiev at 3:00 PM Tues. local time I made it through passport control relatively quickly. I noticed that the visa I had from my previous trip had expired but with the new no visa rules, that was no problem. I proceeded to the customs area where my bag was waiting after I filled in the Customs declaration form. When I got to the customs inspection area, there were neither lines nor any travelers there. I presented to the officer my form, who asked about any gifts I had and was waved through. Then, I had a rather unique experience. The officer took a few moments to explain to me that I didn't need to do the declaration form if I had nothing to declare. Wow, what a surprise, an officer that was actually helpful without being asked. 

After leaving the customs area I was greeted in the waiting area by my taxi driver as planned. I use Pavel’s assistance when I go to Kiev but this trip had some bad timing. I was arriving on a day that he was on vacation. So, he took care of my train ticket and arranged for my taxi to the train station who had the train ticket with him. Although, the communications was not completely clear. The plan was to first go to Independence Square so I could exchange money and get some food. What the driver knew was to do money and go to McDonalds. So the first McD’s on the road he tried to stop. We quickly came to the understanding to go to Khreshatic for the stop. While there I changed some cash, hit the McD’s there and picked up a SIM chip for my phone (unlocked tri-band). Then it was off to the train station.

After trying out the SIM chip and looking through the package it came in I noted that I should have tried it in the store where I got it. All the instructions are in Russian and the dialing code to call my fiancée’s phone the clerk gave me didn’t work. Another reason I wanted my tour guide as it explains the dialing codes. Oh well, I did find the page that explained the dialing codes and with my limited Russian, I was able to figure out where the problem was.

Finally my train appeared on the board in the lobby about an hour before the train’s departure time. I thought this was great as I could soon settle down in the train cabin and be able to be free of the backpack I had been carrying for days now. And I just keep waiting. Usually the track is announced about an hour before the departure time. For this train it was about 35 minutes before departure. That did allow me some time to practice my alphabet some more reading the town names as the board alternates between Russian and English.

When the track was announced I proceeded to the proper track. Getting to the tracks was fairly simple as I had accompanied my fiancée and Pavel on 3 previous trips. If it were my first time in the station it may have been more of a challenge as there are not many signs in English. But, just following the crowd would have also worked. There was another short wait at the platform then we were allowed to board. When boarding, the conductor did have to make a double take when he checked my I.D. I guess he was not used to Americans showing up in his car but there was no real problem. I had the ticket and my passport ready to show him to gain entrance. Once in the cabin I was able to store my luggage and finally make my call to my fiancée.  It was nice to hear her voice again now that we were in the same time zone again. 

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Offline ielocal

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Re: Trip to Berdyansk, Ukraine and K-1 Interview in Kiev
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2007, 11:16:33 PM »
Prior to my departure I was briefed on what to do on the train by a worried fiancée. One of her pieces of advice was to lock the door while I was in the cabin. Boy did this turn out to be a difficult piece of advice to follow. When I got on the train sitting in the station, the cabin was maybe 85 deg. F. I went a head and closed the door while I was on the phone. During this time, the temperature raised to maybe 90 deg. F. So, I looked to the window for some ventilation. No help there, the window was nailed shut (if it opened at all). And, here I left my hammer and nails at home.

Finally, the train left the station. With vent holes in the door, I thought the air would begin to move and the cabin would cool down. Wrong assumption, the heat continued until I finally gave up and rode with the door open. Still not much ventilation, but it was better than with the door closed.

Shortly after the train left the station the conductor came in to collect the ticket (as I was briefed to expect). Then a little while later, he came in so I could buy my bedding (also as expected). This was where I was missing my phrase book. He said the price, which I recognized the word but couldn’t remember what the number was. I guess I’ll need to keep working on those numbers. I was prepared for this and brought out a little notebook I carry while there. The conductor picked up on this and wrote the price down… 8.00 UAH for the sheets and pillow case.

Shortly after this time, the sleep caught up with me. I laid back to rest my eyes a little and next thing I knew it was 2 hours later. I returned the SMS message that had awoken me and decided that this was enough for one day, time for bed. I went to the restroom and found much what I had read about here. A restroom you wouldn’t want to use unless you had to. Well, now I was really glad I brought some “wet wipes” and waterless soap to use to clean up in my cabin.

After a good nights sleep I was a whole new person. Once again, I am glad that I arrange to meet my fiancée the day after I arrive in Ukraine. With the hassles of traveling and sleeping on planes I find I am a much different person after I’ve had a good night’s sleep (even on a train). Although it would be nice to see her at the airport once again, she may not agree.

The morning was spent watching countryside pass by the window with a little reading. Finally, we stopped at a station and I became stir crazy and curious so I stepped out of the train for some air. It was a nice little village that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. A nice little farming village. Then I noticed that while I was sleeping the train had changed. When I boarded, I was on the second to last car. Now I was in the middle of the train. I guess I had slept so well that we had added/removed cars without waking me.

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Offline ielocal

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Re: Trip to Berdyansk, Ukraine and K-1 Interview in Kiev
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2007, 11:17:25 PM »
When the train entered the station in Berdyansk I am eager to see N once again. As we pass by the platform I am looking out the window to see if I can see her. No sighting yet. When I collect my luggage and get ready to get of the train I am feeling not that great. The phrase “rode hard and put away wet” comes to mind after having spent over 48 hours traveling with no shower. A fresh shirt and socks helped, but there is no substitute for a good shower. This is all forgotten as I turn around and see N’s smile through the window. 

After a short greeting on the platform we are off to the flat that she’s rented for my stay. We left the agencies behind long ago, so she located the flat in the local paper, went to check it out and moved in the morning of my arrival. About the time she is calling a taxi, a man approaches us and I can tell he was a driver. Apparently, his rate was good enough as we were then off to the flat. The roads there were much like I have read in other trip reports. The driver did a good job of giving us a smooth ride while avoiding the craters in the road. Gosh, one would think they would have fixed the bomb craters from the W. W. II by now. 

When we get to the flat, I am eager to get inside. As we get to the door, I am reminded that N’s mother A would be there when she rings the bell. Talk about a bad setting for a first impression.  N had mentioned that A would be there over the phone to help prepare lunch while we were at the station. I didn’t tell her no then but I did remind her that about what it would take to get there. No big problem though our first meeting was in the entryway to the flat with me in a fuzzy mental state. 

After a few greetings, reintroductions and tour of the flat it was off to a shower. After I was ready we were able to sit down to lunch. Meeting A was great, much of what I expected. We had discussed her during our letters and phone calls but that was no substitute to meeting in person. Although, I did get a little of a hard time over not being able to speak Russian more, we seemed to get along well. N was translating, but I can tell that she’ll need more practice as well as me learning more. I had teased N a little before the trip about hiring a translator so I would get the “full story”. We all have those “cute” little stories that parents love to tell, at the child’s embarrassment.  Well, perhaps I missed a couple of those stories. If I had recognized more, I might have been able to ask N about more details. 

During lunch we had a good time. Starting with a bottle of wine and some toasts. Toasts were something new to me when I started this process. Here, we don’t toast much, just on special occasions. There, every time we sit down with or pour a new glass of wine, I guess it is a special occasion.  When presented with the bottle for me to open, I was also glad that I “come prepared”. The opener they had was a curly piece of wire with a t-handle. After opening beer bottles on hotel counters for so long, I learned to carry a bottle opener/cork screw in my shaving kit. Good thing, I am not sure I could have easily gotten that cork out without it. This also made a good parting gift as N said their regular one had worn out. 

There was only one “uncomfortable moment” during the visits. During this lunch A was teasing her a little and asked if I liked her borsch more than N’s (made on a previous trip). Boy what do you say to that, that you like the current cook’s food more than your fiancée’s or your fiancée’s more than the current cook’s.  Well, I coped out and gracefully stated that that would be too dangerous of a question for me to answer. Luckily, they accepted that answer with a smile. 

On my short stay there we had somewhat of a routine of spending the day with just N and I. Then in the evenings A would come over for dinner (or we would go out). On the first afternoon, she had to work that evening so she left early. On the next day, we walked her back to their flat. The walk was not too long but interesting to see at night. The streets there were really dark and many people moving around. Now I can see why N doesn’t feel truly safe going out at night much. That and I know that she had been robbed shortly after my first trip.  On our walk back we took a different route using one of the more major streets. That was better lit, but getting there still meant using smaller unlit streets. 

During our days together, we didn’t get out much to see the city. We mostly stayed in the “center of town” close to where the flat was located. On the first day we went out to pick-up some photos that she needed for the interview in Kiev. Along the way she showed me the school she went to when she was younger. It is now a part of a university but my imagination could see her playing hopscotch in the school yard. I did like the effort that went into building the school. Even though it was built to be the equivalent of an elementary school here, the buildings were stone and brick buildings that you would expect in a university here.

It is noted often here that if a RW likes you, you’ll know it. That may be true but I would also say that if you’ve found the right woman there you’ll also know it. During our times between trips we’ve spoken on the phone often. Actually around 2 hours per call every other day. Many times when the phone line goes dead after 2 hours, which has told us how long we’ve been talking. When we meet in person, there is little reintroduction time. We can spend whole days in the flat just talking and chit chatting and call it a great day. All of this talk has also helped our communications ability greatly. When we first started talking (and meeting) we would have to use the dictionary occasionally. Now, we seldom use a dictionary. Her English has gotten better and I guess I have also gotten better at explaining things in different ways. Even if it means just working with a dictionary for every word, I think finding someone you are comfortable just spending time with talking about important things or just nothing at all is important. I am glad I found someone who “fits this bill” without a lot of the problems I read about here.

From what I saw (and know), this would definitely be a good city to visit for the women. One of the windows of our flat looked over a waterfront area that has been developed for tourists (and residence). Whenever I looked out the window I would see many women with great looks. I think the “sights”  were better than I had seen in Kiev. More frequently you would see two (or more) women walking together or a couple with an extra girl in tow than just a couple walking together.  The only real trouble is in getting there. It is “off the beaten path” which just makes it more of a good destination. N has said that she has heard English spoken in the markets but it is very seldom that she sees WM there. 

The town has developed a waterfront area with brick walkways, cafés and small arcades. During the evenings, many of the people there come to just walk, relax and enjoy the night air. There may have also been more activity there as the week I was there was before the city day celebration. As far as I could tell, the city day celebration is the anniversary of the city’s creation. This waterfront also connects with a city square/walk that goes inland with statutes and some water fountains. This seems to be one of the main recreation areas with wide walks. The buildings fronting the walks seemed to be mostly cafes, shops and “night life” centered.

On Sat. we had out reservations to go to Kiev. Since I caught one of the last trains of the year into Berdyansk (they only run in the summer), we would need to take the bus into Zaparozhia to catch the train. After we packed up the more bulkier items (gifts, utensils, food items) we put A into a taxi to go home. I thought it was rather strange that when the taxi arrived there were only short good byes. After N and I finished getting ready, the manager arrived to take the keys back and we were off to the bus station. It was at the bus station that I learned that A was going to meet us there for final good byes. Well, I got a hug and kiss on the cheek by A leaving and not comment in Russian to N about everything’s off, so I guess all there went well. 

Then bus ride was not really notable, nice for me to get out and see the countryside and smaller towns along the way. There were a couple things I noticed. In Kiev all the signs are in Ukrainian or the international sign. But along the roads the signs with writing were both in Ukrainian/Russian (didn’t look that close) and English. This surprised me. The driver also just made a stop at the train station so we and other riders didn’t have to get a ride from the bus station. Another observation/question maybe someone can answer. All the busses I’ve ridden in looked “lived in” by the drivers. On this trip they seemed to be making deals for shorter rides (2-3 km). Do the drivers own/rent the busses and/or routes or do they just get the same bus each day? I also noticed that many riders bought the ride from the driver with cash.

The train Kiev was another experience in sauna traveling. When I noted this to N and said that I was expecting better in the 1st class section. She made the comment about “this is Ukraine” and “Ukrainians never expect those comforts”. On this trip I rode both 1st and 2nd class. When I travel with N, I think I will buy 1st class tickets. She really likes the extra touches. By myself, I think I will buy the 2nd class (with more than one seat). Going there I had all 4 in second class for the whole cabin for $55 USD. Going to Kiev we had 2 in first class for the whole cabin for around $100 USD (she booked these tickets). The seats were more comfortable and the cabin was cleaner but I wasn’t that impressed. I also don’t mind the lower digs when I travel, especially on overnight sleeping trips. The train was a night train leaving around 7 PM and arriving around 6 AM so it was mostly spent sleeping after dinner (carried on).

In Kiev we had a full week planned. Sunday we were arriving, stocking the flat and getting ready. Monday was her medical interview. Tuesday was her K-1 interview. Wednesday she was leaving and I was leaving Thursday morning. So, enough for now, more to follow.

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Offline ielocal

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Re: Trip to Berdyansk, Ukraine and K-1 Interview in Kiev
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2007, 11:18:56 PM »
I should start with a disclaimer that your mileage may very greatly.  N’s interview was really quick with simple questions but who knows the reason for this. Perhaps it was my presence; perhaps the quantity of the documentation or maybe the CO got lucky the night before. 

Also I should note what we did when I scheduled her interview. I had read here some tips on being prepared for the process to save time (thank you a long forgotten forum). So, N and I had already begun collecting all the documents to schedule the interview before even the National Visa Center had seen our application. So, when the application was approved at the NVC we already had most of the documents ready. We were just waiting for the consoler’s case number and an appropriate amount of time for the file to reach Kiev to send in the request for interview. Since we were planning on me attending the interview creating some time delay, we were pretty confident that we would get our scheduled date. 

So, when the day the package 3 arrived at N’s house, I sent in the interview request form with our preferred date of Fri. Sept. 16. The next day I received an e-mail scheduling the interview for Mon. Sept. 19.  Well this was not going to work for us. We were planning on doing the medical exam the day before the interview so this would mean doing the medical on Fri and interview on Mon.  We had already used up all her available vacation time with my trips to see her so this would make her miss too much work.  So I sent them an e-mail explaining the difficulties of traveling to Kiev and they rescheduled for Tues. Sept. 20.  I will say that they were very helpful and prompt in answering questions via e-mail and this scheduling problem. 

When we arrived at the consulate we encountered a crowd of about 50-70 Ukrainians waiting in a mob outside the security booth door. So we move into the crowd until N asks someone what “the procedure” here was. She was told first to check with a guard next to the booth to get a pass to get in. After a short conversation there, he asked to see out letter of invitation to the interview. This is the letter confirming the interview date and time that is sent when the interview is scheduled. Note, keep this letter handy as it will be checked a few times during the process. Upon inspection of our letter, he said that we didn’t need a pass, we had an appointment. Apparently, all the others in the crowd were waiting with no appointment to apply for tourist, work, etc. visas.

So we headed back towards the door to the guard shack. They had a system there where there were two lights. A red light meant to wait while a green light meant they were ready for more to enter. So we work our way to the front of the group. At this point we were waiting for a green light but the way the crowd was shifting and moving a concrete buttress about knee height had separated us.  We waited for several minutes until I began to become impatient.  We had an appointment that I didn’t want to be late for. So, I was able to nudge my way next to N and kind of nudge her away from the corner we/she had worked her way into.

After a few more minutes of waiting I began to become more impatient.  The light was not changing to allow more entrance and every now and then someone would push their way through and enter the guard shack.  Well I finally decided that I had enough of this.  Usually while I am there in Ukraine I kind of go with the flow. Now, I figured I would live up to the reputed “American arrogance” and quit waiting. I mean WTF, I was holding the “blue passport” to enter MY consulate.  The worse they would do is tell us to go back to the waiting crowd. So we made our way to the door and entered.

Entering the guard shack they checked our passports as an I.D. check and our Invitation letter to see that we had an appointment. I had been warned by Pavel that they would make us check in any bags there at the guard station. I went ahead and brought my back pack because of the quantity of documents for the interview. Well this was not correct. They physically searched all the bags and we went through a metal detector same as entering any federal facility here. With some exceptions such as the sensitivity of the detector and ANYTHING battery operated was checked in there. Even a credit card calculator the N carried in her purse. There was no mention of waiting for the green light. 

Then, we (more like she) was given directions into the building and to follow a corridor until we reached a window to the left. The guard shack is on the perimeter fence so we had to go through out the grounds to get to the entry door to the consulate. We follow the directions until we reached the first window that was a cashier’s window. So, I stop here figuring we would need to pay the interview fee first. When I get to the window the lady tells me first I need to continue down the corridor and see one of the clerks at the end.  So off we go until we reach a room with several windows and wait until one is free.

At the window we show the clerk our invitation letter and she checks a list to find N’s name. They checked and rechecked and her name wasn’t on the list.  The clerk checks the letter again, takes it and tells us to please wait. All of this was communicated to N in Russian so she had to tell me what was going on. She is now looking at me with a very distressed look.  I start thinking with the scheduling problems that maybe something got screwed up and they thought we missed our interview the day before. 

I have worked for several years as a contractor on government projects. One of the golden rules I learned dealing with problems with government officials doing this is “he who documents most wins”.  So, I go to my back pack and retrieve the file that contained ALL of the paperwork since N and I filled out the very first bio. data sheet when we decided to file for her visa. I kept copies of everything I sent or she and I received. I then open to the pages with the e-mails while we were scheduling the interview and check my "facts".  Also something that I have learned in my career is that paperwork left at home does you little good on the spot if there is a problem.  Yes folks, I am anal about having the printed documents available  but it usually pays off when there is a problem. I was not going to allow this snafu to prevent us from doing the interview. 

When the clerk returned apparently everything was figured out by them because we were directed to go to another window so the supervising clerk could check our documents. This clerk once again begins by checking our I.D. and then begins on a checklist of the required interview documents. Although, all the other clerks were addressing N in Russian, this one was speaking accented English… maybe because I was the one producing the documents.

When we get to the proof of relationship, I hand over the telephone records that I had. I had been using WDT that sent me a monthly billing indicating all the calls made. We had really quit sending letters in about Dec. so these were very helpful. We were talking on the telephone for a couple hours every other day. After she flips through them she asks in there was any additional proof an on-going relationship such as e-mails, letters, etc.  At this point I wanted to just stand back and say “I am here, isn’t that proof enough”.  But she didn’t appear that she would have seen the humor.  I handed over the file that I had with all of our letters. Once again that anal paperwork streak in me, I had a print of every e-mail and the originals of all her hand written letters, translations and envelopes. 

With my anal paperwork streak I had also had all the translations not only certified but also the signatures notarized here in the US. I knew this was “above and beyond” what they would be looking for but we also discovered a “problem” with N’s name during translation. She had a Russian birth certificate with her last name in Russian. Then her name was translated into Ukrainian for her passport and then into English. With all the transliterations, the English sound for her name didn’t sound the same as her Russian birth certificate. With the importance of the interview, I played “better safe than sorry” in making sure all would go well.  After all the documents were checked and received we were given a slip of paper and sent back to the cashier. That is when I paid the interview fee. After I had a receipt, I gave it to the supervising clerk who told us to have a seat and took the file back into the office behind her.

In the time before the interview I had joked with/warned N a little bit that she would be on camera the whole time she was at the consulate. She is one of those “camera shy” people that think her photos never look good. When we are out and she stands in front of my digital camera the thing I hear the most is DELETE. After we sat there several minutes she leans over to me and tells me that she thought she would be on camera the whole time, I guess you were mistaken.  I kind of smirked and said no, that is a camera there in the corner.  She looks at it for a second and says, maybe we should move to the chair under the camera. Then I couldn’t contain my smile and told her it would do no good as the camera over our heads would then see us, where she had to look up to verify there was one there.  We sat there another minute or two while she had a somewhat confused look on her face. Then she leans over to me and asks, what about in the restrooms, is there cameras in the restrooms?  Boy that one got me, I did not really know what to tell her but also had a hard time containing my chuckles.  Well I told her that if they did, I am sure that only females were allowed to watch the woman’s restroom. Then she asked why, where I responded so perverts couldn’t watch the women.  She didn’t understand “perverts” so I tried to explain some of the creeps who have made the news here watching dressing rooms but to no avail. So we finally dropped the conversation.

Finally, we were directed to another window that was partitioned off from the others. Waiting for us there was the consulate officer who with our files in front of him and once again he checked our passports. I noticed when he was he also looked through the entry/exit stamps. After he passed them back, he said a greeting to N in Russian and asked if I were the petitioner. He then asked me three questions IIRC and told me to have a seat. The questions I was asked were if I had been to an interview before, if I had ever filed a K visa before and something else along those lines that I can’t remember.

After about 2-3 minutes N appeared with our documents. She said that was it and she was handed a blue card, told to go to the Fed Ex rep. to make arrangements to receive her passport back but wasn’t told if she got the visa or not.  When I looked at the card, it was all spelled out there. The visa was granted and she would receive it and her passport via Fed Ex.   After we compared notes later, she was never asked any questions about our relationship. He asked her a few questions about a trip she had taken to Switzerland and didn’t mention it but I am sure also a trip she had taken to Germany. The whole interview with her was conducted in Russian and he never asked if she wanted to do it in Russian or English.

I should add caution once again, that this questioning may not be the typical experience. The interview may have gone easier because of my presence, my anal paperwork tendencies  or whatever. They may all go that easy, I really don’t know. I did little research on what was involved in a typical interview. I can say that after all the worry, stress and grim outcomes that N had envisioned  , I could not have seen a happier look on her face than when I told her the card said the visa was approved.     
-ielocal


 

 

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