Congratulations!! If you’re reading this, you have either A) matched with a family and are now getting organised for your visa interview at a US embassy, B) completing your application or C) considering becoming an au pair (do it). Either way it is a reason to celebrate.
PREPARATION IS KEY!
Preparing for and attending your visa interview at the US embassy can be one of the most nerve wracking parts of the whole process. There seems to be so much pressure placed on you getting this visa approved. You have matched with a family and they’re excited for you to get to America and you can’t wait to get there either. Except one little problem. You don’t have your visa yet, you’re nervous as hell and you have no idea what to expect. Well fret no more ladies, I’ve got you covered. It isn’t as scary as you have imagined it to be. I promise.
The key for a smooth sailing day is:
- Read what the agency sends you. They will send you a visa pack. There is step-by-step guide on how to fill everything out and how to make an appointment online. Familiarise yourself with the documents.
- Be prepared. Make sure you have all the appropriate documents organised. Get a folder and put all your documents inside so you can see them and they won’t get lost. Don’t forget to bring your visa photo with you if you couldn’t upload it like myself.
- Arrive on time. You have an allocated time slot for a reason. Arrive early so you won’t be rushed or miss out on your time slot.
WHAT HAPPENS ON THE DAY?
I can only speak on behalf of the US embassy at the Sydney location. I’m not sure if they all run the same. I imagine they would. This is how my experience went down.
- You arrive and everyone is sorted into their time slots. If you arrive before your time slot you will wait out in the hall until your time slot is called for. There will be a bunch of other people with you during your allocated slot.
- You will form a line and proceed inside where some of your paperwork will be processed. If you have the correct paperwork you will then go through security and take a seat. Past this security point you can only take necessary items such as your paperwork, wallet and passport. No electronics including phones and handbags are allowed.
- Once everyone has been screened I was taken up to an elevator to the embassy.
- From there you go through another lot of security and sent inside the embassy.
- Once inside the embassy you wait for your allocated number to be called and you will go to one of the embassy staff at a numbered window.
- They will ask you some questions possibly about your host family and why you want to go to America etc. From memory, I believe you are finger printed as well. I was not finger printed the second time I got my J1 visa because they were already on file.
- You will then be sent to another window to make a payment. After your payment is processed you will then return to your original window and they will inform you if your application has been successful or denied.
- If you are successful they will keep your passport and it will be returned to you via mail with your visa inside.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
This is totally up to you. I would suggest smart casual. Think job interview but maybe not as formal as an interview. You obviously don’t want to show up in trackies, a hoodie and flip flops. But also, you don’t need to be in a suit. It is however still an interview and you want to make a good impression. Your au pair year kinda lies in the hands of this one person.
It really is not that stressful and the staff I have interacted with have been lovely. Just make sure to listen to what they are asking and telling you to do, be prepared and try not to stress out too much.
Thanks to Steph for sharing some of her amazing au pair top tips with us again! If you want to know more about Steph’s Au Pair in America experience, check out her other blogs here!