Two years. Two Embassies. Two Visas. (Hopefully.)
This morning was US Embassy time. Since my visit last year for my L1-B, America has moved its base of operations from the vast old concrete bunker to a much more modern aesthetic along the south bank of the Thames.
Now, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I’ve previously been critical of America’s predisposition for stuff that looks like the 60s (see: kitchen and bathroom cabinets in almost any rental property that wasn’t built in the last couple of years). I think you’d be hard pressed, however, to argue that the new Nine Elms development isn’t a massive improvement on the old one.
Last time out, I was travelling a bit of a torturous route as there were no direct trains or buses to the embassy from where I was living. When you have to be there at 7:30AM, that means an early start.
This time I planned ahead, and also had the benefit of not actually living here … so I chose an AirBnB that was a 5 minute walk away. In fact, so efficient was the process this time around that I was actually back out and walking down the Thames 7 minutes after my appointment had originally been scheduled for !
The new facility is undoubtedly an upgrade over the old one. What I found slightly bemusing, however, is the design decisions taken for the Visa Application area. Basically, if you had to wait outside in the cold / rain / baking sun at the old embassy, you had to do it here too. If the waiting areas inside felt too small in the old embassy, they felt too small here too. If the booth area wasn’t large enough to accommodate all of the booths, necessitating hastily erected signs that looked like an afterthought to point to other booths tucked out of the way … guess what?
I found it perplexing that, given the chance for a ‘clean sheet’ design, they apparently made all of the compromises that the last building necessitated. I shan’t speculate as to why, but I thought it an interesting observation.
This appointment was much faster than the last one, and I had less paperwork to submit too. I also had to pay fewer fees! I’m not sure if that’s because more of the work was done up-front, but either way it was welcome. Now America has my passport (again) for hopefully not too long. I’ll only know if my application was completely approved once it’s returned to me. As of right now, I remain technically unemployed and homeless, as I can’t start my new job until I re-enter the US under an H1-B, and I can’t return to my home as I don’t have my passport!
Watch this space …