U.S. Visa Applications in Peru
Apoldu de Sus, Romania
Tatiana's overjoyed with the e-mail she just received from her family back in Lima. Yesterday's interview at the U.S. embassy went much smoother than expected, with everyone's visa application getting approved on the spot.
She was quite nervous about the ordeal. It wasn't just the thought of the fallout of her mother being unable to travel stateside to help mind Aidric when she eventually heads back to Miami for a month or so (which is now looking like it's going to happen in mid-January, after his first birthday), but the financial aspect of the entire application process is quite expensive and very much nonrefundable.
I've heard the story of what it takes to get an American visa more times than I can count—more than a fair share from Tatiana herself. In Lima, you've got to pay just to setup an appointment. This requires a trip to a bank where US$12 buys you a PIN to a telephone number to do as much. Several family members can be seen per appointment, but every visa applicant must pay the $131 processing fee.
This is no small chuck of change in the U.S. (let alone in Peru), but many unlimited entry/exit visas are issued for up to 10 years—such is the case with the one that Tatiana travels on. Given the weakness of the dollar these days, and what I consider a relatively low cost of about $13 per year for the lifetime of a 10-year U.S. visa, I think it could be much worse.
But it isn't just about the money, Tatiana reminds me. The interviews can be humiliating, and the document preparation overwhelming. Letters from employers, financial banking statements that disclose how much money you have, and whatever other proof you can provide that you're not interested in ditching your home country to live in the U.S. is required. The onus is on the applicant to arrive with this documentation, or forfeit the application fee if the interviewer isn't convinced or you can't provide answers to specific questions.
So yeah, it's tough and costs quite a few pennies to get permission to travel in the States, but that's nothing compared to the cost of traveling within it. How much are tickets to Disney World going for these days?