A couple of days ago Gordana and I started the process of getting her a visa to come to America. I had been given advice from a couple of American Embassy counsels visiting Aleppo a few weeks ago that a tourist visa would be harder to get than an immigration visa and that even it could take as long as 3 months! But we forged ahead anyway. We hurriedly got married and got all the paper work together for an immigration visa. Next we had to prove that we had a “meaningful relationship”. How do you do that? We needed to show through emails, letters or pictures that we have known each other for a long time. All we had were pictures. I wasn’t sure that would be enough.
Well, Wednesday morning, we got everything together and headed off for Damascus to begin the long process of getting a visa. But at the Embassy we were given different information. It was the tourist visa that would be the easiest to apply for and that I needed to fill out a set of different forms from what I had been given before and that we needed to come back next week to present it. Then Gordana might be given an interview in June.
I was both angry and disappointed. I said why wasn’t I told that to begin with. This was a wasted trip for me and a day off of work. Then they got into gear and the girl I was talking with, Stephanie, started talking to others in the office. She came back and asked if we could fill out the forms and return them the next day and have the interview then. Of course, we said yes even though we had not planned to spend the night.
We checked into a hotel, got the forms filled out and went out to dinner. The next morning we headed back to the Embassy. The United States Embassy in Damascus is in an upscale part of town surrounded by other Embassies. You wouldn’t recognize it because there are not large signs or an obvious American flag, but it stands out because of the very tall iron fence around it. Frankly, I thought the Italian Embassy across the street looked nicer. Molto Bello.
Gordana had to go in alone for the interview. She had to present our marriage certificate, old pictures of us from as far back as 2002, and all the forms we had filled out and even a passport picture. If anything was wrong or incomplete, we would have to set up another appointment. Buy she did fine and we were told to come back in about 4 hours and pick up the visa!
We were ecstatic. We thought we might not be able to visit Florida this summer and we were sure we were in for a long process. We were so happy that during the 4 hour wait, we went to the Hammurabi Souk in the old part of Damascus and did some shopping – and some of you are going to be very happy we did! I’m going to write Stephanie’s boss at the Consulate a nice letter about her assistance.
Gordana has her American visa. We have the plane tickets and the hotel reservations. I’m finished with the school yearbook and so a lot of pressure is off of us and we are set to come to America June 26. As I have told you before, I’ll visit my old college friend, Wally, in Amman and then we will spend 5 days in Jerusalem before flying to the states.
See you next month.