Chapter 10 – Preparing For An Interview
About late May I e-mailed the Consulate, using their info request form, for an estimate of appointment date. From the various Internet groups I had gotten hooked into, I knew the average wait time was about four months. I also had hear that the Guangzhou consulate was preparing to relocate to larger facilities around August as an attempt to speed up the visa process. We expected that once the consulate started their move no visa’s would be issued for several months at least. I was very nervous about being caught up in yet another limbo.
On a Monday morning, about one week after I sent my e-mail, I received a response. The consulate reply was that we should expect an appointment “sometime in August.” This would put our wait out to at least six months and possibly catch us up in the Consulate move limbo.
I read and re-read the e-mail as I mentally started to cry. I was chatting with Winnie at the time, but I couldn’t tell her what I just read. I excused myself telling her I needed to go to work early. The minute I arrived at work, I called and left a message for Mr Litton.
He returned my call several hours later. We exchanged greetings, and I explained I needed to ask for the Senator’s help again. I explained the e-mail, and Mr Litton agreed that he thought the wait should only be about four months. He explained that issues related to the state department were handled by another staffer, and he would ask her to call me. Several hours later, this woman, whose name I do not remember, called me. I explained my problem, and she promised to contact the consulate in my behalf and find out what was going on.
To this day, I do not know if her inquiry had any impact, but exactly one week later Winnie received her appointment letter, announcing her interview was scheduled for July 1, 2005.
I called Senator Cochran’s office to let the woman know, and to give my most sincere thanks. I also discovered that I had become something of a celebrity figure within the office – the person I spoke with said “everyone here is very happy for you.”
After 18 long months of waiting, there was barely enough time to do everything required for the interview. Winnie needed additional documents and photographs, some of which I had to provide, and also needed to go to Guangzhou for a medical exam. The medical exam had to be conducted within several days of the interview, so after a bit of discussion Winnie decided to go to Guangzhou, get her exam, and then stay there for the Interview. Which meant about ten days in a hotel and travel money.
I scrambled to get the money and documents she’d need. Winnie meanwhile was getting together all the papers she had to provide, and of course was getting all kinds of advice from her friends in Nanning. We were both on edge, as we knew the odds of her actually getting a visa on her first interview were against her. We both had heard from different sources that most of the interviewers would find some reason, any reason, to reject an applicant on the first interview which then required weeks of additional waiting. I didn’t know what I’d do if we had to wait much longer. Months earlier I had considered flying to Guangzhou to be with her, but upon researching learned I would not be allowed to be in the interview anyway.
Finally the day came for Winnie to leave for Guangzhou. We knew communications would be limited once she was there, but she promised to keep in touch as best she could. She did promise to call me as soon as her interview appointment was over to let me know the results.