Gaku’s Mimicking / The Embassy

Yesterday, Tak took Gaku out looking for cicadas again. On the way back they stopped and rented a movie – Toy Story (again). So Gaku was watching it yesterday afternoon. And while he was watching it, he was repeating phrases from the movie, things like, “you’re a toy”, “that’s not flying”, and “stupid dog”. I’m sure these phrases, and others, will be popping up in Gaku’s play. It’s interesting because he speaks mostly Japanese to most people. But when he’s playing by himself with his characters, he uses more English. And he tends to speak English to Hana (Tak noticed this).

Today, Tak and I went to the embassy for our first visit for getting Tak’s visa. I really wish they would update their site. The information on how long things take couldn’t possibly be any more vague.

First:
Due to security concerns and space constraints, only those with appointments will be admitted. The petitioner is required at the petitioning. Both the petitioner and beneficiary should be present to submit the I-130 petition. Given the space limitations, no family members other than beneficiaries will be admitted. In view of the amount of time it takes to complete the process, parents are kindly requested not to bring small children.

Second:
Interview Day Considerations

Check the date and time of your interview. Arriving too late may result in cancellation of your appointment.

If you fail to bring all the required documents or have incomplete forms, your appointment may be cancelled.

Only applicants with scheduled appointments will be admitted to the Embassy/Consulate, with the exception of children under 18 years of age accompanied by a parent and assistants for the disabled.

All visitors to the Embassy/Consulate are subject to an airport-type screening. When planning your visit, bring only what is needed for your business with us. If you have items with you that cannot be taken into the Embassy/Consulate, your entry (and the entry of those in line behind you) will be delayed. Due to security measures, you may have to wait a considerable amount of time outside the Embassy/Consulate. Please dress for the weather.

“Given the amount of time” is so vague. Does it take 1 hour? 2 hours? 3 hours? We were done in a little less than an hour, but we were the first ones in the door.

“May have to wait a considerable amount of time outside the Embassy” is also very vague. In the past, I’ve seen lines that would take well over an hour to get through. Before they streamlined the screening so you could go to the front of the line for citizens services, I had to wait over an hour to get in one time.

So we had an appointment at 2:00 this afternoon. So with the concern that “arriving too late may result in cancellation of your appointment”, what time should we get there? From the vague descriptions on the website, no idea. So we decided to go early and got there at around 11:30. There was no one waiting so we asked the guy at the security checkpoint how long it takes to get in. He said if there were “a lot of Brazilians” (some days there were “50 Brazilians”), it might take 30 minutes! That’s all? So we decided to go kill some time and have lunch and get back at 1:00 so we could get in and out as quickly as possible. A little before 1:00, we were sitting in a nearby Starbucks and I told Tak we should go back to the embassy. So we get there only to be told that the gates don’t open until 1:50! It was a pretty hot afternoon. If I had known that, we would have sat in Starbucks a bit longer, and aimed to get back to the embassy at 1:30. Some other people started showing up around 1:15 to 1:30, but they didn’t know about not being able to enter until 1:50 either. I guess the one good thing is that we were first in line! Tak observed that you probably still end up waiting the same amount of time, but something about doing your waiting earlier (rather than inside, after other people) makes it seem faster.

From the website, I had no idea what time we should expect to get out of there and whether or not we would be able to get Gaku. No problem. I guess, logically, I should know that there wouldn’t be a problem since the hours are only until 5:00. But I wasn’t thinking about that earlier.

Also, for today’s visit, we were basically just filing paperwork. There wasn’t really an interview and it didn’t take so long. We could have taken Hana with us. Some other people had their kids. But it was nice to be a bit lighter!

Now, we have to get some more paperwork together and wait for more “instructions” in the mail. Then we’ll have to fill out more paperwork and Tak will have to get a health check. From what I understood today, the next visit is an “interview” and only Tak has to go. But I think I should also go, in case there are any questions/issues. Now, I’m wondering how long this next visit will take and if it’s really not okay to take Hana with us. She’s pretty easy and hardly ever cries. I’ll have to think about it, but we’ll probably leave her with Obachan again like we did today.

But I do think the embassy could make their website and some of the waiting/processing times a bit clearer. Instead of vague adjectives, a time range would be nice.


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