Last Updated on February 25, 2021
After 9 long months of paperwork and waiting, I had my interview at the American Embassy in London and walked away with my Permanent Resident Visa (Green Card) granted! I struggled to find answers to some of my questions online, everything seemed to be a little out of date and the official website didn’t really help either. So in this post I will cover: What can I take into the US Embassy? What facilities are in the Embassy? How long does the visa interview last? What are some Spouse Visa USA interview questions at the London embassy? What to wear at the US embassy interview? Please remember that every interview is different, this is based on my experience of my interview in 2016.
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Let’s recap. I was a citizen and resident of the UK, my American husband was a citizen and resident of the USA. I was using the i-130/CR1/spouse visa process and the majority of our visa was handled by the NVC in America. He was my only sponsor.
Green Card Visa Interview at the American Embassy
My interview was booked for 1.30pm. I had read on the website that you shouldn’t get there more than 30 minutes before but as there was no queue at all, when it came to 12.50pm I asked the lady sat under a giant “Embassy of the United States of America” gazebo with a big visa arrow on it if I was too early and she said nope and was more than happy to check me in. She asked me for:
- My passport
- My interview letter
She put a squiggle on it and told my Dad that he wouldn’t be able to go in with me. We knew this already, he’d come as my cheerleader and bag holder…
What can I take into the US Embassy?
…the lady said I could take my bags in with me if I wanted. I had a little shoulder bag, just big enough for my passport, money and phone and then a tote bag that had my paperwork in.
I was told to put:
- Any money from my pockets
- My phone
- My watch
- My Fitbit
into a little plastic bag just while I went through security. They recently changed the rules to allow in phones, tablets and e-readers but NOT laptops. She did ask me about key fob car keys but I didn’t have any (I don’t even have a car anymore!) so I’m not sure what would have happened to them, I guess they would have gone in the little bag too but I can’t say for sure.
I was directed to the security building. A guy checked my passport and form, let me through and the door was locked behind me. Usual standard airport like procedure, everything went in a plastic tray, I had to take my belt off and then walk through a scanner. All was fine. I had read somewhere that liquids under 100ml weren’t allowed in, again I’m not sure, I didn’t see any signs and I had left my drink bottle with my Dad.
Once through security, there are plenty of signs directing you to the main entrance. Just inside the door is a main reception desk. The guy I spoke to checked my interview letter and then stuck a ticket number to it. I was told where to sit and keep an eye on the TV for my number to appear. All the staff up to this point were British!
What facilities are in the US Embassy?
The waiting room had hundreds of chairs but only a handful of people were there. The facilities in the waiting area were:
- A little coffee shop tucked in the corner.
- 2 passport photo machines (the photos MUST be 2×2 American sized, NOT British passport sized)
- Travel brochures for America and the different States…of course I picked up an Iowa one, helped kill some time!
- A GIANT TV. In one corner of the screen it displayed the ticket numbers and the window that was being used…think if you are in a shop with order numbers and the TV tells you when your order is ready and what collection point to go to…just like that! It went PING really loud each time a new number was called. In the largest centre section it went through the process in simple steps in the form of a slide show. It told you what to do and also what paperwork you needed to get ready whilst waiting for your number to be called. When this wasn’t being shown, a DiscoverUSA tourism video was playing. On the right hand side, there was SkyNews, CBeebies children’s TV channel and a box telling you your rights if you were entering on a work visa. None of these had sound though.
- One thing that did make me laugh, all the signs were in American, such as ‘Please put cellphones on silent (and bluetooth had to be switched OFF)’…rather than mobile phones…but the best one was ‘Please put the trash in the bin’. Now, as Brits, we say bin, but not trash, it’s litter or rubbish, but then Americans don’t say bin, so I think the sign got a little confused as to what country it was in!
What is the interview process like?
At 1.55pm (after an hours wait), I was called to a window and saw a lovely American man.
- My fingerprints were taken
and I was asked for:
- My passport
- The interview letter
- 1 passport photo
- My 3 original documents – birth certificate, marriage certificate and police certificate, that matched the scanned ones that had been sent to the NVC
- THE COURIER LETTER
*BIG SIDE NOTE* As far as I can remember, I saw nothing that said about taking the courier letter to the interview. I knew you had to arrange a pick up location or a home delivery BEFORE the interview but I had only printed it off for my records, I didn’t know that they would require a copy too.
My DS-260 confirmation or the Affidavit of Support documents were not asked for. Make sure you still take them just in case. The man confirmed with me that I didn’t need to have any of the other documentation by asking if I had been adopted, divorced, been in the military, I said no, he was happy.
My medical report had been sent directly from Knightsbridge, I was told it was all OK and was given my chest X-ray on a CD that was mine to keep but make sure I don’t lose it just in case somebody asks for it. He asked me when I planned to fly, the medical was only valid for 6 months so I had to enter the States before that expired.
This took around 5-10 minutes. I was told to sit back down in the waiting area and wait for my number to be called again.
At 2.30pm (a 25 minute wait) I was called to a different window to be interviewed by a really lovely smiley American lady.
- She asked for my fingerprints again as a security measure.
- I had to take an oath, just to say that I’ll answer the questions truthfully and all the paperwork in my file was correct and true.
What are some of the US Visa Interview London Questions?
Spouse Visa USA interview questions that I was asked at the London embassy:
- Where is your husband? (In America…currently at work!)
- What does he do at work? (She was looking at what his job was declared as on our marriage certificate, for us it was still the same)
- Where did we meet? (In a swimming pool in Jamaica…)
- How many times have I been to Iowa? (She laughed and said more than her, she’d never been! I liked the way she genuinely sounded interested in my answers)
- A quick mention that I had previously had a J-1 USA work visa, I just said ‘Yes! In 2008’
And that was it! She told me she was happy to grant me my visa and there will be a big ole pack coming through the post that will arrive at my UK address in around 2 weeks!
How long does the visa interview last?
The actual interviews didn’t take any longer than around 15 minutes total. It was just the waiting around that took a while. There were 25 windows but there were never anymore than 7 in use at once, the majority of them were closed. Maybe on some days there are more open!
I checked in at 12.50pm and it was all over and done with by 2.40pm, a total of 1 HOUR 50 MINUTES. Again this could vary on the type of visa or how many other people are waiting on the day.
I found it all pretty painless really. It felt more like a document check rather than a ‘test’ that you might fail as such. The questions I was asked were all things you’d know if you were there for the right reason. It was all quite relaxed!
When will I get my passport after the visa interview in London?
You can see my full timeline of the CR1 Spousal Visa process by clicking on the link, but to give you a quick idea, my interview was on Wednesday 6th July 2016 and I received my passport and visa pack on Tues 12th July 2016. That’s
6 DAYS (4 business days)
But please keep in mind that this COULD take longer, the lady who granted the visa had originally said around 2 weeks. I also opted to have mine delivered, it could be different if you have to collect it from a pick up point.
What To Wear To US Embassy Interview London?
There isn’t any specific dress codes for what to wear to the US embassy interview. Some people say go as if you were going for a job interview, others said dress like ‘yourself’. As my interview was in July, I wore skinny 3/4 length/cropped denim shorts, a plain t-shirt, I took a hoody but didn’t wear it and trainers. I don’t think I was under dressed, other people in there were wearing jeans and t-shirts too.
I’d just suggest dressing smart/casual. I probably wouldn’t turn up in tracksuit bottoms or t-shirts with swear words or beer images etc or looking like you just rolled out the gym. But the more comfortable you are in what you’re wearing, the more confident and relaxed you’ll be!
American Embassy London Address
33 Nine Elms Ln, London SW11 7US, UK
I’m kinda sad that since my interview, the London American Embassy has now moved! It used to be just off Oxford Street, I’d been there twice (once for my J-1 and then again for my Green Card). It’s now located near Vauxhall train station, south of the river, just down the road from Battersea Park. It’s said to be the largest American Embassy in Western Europe now!
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the comments below, or if you’d prefer to message me privately, my email address can be found at the bottom of my About Me page! I’m happy to help! As mentioned at the beginning of the post, please bare in mind that this was my experience for my particular case, others may take longer/shorter, require more paperwork or questions. It’s just to be used as a rough guide! Correct in July 2016.
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Disclosure: Please note some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking and it comes at no extra cost to you! As always, opinions are my own.
18 thoughts on “What Happens in the Visa Interview at the American Embassy, London”
Hey! Its so nice to read an up to date experience. How long did it take for you to receive your packet after the interview? I have my interview in 2 weeks!!
Hey! Thanks for the comment! Mine came 6 days after my interview, I was surprised at how fast it was! Good luck with your interview!
Ah that’s amazing! My flight is booked for 15 days after my interview and I was worried I would be cutting it so fine! I’m so happy I found your blog, there’s so many things going through my mind right now!
I left a month between mine just in case! Plus I was shocked how quick the interview came through I was like ‘Ahhh I’m not ready to leave yet!!’ So gave myself a little longer! Where abouts will you be moving to? If ever you have any questions let me know and I’ll try and help 🙂
I’m moving to North Florida. We’d hoped that the process would be shorter so I’m so ready to go! Even our dog is already out there with my husband and I’m still here. I’m sure there will be many questions in the future. But your blog is SO helpful. It’s hard to find UK versions of events on the internet. Are you loving it?
Cool! I started the process at the end of September last year and my interview was beginning of July and I moved across beginning of August so it was getting on for nearly a year for me! I have my down days and my up days as expected! I got a job in a school but it’s not really giving me enough money to pay for my health insurance and general bills….my travel fund has had to take a huge hit which makes me sad!
Howdy, Its great to read a recent experience through the process. I’ve previously had two Business visa a long time ago but currently going through the Finacee visa process and was wondering how things have changed over the year. its great to hear they now allow phones into the embassy as that was always a pain in the bum to leave at home as its handy for navigating around London.
I do have one question you might be able to help me with though if you wouldn’t mind. When you say interview letter I was wondering if you could clarify a little what this is? I’m due to have my interview on Dec 14th and haven’t received a letter confirming the interview. I have the printed web page of the instructions with payment of fees confirmation of the courier I wanted etc but that it. The only letter I have from the Embassy is the one originally sent to me regarding confirmation of receiving my documents and how to schedule an appointment with confirmation of case number etc. Is this the letter you are refereeing to or do they send you a letter confirming the date and time of your appointment since I have not received anything like this and I am a week away from my appointment.
Thanks in advance for you help if you can and congratulations on getting through the process, and I hope the move went well.
Hey Tom! The fiancé visa and spouse visas are different. With a K1 you get to schedule your appointment as you do your paperwork through the London embassy. A CR1 spouse visa is done through USCIS in the US and they schedule the appointment on your behalf. So when we say appointment letter it’s the equivalent of your invitation to schedule letter! Enjoy your journey!
Thanks for the input Rachael! We were debating if that was the case! (We had been talking via Facebook!)
Howdy, First of congrats on getting through the process. Was wondering if you could clarify something. When you say interview letter what is this? Do they send you a letter confirming your appointment in the post? I only ask since I am a week away from my appointment and I don’t have anything like this. Before I booked my appointment they sent me a letter confirming my case number and that the embassy had received my documents and that I should log on and book and appointment online. This is the only letter that been physically sent to me. I have the electronic confirmation when I booked online and the courier information and things like that I printed off but no interview letter confirming my appointment.
Thanks in advance and hope your move went well. Look forward to doing mine in the new year to Florida. Was great to read someone else’s experience with it all since most of the information out there is dated these days.
This is so helpful thank you. I have my interview in 2 weeks and I’m leaving my 15 week old baby who is breastfed with my sister for the first time, which I am dreading. I hope it’s as fast and as smooth as yours! And I also hope I get the paper work back from them just as soon
Hi Samantha! Thank you! Good luck! I’m not sure how it works, but does your baby have to be at the interview too if they are getting a visa? (I have no kids but I did see families with children at the interview!). It’s quite fast in reality but it seems to take FOREVER when you’re in there!
I’m about to go through this process (am at the stage where the DS-260 has been completed but I don’t have an interview or medical date yet. Can I ask you what you are referring to when you mention a ‘courier letter’? thanks 🙂
If I remember correctly (I haven’t reread the post!), you have to apply for your courier BEFORE you go to your interview, so you pay for it online and then you take your letter to say they have to post it to you. Otherwise you can choose to go and pick it up at a location when the visa is ready! It’s just so the embassy know what they are doing with the visa and your passport!
Hello, after you received the letter of all requested papers were complete. How long did it take for the consulate to schedule you an appointment?
At the I-130 stage or right near the end after the DS260 and AOS pack? If it’s after the AOS pack, it was 3 weeks before I was given a date…you can check out my timeline of the process here: https://betweenenglandandiowa.com/2015/09/26/our-cr1-visa-timeline/
Hi. I am currently in the process of emigrating to be with my wife in Michigan.
Everything has (so far) been completely online (no mailing of papers).
I am now awaiting confirmation from the visa office that all paperwork is correct..
My question for you is…… once I have an embassy confirmation date, I know I have to book an appointment with the relevant doctor. Does the embassy give you the details to book this appointment?
Thanks in anticipation.
I believe it is written on one of the websites, the list of ‘approved’ doctors! I have a post about the medical too. I went to one in Knightsbridge. You do have to wait until your embassy appointment to book it as you have to quote your interview date and take the confirmation letter with you! Good luck! 🙂