Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Would you like fries with your visa?

After a 4 month hiatus doing immigrant visas, I am back in the non-immigrant visa (NIV) saddle. The best part of doing immigrant visas is the slower pace. The emphasis with NIVs is on volume and speed. Get 'em in, get 'em out, kinda like a fast food restaurant. In Bucharest, this means each officer does at least 80 interviews by lunchtime (1:00). Compared to some other consulates, that may not sound like a lot. But visa mills tend to have more slam dunk cases - either clearly issuable or clearly not. In Bucharest, the vast majority of our cases aren't black and white and require some digging. The fast pace of NIV work has a few consequences. One, by the time I get to the cafeteria, I'm incapable of making another decision (the girl who works at the register usually ends up deciding what I will have for lunch). Two, it is mentally draining. Doing hundreds of interviews every week for 2 years turns your brain to mush. Three, I have to wonder if making important decisions in a matter of seconds will rub off on other areas of my life. Will I start making significant life-changing decisions based solely on a gut feeling or a perceived micro-expression on the face of friend?

The slower pace of IVs is not the only thing I enjoyed. In most cases, you issue the visa. Which means you make people happy. Sure, there are the stinker cases that you don't want to issue, but you just hold your nose and do it. I particularly enjoyed giving an immigrant visa to a young man whose entire family had immigrated to the United States, but because he was over 21 at the time, he was too old to be considered a dependent. So after waiting patiently for 7 years he was finally able to join his family in America. He was such a nice guy and had no bitterness at all about being separated from his family. I wished I could have made the moment special for him, like dropping balloons from the ceiling or hiring a marching band to play the national anthem. Instead, he just smiled, thanked me, and off he went.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You will no doubt have more to tell us about when you get loaned out prior to the NATO Summit. I like the idea of the patient young man getting balloons and a band when he finally got his visa to join his family. Did you drop that suggestion at your next staff meeting?