The forms they are a changin…

Most of my work time is spent on non-immigrant visas.  These are for folks making temporary visits to the US for business, vacation, education, occasionally jobs.  There are lots of different types from A to Z (well, not all the way to Z), but they all start by filling out the non-immigrant visa form online.  Up until now this has been the DS-156 or EVAF, but we’re in the process of converting to the new, improved DS-160!  Oh joy!

Along with some other upcoming changes to fees and the exchange rate (Have you noticed the dollar is up against the Euro? Well CFA, the local currency, is tied to the Euro.  So the dollar goes a lot further than it did a few months ago) this is a lot of change for the Beninois who are applying.

We’re trying to make it as easy as possible.  We’ve been publicizing the new form for a while now, and began holding hands-on training sessions this week.  That was supposed to be accompanied by a television appearance by moi, en Francais.  Fortunately for television sets all over Benin, we missed the connection.  Unfortunately it’s been rescheduled and I’ll be doing TV and radio next week, before the final deadline for mandatory use May 28th.

The big change is that the new form is more interactive, using computer logic to replace three forms with one.  You can save an application and return to it later.  And you don’t have to print the final result and bring it to your interview, just a confirmation page with a bar code.  I’ll see your application on the computer screen.  Once everyone is used to it, it will be a nice improvement, but change is always hard.  Ask the President!

On a happier note, rainy season has begun.  Why is that happy?  It cools things down and kicks up a breeze which can make being outside in the evening quite pleasant.  After a few months called “the hottest they remember” by locals, it’s a nice break.  As I write this, the rain is pouring down.

My good friends Matt and Carolyn (see the link to their blog down and to the right) finally got bit by the stomach fairy this week.  It happened to me my first week here, and it took them six months, so I think they’re ahead of the game, although you don’t feel that way at the time.  Get well soon!

UPDATE!

A new, easier to remember URL for non immigrant visas from Benin to the U.S. – http://cotonouvisas.us

2 Comments

Filed under Foreign Service Stuff

2 responses to “The forms they are a changin…

  1. The most frustrating thing about the DS-160 is that if you make a mistake which causes the form not to ask you additional questions, then you’re going to come all the way to the Embassy, go through security, wait for your appointment, come up to the window, and be sent away to fill out the form again (for example, if you tell it you’re coming for a business trip when in fact you’re going to be working for a company in the US). That and the significant minority of people who can’t seem to complete the form without it timing out on them, or can’t save it to their computer, or can’t upload a photo. But despite those annoyances, we’ve found after one month of being all-160 here in Copenhagen that it does make the checking-in and adjudicating process smoother and more efficient overall.

  2. You’re gonna be on the TV?! You’re a star!

    You’re a Big Shot and a Star!

    I’ll be able to say that I was reading your blog Way Back When….

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