Well, I went to the US Embassy today......
I got there at 10 a.m. The letter said DO NOT arrive more than half an hour before your appointment (mine was for 10:30) so I didn't. When I got there there was a massive queue just to get in the building. I counted 50 people in front of me. When I got half way round a lady was asking if we had any electronic equipment and the correct papers. I was astonished that 3 of the 4 people in front of me had either a phone, car keys (electronic!) or they didn't have the right papers photocopied. They ALL had to go to a local shop to either leave theur stuff or get on the internet and get the right stuff.
I had the right papers - three in total. A letter of confirmation, receipt for paying the $131 fee for applying and a page (which has my photo on it) which is the page you print off as you finish the DS 160 online application.
I got into the building just after 10:30. I was given a number (354) and told to sit down. The TV display called number 271 to desk 3. I was in for a long wait....
45 minutes later I was called for the first interview. Well, they call it an interview but really you just hand your forms over and have your fingerprints taken, then return to the seats to wait for the real interview. I waited 1 hour. Eventually I was called for my interview. I stood at a window whilst an Embassy employer read my application and asked my why I was applying for a visa. I told her I was only going to fly one way into the US, and might want to stay for more than 90 days (I also told her that I would be riding a bike from Alaska to Central America.)
She asked if I had any documentation to support my application - aletter from my employer? Details of the trip? or proof that I would have funds to cover my trip.
Worryingly I said I didn't. It didn't really occur to me that I might need this. I told her I had enough money and anyway, it wasn't that expensive once you've paid for the bike. It was touch and go for a few minutes and she was NOT IMPRESSED that I didn't have anything to back up my application. So my advice to anyone doing this is TAKE SOMETHING WITH YOU. Something that shows you have funds. I was really worried for a few minutes that she would refuse me my visa and my dream that I have been planning for 15 years would fall apart.
Fortunately she approved my application and now it's all systems go....
After having paid £25 to get my passport delivered next week (what a rip off)
I did laugh, though, when she looked at my passport and saw a visa for Iran. The conversation went something like:
" Why did you go to Iran"
"Yes, it's got some wonderful Persian ruins"