We're back from Joburg! Our interview was on Thursday but we decided to stay the weekend with friends. Standing back and looking at this journey so far, it's almost scary how everything worked out and fell in to place at the last moment, almost as if it was designed to work out like that. Our police clearance certificates being a great example as well... After giving up already and made peace with the fact we're not going to get it on time, I've decided to track it one last time on the post office site Wednesday afternoon, and boom! there it is, scanned at Pretoria post office. So I phone the post office and spoke to the very nice postmaster. He said yes, he has the envelopes in his hands. I told him not to send it anywhere, I'm flying from Cape Town to Joburg tomorrow morning early and I'll drive to Pretoria to come fetch them personally.
So our interview day on Thursday already started at 02:30am when our alarms went off to get ready for our flight at 5:45am. We only slept about 2 hours before that, that's what our 7 week old allowed us to sleep. Got up, showered, got in to our best formal interview clothes and off we went to the airport. Caught our flight on time, our little daughter did her first ever flight like a champ! A sleeping champ that is.
Landed in Joburg at 7:45am and checked our rental car out and off to Pretoria we went to go get our PCC's. Damn E-tolls, never thought I had to contribute to this scam, but the e-tag in the rental car beeped quite a lot. Got our certificates from the Pretoria post office and back we went to Sandton City, Joburg. Got there around 10:30am where we made copies of our certificates and I decided that I would draw the cash for the visa fees. The current exchange was R15.50/$ on the day, so withdrew R16k cash, as I thought it would cover 3x$330 = R15 345, if I knew what was going to happen I would've changed into dollars right there in the bank as well, more on that later. We had a quick lunch in the mall and walked to the embassy at 12:15pm, our interview being at 1pm.
We exited the mall parking lot at the bottom of a rather steep hill, the consulate sitting at the top. I had to push my daughter and the heavy pram all the way up the hill and I was quite out of breath when we reached the top. There was about 10 people sitting outside the consulate on the marble benches. 20 minutes to go still, so we had a seat as well. I was feeling quite overdressed at that stage with tie and nice shoes. The rest of the people sitting there in jeans and sandals etc.. Everyone else also had there phones with them and one had a laptop, we left our phones in the car. Another 15 people rocked up at that time. At 12:55 a nice South-African guy came out to check everyone's appointment letters and then we had to make two queues, one for visitor visas and another for immigration. Another lady came out then and just laid down some of the security laws, that you have to keep your phone switched off, the guy with the laptop was taken one side where he had to switch it on and they checked some stuff on it. She also saw us standing at the back of the immigration queue, with a pram, on 30+ degree hot day in the sun and said that we should come in so long to the security section. Nice! jumped the queue! My first parental benefit.
Inside, the security took what looked like a band aid, and swabbed the whole pram. I guess looking for drugs/explosives or something. Then they said we're good to go, follow the line. Arrived inside another building where we got a number and was asked to take a seat. We didn't even sit for 5 minutes when they called our number to the first window. Another nice South-African lady started asking for my documents one by one. I just met South-Africans so far, was beginning to think there were no Americans around. Gave her everything as per the list on the site. She did asked for bank statements as well, I told her I have an immigration budget spreadsheet, which I printed stating all our finances, I also had our house's bond statement and a copy of an offer to purchase which I signed the week before. That seemed to be fine and she accepted that. Then I had to fill in a DS260 paper form for my daughter, which I didn't get to do online, as our application was locked when she was born. After that we took a seat again. Another 5 minutes later we were called to another window, where we were asked to do fingerprint scans and then was asked to take a seat again.
About 10 minutes later we were called to one of the end windows where a nice African-American guy greeted us. He asked if we've paid already, I said no. He said okay, first go and pay around the corner and come straight back here. So I went around the corner and paid. The lady behind the window said my total was R16038. I said, "What? Is it not suppose to be R15345?"
She said no, they only take the exchange rate of the 1st of every month. (Had I changed it to dollars before I came, I could've saved R700. So to anyone reading this who still have to do an interview, if the exchange rate is volatile like it is at the moment, change your fees into dollars before you come, you might save some money)
I paid the amount they asked for in cash and went back to the window with the nice American guy waiting for me. He said to give him a couple of minutes, so we took a seat again. About 5 minutes later he called us to the window again.
He asked to raise our right hands and swear to tell the truth, which we did. He then said, "I see you are lottery winners, congratulations!" We said thanks! He then asked, if any of us have been to the States before and I said just my wife. He asked where she was. He then went on to ask where in the States we'll be going, where we are staying, what we intended to do work wise, all while checking our original documents one by one and handing it back to us through the gap below the window. He then ended off by saying "congratulations, it looks like all is in order we should be able to give you an immigration package in 7-10 days" He took my phone number and my email address and said we'll hear from them soon. I asked if we need to pay now for the courier for our passports, as we live in Cape Town. He said no, we will be contacted. And then we said great, so that's it? He said yes, have a nice day and good luck.
Then we left, all over in about an hour. Spent so long stressing and it turned out to be not that bad at all. Seeing as he said congratulations, I believe we got it? Well, we hope so, as we spend the rest of the day celebrating! USA here we come!