The first new J Visa holder
My holiday visa's expiration date was fast approaching, and I faced a dilemma thousands of people before me also did. To become an illegal alien or not. The very concept I could not comprehend one year ago.
Marry my American passport holding boyfriend? I'm far too young, and that would take all the romance out of it.
Then, as if the man above had forgiven me for quitting the prayer game after my Communion, an announcement was made by the Irish government. A new visa deal had been announced between the U.S and Irish governments, allowing 20,000 Irish graduates work and travel in the U.S.
The extended J-1 visa is based on the original J-1 visa, where college students come for a summer to work and travel, only the extended version is for one year and for graduates, allowing the possibility of jobs higher up on the value chain.
I was thrilled.
The months-long application process was painstakingly complicated, though, and I experienced bureaucracy at it's finest, or worst, I should say. None of the forms required were even in existence yet, so I knew I was one of the first people to apply for the new visa.
The mere mention of the interview terrified me, as we all know that staff working for the State Department aren't exactly the kind of people you would want caring for your granny.
The process in Ireland was even worse - I didn't have the right size photo, the right amount in my money order, the right online receipt, etc. I presumed I just couldn't do anything right. Or that these evil people made the process this difficult on purpose, to deter anyone who didn't count patience as one of their top virtues - like me.
I finally made it to the U.S Embassy in Dublin, where I waited for over two hours, shaking with fear over this interview. The fear was based on the fact that I had come so far, paid so much, flown home, been through the red tape and had fallen in love with life in New York.
I just couldn't not get this.
When I went to be interviewed, the interviewer looked at my forms like he had never seen them before. It turned out he hadn't.
He called upon his seniors, and I thought I'd vomit as four embassy employees crowded around my papers. I felt guilty of something I didn't know existed, and began to mentally prepare my argument after they would tell me to get lost.