Holiday in the United States? Not this time
That involves making a visa interview appointment at the fortress-like U.S Embassy building on Mexico Cityâ€™s Reforma. Then filling out the DS-156 – you can see it here on the internet – which asks the purpose of the trip, how long heâ€™s planning to stay, and whoâ€™s paying for the flight, as well as whether he has a wife, son / daughter, father/mother or fiancÃ©e currently in the U.S. All this costs US$131.
He and Lena arrived at the embassy half an hour before Juanâ€™s 8:30 am appointment, and joined the line of already hundreds of Mexicans lining the side of the building. There are hundreds of Mexicans lining up outside the embassy every weekday morning. Some of them had been there from as early as 6 a.m, when the appointment slots start. Juan had donned his Sunday best â€“ pressed white trousers and short-sleeved shirt, dark blue with white stripes. He had been nervous the night before.
How am I going to convince them that I donâ€™t want to stay there? That I just want to go for a holiday? Juan has never been out of Mexico. He went to the Mexican coast for the first time in his 33 years last year, with Lena.
â€˜Well, you can prove you own a house here, right,â€™?
â€˜That you have a job, you get paid, and that you have had that job for a while.â€™
Juan is Government City employee and has worked in the same office for the last five years.
Iâ€™ve been told by Mexican friends that sometimes it helps if you donâ€™t speak English. Or that sometimes it helps if you DO speak English. That you have to have at least $10,000 pesos in the bank to be taken seriously. Some say you need more. That it looks better if you donâ€™t have family living in the United States. That it doesnâ€™t make any difference.
It was 11a.m. before Juan went into his interview. It lasted five minutes. He was refused. Like all of those who donâ€™t make it through, he was handed a piece of paper that informed him that should his life circumstances change â€“ should he get a different (better paid?) job, should he have children or marry in Mexico, then he should reapply.
Better luck next time.