and disaster central for me!
Today my visa pack finally arrived with me and that means its the glorious time to apply for the wonderful cultural exchange visa known to us Camp Counselors as a J1. Yay I hear you scream - one step closer to camp! But for me this is the part where something always goes wrong - due to my own stupidity usually. So I decided to write this post to give faith to those that have also had a J1 nightmare and to help those yet to have one - to avoid it.
So, without further ado- FEAR NOT if it is your first time applying for this visa, it is pretty simple (I promise!).
Obviously follow ALL of Camp America's guidelines and to help you out just that little bit more - I've put together a Do's and Don't of J1 visa application based on my disastrous past three years (I'm planning on following these myself this year but I will no doubt find something else you need to avoid doing - that's just my luck!) And if you already have your visa done and dusted - GO YOU!
1. DO apply for your visa as soon as you get your pack, J days at the US embassy fill up pretty quick and camp is FAST approaching!
Last year when I finally went to book my appointment (this was in April) the only available dates were in may and I was on another working holiday at that point, which meant when I got back I had less than a week before camp to sort my visa. NOT GOOD. Luckily thanks to the amazing CA team in London and a tube strike I got an appointment before my working holiday - PHEW!
2. DONT forget to fill in the online visa application
My first year I had my appointment all booked thinking I just had an interview, then I read all the CA information properly, THE NIGHT BEFORE MY APPOINTMENT, I realized I had to fill in an online application and print the confirmation page. Panic mode filling this in at midnight - I do not advise doing this form at midnight under any circumstances, unless you want to have a mini breakdown.
3. DO allow plenty of time to fill in the online application
The website that you complete your application on is the same for everyone around the world (I think?!) so it gets very busy during popular times and can have a tendency to crash - SAVE your application both online and to your computer as you go along. Can you guess what happened to me here?
4. DONT forget to take extra photos to your embassy appointment, even if the website accepts the one you upload to there
Of course I forgot all about this - TWICE and ended up forking out for the photobooth that they (luckily) have in the embassy. Just a hint - take advantage of the cheaper ones in your home town that more than likely take ones that are visa approved specific.
5. DO plan a fun day in London!
Now this ones just a personal recommendation but, you can be (I say can be because not every day or appointment is the same) in and out of the embassy within half an hour so make the most of your trip to London (if you're not from London!). See what it has to offer, or my favorite option - pre-camp shopping!
6. DONT forget to thank the AMAZING CA team that got you here! Without them - none of us, certainly me, would be going to camp!
Ps now you may celebrate that you are one step closer to camp! Yay!
If anyone is yet to go through their J1 visa application and is having a nightmare like me - have faith! And feel free to message me or if its a serious issue of course contact Camp America!!