As the summer approaches, more and more people are getting placed and moving onto the next steps of sorting out their visas and flights. Getting your visa can seem like quite a daunting prospect, but fear not, because BUNAC are here with all the answers!
Your summer in the States with BUNAC is nearly here. The cold weather has subsided and the American sun is nearly within reach!
1. Yay, I got placed! What happens next?
Congrats, you! After you’ve celebrated in the best way you know how, we’ll send you an email detailing your next steps. You’ll need to get a police check and a medical form completed by your Doc. You’ll also need to pay your final balance to BUNAC of £299 or £69, depending on the flight preference you have chosen. This will all be clearly presented in the email to make sure you have everything sorted. Then, once all your documents have been received, we’ll send you all your information on booking a visa appointment and your flights. Next stop: Summer Camp USA!
Check out any more questions about BUNAC flight options here.
2. Do you organise my flights and insurance? What do you need from me?
Depending on the Summer Camp USA package you’re on, BUNAC can arrange both! Your medical insurance is fully provided for you as part of your package inclusions and is valid throughout your entire duration at camp, plus the 30 days of travel afterwards too. BUNAC will send out all your insurance documentation with your visa papers so you have it to hand. This means if you hurt your finger playing kickball at camp, you’re absolutely covered. In terms of flights, if you’re on the BUNAC flights package, you’ll fly out to either New York or Boston on a date given to you (depending on when your start date at camp is.) All you need to do is provide BUNAC with the date you wish to fly home and they’ll book your flights for you. They try to book your flight as far in advance as possible, but in rare cases be aware you could get these two weeks before you fly. This just means your Summer Camp USA experience is closer than ever!
If you decide to book your own flights rather than BUNAC do them for you, you’ll need to let them know when you are arriving and to which arrival city.
3. How does the visa process work? How do I organise my embassy appointment?
Very good point! Once you receive your visa papers in the post from BUNAC, you’ll need to go ahead and book a visa appointment at either the US embassy in London or the Consulate in Belfast. BUNAC will tell you how to do this in a set of instructions that get sent out to you (including some fancy screenshots.) Take my advice on this one – it is not as daunting as it first looks. Embassy appointments for J1 applicants run Monday to Friday throughout the day, so book one that you’re available to do. Top tip: if you’re travelling to London by train, it helps to book your appointment far in advance so you can save your precious coins on your train. Remember, you need to pay the fee of $160 directly to the embassy when booking the appointment.
Find out more information on BUNAC’s FAQs page here
4. What happens when I get to the Embassy? Will you be there to help?
Your embassy appointment is a hugely exciting day where your summer at camp will feel that little bit more real, so it’s important not to get stressed with the documents you need. When you arrive at the US embassy, you’ll need to check in with the Embassy representative on the door and you’ll go through security. It’s a very similar process to airport security, so try to leave your big bags, any large electronics or Lucozade Orange (or any other drink!) at home. Once inside, you’ll be given a waiting number and you’ll sit down in a room full of other people like you about to spend their summer in the States. It may take ten minutes or two hours for your number to appear on the screen. When it does, it’s your turn go up to the booth and chat to the Embassy representative. (The booth is pretty cute with little windows like being at a bank.)
You’ll need to provide all documents on your checklist that BUNAC have sent you, and they’ll also want to take your fingerprints. You can expect questions such as ‘where are you working in the US’ and ‘what will you be doing upon your return?’ These are not questions to trick you, so please answer honestly and you’ll be fine! The embassy will then hold into your passport whilst your Visa is granted. BUNAC will not be there on the day, but they’re always just a phone call away if you have questions before your appointment (or afterwards.)
If you have any other questions about your embassy appointment, email BUNAC here.
5. How long does it take to get my passport back?
Not long. The embassy will hold your passport for 7-10 working days, so you should expect it back within 2 weeks of your visa appointment. BUNAC recommend you book your appointment in plenty of time just in case there are any delays.
6. I’m going to camp really soon. Will I have enough time to get my visa?
If you are due to fly to camp within the next 4 weeks and have not yet got your visa, please let BUNAC know as soon as possible by calling them on 0333 999 7516 and they will help you as best as they can!
If you have any more questions about flights or visas, visit the BUNAC FAQs page here.
If you haven’t yet started your application for summer 2018 at camp, what’s up Doc? You have until 15th March to get on it! It’ll be the most epic summer of your dreams.
**I’m returning to camp this summer with BUNAC who have been sending people just like you to camp for many years. Get in touch with them via their website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, by phoning them on +44 333 999 7516 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.**
Disclaimer: BUNAC are waiving my camp fees in return for this blog series, but please rest assured that all opinions are honest and my own.