Now that I have nearly been here a year, I am finally feeling like I’ve gotten my bearings….usually. I still learn new things every day, and I still make more mistakes than I would like, but all in all, I’m starting to get comfortable as a consular officer. I thought I might walk you through a day in my life (using today as an example).
Early morning: After the mornings’ harrowing ride through insane traffic, and safe arrival at the Embassy, I send my local driver off to the tailor with a dress that needs hemming, since I cannot go myself due to security restrictions. I meet up with a few friends from other sections for a coffee and breakfast in the Embassy before heading to the consular section to see what kind of day I will have.
8:00amish: Open up my interview window and call the first applicant, who is patiently (nervously) waiting on a bench. Today is non-immigrant visa day, when we have people coming in hoping for visas for business, pleasure, study and a host of other reasons. I interview mainly in the Bengali language, assessing their purpose of travel, personal and professional ties, and make fair and fast decisions under immigration law. This usually lasts 2-3 hours depending on the applicant load. I enjoy speaking with folks about their lives and seeing their excitement at going to see grandchildren, going to a good US university and more.
11:00am: time for a meeting to discuss our upcoming National Day (4th of July) celebration. While it is still a few months away, there will be plenty of work to do to get things ready
11:45am: Lunch! Time to go to the Embassy canteen and see whats on the menu for the day. I sit with folks from other sections and we catch up, joke, and relax for a little while.
12:30pm: It’s back to the office to catch up on back office work, looking at peoples documents they send us, answering emails, and other administrative work
2:00pm: On some afternoons, we call in folks to reinterview or to look at more complex cases up close at the window. This can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours based on how many people are coming in.
3:30pm: Time for last minute catch-up work with visas and seeing what is on the docket for the next day – the last hour seems to fly by as I try to keep up with emails, meetings, and side projects, including several commmitees I participate in
Evening: Time to head home to get ready for the gym, make dinner or order in, and maybe meet up with some friends to play board games. I rarely stay in in the evenings, as there is usually something to do – which is ironic since we are so restricted in our movements.
There it is, a day in the life. Not terribly exciting, maybe, but very interesting to me. There is always something to do and never enough time to do it, but I have a supportive group of colleagues. Tomorrow is our immigrant visa day, where I will interview future Permanent Residents and Citizens who have been petitioned for by their families. I enjoy the opportunity to experience both non-immigrant and immigrant visas in Dhaka, since in many other posts officers do one or the other.
There you go, my life in a nutshell!