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Topic: My experience at London Embassy - CRBA & baby’s passport  (Read 401 times)

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My experience at London Embassy - CRBA & baby’s passport
« on: September 25, 2021, 05:13:17 PM »
Here’s my experience at the London embassy yesterday (Friday 24 Sep 2021) for CRBA/baby’s first passport/social security, just in case it’s helpful to anyone. I have certainly benefited from others on this forum so I thought to finally post something useful myself  ;D

Getting the Appointment - as others have already commented this was very difficult. I checked that bloody appointment calendar at least 2000 times in the last two months. They seem to release appointments on Thursdays, once it was at 9 am, once at 3pm, once on Friday 8am instead…so frustrating. I finally go one by checking randomly on a Wednesday morning and a couple appointments for the next two days were available. I got Friday 9am so I had about 48 hours to get everything sorted. I only ever saw appointment times available at 8, 9, and 10am. Tip - sort out all paperwork and documents in advance, no need to wait to get the appointment and then scramble.

Passport photo - I took photos of my 11 month old sitting in front of a white sheet, looking at me as I made a fool of myself for his benefit ;) I then used visafoto.com to get the right size for US passport. It also made the background solid white which looked a lot better than the white sheet. It cost $9.95 for two instant downloads - a version for digital applications and a version to print as a 4x6” photo (4 passport photos plus white margin on the bottom). I then printed that 4x6 at Boots. It worked very well - perfect dimensions and accepted without any comment for his passport. Where I live there were no other options to print US size passport photos taken yourself, so I was relieved this worked out well.

Travel to London - we live near Wales about 3.5 hours away with crappy train options. We decided to drive the evening before and stay in a hotel to avoid traffic and rush hour public transit with a pushchair. Since it was last minute the pickings were slim unless I wanted to pay a small fortune. We stayed at the Best Western Corona in Pimlico, near Victoria station, which avoided the congestion zone fee. They had a free baby cot which was okay - a bit wobbly and no proper mattress or crib sheet just two large folded sheets, but it did the trick. Room was small but clean and comfortable enough, £105 with breakfast. They didn’t have a highchair at breakfast, luckily we brought a LapBaby belt thingy. We parked at Q-park Pimlico. I booked online plus discount code PS10 so it was £24 for 24 hours of parking. Ten minute walk to the hotel, then in the morning a 25 minute walk across the Thames to the embassy.

At the embassy - there was a long queue but it was for visas (foreigners). A kindly guard told us to go further to the US citizen door - I guess two parents and a baby fit a certain profile they are used to seeing  ;). Security check had us turn on phones and iPad, I guess to show they are real. Then metal detector like airports. Then we were instructed to go past another long line again for visas and use the next door for citizens, so we walked straight in to the lift to second floor. First window to get your number, then a short wait until we were called up to present forms and evidence. Dad and baby were not needed at this point so they went back to the little play area.

Paperwork - all went fine but a few tiny bumps:
1) We have two official UK birth certificates so I left one at home for safe keeping. Apparently it was the wrong one, they each have a unique code and I had brought 3 copies of the one I left at home. Small moment of panic that I would be rejected and sent home right then and there  :o but the lady said she would just make the copies herself of the one I brought, phew!
2) The passport application form asks for last name of parent *at birth* and I’m a total numpty and missed that detail. Luckily my married surname is double barrel with my husbands name added after my maiden name. I was instructed to just cross out my husbands surname and initial it, like no big deal to them.
3) Once I was at the final window, I was asked about my time in US, for the CRBA form question 24. I didn’t write in any of my time out of the US, just when I was born to when I moved to UK. She questioned it and I said yeah I’ve taken a few short foreign holidays but I don’t know all the dates. She said okay just try to fill in a few as an act of good faith to provide correct information, and passed me back the form to write them in. I did my best to guess a few and she was satisfied with that, phwew!
4) I brought the Royal Mail special delivery prepaid envelope up to 500g (as instructed on embassy website) and the first lady thought it was too small as the CRBA is full size paper which isn’t folded, so I ended up going to DX courier window to pay for their service. The DX lady said it was just for the passport and they sent the CRBA separately anyhow. So I think this was a total waste of £9 but whatever I just wanted to get this done without any concerns. I now suspect my Royal Mail envelope would have been just fine and that first lady was a bit mixed up but hey ho.

The rest of the process at Embassy - after submitting paperwork it was a short wait until I was called to the cashier to pay $215. Then about 40 minutes to get called up to second lady, this time with husband and baby. She did the official oath thing and declared him a citizen. Passport application was accepted and will take a few weeks to arrive, CRBA a couple weeks later and finally SSN a few more weeks after that. Then the DX courier window was the last step.

There is a small area for kids with tiny tables and chairs and two toys. We saw about a dozen other parents with babies/tots. There are restrooms on the far side of the second floor, men’s and women’s each with a baby changing table near the door. And the stalls were very private with full length walls without any gaps - how very unAmerican!    [smiley=laugh4.gif] There are a couple water fountains, and two photo booths which would work for bigger kids or adults. Lots of fairly comfy chairs, and the screens which display the numbers being called to windows as well as the WiFi network password. All the staff and armed guards were very nice :)

I thought for sure there would be a US flag inside somewhere for a photo op with my baby but nope. We got one nice photo outside as you approach the building from the river path, with the building name and US flag visible in the background. In the central plaza thing outside the building there is a very small grassy hilly play area with swings.

Hope that may be of help to someone :)
5 Sep 13-met in Australia
18 Aug 14- married in USA
2 Sep 14- submitted application online
5 Sep 14- biometrics apptointment, priority service paid for, and entire visa app mailed to Sheffield
8 Sep 14- Fedex tracking package received & signed for!
13 Sep 14 - Email received acknowledging application received & priority status
2 Oct 14- Visa received!!


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