I first knew there was a need for a company like Argo when I was a brand new consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, in 2011, and realized just how important those 2 to 3 minutes are during a visa interview.
If you are not from the United States of America, those 2 to 3 minutes will determine your relationship with our country for the rest of your life.
As someone who was a consular officer for close to 6 years with the U.S. Department of State, I came to intimately understand the decision-making process of this special group of insiders. And in fact, I was one of the toughest interviewing officers on the visa line during my time in Beijing. Charged with upholding the law, and given a 2 minute window to reach a decision on the visa applicant standing in front of us, we were “human lie detectors” designed to be on the front lines of deciding who enters the United States. Over time, we learned to shut off that part of ourselves that questioned each and every decision we made, initially agonizing over sleepless nights over whether or not we made the right decision to turn a person away from our country. If we didn’t, we would go crazy over the sheer gravity of our decisions – over 100 decisions daily that judged someone based on what we can learn in only 60 seconds.
Only after I left the Department of State, when I became an immigration attorney, did I work with numerous clients to prepare for the “consular processing” visa interview experience. Over videoconferences that connected me to people from across the world, I finally had more than 60 seconds to learn about a client’s background, why they wanted to visit the United States, and see the disconnect between what clients wanted the consular officer to know, and what they could actually show the officer in such a limited period of time, through a language barrier.
I learned of terrible advice that clients received from well-meaning family members, “immigration consultants,” and internet forums, which may have ruined their chances of getting a visa. I sympathized with clients who came to me only after being refused by consular officers multiple times when all they wanted to do was attend a wedding or an important family event, and celebrated with those who received their visas after working with me. I realized that this is what I was meant to do – to make a difference in the lives of the clients that I have touched, to allow consular officers to understand who this person really is when making such an important decision, and to be the connector, and not the judge.
For this reason, I am excited and proud to be a part of Argo, a company of former consular officers committed to helping clients receive the best and most accurate information on how to prepare for their visa interview, straight from the source.