WARNING: This post has tons of unnecessary detail, which I kept in for potential olim wondering about the process. I can’t imagine any other type of person finding this interesting 🙂
The last step to making aliyah is to apply for an immigrant’s visa from the Israeli Embassy. I asked my mother to join me on the trip to Washington, DC, so she could be with me for such a meaningful occasion.
It took about an hour and a half to drive there. It was 11:45 when we arrived, and the embassy closes at 1 (should I say 13:00 now that I’m almost Israeli??). We stopped to help a man who was looking for a place to get change for $100, and by the time we finished helping him, it was already 12. In order to make it in time, my mother dropped me off by the embassy and went to find parking.
Everything about the embassy is very official; there are locked gates, coded doors, and scanners. That being said-it’s the Israeli Embassy, so there’s a familiar, almost friendly undertone present. I lost my wallet almost immediately, but traced my steps back to the room I left it in, where the security man saw me and knew exactly what I was looking for.
I came prepared with a book and headphones, expecting a long wait, so I was shocked to find an empty waiting room. I immediately recognized the woman at the desk, Shani, from our email conversations. I handed her all the necessary documents (Passport, 2 Passport size photographs, visa application, oleh declaration, visa recommendation letter, health declaration, exit and entry form), most of which I had filled out through Nefesh B’Nefesh and…that was it! Plus $11 to ship the visa and my passport back to me. The whole meeting took about 3 minutes!
By the time we finished, my mother had just found parking, so she got right back into the car and drove back to the embassy. There were cars waiting behind her, but she stopped just long enough to snap this picture:
Woohoo! All done! I should get my visa in 2 weeks. I’m in shock that all this really just happened. It’s wild! Now…it’s time to enjoy my family.