Ok, so here is the full story about the whole visa thing, cos a few of you have been asking, this is pretty long but its a full story of the whole thing n various visa types n all that.
I applied for a B1/2 business/visitors visa (Different from a normal visitor's visa, B1/2 allows you to do a "short course" that isn't uni/tafe/major further study/long) we'd rung the visa information line about it before and confirmed that this was the visa that would be right for me, not the M1 Student visa (Requires the place of study to be registered with the SEVIS* system) because it was just a short recreational course, not related to work, business, or career.
Over the past 2 weeks been rehearsing the visa interview with dad over and over, going over the finance info, work info, travel afterwards etc. Had pretty much everything down, was still nervous as hell though. Got to the consulate at 8.40 (Interview was at 9.15, but required to be there 30 min early) and stood by the door, security guard opens it and instantly says "You here for 9.15? come back at 9!" very to the point, was all she said. Though I can say I really wasn't nervous after that, wasn't really expected haha.
Came back at 9, dad forgot I needed a return mail bag thing, so he ran off to get one while we stood in line and mum waited on the seating outside. Got let in 5 at a time (was a fair few people there) and signed in, gave us our ID stickers and went through the first security check point. Pretty expected stuff, leave everything but visa stuff there, metal detectored etc. Guard takes us upstairs to the next level after being scanned in. Second level we're scanned again by another guard and given a waiting number. So far everyone we've actually talked to hasn't been rude, but certainly not welcoming or friendly. Just very blunt and to the point. "stand here" "get back" etc, no pleases or thank you's.I think my favourite thing about the consulate so far was the seating. You walk in to the waiting area and straight ahead is one lot, and to the right past a biiig sign is another lot a bit around a corner. The sign says "Reserved for American Citizens ONLY!" Pretty classy.
Waiting for a while, they seem to have only a few people on. One person scanning peoples fingers, checking passports n mail bag, another person interviewing, n the other 3 windows for the American citizens and finances. I get called up to the first window to be checked and fingerprinted. The lady asks for my passport and I hand over my Aus one, and ask if she needed my dutch one too. "Why would I need that?" "well, the online visa application asked for all the information from it as well as my Australian one" "Well I don't want it >:C" Fiine, then, still not quite rude, but not really polite either but hey she probably does this all day. I let her know I don't have a post bag yet, so she keeps my passport and gives me a map to the nearest postoffice to go get one. I admit, I was pretty nervous about leaving my passport there, consulate or not, but hey I wasn't really prepared to argue with her about it.
Ran downstairs, got scanned twice at the two security check points again and quizzed as to where I was going, turns out I wasn't the only one forgetting stuff :P Had a few others without post bags or hadn't paid for the visa interview itself yet. I waited downstairs in the consulate because I knew dad was on his way already, told mum a bit about the inside and the reserved seating. Dad got back pretty quickly, turned out he went to the post office a kilometer away after getting bad directions from the people in the cafe, not the one around the corner. But he did get back faster than the people going to the one around the corner <3 bonus points to dad.
Headed back upstairs, scanned in at the check points again, got myself a new waiting number at the second one and waited in my non American Citizen seating area. Talked a little to the girl next to me. She was wanting to teach a bit over there after coming back from Europe where she was going to travel. We both wished each other luck as she was called up. The wait actually isn't too bad considering there is only 2 people there doing the visa stuff. Was called up shortly after her and handed over all the info to the new person.
First thing she asked was what I was doing, told her about the course and handed over the CITT book with all the info. Flicking through it she saw the total hours for each module and asked what the times were each day. As soon as I told her she instantly said I had the wrong visa and should be getting an M1 Student Visa because the course was over 18 hours a week. She explained how I would have to get an M1 and have them register with SEVIS so they could issue an I20 for me because the course came under that. The other option was to go with uni or tafe as a student with them. I explained that this was just a hobby I wanted to improve, and is there anything else I can do or visa I would get but she said that the M1 or with uni/tafe was my only options. I totally forgot we'd called the visa info people about it at the time otherwise I would have said something then. She had been typing stuff on her computer as we talked, so I imagine it was a record of things that were said, documents, probably the taxidermy place as well. I also asked if it were possible to get the visa waver/visitors visa and as I expected that was also a no, which was also probably typed up. She declined my application because of it being the wrong visa for the course/reason for travel.
I left the top section of the consulate and went back downstairs (after getting everything back, including my passport) and was pretty upset, I guess I hadn't realized how much the course had meant to me until she declined the visa. The parents were waiting in the bottom section of the consulate and had been for about an hour and a half, went over n told them I'd been declined and started crying. Failed pretty hard at not going all sad panda over it :C We went back to the hotel and tried to work out what to do.
Dad was pretty angry n upset about it too, we had both spent months looking up all the different visa types and the requirements, the paperwork to bring and everything. Even calling up the visa information to double check that we did have the correct visa type. The B1/2 information that we had found never had a time frame or hours limit out of all the info we found. I had expected to be declined over something stupid like not enough finance info, typo, something other than wrong type if I got declined at all.
We ended up going back to the consulate about an hour later to ask them about the visa types. Asking at the front desk they directed us to the door I had gone to for the interview. Going in there we asked again if we could talk to someone about visa stuff and the guard there (new one) said we cant at the consulate, you have to book another ($160) appointment to see anyone, or can call/email the visa information people. Was mostly useless but do have the email now. We went back to the cafe next to it and called the visa info people again. The person sounded surprised about being rejected for the B1/2 and also said that I COULDN'T go through Uni/tafe. It's pretty retarded, keep getting different information about visa types from the visa information and the consulate. There really wasn't anything else we could do, you can't reapply for another visa on the same day, or appointment I think. We just went back to the hotel again to bitch n brood about it some more before finally going out to Melbourne city again.
Back home now, n dad is drafting a letter to send to the visa information email so we have a paper record this time about it all, the information we got given is so conflicting and stupid :/ even a one week course thats over 18 hours would technically have to be under the SEVIS system by the sounds of it, which doesn't seem to make sense. I just hope I can still go somehow, maybe just doing one module of the course or something :/ but who knows. Hopefully will have some answers soon about it all.
I'm not even sure how I would go getting a normal visitors visa now because of the rejected B1/2 and that it was written down that I did ask about it. I could get to the border n get turned around again, especially if I did plan on still going to Colorado :/ The whole thing is pretty horrible n crappy.
* SEVIS system is the US's big info thing on students that come into the country to do further education, pretty much just have them on record. Was brought in after 9/11 because the pilots had done a flying course in the US before getting into the planes. It takes months to register on the SEVIS system and costs $1,700 to register, a $5-800 inspection fee at the study place and then the registering student $200 to be put on the SEVIS system and an I20 issued to them so they can study there. As you've probably worked out, its expensive, so it's really for universities and other big education places - it really really doesn't work for a taxidermy studio doing teaching as well.
EDIT: Well, dad did some more checking today, I can't even get on the Visa Waver (Normal tourist visa) program because I was rejected another visa type :/ Website didn't show how long until you can apply for the visa waver, but looking into that as well, but estimating months >.>