Applying for an American visa is a barrel of monkeys that requires prior knowledge, lots of luck and a bit of planning. Its not for the faint of heart, the poor, the desperate, the normal or the weird. In other words it is a bit of a crapshoot. I hope to give a few pieces of advice which will help the would-be traveler find a bit more success than the average so that you can avoid the mistakes I already made and be informed enough to make intelligent decisions.
1. Completing the initial Application: Be specific but don’t volunteer too much information. If you are traveling to the US with your girlfriend, keep it to your self. Instead, state that you are traveling with a friend and keep it simple. Don’t provide information that will lead them to believe that you have no intention of leaving the US, this is a game where you have to play keep-away. Have a destination, make sure it sounds touristy and don’t indicate “marriage, engagement, immigration or any plans to work.” Here is the general information: http://spanish.bogota.usembassy.gov/informacin_general.html And here is the application web site: https://ceac.state.gov/genniv/
2. Hand over your money: Once you have had the pleasure of completing the DS-160 application you must then go and pay the non refundable sum of $160 USD at Helm Bank. The bank is very nice and beautiful with complimentary bottles of water, even though you will never see that money again. Ever.
3. The appointment: You must call the consul to set an appointment: http://spanish.bogota.usembassy.gov/es/contact-us.html Have your passport, ID, and a blood sample ready when you call. (free pass on the blood sample, they won’t really need it, at this point in time…)
4. The moment of truth: When you arrive in Bogota on that day of fun and excitement expect to stand in line, leave the girlfriend at the hotel because it is really boring for her to stand out front on the corner for an hour while you get run through the production line. When you finally get there its a bit of a let down, you will get asked 2 questions, handed a letter and sent home crying. If you are one of the 3% congratulations, you win!
In the end you must simply take the whole process with a grain of salt. Make sure you don’t buy airline tickets until you know for sure because disappointment is a very possible result. If you are unsure of the process pay someone to do it for you and if money is not an issue just keep trying.