No, that isn’t a typo. I won an Ozcar, not an Oscar.
Consular officers spend most of their time adjudicating visa applications. There are dozens of different kinds of visas, different visas for different purposes of travel. Foreign students apply for an F1 visa. Tourists apply for a B2 visa. Professional athletes come in on a P visa, unless they are amateur athletes, in which case they come in on a B1 visa. Rock stars come in on an O visa, and their crew comes in on O3 visas.
And on and on. Do you think it’s confusing? Me, too.
As part of our consular training, we did role plays to help us learn how to process visa applications. We took turns playing consular officer and applicant. When we adjudicate visas, we have to ensure that the type of visa that the applicant applied for is the appropriate fit for the purpose of their travel.
When it was our turn to play the applicant, there were costumes that we could put on to help us get into the part.
I got a little too into the dress-up part.
It was a good learning experience for the people playing the consular officer. For the applicants, it was a lot of fun. For every applicant role, there was a back story that we had to give to the officer. We were all citizens of the country of Z. The names of the people in Z tend to be Z-dominated: John Zmith, Zippy Jonez, Zeremiah Zmiller, etc.
Sometimes it was a straightforward application: parents want to take their kids to Disneyworld. Sometimes it was underhanded: a person wanted to go to the U.S. on a tourist visa, but he really intended to work illegally once he got there. Other times it was complex: an opera star wanted to travel to the U.S. to perform, then go to Canada to perform, then return to the U.S. to rest and relax in a friend’s home. The two purposes of travel are different, so that person needs to get two visas. Of course, the applicants don’t know that they need two different visas. It’s our job to get the person’s story, and then determine the appropriate visa (or deny the visa application if the purpose of travel isn’t legal).
Yesterday was the last day of consular training. At the graduation “ceremony,” the instructors handed out “Ozcars” for the best performances in the various role plays (visa application, prison visit, etc). I won the Ozcar for the best visa application role play. I won a fabulous certificate, and the right to wear the purple robe of honor for five minutes.
Now that the two big training courses are complete, I have a few more weeks of shorter training sessions. Estimated time of departure from D.C. is April 24.