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Alastair's Move to the USA
April through to 16th September 2003

Here is my story of how I went about going to the USA…

Over the past 5 years as I’ve built the Electric Scotland web site I’ve worked at home with only a couple of views, one into my back garden but only to see tree tops and then later looking onto my garage door.

I had decided that it was time I moved to a nicer location where I could look out onto some nice scenery while I worked on the site.  Problem was finding such a new home that also had access to broadband connections to enable me to continue working on the web.

In a conversation with Steve he said why not come to America?  Himself and his wife Deb would be happy to put me up at their home for my first year and if I liked it in the locality would help me get a house in the area.  So after thinking it all through I figured why not :-)

I had always thought that as my business was web based that once it got properly established I could take off around the world and still be able to keep the business going so wasn’t this what I’d always said I’d like to do?

So… decision made it was just a question of how to get to the USA and be able to work there.  At first Steve said just get yourself here and then we’ll sort it all out.  I couldn’t really believe it was that easy and folks I spoke to said that since 911 it was even harder than usual to get a visa to work in the USA.  I thus decided I’d better check with the US Embassy in London and that’s where the problems really started.

After sending several email queries it looked like there was no visa that would allow me to work in the US on my own behalf unless I could come up with 1 million dollars <gulp>.

In fact through the US embassy all they could say for certain was that if I went over on the visa waiver program I would not be allowed to work and if I did and was caught working then I would be chucked out of the USA and could not apply for a visa for another 5 years.

I of course already have a steady income from the web site so I wanted to continue having that and growing it of course.  So it was now over to Steve… how could I get in and still be able to work on my own account?

Steve contacted the BCIS and after much switching around between various people eventually got to a person who in Steve’s words “could speak English”.  He had various questions and eventually said… “you need an L-1 visa” which is an Inter-Company transfer.  This is where two companies had been working together for several years, one or other being an agent for the other.  Of course this was a perfect solution as I’d been Steve’s agent for a number of years introducing companies to him for his web hosting service.  So, we at last had a solution!

This was the start of a long process of getting material together.  I had to produce things like 3 years accounts, include information of any organisations or societies I’d ever belonged to, copy of my passport, company articles of association, etc.  All this had to be notarised by a lawyer as well before being sent over to Steve.  On his side Steve also had to get similar information together for his company.  While this was going on we found out that all this could take six months to go through the system so we decided to take the express route and pay an extra fee to get approval within 15 business days. 

Now if all this was approved they issued an approval form, which would be sent to Steve along with all the documentation we’d sent to them.  I checked with the US Embassy in London to find I needed to arrange a visa interview and the earliest they could book me in was in 6 weeks time.  So… I took that and started to arrange to sell my house as I’d be going to the US for at least 3 years. 

So you can see lots of work was going on by both of us to arrange for me to move over to the USA.

Anyway… things did not go quite to plan which is why you really need to take more time to arrange all this as you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be unforeseen problems and delays. 

The first problem was in selling the house.  The estate agents advised that I really needed to reduce the clutter before letting people view the house. That took me 2 weeks to do that and only with the help of the contract cleaners, Merry Maids, in Stirling.  Ken and his wife were absolute stars and I doubt I could have done it all myself without their help.  Anyway the house was eventually de-cluttered but Ken though I really should put a bit of paint on one of the bedrooms as being my old office it really needed freshening up and so we did that as well.

Then it was onto advertising the house and the day it hit the web site the phone kept going.  In the first week I had 18 appointments booked and even when I had accepted an offer there were still another 9 other people wanting to view it.  The eventual purchasers had been the first to view it and they moved very fast to have a survey done and before the week was out had made an offer. As the figure was really what we’d hoped to get it was decided to accept so we could get moving and so the deal was done.

Talking of delays however… they decided to go for a 2 week holiday and so we were unable to actually sign contracts until they came back so that was the first of the delays.

Meantime I had booked my appointment with the US Embassy but not being aware of how long a lead time is was it was now 16th September before I could get the appointment and if that went well it could be up to another 10 business days before I’d be issued with my passport.  That meant I had to try and negotiate an extended leaving date for the house as I was meant to vacate on 29th August.

The new owners were very kind and were able to extend my leaving date to 12th September. I had arranged to stay with Nick and Adele of ScotWeb from 12th through to 17th with me going down to London for the interview and returning on 17th. The plan was then to hire a car and go up to Kinloch Rannoch while waiting for my passport to arrive with the visa.

All looked to be working fine but then the BCIS folk came to a halt as they needed additional information from Steve.  They needed a copy of his house title deeds along with a photograph of it.  So, Steve got that organised but that meant an extra week was added to the process.  We were still ok at that point then another request for additional information. Steve had sent 6 months business bank statements but they wanted 2 years.  Yikes!  OK so we managed to get that to them but that was the killer as that meant there was no way we could get the paperwork to me in time for my appointment at the US Embassy.  This meant I had to cancel the current appointment and make another one this time for October 6th.

As it stands today (16th September) I am still at ScotWeb but will be heading to the Dunalastair Hotel at Kinloch Rannoch tomorrow but still waiting for the approval notice to be issued.  We understand at this point that they seem to be happy with everything else and this is the last bit they needed to see before giving us approval.

So… I am still keeping my fingers crossed that this week we’ll receive all the paperwork and that Steve can send it all to me for the visa interview.

I of course now need to figure out a place to live from 26th September until around 12th October while waiting for the interview that also has broadband access to allow me to continue working which should be fun.

Meantime I’ve been having some fun at ScotWeb. When I first arrived I had full broadband access but after taking a day out on Sunday to go walking (more of which later) I brought the camera back and got the pictures off onto my notebook. After that for some reason I haven’t been able to access the Internet at all for some weird reason.  Spent hours trying everything but to no avail.  I did have a short visit to TravelScotland on Monday and they were able to get me access through their network but still no access at ScotWeb and so am just having to deal with email through my web based account on another of Nick’s machines.

I hope to get access again up at Kinloch Rannoch and be able to get the web site updated but in the meantime am having a wee holiday :-)

On Sunday 14th Adele thought it would be nice to take a picture of the Scottish Parliament and she knew just the right place where we could take the picture. So on Sunday we first went down to South Leith Church where her father is an Elder and he kindly showed us around before the service started and gave me some leaflets about the history of the church going way back to the 1600 hundreds. I got some good photos which I’ll put up later.

These are pictures of South Leith Church with Adele and her Dad at the Front Door of the Church

We then headed off to King Arthur's Seat way to take the picture of the Scottish Parliament work in progress.  Now you have to understand that I am a chain smoker and never take any exercise.  So, Adele was saying it’s just around this corner when she parked the car.  So around the corner we went and Adele pointed out where we needed to go  <Arghh>

She pointed to a long walk over to the West where we could then take the start of the path which would then take us up the Crags… you mean we have to walk up that mountain I asked?  Hoping I was mistaken… but indeed we needed to walk up there which is more walking that I’ve done in the last 5 years.  I got Adele to take a picture of me standing at the foot of this huge mountain so you can appreciate the huge undertaking <grin>

This is where I had to go to get to the start of the path leading up onto the Crags

Adele at the entrance of the Park

Where the bushes stop at the top was the path I took and that's me at the bottom.

Anyway… after a couple of stops to rest I did indeed make it to the top but have to say that it was then a good walk down to the bottom and then a huge walk back round to get to the car.  It must have been at least one hundred miles… well it felt that way anyway.  I think this might be a story I tell for the rest of my life but was dead chuffed to have made it although I suspected I might have died from a heart attack in the attempt.  I did say to Adele that I only attempted it as she being a doctor could likely have resuscitated me if I had a heart attack <grin>

It just goes to show how unfit you can get without really noticing it so I really must take some regular exercise and cut down on my smoking. The next day I went down to see Gordon Howell, an old friend, at Calton Hill in Edinburgh. Of course the taxi dropped me off so that was fine but then we went out for lunch which was all downhill.  However coming back I did need to stop for a rest as it is quite a climb back to his office and even when you get there you have another set of stairs to get up to his house and then horror another flight of stairs to get to his flat <groan> 

And so after only 5 days away from the house my legs are already shorter and I’m feeling muscles I didn’t know I had in my legs J

So that’s about it for now… I’ll do another wee bit when I get up to Kinloch Rannoch and hopefully get web access again to post up the newsletter.

Do visit Nick and Adele's Web Site at

Return to Alastair's USA Index Page


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