I am visiting US. Nashville, TN to be specific. Though this is a work visit and will last only for a month, I have been spending some time on the Amateur Radio hobby as well. First thing I did when I was getting ready for the trip was to search groups and clubs around Nashville, TN. WCARES is one such very active group in this area. I was also fortunate to learn about the quarterly schedule of Ham Radio license exams, one of which was scheduled right at the middle of my trip being conducted by the Nashville VE Team.
The Exam was scheduled on 11th June 2016 at 8 AM. I reached the location at 7:30 AM but for the organizers it was the first time that a non-american citizen was appearing for the exam with them. It was also a news that such exams are conducted by FCC in many other countries including India. The organizers were eager to help and after a little googling and going through the FCC exam procedure I was all set to answer the exam.
I had to first register on the FCC website and get an FRN Number using this link. FCC FRN registration has clear options for applicants without an American Contact (mailing) Address. Using the FRN I could fill up the exam application forms and appear for the exam. The Fee for exam is $15 and you one can answer exams for all three classes one after the other for the same fee. I cleared the Technician Class and did not take the next class as I wasn’t prepared. Your papers are corrected within few minutes and once passed the VE’s give you a certificate/note with details of your exam results withing few minutes. It hardly takes a week (3 days in my case) for your call sign to appear on the FCC’s website.
All in all, this was a great experience for me and I was very happy to see how fast and easy it was to get a license and become an operator from SWL in the US. Compared to India this process is seamless and consistently easy.
I also met and talked with some of the VE HAMs and took pictures.