If you’re a Filipino who wants to travel to the United States for pleasure, you certainly need to acquire a Visa first before you book your trip.
It was April 2013 when I applied for my US Tourist Visa (B-2) at the US Embassy, Manila.
We all know one, two or so people who applied for their US Tourist VISA and maybe not only one of them were refused. Hence the notion of Filipinos that it’s very difficult to score one, but in reality, it is not as tough as we think it is.
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Understanding the process on how to start your application is winning almost half the battle! And that’s exactly why I’m writing this article – to help my fellow Filipinos not only understand how it’s done but ultimately, to give tips on how to score your dream US Tourist Visa!
So Let’s begin! Here are some US Visa Application tips for Filipinos.
There are different kinds of US Non-Immigrant Visas and this article is focused on giving tips on one single type which is the B-2 Visa.
“B-2 visas are issued for general pleasure/tourist travel, such as touring, visits to friends and relatives, visits for rest or medical treatment, social or fraternal conventions and conferences, and amateur/unpaid participants in cultural or sports events.”
1. Make sure you have a valid passport for more than six months from the time of your desired travel to the US and prepare (1) 2×2 photo with white background (must have been taken in the last six months).
2. Begin your application by logging in to the US Embassy Manila website. Complete your DS-160 online non-immigrant visa electronic application. Chances are, most questions from your interview will be based on what you have answered in your application so make sure to review all of them.
Refer to: https://ph.usembassy.gov/
3. Pay for the VISA application fee (USD 160) or Php 6,150 (Please refer to the US Embassy website). Before going to the bank, print the applicable US Visa application payment slip and take it to the bank to pay the fee.
“There is an expiration date on the payment slip. Bank agents will NOT accept payments based on expired slips. Each slip has a unique number. Applicants will not be able to schedule an appointment without the receipt number”
4. Set your interview appointment
When you book online, you will be able to see all the dates and times available at the Embassy. Choose one that’s convenient for you to be interviewed. Also, consider the amount of time you need to complete all the necessary documents. (Related Article: List of Cheap Hostels in Metro Manila)
Excerpt from the US Embassy Website:
“Book an appointment by calling (02) 976-8500 to 02 for calls within the Philippines and other countries aside from mainland United States or (703) 520-2235 for calls from mainland United States. The call center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, Manila time, except on U.S. and Philippine holidays. Appointments can also be booked online.”
Prepare your documents
It’s not all the time that a Consulate officer will ask for your documents, nevertheless, make sure you have everything ready. These documents will serve as evidence of ties and your financial capability to support your trip to the US. Note that everything should be original.
*Property documents and photos
*Income tax records
*3-month salary pay slips (if you’re an employee)
*Financial / Bank Statements
*Insurance (if you have any)
Get ready for your Interview
The interview usually only takes a few minutes. It’s the make or breaks! Promptly after that, you will be told whether or not you are granted a VISA.
Remember that there are hundreds of applications that the US Embassy Manila processes daily so the challenge is for you to convince the Consulate officer (within a few minutes of the interview) that you have enough ties in your home country and reasons to go to back promptly after your proposed trip to the US.
My interview took about 3-4 minutes. Know that the consulate officers are trained to ask the right questions as a major part of what they do every day. They can tell whether you are telling the truth or simply lying. So if you have intentions other than spending a vacation in the US, be warned.
Here are some tips to remember during your interview:
- English is the main language in the US to be ready to communicate in the same language throughout the interview.
- Be honest. And give direct responses as much as possible. When asked on the purpose of your stay and how long you intend to visit – respond appropriately; do not unnecessarily elaborate your answers.
- Be confident and polite in your response. Do not argue with the consulate officer. If you do not understand the question, ask for clarification rather than pretending you understood and give an improper response.
- Dress appropriately. (This is very important) We make first impressions based on how a person looks, so dress your best for your interview. If you’re an employee, wear your company uniform; or your school uniform if you’re a student. I wore my company uniform (skirt, blazer and closed black shoes) when I was interviewed. The first question I was asked was why I was going to the US. I was confident when I said that I was going to visit my then boyfriend. How long? I responded with “Hopefully three weeks but it would depend on how long my employer’s going to allow me” The follow up questions were based on my response to the consulate officer further asked where I was working, what do I do and how long have I been employed. I wasn’t asked to present any of my documents.
Each situation is unique and whether or not you will be granted a VISA will always vary from one person to another. It will depend on the information you have submitted online and how you present yourself during the interview.
In the end, the Consul smiled at me and said that my VISA was approved!
I got my passport back with the US VISA valid for 10 years delivered after about five days.
So, needless to say, I pushed for my trip to the US, meet my then-boyfriend (now my husband) and we traveled together! (Related Article: Truth and Lies about Filipinas with Foreigners)
- How to Apply for USA Tourist Visa
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NOTE: This is based on my personal experience. Always refer to the US Embassy website for more updated information.
About the Writer
Anne Bonghanoy – Alms is a Tourism Management graduate with extensive Travel Trade and Corporate Sales experience in the Hospitality Industry. Interested in fashion, wellness, and language, she also loves going places, discovering the world’s greatest wonders, exploring different cultures and sharing it to other people through her writing. Anne was born and raised in the City of Manila, Philippines now living in Iowa, USA.
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