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USA Visa Application Tips for Filipinos

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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.

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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. (Related Article: Around the World Trip: Filipina Backpacker’s Visa Experiences)

USA Visa tips for Filipinos

Standing at the clear observation glass floors of the 103rd Floor of the Willis Tower, Chicago with views extending to four states

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.”

USA Visa tips for Filipinos

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The Basics

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.

*Passport

*Family photographs

*Property documents and photos

*Income tax records

*3-month salary pay slips (if you’re an employee)

*Employment certificate

*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:

  1. English is the main language in the US to be ready to communicate in the same language throughout the interview.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)

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NOTE: This is based on my personal experience. Always refer to the US Embassy website for more updated information.

Monkey Dividers

About the Writer

USA Visa tips for FilipinosAnne 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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Comments 330

  1. Hi! I just want to ask if travel history is a requirement if i want to appyy for u.s tourist visa. I am currently based in saudi, been here for a year only. Thanks.

  2. Hi, I’m getting ready to apply for a visitor visa to the US. I live here in Cebu the last 3+ years, after living in the UK for 2 years with my husband – My husband is British and has a British passport and so does our 3 year old daughter (as well as Filipino passport). My baby boy (14 months old) only has his Filipino passport so I will have to apply for his visitor visa too.

    Any advice or feedback would be very appreciated. I am a full time mother/house wife (not working) and my husband works online. My mother in law wants us all to visit them in the US to see the grand kids. They want to pay for our flights and have a big house so we will stay with them the whole trip. So basically the trip will cost us nothing.

    Anyone had a similar situation or advice on how to best approach this to make sure me and my baby boy get our visas? My husband and daughter can apply under the ESTA program as they both have British passports.

    We rent a house here, but do not own property or have any real ties here, except for my entire family live here and I love the kids being able to see my parents often. So how would I best show my intentions are to return back to Cebu where we have lived for over 3 years?

    As this is the whole reason for the interview right? To try and show our intent is too return, not stay!

  3. Anyone interested in applying for a visa visit the US Embassy’s website: http://manila.usembassy.gov/mobile/visas.html. All the information will be there. The process usually starts with scheduling an appointment, then by the time you do show up for it you bring all the required documents and submit it to them. On the day of the interview they will ask basic questions such as what you do for a living, where you’ve traveled before, why you want to travel to the US etc. It pays to have traveled to other countries and to show you have strong ties to the PH that you wouldn’t want to go TNT on them. I think it also really pays to be honest, cause then you wouldn’t even have to make up stories and be nervous during the interview. Hope this helps!

  4. I was not even asked for a single document I brought during the 2 times I got my visa- first a single entry, hte 2nd one a 10-year ME. Pero you really do need to prove you have sufficient ties back to the Philippines. In addition, they check some of the information on your ds-160 form that’s why it’s advised not to bring/print the form. Lastly, I think having multiple travels outside the country helped a lot as during the latter part of those 2 interviews, the consul really opened that topic. Good luck!!!

  5. Hi Anne!

    Thanks for getting back at me. Last question, what kind of insurance did you show? It is life or medical?

    Thanks!

    1. HI Jewel!! I have my personal life insurance apart from the “coverage” I have from my previous employer. The consulate officer didn’t ask for any of my documents though 🙂

  6. Hi Anne, i am happy that you were given a 10 years visa 🙂 i got denied with my interview last November 30 🙁 My question is that, is it important that i have at least 1 travel abroad? I am planning to have my second interview on January, but i don’t know if i could make it 🙁 i just need some advice on how to make it 🙂 Thank you

    1. HI Kharen! Just getting back to blogging after the holiday festivities, hope you had nothing but a wonderful time! 🙂 While it might help that you have traveled outside your home country, the major deciding factor for the Consulate Officer to grant you a US Visa is still your “strong ties” to go back to in the Philippines. When I applied for my Visa, I have only been to HK, and my passport was really fresh and brand new! Hehe! When I got my US visa, then I started traveling all over the US and Japan. Good luck on your interview!!! Please comment back if you have questions 🙂

  7. Hi Anne,

    I would like to ask fe questions, since it’s not advised to book an air ticket and accomodation prior to the US visa application. In the DS-160 form I can indicate an estimated intended travel date as per Help tips at the right side corner of the form but I got confused what to write about the place to stay in the US, since I don’t have any accomodation arrangement yet. Is it possible to indicate undecided/any hotels or hostels that can fit my budget? Hopefully you could give me some advice about this.. You reply will be very much appreciated.

    Thanks a lot!

    Could

    Could you give me

    1. Hi Kat,

      Thank you for reaching out! Yes, it’s not advisable to book your tickets/hotel without having your VISA being approved yet. And Yes, when you fill out DS-160, I suggest that you put the hotel’s name and address where you intend to stay in the US.
      Good luck with your application! 🙂

  8. Hi,
    We want to pass the tourist visa to be able to visit my husbands sister and to have vacation. My husband had hes ‘s early retirement. And we don’t know what are the documents that we should prepare to pass the interview. Please help. Thanks.

  9. Hi. If you just applied for a tourist visa, how come you got a 10 years visa with multiple entry, is it stated on your application? My boyfriend lives in VA and I’m hoping to meet him again when I get back. I’m wondering how? Thank you

    1. HI Mariko,
      They won’t tell you after the interview if you’re getting a 10 year-validity VISA but you shall be able to see it indicated on your passport when it’s delivered a few days after your interview. Good luck to you! 🙂

  10. Hello Anne,
    I have a 10 year multiple US visa issued in 2007 and will expire 2017, my last trip to the US was in 2007. Can I still travel to the US? And if yes, up to when would be the best time to travel before my visa expires?

    1. Hi Mon Tim,
      Wow! Good for you! If your VISA says its valid til 2017, then you should be able to use it from now til then 🙂 Start planning your trip, US is HUGE and there are a lot of things to do here!

    1. HI Richard,

      I am posting my reply here so other readers with possibly similar situation can see.
      When you begin to apply for your VISA and process the DS-160 online, you will be asked information about who you are going to visit in the US, where in particular you are staying, how long etc. You should also be able to have clear answers to these questions when you get interviewed by a consulate officer. The amount of money you need to bring with you depends on your duration of stay, the cost of your hotel/lodging etc. As first step, I suggest that you try to get more information about your father and start from thereon. Hope this helps. Good luck on your journey!

      1. hi Anne ..
        my boyfriend wants me to apply a us visa.. how can i possibly get one.. I’m a full time mom with my 7 months old daughter and i don’t have job so he will sponsor my travel in Us.. how can i possibly get one?
        and I havent travel outside of the country..

        thanks

  11. I do have some questions. My father is in the us,for about 30 years up to now.. he left me since birth,im 30 y/o right now. And i’ve seen and talk to my father last 2006 in the phil when he came back for he’s mother burial or my lola’s burial. Then we talk about my visit in us,but after he live we never talk again,i dont know why. My mom and my father was not married,but i do have my father surname on my birth certificate,last month i have talk to my father’s brother or to my uncle,he said he’s gonna help me by go to us by talking to my father,but he dont have my father contact number. Until now nothings happen,and right now im in saudi arabia,working. My questions are,what am i going to do if i would like to go to us or to see my father?is that possible for me to go to us w/o my father’s contact number?if yes,how am i going to do that?do i need also a lot of money if im planning to go us?thanks a lot if anyone answered. 🙁

    1. If any of your parents is living in the US they will deny you immediately because of family ties even you are not petitioned. The consul will always presume that you are not coming back even your intentions are honest. No good to apply if they are judgemental all the time but for those people who most likely not returning more often they are given a visa so rediculous. Maybe it’s about time to change their policy. How about putting a bond like 1 million and withdawable in a certain period like 6 months for me that is a very appropriate move to insure equal assessment to people who wants to travel and if ever they will not return within that period the said bond will be forfeited. Does this sounds fair to everyone?

  12. Wow! Lucky you got approved with your reason of visiting your boyfriend. When I was interviewed, the lady next to me was also going to the US to visit her boyfriend and she got declined! I have already visited my boyfriend twice in the US but my reason is always to visit friends, which is also part of my vacation. If you dont mind, i have something kind of personal to ask you about visas. Is it okay if i can contact you via email? Thanks!

      1. Hi, i hope you are well. I was also planning to apply for a visa not until my parents applied me and my sister for petition. They said i now have lesser chances for being approved since an existing petition is already in process. Is that true? I just dont want to waste money in case i really have low chances. Thanks.

        1. HI Arnel,
          How long ago since your parents filed for you and your sister’s petition? I know someone with similar situation as yours who got his US Tourist Visa approved while the petition was ongoing. You may be right, it might be tough to get approved, but its definitely not an IMPOSSIBLE case. Good luck! Anne

      2. Hi, Ms. Anne! 🙂 I’m just wondering if I do have a chance to get a US Visa?

        I’m an upcoming 4th year college student from Hospitality industry too and will be graduating on March 2017. I’m planning to apply for a US visa on June and if granted, would be departing here in PH on September and staying in US for 2 weeks only. I still have 2 semesters (bc my school is a tri-sem) by that time to finish my internship and my thesis and of course to grduate. My boyfriend’s dad will be sponsoring my whole trip as an early graduation gift since my parents can only afford my pocket money. And I have been in Singapore and Jakarta before (perks of being an HRM student). Thank you please reply. 🙂

  13. I have some questions:

    1. On the 10 years validity of your visa, for how long can you only stay in the US?

    2. How much money do you need to prepare? Or better how much money per day do you need to have and what they can consider enough?

    3. Do you need to have flight and hotel reservations at hand prior to the application?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jewel,

      (1) When you arrive at the First Port of Entry in the US, you will have to go through their Immigration and the Immigration officer will decide on how long you can stay via the passport admission stamp. I was given up to 6 months stay as a Tourist.
      (2) There is no standard on how much money you need to have for your VISA to be approved.
      And by experience, I didn’t have a fat bank account when I applied, but I think I was able to convince them that I have enough ties (family, property,insurance and employment) in the Philippines and I must go back promptly after my proposed trip.
      (3) No. Its not advisable to book your flights and hotel without your VISA being approved yet.

      Are you scheduled yet for your US VISA interview? Good luck and please update us!!! 🙂

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