Monday, October 24, 2016

How to apply for US Visa [Filipino Citizens]

All of us dream of an epic US Trip. In order for us to achieve this, there are tons of requirements and preparations to be made, the most important one is VISA.
As we all know Filipinos are required to present a Valid US Visa in order to get a glimpse of this wonderful country. Some of us are getting frustrated or even afraid of applying as it is quite hassle gathering requirements plus the pain of getting denied. How can you get approved when you haven't applied? Here is a guide on the first step to fulfilling your lifelong dream US trip, VISA APPLICATIONS! There are several types of US VISA and this article will help and detailed out requirements and things to do when applying a US TOURIST VISA (Non-immigrant Visa) in Manila.

Part I: Requirements

According to US EMBASSY Manila website below are the list of requirement needed to apply for US TOURIST VISA:
  • Valid Philippine Passport
  • Filled-up Application form (DS-160 Form)
  • 2x2 Pictures (must be of US Visa standard)
  • Visa Fee of US$ 160
  • Supporting Documents (Proof of Income and Assets)
source: click here

Part II: Procedure

After securing and gathering all the requirements, it's time get into the business. Below are the steps on how I personally break down the entire application process.

Here are the official steps from US EMBASSY.

Step 1: Fill up form DS-160

Fill out the form, the Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application Form DS-160. Make sure you fill in all the required parameters and ensure you remember all of them as they might ask you some questions pertaining to the items you put on this form. Don't leave any blank items, just add N/A.

Also, take note of the DS-160 Confirmation Number as it will be needed in scheduling an appointment and print the DS-160 confirmation page.

See the Guidelines for Completing the DS-160 Form here

Click here for form DS-160

Step 2: Pay Visa Fee

There are several payment options for Visa Fee.
  1.  Online Payment (Mobile Banking)
  2.  Cash at the bank (BPI)
For convenience, I opted to go with the first option. Take a screenshot of the transaction made and print a copy as this will be presented on the interview day. Also, take note of the reference number as it will be needed in scheduling an appointment.Visa Fee is around US$ 160 and will be converted to PHP upon payment.

For detailed explanation from the embassy click here

Note: Step 1 and Step 2 can be interchanged depending on your preference and availability. Any order will do.

Step 3: Appointment

In order to schedule an appointment, you need to register and schedule on this website. Once logged in, go to New Application/Schedule Appointment on the left side select Nonimmigrant Visa > Business/Tourism > B1/B2 - VISITOR FOR BUSINESS AND PLEASURE then double check the info shown and supply the DS-160 Confirmation Number and etc. then continue if you are the only applicant. They also need your reference number for the visa fee then after that, you can now select the date that suits you. Once done print a copy of the appointment confirmation.

Take note: You can reschedule your appointment for as long as it is at least a day prior to your actual appointment and I think you can do it 2 times. I did reschedule my appointment once.

 Once the appointment has been made then your set and wait for the interview day.

Part III: Interview

On the interview day, be sure to arrive on the embassy at least an hour before your scheduled time. It is not required for you to be in business attire but as long as you are presentable and neat. It was after my 2 weeks Indochina trip that I scheduled my interview for the US visa since there are no direct flights from Cebu to these countries, I decided to do it after the trip so I can maximize my stay in Manila. My Plane got delayed(which I already anticipated) in Ho Chi Minh and arrive in Manila at around 6:30 am, my appointment was at 8:30 am. After the Plane had landed I quickly drop off my backpack on a storage facility in the airport, get the documents and went straight to the embassy.

Luckily with all those traffic and all, I arrived at the embassy 30 mins before my schedule. I went there with only a polo shirt,sneakers and shorts with only the required documents on hand( Appointment confirmation, DS-160 confirmation, 2x2 ID, CoE, nd passport) as I haven't brought any formal attire. Almost all of the people who were there were in their suits and on their business attire with all the stockpiles of documents with them. People are looking at me and might think  if I am sure of applying so I didn't mind them.

It was then my scheduled time, all those scheduled with 8:30 am was called to go straight to the line and have their documents checked. I followed every instruction and then when we are about to go inside the building, the scanner detected a battery(this was from my GoPro) from the man-purse that I brought. Any electronic materials are not allowed inside the embassy( I need to stress this out so there will be no hassle on your part). So they advise me to  take the battery out and come back once done. I was thinking of throwing it in the garbage  in order for me to proceed but my mind says it's expensive(ahaha). So I went out and saw a lady who is offering a human storage service wherein you can leave your electronic items to her for a fee, so I did and rushed back inside.

After all the checks I'm clear and I'm in. I went into the comfort room to rinse my face(may muta pa hahah) and do some final check on myself. When I went inside the last room where the interview was made, I just follow the line and there were lots of guides everywhere(for sure you will not be lost in the process). On the first window, a Filipino staff check my requirements and ask some few questions, she didn't ask for my 2x2 picture unlike other applicants as she said that the picture I provided in the DS-160 form was clear enough. The second window was for the biometrics and this was conducted by an American staff, she instructed me what to do and then ask a few question as well. Then the last window was the interview proper. I was in the queue and suddenly a Filipino staff instructed me and the person in front of me to go to a window with numbers respectively. Went to the number and so the interview has begun.

This was then the interview:
American Interviewer: Hi Good Morning.  
Me: Morning. 
AI: Can i have your passport please.  
Me: *hands it over* 
AI: What is the purpose of your travel to US? 
Me: For vacation and leisure sir, to visit the Grand Canyon and Times square and etc. 
AI: For how long will your vacation be?  
Me: I planned for a month but still depends on my company on how many days they will allow me. 
AI: How long are you've been working and where?  
Me: I'm working for almost 5 years as a Senior Programmer in Cebu. 
AI: Have you traveled abroad before? (*while flipping every page of my passport)  
Me: Yes, I've been traveling a lot lately and actually I just arrive from my 2 weeks Indochina trip blah blah.... (*he interrupt me) 
AI: Cool your good to go. Your visa is approve.Just wait for your passport. (*he stamp something) 
Me: Thank you. (*murmuring  some words haha)

There were no requirements that were asked of me except for my passport. If you are denied at this stage you will receive a paper on how to apply again for a VISA.

After the interview I rush back to the airport to catch my flight back to Cebu, It was a long and tiring day but it was all worth it considering I've been approved.

Part IV: Delivery

So after less than a week,  I received a text message from the courier regarding a parcel which was to be delivered that day to me (I know right away that this was from the US Embassy), they ask me if I'm at the location where my parcel was supposed to be delivered and I said yes. Fast forward, there goes this small parcel handed to me. I've been hoping that the visa would be a 10 year  Multiple Entry without any annotation as this information( if its 10 years or 1 yr / Single or Multiple, with annotation or not) will not be mentioned to you after the interview but  only when you receive your passport with the visa information in it. So I open the parcel and take out the passport and flip it right in the middle where all my visa was and found out it was indeed what I hope for a  10-yr Multiple Entry US Visa without any annotation. I was so happy and thankful as well.

My 10-yr Multiple Entry US visa without any annotation.

Now, next stop would be hunting for cheap Airfare to the US of A! Yohooo

Have you tried applying for US visa? Share your stories and experience in the comment section below.  If you have any  questions and query don't hesitate to contact me, will gladly help.


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