How to Apply for a US Visa: Requirements & Process in the Philippines

The US visa application procedure for Filipino tourists may seem scary and difficult, but with thorough preparation, you can definitely achieve your goal. In this blog, we’ll show you how to apply for a US visa in the Philippines by providing info on the process, requirements, application form, interview, fees, and more.

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Highlights

  • If you are a Philippine passport-holder who wants to travel to the US for sightseeing or vacation, you are required to apply for the B-2 Visa (Tourism). 
  • The same US visa may also be applied for if your purpose of entry is to visit your friends or family, get medical treatment, or attend social gatherings, among others.
  • To apply, you must first complete the online process, which consists of filling out the US visa application form (DS-160) and uploading your photo. A few sample questions from the electronic form are provided below.
  • Once you’ve accomplished the online application, pay the applicable fee and schedule an interview at the US Embassy in the Philippines, which is located in Manila. If you are a Filipino who resides in another country, you may also schedule an appointment with the US Embassy or Consulate near you. However, as the consular office notes, it may be more difficult to qualify for a visa if you decide to apply outside of the Philippines.
  • Filipinos who are 14-79 years old are generally required to undergo the visa interview, with a few exceptions for renewal applicants. Minors who are 13 years old and below are generally not required.
  • The wait time to schedule a visa appointment varies per location, season, and visa type, but as of March 2020, it takes 14 calendar days to secure a slot in Manila. 
  • After the US visa interview, you will know right away if you were approved or denied. However, if the officer deems it necessary, they can also put you under Administrative Processing, which means you will have to wait a little longer on their decision.
  • For approved US visa applicants in the Philippines, the typical processing time (issuance of visa and return of passport) is 1 week or 5 business days. You can check the status of your US visa delivery via email, chat, or using an online tool.
  • If, at this point, you feel overwhelmed by the application steps, keep calm. Stay positive knowing that it will be worth it! Meanwhile, you can start curating your USA itinerary with WAUG — the #1 travel activity booking platform from South Korea. Download the app here to find things to do in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago that you can book at a discount.

Explore more: Top Things to Do in Las Vegas

UPDATE: June 1, 2020


The US Embassy in the Philippines changed its banking partner to RCBC from BPI. US visa application processing fees may now be paid through RCBC or PesoNet (Online).

1. Determining your US Tourist Visa Eligibility 

Before looking into the steps to apply for the B-2 (Tourism) visa in the Philippines, which is what this guide will cover, you must ensure that you are eligible for one. Here are the purposes of travel that are covered by the B-2 US Visa, which is also known as the Visitor Visa for Pleasure, Tourism, and Medical Treatment:

  • Tourism or vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Attendance in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations, i.e. wedding
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
  • Enrollment in a short recreational course, i.e. a 2-day cooking class while on vacation

If your main reason to travel is to experience America’s iconic attractions, such as the Statue of Liberty, Universal Studios Hollywood™, the Grand Canyon, or this must-visit spot in San Francisco, go ahead and apply for the B-2 category!

how-to-apply-for-us-tourist-visa-philippines-waug
Follow WAUG on Facebook and Instagram to get inspiration and tips for your trip to the United States and other destinations!

However, if your purpose of travel is different from what’s listed above (e.g. you will travel for business, media coverage, or a paid performance), you may refer to the other US visa types here.

2. How to Apply for a US Visa in the Philippines

To lodge a B-2 visa application in the PH, keep in mind the following steps:

  • Fill out the DS-160 form or the electronic US visa application form.
  • Pay the fee of $160 (peso equivalent) at a Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch. PesoNet Customers may opt to pay the processing fee online.
  • Create an Applicant Account and schedule your US visa interview.
  • Prepare the US Visa Interview Requirements and your supporting documents.
  • Visit the US Embassy at the date and time of your interview.

As you can see, the process is pretty simple and manageable (it really is!), but along the way you may encounter some difficulties, such as when you start accomplishing the DS-160 form or when you gather your requirements or supplementary documents. To help you move on to the next steps, tips are provided in the next sections of this blog post. But first, consider these general guidelines for all US visa applicants:

  • There is no guarantee you will be issued a US visa. Do not make final travel plans or buy tickets until you have it on your passport.
  • The US visa fee of $160 is non-refundable, even if you were not successful in your application.
  • You will not be allowed to enter the US with an expired visa. The visa must be valid at the time you enter the US. 
  • A valid US visa in an expired passport is still valid. Unless canceled or revoked, a visa is valid until its expiration date. If you have a valid visa in your expired passport, do not remove it from your expired passport. You may use your valid visa in your expired passport along with a new valid passport for travel and admission to the United States. 
  • A visa allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad to travel to the United States port-of-entry and request permission to enter the US. It does not guarantee automatic entry.
  • An individual who has a tourist visa is not permitted to accept employment or work in the United States.

3. How to Fill Out the US Visa Application Form (Electronic DS-160 Form)

Let’s begin! In my opinion, accomplishing the DS-160 is the most important step when you apply for a US tourist visa. Sure, the interview at the Embassy is crucial, however, as you may realize later on, it only lasts for minutes (if not less than a minute!) and is not exactly a defined systematic interrogation where you get to state each and every detail of your background, travel, itinerary, occupation, and financial capability, unless inquired of by the consular officer. You are expected to do this when you fill out the US visa application form, so make sure to do this step very carefully. 

You can access and get started with the DS-160 form by going to the Consular Electronic Application Center. The link will take you to a page that will ask you where you are applying for a visa from. Select your location and start an application. A screenshot of the page is provided below:

apply
Credit: Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State

3.1 Guidelines

Answer all questions on the DS-160 form completely and accurately. All responses must be in English and in English characters only, except when you are instructed to provide your name in your native alphabet. 

  • If you are having trouble accessing the DS-160: Use Google Chrome or the latest version of Internet Explorer.
  • If you do not plan to complete your application within the next 30 days: Download your application to your computer by clicking the “Save” button at the bottom of the last completed page. Also take note of your unique Application Identification (ID) number.
  • If you stop working on your US visa application form for more than 20 minutes: Your session will expire and you will have to start all over again, unless you have recorded your Application ID number or have saved your application to a file on your computer.
  • What are the documents that I need while answering the form? You will need the information from your valid passport and Curriculum Vitae, so it is wise to have them on hand. If you have previously travelled to the United States, you must also be ready to provide the dates of your last 5 visits. You may also be asked about your other travel history (outside the US) within the last 5 years. Furthermore, if you have already made travel arrangements, have your travel itinerary available.
  • If an item or question in the online US visa application form is optional and irrelevant to you: Answer with “Does Not Apply”. However, keep in mind that most questions are mandatory and failure to provide a response to a mandatory item will display a system error.

3.2 Sample Questions from the online US Visa Application Form

The DS-160 will fully inquire of your personal details, contact information, travel history, travel plans, family background, occupation, and others. Here are some questions that you may see:

us-visa-application-form-ds-160-sample
This is a screenshot of the DS-160 sample that is provided by the U.S. Department of State via Travel.State.Gov.

3.2.1 Have you made specific travel plans?

This is answerable by a yes or a no. If your response is in the affirmative, you will be prompted to provide your date of arrival in the US, flight number, arrival city, and departure flight. You will also be asked to specify the locations that you plan to visit in the US. If your response is No, provide an estimate or tentative travel information. 

3.2.2 Are there other people traveling with you?

Answer Yes if you will travel with your family, as part of an organized tour, or as part of an athletic team or performing group.

3.2.3 Have you used any other email addresses in the last five years?

Provide the alternative email address/es if you have them.

3.2.4 Do you have a social media presence?

If you have a personal account on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ask.FM, Youtube, and/or Reddit, you will have to provide your username or handle. This is a fairly new and mandatory field in the US tourist visa application form.

3.2.5 Have you ever used a passport or had one stolen?

You will have to provide an explanation if you responded Yes.

3.2.6 Contact Person or Organization in the United States

This is someone in the United States who can verify your identity, if applicable. You will have to specify your relationship with and address of that person.

3.2.7 Do you have any immediate relatives, not including parents, in the United States?

This includes your spouse, child, sibling, fiancee, or fiance who presently resides in the US.

3.2.8 Present Work/Education/Training Information

If you’re employed, you will have to indicate your start date, monthly income in Philippine Peso (local currency), and basic job description.

3.2.9 Do you belong to a clan or tribe?

Supply the name of the clan or tribe if you belong to one.

3.2.10 Are you or have you ever been a drug abuser or addict?

Provide an explanation if your answer is yes.

3.3 Photo 

Towards the end of the US visa application form, you will be asked to upload a digital photo. The Embassy recommends applicants to avail a professional visa photo service to easily ensure that the photo meets the following requirements (requesting a digital copy to be sent to you via email may incur additional costs):

us-visa-application-photo-size
US visa application photo size. Credit: CGI Federal Inc.
  • 2 x 2 in size
  • Colored
  • Taken in front of a plain white or off-white background

Moreover, your US visa application photo must be captured within the last 6 months. You should also be seen in your neutral facial expression and clothing that you wear on a daily basis (uniforms are not allowed, except for religious clothing that is worn daily). 

3.4 Signature

You will be asked to sign your DS-160 electronically at the end of the form. Click the “Sign Application” button to do this. Failure to place your electronic signature may result in termination of your US tourist visa application. If you are under the age of 16 or physically incapable of answering the DS-160, the applicant’s parents or guardian may complete and click the “Sign Application” button. A third party may complete the US visa application form if the applicant is illiterate or unable to complete the form.

3.5 How to Apply for a US Visa as a family or group

You can create a group or family application after one member completes the DS-160 form. Here are the instructions from the US Department of State:

  • When you select “Email Confirmation” on your Confirmation Page, you will be directed to a “Thank You” page. 
  • On the “Thank You” page, you will see an option to create a family or group US visa application.
  • When you select this option, certain information from your application, such as destination, will automatically be imported to and displayed on a new application. 

Note that if you use this option you must create an individual application for each family member or for each individual within the group.

Notes

  • After successfully creating and submitting your DS-160, you will get a Confirmation email. You will need this to schedule an interview. 
  • If you see an X-mark on the Confirmation page, it means that the photo upload failed. You should then submit one printed photograph that meets the requirements to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which you plan to apply for your visa.
  • Each applicant, regardless of age, must complete their individual DS-160 visa application form.
  • The interview post you select at the beginning of the DS-160 form must be the same post where you schedule your interview appointment.
  • To get the full official sample US visa application form, click here.
  • If you want to take your US visa application photo by yourself, here is the link that contains all the guidelines.

4. Pay the US Visa Application Fee (MRV Application Fee)

This step can actually be done even before you fill out the US visa application form or DS-160, but I opted to do this afterwards. The non-refundable fee for the US Machine Readable Visa (MRV) is $160 and you may pay the peso equivalent by doing any of the following:

4.1 Cash payment at RCBC

Get the US visa application deposit slip (MRV fee of $160) here and print it out. This is system-generated and shows the peso equivalent that you have to pay, as well as the expiration date of the slip. If you will apply for a US visa with your family, you must secure one deposit slip for each applicant. You will not be able to pay the visa fees of all your family members using a single deposit slip.

After printing your deposit slip/s, proceed to your preferred Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) branch to make the payment. Instructions for using the TouchQ machine are are provided on the slip. Whatever you do, do not lose your customer copy as this will serve as a requirement for your US visa interview.

4.2 Online Payment for PesoNet Customers

If you are a PesoNet user, you can follow these steps to pay your US visa processing fee online.

5. Creating an Applicant Account and Scheduling Your US Visa Interview Online

You will be able to schedule your US visa appointment online after accomplishing the application form, making a payment, and creating an Applicant Account on CGI Federal’s website, which is contracted by the US Department of State for communications and logistics. Take note of the following information before you proceed:

  • For applicants who paid cash at an RCBC branch: Wait for at least 4 hours after making the payment before scheduling a visa appointment.
  • For applicants who paid online: 
    • Online payment made via RCBC (weekday at 3:01pm-12am, weekend, and holidays): you’ll receive your receipt on the next banking day. Once you have it, wait for one more day and schedule your interview after 11am.
    • Online payment made via PesoNet: you’ll receive your receipt on the next business day regardless if you paid on a weekday, weekend, or holiday. Once you have the receipt, you’re supposed to wait for one more day to schedule your interview.

When you’re ready to go, create an Applicant Account here. If you’ve paid through any of the online channels, you can skip this step since you already have one. You may want to log back in here.

Once you’re in the system, find Schedule Appointment on the menu and provide your passport number, receipt number, and the ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page. As you go along and provide more information about your application, you will be able to schedule your US visa appointment. You’ll receive a confirmation after doing so, similar to the one I have below:

us-visa-appointment
My US Visa Appointment Confirmation.

Scheduling your US Visa Interview via the Call Center

Alternatively, you may also contact the Call Center to schedule your interview. They are open on weekdays from 8am-8pm (excluding US and PH public holidays) and are reachable via call, web call, email, Skype, or live chat.

You will still need to create an Applicant Account if you book your appointment via the Call Center. This will ensure delivery of your passport after your interview, if your US visa application is approved.

US Visa Appointment Wait Time

The estimated wait time to get an appointment at the US Embassy changes weekly, but you can use the tool here to get up-to-date information. 

If you are facing an urgent and unforeseen situation such as a funeral, medical emergency, or school start date, you may request for an expedited US visa interview appointment by contacting the Embassy or Consulate. (Note that the following purposes of travel do not qualify for expedited appointments: attending weddings and graduation ceremonies, assisting pregnant relatives, participating in an annual business, academic, or professional conference, or enjoying last-minute tourism.)

Notes

  • If you want to view the current appointment availability, log in to your Applicant Account and click here.
  • As of March 2020, the current wait time to get a visa interview appointment at the US Embassy in the Philippines is 14 business days. If you want to check the updated wait time in Manila, visit this page.
  • In your Applicant Account, ensure that you provided a delivery address before your interview date.

6. Prepare the US Visa Requirements for Your Interview

Before you show up for your booked US visa interview, make sure that you have the following requirements:

6.1 Current Passport and Old Passport/s

Your current DFA-issued passport should be valid for at least six (6) months beyond your period of stay in the United States. If you have an expired passport/s, bring them with you as well.

If you were issued a US visa before, make sure to have it on the day of your interview.

6.2 DS-160 Confirmation Page

Print the Confirmation Page that you received after submitting your electronic US visa application form. You must bring a copy with you during all phases of the application process at the US Embassy. Without the confirmation page, they may not be able to process your visa application. (You are not required to bring a printout of your entire DS-160 or US visa application form. Only the Confirmation Page is needed!)

6.3 Payment Receipt

Bring your US visa application fee payment receipt.

6.4 Photo

Bring a printout of your photo, even if you successfully uploaded it on your DS-160 application. (Embarrassing side note: On the day of my interview, the guard asked me for a printed photo even if I have one on my DS-160. I failed to bring one that day, so I panicked. It was a good thing that they have an in-house booth or kiosk that shoots and prints out photos, so I did not have to reschedule my appointment!)

6.5 Supporting documents

Bringing in supporting documents will help you prove your ties in the Philippines and financial capacity. In essence, these are not required unless the consular officer asks for them during the interview. Since you could not know for sure, it’s best to prepare whatever paperwork applies to you. (In my case, I prepared several documents but didn’t really get to use any of it!)

Here are the documents that help strengthen US visa applications (present the original documents that apply to you!):

  • Certificate of Employment or COE – must show your name, position, start date, how long you’ve been employed, salary, and approved leave request
  • Pay slips – from the most recent 3 months
  • ITR or tax payment documents
  • DTI or SEC registration
  • Documents showing your ownership of assets or properties
  • Latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements, fixed deposit slips, or other evidence.
  • Travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip
  • Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere 
  • Bring photocopies of your relative’s proof of status, e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc.
  • Any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status, if you were previously in the United States.
  • A medical diagnosis from a local physician explaining the nature of your ailment and the reason you require treatment in the United States.

If you would like to prepare other documents that are not listed here or in the official guide here, do so if you think they may help. 

7. US Visa Interview Process: Tips for Filipinos

Here some notes to help you on the day of your US tourist visa interview:

7.1 What to wear

There’s no strict guideline on this, but as with any other offices and public establishments, do not wear sleeveless shirts, shorts, and other casual clothing. I highly recommend coming in in your semi-formal or formal, if you are comfortable doing so. For the ladies, that could be your blouse, blazer, and skirt. For the men, that could be your suit and tie, which is what I wore. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it really helps to appear pleasant, professional, and prepared in front of the consular officer. Just think about how you do it if you were applying for a job: your aim is to impress your interviewer not just with your soft skills, but also with your appearance. Of course, you will see other applicants showing up in the Embassy in their jeans and a collared shirt, but whatever attire you decide to put on, make sure that you look presentable.

7.2 Show up 15 minutes early

Your Appointment Confirmation will say that you must arrive at the US Embassy STRICTLY 15 minutes before your schedule. This means that if your appointment is at 9am, you have to be there at 8:45am sharp. However, I recommend arriving 30 minutes before since the guards-on-duty may call in the batch (by appointment slot) even before 15 minutes. Keep in mind, though, that if you arrive earlier than the designated time, there will be no standby area around.

Here’s the address of the US Embassy in the Philippines: 1201 Roxas Blvd, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila. You can also follow their Facebook page here.

7.3 No electronics 

You will not be permitted to bring in any mobile phone or gadget inside the US Embassy, so it is wise not to bring them with you. (On the day of my visa interview, there were some vendors outside the Embassy who offered me safekeeping services. I am not sure if they are authorized to do so or if they are still permitted in the area to this day, but you may bump into them. Make use of this information as you please.)

7.4 Basic screening and security procedure

When the guard calls for your batch, you’ll be let inside for some basic pre-screening and fingerprint scanning. You will then be escorted to the area where you will wait for and have your US visa interview.

7.5 US Visa Interview 

The moment of truth. When you finally appear before the consular officer, hand in your passport. Do not speak unless you’re engaged or asked a question. When you respond, speak in English, make eye contact, and make sure your voice is loud enough to be heard. 

As mentioned in the previous section, you will be asked a few things about your DS-160 (your personal, professional, financial, or social background), or something that is slightly irrelevant to your purpose, like what you know about the state you’re traveling to. Whatever the question is, answer with confidence and to the best of your knowledge. If the officer asks for supporting documents, take them out. If they’re not being asked for and you feel like showing it to them will prove your point, ask politely if they would like to take a look at your document. 

(If you’re feeling too nervous about the interview, it may help to practice with someone before your US visa interview. Go over your visa application form and have someone ask you questions like: “What is your purpose of visit?”, “How long will you stay?”, “What do you do or what is your job?”, “How much do you make in a month?”, “Where will you stay in the US?”, “Why do you want to visit that place?” and others. Some of these questions may not at all be asked, but you want to gain that confidence that you can answer any inquiry about your travel plans and background.)

When the interview is done, they’ll let you know if your application is approved or denied. Whatever the outcome is, it is always nice to end the interview by thanking the consular officer for their time.

If your visa is approved, the consular officer will take your passport for processing and send it back to your mailing address in around a week’s time (or 5 business days). When you get it back, check your passport and see if you were able to get a single-entry or a multiple-entry US visa and let me know your experience in the comments section below!

However, if your US visa application is denied, your passport will be given back, along with a blue slip that indicates the rejection. More on this in the next few sections.

7.6 Administrative Processing

While there are only 2 possible outcomes for U.S. visa applications, there are some cases when the visa officer would need more time to review a US tourist visa application even after having the interview. This is what they’ll call Administrative Processing, which will delay the result at a later date. 

7.7 If you need to cancel your US Visa Interview

You must cancel your appointment at least 24 hours before your schedule. If you fail to cancel, your appointment privilege will be temporarily suspended and you will need to reschedule to a much later date.

8. Is your US visa application APPROVED?

Congratulations! Many people say that getting a tourist visa to the US is quite difficult, so give yourself a pat on the back. Better yet, visit this nearby buffet in Manila Bay to celebrate your success with your family or friends! You can also start booking your US trip, so do consider these exciting utilities and activities in the United States that you can book from WAUG:

Get access to the Golden Gate Bay Cruise, the Modern Art Museum, and more with just a single pass!

Must-Have Tourists Cards in the US

Gain automatic entry to the major attractions in the US when you purchase any of the following passes from WAUG:

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Tours for a Memorable USA Trip!

If you have not done so, download WAUG on your smartphone now and sign up for an account. New members will get an instant discount on their first booking!

9. How to Check the Status of your US Visa Application 

After your interview, you will be able to track the delivery status of your passport and US visa by using an online tool or email. If you’ll use the online tool, click here and provide your passport number. If you opt to send an email, you can do so to passportstatus@ustraveldocs.com. In the subject and body, enter your passport number and nothing else. You will receive an automatic response with the status.

10. If your US visa application is DENIED

Filipinos may be denied a US visa for the following reasons (not meant to be exhaustive):

  • You did not fully complete the visa application and/or provide all required supporting documentation.
  • You did not establish eligibility for the visa category being applied for or overcome the presumption of being an intending immigrant. 
  • You were convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude.
  • You were convicted of a drug violation.
  • You have two or more criminal convictions for which the total sentence of confinement was 5 years or more.
  • You did not demonstrate proof of adequate financial support in the United States, and therefore denied under public charge.
  • You misrepresented a material fact or committed fraud to attempt to receive a visa.
  • You previously remained longer than authorized in the United States.

If you would like to make an inquiry regarding your failed application, you may try contacting the US Embassy at +632-5301-2000, which is their main telephone number. If your call won’t get through, you may also dial 5301-2166 or 5301-2177. As an alternative, you may send them an email at ACSInfoManila@state.gov. Expect a response in 3-5 days.

If you’ll inquire from the US Consular Agency in Cebu, the number to call is +6332-231-1261. You may also send an email to ACSInfoCebu@state.gov.

How soon can you reapply for a US visa?

Some visa consultants say that there’s no minimum period before you can submit a new application (or reapplication), while some recommend waiting for at least three (3) days. I was not able to find an official guideline on this (do let me know if you find one!), but I think what’s more important to think about are two things: (1) obtaining new documents to prove your travel plans, background, and intention; and/or (2) ensuring that there are change/s in your circumstances. Getting new documents may only take a day or two, but demonstrating a change in your situation will depend on you (and will definitely take longer). I recommend applying once you comply with any of the two.

The downloadable US Visa B1 and B2 Flyer from 2015 also has this relevant note: If the consular officer finds it necessary to deny the issuance of a visitor visa, the applicant may apply again if there is new evidence to overcome the basis for the refusal.

11. US Visa Application Tips from Filipinos

To help you prepare for your upcoming US visa application in Manila, I have some tips and recommendations from successful Filipino visa applicants of the B-2 US tourist visa. I got these from this useful Facebook group, whose members are kind and willing to share about their experiences. Since the group is set to private, I am only able to share screenshots of the posts. (I blurred personal identifiable information to uphold privacy.) Do note that I am not able to attest to the authenticity of the information shared in this section, and they may not be applicable nor effective for everyone: 

11.1 Question on bank statement, itinerary, and show money

An annotated transcript follows all the screenshots below.

us-visa-application-minor-baby

Jell: Hi po! Planning to get a US visa. If papalarin multiple-entry sana. Wala pa pong itinerary kasi next year pa balak pumunta with my parents. Uunahin lang po kunin yung visa. Also, Singapore and China pa lang din ang napuntahan ko. Both parents ko kasi may 10-year multiple-entry US visa and ako lang balak nila isama. Iwan muna ang daughter and husband ko. Mag-tour lang kami if ever sa San Francisco. May work din po ako (government employee) and may small online business lang po.

Question lang po:

  • Yung bank statement ba need ng US Embassy na may date if kailan pa nasa account ko? Or kahit wala po? 100k plus will do na ba as show money?
  • Okay lang din po ba na wala pang itinerary?
  • May small online business din kasi ako. Do I need to declare it din ba if ever mag-ask? Kaso wala kasi akong DTI permit pa so wala na po ako kahit anong docs na ipre-present.

Pahingi na rin po ng tips please. Kabado talaga ako.

A user comment reads: Walang show money, show money sa US. Prepare mo lang. Basta be truthful sa online application. Answer directly sa interview.

11.2 US Visa application approved!

Curious to know what happened to Jell’s application? She posted the following update a month after!

us-visa-application-guide-blog

Jell: Hi po! Share ko lang ang aking approved 10-year multiple-entry US visa. Interview ko noong December 10, 10:15am.

She then shared the questions that she got from her US visa interview:

  • Where are you going in the US? We are going to have a tour in San Francisco, California for the celebration of my father’s 60th birthday.
  • How long will you stay there? Just 7 days.
  • What’s your job? I’m a government employee…
  • How long have you been working there? 3 years.
  • What countries have you been to? I’ve been to China in 2013 and Singapore in 2019. I have an upcoming trip to Hong Kong and Macau in January 2020.
  • What’s your course in college? Bachelor in Mass Communication
  • Where? Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.
  • Do you have any relatives in the US? None.
  • Are you married? Yes.
  • Do you have a child? Yes.
  • Are they coming with you? (Turning point ito, I think, kasi may babalikan ako sa Pilipinas.) No, my husband has a prior commitment with his company, that’s why they can’t come with us.

Consul: Okay, your visa is approved!

By the way, nilagay ko na I’m travelling with my parents (both may US Visa). My salary na declared sa form is ₱27,000 only. If may trabaho ka, much better na ilagay mo na ikaw ang sasagot sa expenses at wag ka na magpa-sponsor. Hindi niyo need ng show money. Wala akong show money pero may dala akong bank certificate na hindi naman hiningi at all.

My advice is consistent dapat ang mga sagot ninyo na ilalagay sa form. Hindi totoo na depende sa mood ng Consul ang decision. In-observe ko talaga lahat kasi naririnig at nakikita namin ‘yong mga denied. Karamihan sa kanila may discrepancies sa sinasabi at hindi talaga strong ang ties sa Pilipinas. Kaya minsan, kapag hindi maintindihan ng Consul, eh denied agad. Sa inyo talaga nakasalalay ang ikapapasa ninyo, lalo na ang STRONG TIES niyo sa ‘Pinas.

Doon pala sa form, hiningi rin ang social media account links. So nilagay ko ang Facebook at Instagram ko. Tapos dito sa Facebook profile ko, nilagay ko sa featured photos yung mga travel pictures namin. Mag-practice din pala kayo sa mga isasagot ninyo. Tingin sa salamin kunwari kausap mo iyong Consul or have someone na kunwari ini-interview kayo para prepared. Mostly sa tinanong sa akin ay napaghandaan ko na ang sagot.

If may kamag-anak kayo sa US pero malayong kamag-anak at hindi niyo naman masyadong close, wag niyo na i-mention. Kung ime-mention niyo naman, dapat alam ninyo ang address at trabaho doon, tapos sabihin ninyo na mag-meet lang kayo somewhere if may time pa sa tour ninyo. Plus dapat alam ninyo ang mga tourist spots at address ng tourist spots na pupuntahan ninyo (may tinanong kasi saan daw ang Disneyland sa US, hindi siya nakasagot).

Yung mga ipapadala sa seminar ng company nila, alamin ninyo lahat ng details sa seminar kasi specific ang tanong nila. For example, if exhibit ng machines, anong klaseng machines ang nandoon, etc.

Wala rin palang hiningi kahit isang document sa akin, although dala ko lahat ng pwedeng dalhin. Pero may nakita ako dun ini-interview, hiningan sya ng mga docs.

Sa sobrang saya ko, nagkandalito-lito na ako kung saan ang exit at nasita pa ako ng guard kasi ibang way iyong napuntahan ko. Isang libong kaba rin inabot namin ng mga nakapila dahil ang haba ng pila bago ma-interview ng Consul. AT HIGIT SA LAHAT MAGDASAL! MAGBAON NG MARAMING DASAL PO. Goodluck, guys! Susunod na kaba naman sa Immigration sa US! 

11.3 Granted a multiple-entry US visa with validity of 10 years!

how-to-apply-for-us-visa-family

Joel: Hi, mga ka-DIY! I just wanna share my experience when I applied for a US B2 Visa here in Manila. I was granted a 10-year multiple entry visa. Salamat din sa mga nag-share ng experiences nila dito sa group on getting a US visa. Dami ko ring points na nakuha from reading them.

My profile:

  • 3 months pa lang sa work
  • Single
  • OK ang travel history. Around 14 countries, mostly Asian.
  • Enough lang na savings to support the travel

All the steps and procedures po, makikita nyo sa website ng ustraveldocs.com. So doon lang ako nagstart. I paid the non-refundable visa fee na USD160, automatic na PHP8,640 ang conversion. Sa BPI branches at BPI online/mobile app lang po pwede magbayad. Masakit lang ito sa puso kasi pag na-deny, goodbye ₱9,000!

After makareceive ng confirmation ng payment, nag-fill out ako ng DS-160 form online at nag-schedule na ng appointment. I don’t know what was the reason then, wala na kasing available na maagang schedule. The earliest I got was after 2 months pa.

Fast forward to the interview day, halos 3 minutes lang tinagal ng interview ko and the line of questioning was like this:

  • What are you going to do in the US and how long? I’m planning to spend a week-long holiday in New York.
  • What do you do? I am a licensed accountant (CPA). Right now I’m working as… for…
  • How long have you been in this job? Just 3 months, sir, but prior to that, I had already worked for 12 years in different companies.
  • Have you traveled outside the Philippines? Yes. In the past five years, I’ve been to 14 countries including…

Consul: Your visa is approved. You will receive your passport after 5 days.

11.4 More US Visa Interview Questions

us-visa-interview-questions

Francis: I just wanna share my interview experience for my US Tourist Visa application on Monday, January 27, 2020. Before anything else, I just want to tell you that I’m not a visa expert, but somehow my experience might help you prepare for your own journey in applying for a US Tourist Visa.

I read a lot of blogs and stories shared on this page too (thank you, DIY community!). Most of them said that the earlier the interview schedule in the day, the better, kasi good mood pa daw ang consul officer. I chose the earliest schedule – 7:00AM. Sigurista mode on! But I noticed na HINDI po ito totoo sa lahat ng pagkakataon. Case-to-case basis po talaga ang approval. It’s all about our ties here in the Philippines, our travel history, and being consistent in giving information on the US visa application form.

Aside from the required documents stated in the online application, I brought with me the following supporting documents for good measure. However, none of these were actually asked for during my interview.

  • Old passports
  • Certificate of Employment (COE)
  • Bank Certificate with ADB and Statement of Account (for 3 mos)
  • ITR for the last 3 years
  • Land title under my name

I arrived at the US Embassy around 6:30am and the guard was waving a sign saying 7am processing. I joined the line and got inside the embassy in no sweat. We went through multiple security checks, had our DS-160 pre-screened, and our fingerprints scanned.

Di ko lang ma-gets: we were told to stand in line and we’re not allowed to sit when, in fact, there were chairs available! Basta sumunod na lang kami sa instructions. After a long while, a staff member guided everyone and pointed us to the open booths for the interview. I was among those who were ushered to the farthest area where only 1 booth was open – ganun kami kaaga! Nauna pa kami sa ibang consul officers. I was 3rd in line. Kuya Bagets in his early-twenties and Ate Girl in mid-twenties were in front of me… You can hear all the conversations because the consular officer was using a microphone and there was a loud speaker above the applicant and that was the only open booth in that area at that time.

Here’s how the interview supposedly went for ‘Kuya Bagets’:

  • Hi, what’s the purpose of your trip? Tourism in New York.
  • When? This coming April.
  • What’s your work? I work in my father’s company. He owns a hardware store.
  • Who’s going to pay for your trip? My parents.
  • OK, do you have your parents’ financial documents? Oh, I don’t have it with me, sir, but I have my own bank certificate. (In my mind I said, oops! Sana sinabi nya sya ang gagastos sa biyahe nya.)
  • I’m sorry young man, but I can’t grant you a visa at this time. (The consular officer got a big blue paper and inserted it in Kuya Bagets’ passport. The rejection happened that fast! So sad.)

Tip: Do your assignment, folks. Bring with you all documents that will strengthen your case, especially the documents that will prove your sponsor’s financial capacity if you’re not the one who will pay for the trip. At least you’re ready to present it when asked; and if not, it won’t hurt. The ₱8,640 visa fee is not cheap — just to be given a big blue slip instead of a visa! 

Here’s how the interview supposedly went for ‘Ate Girl’:

  • What’s the purpose of your trip? I want to go to Hawaii for a backpacking tour.
  • Backpacking? You’re doing that? Yes! In fact I did a backpacking tour in Indochina last year.
  • Indochina? Where is that? In Southeast Asia. I went to Thailand, then moved to Cambodia, then moved to Vietnam, and finally in Myanmar.
  • Myanmar? You went there? Yes!
  • You must be a brave young lady. (sounding impressed): I knoooow! (Naks! Ang confidence level ni Ate Girl reached the ceiling.)
  • What’s your job? I’m a freelance graphic artist.
  • How much do you earn? I charge my clients no less than ₱25,000 per project.
  • How many clients do you have? I have 3 clients now.
  • OK, your visa is approved! Hope you enjoy backpacking in Hawaii: Thank you so much, sir! (Ate Girl walked with a big smile on her face.)

Tip: Better if you have established a good travel history for greater chances of approval.

Francis then shares his US visa interview experience: My turn, and my heart started to beat like a drum. Yay!

  • Good morning sir!
  • Good morning. Where are you going? I want to go to California for a short vacation to visit my cousin who lives in Glendale and to tour around San Francisco and L.A. as well.
  • How many days are you gonna be there? 10 days.
  • 10 days? But California is far from Manila, why only 10 days? I don’t usually take long vacations because I have a job that I cannot abandon for a longer period of time. (Charot.)
  • OK, so what’s your job? I’m the (my designation) for (my company name), which is a retail company here in Manila.
  • How much is your monthly salary? XX,XXX pesos monthly.
  • (The consular officer checked his computer) I can see that you’ve been working for this company for quite a long time: Yes sir, more than 10 years.
  • (The consular officer checked my passport and saw my Japan visa and landing permission.) You’ve been to Japan? Yes, sir, last September 2018.
  • (The consular officer continued browsing my passport and saw my Korean Visa and entry confirmation slips attached on it). So, tell me, how’s your trip to South Korea? It was an amazing experience. I love South Korea. In fact, I have visited the country twice.
  • When? My first visit was in early March of 2018 during winter and my second visit was in late October 2019 during autumn.
  • OK, your visa is approved! Enjoy your trip to California. Thank you so much sir! God bless! (The consular officer waved my passport with his left hand and gave me a thumbs up with his right hand.)

That’s it! Build a career, establish good travel history, and try to remember your previous travels also. You’ll never know if you’ll be asked about it too. I walked out of the embassy ala Sarah G… “tila ako’y nakalutang na sa langit…”

11.5 Successful US Visa Application in 2020

Brenda: Hi, I’m sharing my experience during my US visa interview. 7am yung scheduled interview ko. Nagpahatid ako sa papa ko and hinintay niya din ako since sa kanya ko iniwan gamit ko.

Pagdating doon, ang haba na ng pila. Naghanap kami ng available parking na malapit. 6:30am kami nakarating pero nag-start na sila magpapasok. Napakasimple ng mga requirements, and sa lahat ng dala kong documents, valid passport lang ang kinailangan ko. Dinala ko ITR, COE and bank statement just in case na hingin pero never hiningi.

Step 1. Pre-screening. Kinuha ang valid passport, then she just asked me the purpose of my visit in the US. Filipino siya. Tinanong din niya if ang ginamit kong photo sa DS-160 is yung latest. Then binalik din sa akin yung passport ko.

Step 2. Finger-scanning. Ini-scan yung barcode na nilagay sa likod ng passport. Tinanong din yung full name and birthdate. Then scan yung apat na daliri ng bawat kamay at hinlalaki.

Step 3. THE INTERVIEW. I was interviewed by a woman in her late 30’s, I think. Yung nauna sa akin sa pila, nadeny. Nakakaloka kasi rinig mo yung mga tanong sa bawat window. So malalaman mo if denied or approved. Kung gaano ka kaconfident sa pila, mawawala lahat yun kapag turn mo na. And I felt that…

  • Where are you going in the US? I’m going to New York for a short vacation.
  • Of all the cities in the US, why New York? Because it’s my dream destination in the US. I want to see the Statue of Liberty.
  • What do you do? I’m an accountant.
  • Oh, in (the consular officer mentioned the name of the company, parang aware siya sa name ng company ko) for 7 years…: Yes.
  • Who are you travelling with? I’ll be travelling solo
  • So you’re fond of travelling, huh: Yes.
  • How long would you stay there? 10 days.
  • Where are you planning to stay? (Name of affordable hotel indicated in my D160), because it’s near New York.
  • Do you have any friends or relatives in the US? None.
  • What countries have you been to? Japan, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Hong Kong, Macau, Korea. (Then ini-scan niya ang passport ko. Lahat ng stamps and old visas ay nasa old passport ko, so Japan Visa lang nandoon. So kinabahan ako. Tapos bigla na lang siya ngumiti sa akin.)
  • Congratulations! You can have your visa in 3-5 working days.

11.6 US Tourist Visa Application as a Family

us-visa-appointment-interview

Nick: Sharing our family US tourist visa application last February 13, 2020. I am not an expert, but sharing is caring (also giving back to this group where I was able to read a lot about the process of application). You may have similar circumstances with our family.

We filled-out our DS-160 application forms on January 2020 and scheduled the interview on February 13, 2020. Here are some tips:

Before the interview:

  • Consistency is key. Answer the DS-160 form truthfully.
  • Declare all details (e.g. social media, email addresses, mobile numbers, immediate family members, etc.).
  • Choose the earliest schedule para konti lang pila (However, we chose 9:30am since we arrived in Manila around 1:30am from our out-of-town trip).
  • Book a reliable hotel near the Embassy para iwas ma-late. Maganda yung walking distance lang. Reliable hotel kasi iiwan niyo lahat ng electronic and metal devices (cellphones, watches, susi ng hotel) niyo dito kasi bawal dalhin sa US Embassy.
  • Get some sleep para fresh ang utak sa pagsagot sa Consul.
  • Read blogs, join US Visa groups sa facebook, and watch Youtube vlogs.
  • Be ready with your documents just in case tanungin ka and you feel like showing proof (the only documents we have are our previous passports).
  • Print and prepare necessary documents: Appointment Confirmation, DS-160 Confirmation, 2×2 picture, and US visa receipt.

During the interview:

  • Wear your most comfortable dress (naka t-shirt kami and maong pants).
  • Be confident.
  • Look in the eyes of the consul kapag sumagot ka.
  • Always smile at the consul.
  • Answer direct to the point. Huwag paligoy-ligoy.

Our interview was at 9:30am and we arrived just in time, I think (wala kaming dalang cellphones and relo). Sa labas may pila na. Pinakita namin yung Appointment Confirmation and passports (may dinikit silang barcode sa likod ng passports namin). Pinapasok na kami and proceeded to step 1 (picture scanning), step 2 (fingerprint scanning) and most importantly step 3 (interview). Mahaba ang pila for step 3 and someone will assign you to your Consul or window. We were assigned sa window 26. You will hear the interviews of the others ahead of you kasi naka-microphone si Consul at may speakers sa harap ng windows. So here is how our interview went:

  • Good morning. Good morning
  • What are your relationships? This my father, mother, and brothers.
  • What is the purpose of your visit? Tourism and to celebrate my father’s 75th birthday.
  • Ok, father first. What is your job? Retired farmer (I corrected my father: retired government employee and now a farmer.)
  • How much is your income? I have a xx,xxx monthly pension.
  • (The consular officer asks the mother.) What is your job and how much do you earn? Certified Public Accountant and xx,xxx pesos.
  • OK, so who is the eldest? What is your job and how much do you earn? Encoder, xx,xxx pesos.
  • Who is the middle child? I am the middle child.
  • I thought you (pointing at my younger brother) are the middle child. What is your job and how much do you earn? I am an Engineer at (name of company) and I earn xx,xxx a month
  • (Consul to younger brother) What is your job and how much do you earn? I am working in Australia. I earn xxx,xxx a month.
  • What type of visa do you hold? Working visa.
  • (30 seconds of silence) Aside from Australia, what other countries did you visit? We just left Japan yesterday and got back this morning.
  • Oh really, what places did you visit in Japan? Tokyo and Osaka.
  • (Around 1 minute of silence; consul pointed to younger brother) Did you go to Dubai or Abu Dhabi? Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  • Did you work there? No, tourist only. (Nick butts in: I was with him in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and if there is a seat sale, we also plan to go there as a family.)
  • What did you enjoy in Dubai? Jumeirah Beach. (Moment of silence for around 2 minutes. Exaggerated lang yung 2 minutes kasi kahit 30 seconds lang, matagal mag antay ng results.)
  • OK, your visas are approved! 

See you soon, America! Masarap pakinggan na your visas are approved. Music to your ears, ika nga nila. Nawala kaagad lahat ng kaba at super sarap ng pakiramdam na ngumiti. Sabi nga ng isang nag post dito, lumabas kami ng Embassy ala Sarah G, “Tila ako’y nakalutang na sa langit…” 

11.7 Instant Appeal: From Denied to Approved!

While the following post from Margrette pertains to her J-1 US visa application (work and travel), tourist visa applicants might pick up a thing or two from her interview experience:

multiple-entry-us-visa

Margrette: Just wanna share how I got DENIED and been APPROVED for US VISA at the same time. Yes! I was denied. I was applying for a J1 Visa. Several questions were asked, but here’s the highlight:

  • What did you do after graduation? I worked right away, sir.
  • So what did you do? I worked at a fine dining restaurant as part of the culinary team for about 5 months (then I stated the reason why I resigned). I am currently an operations supervisor at…
  • How long are you working there now? Already going 4 months, sir.

He stopped talking and scanned my passport. He handed back my passport with a blue paper while stating that I was being DENIED because I only have a total of 9 months experience and that they require 1 year.

But, boy, I didn’t even touch my passport and immediately added that I also have work experience when I was in college at McDonalds for about 10 months. Then, the consular officer asked me regarding my work there and about what I will do when I come back here in PH. Fast forward — 

  • Alright your VISA is APPROVED. Your passport will be delivered in a week. Thank you!

Who would have thought that it could happen right? While in queue for the interview, you will witness and even hear those who are being denied and approved. And I realized after my interview that those people who got denied didn’t even bother to ask why they are being denied or justifying why they should not be. Maybe out of shock? But the thing is do not lose hope just like I did. And of course pray. What if I didn’t justify and just accepted that I was denied? That’s it then. I wouldn’t have the chance to get approved. Hope this will help! Goodluck!

P.S. The consul didn’t look for my supporting documents like certificates and even my bank statement. Just the passport. Still better ready than not.

Use WAUG for your US tour!

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Reference

To get the official US visa application procedure and instructions, refer to the website of the US Embassy in the Philippines here

On a final note, I wish you all the best for your US visa application! Just keep in mind these simplified steps: fill out the electronic US visa application form, pay the non-refundable fee, create an Applicant Account, schedule your interview, prepare the requirements and supplementary documents, and finally show up early on your interview!

If you were able to get a US visa before and have any input to share, please do so in the comments section below for the sake of other travelers. Of course, if you are a first-time applicant who has some questions, leave them down below so others may help out.

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