Getting a US Visa is practically easy. All you need is tons of sincerity and honesty during the interview. The interview process is standard and the consular officers are not as scary as what everyone would think they are.
This post is applicable to Philippine passport holders applying for B1/B2 type US visa.
- Fill out the DS-160 form – you can fulfill the form at your pace and save it for future editing. Make sure you enter your personal information correctly, including your passport details, employment details, and contact information.
- Pay the Visa Fee – B1/B2 visa is pricey. It’s a good $160 bucks out of your pocket and there’s no credit card option. You can pay via BPI Express online or click this link for more information.
- Schedule Your Interview – you can either call the call center or create your account to set your visa application interview.
- Show up for the interview – it may look easy but trust me, the last three requirements are the easiest to fulfill. You will have to go through a lot of queuing along with the bunch of hopefuls and/or suffocate from the stench of Manila bay.
My experience with the American Consular Officer is based on my personal circumstance. I already collected a fair amount of travel stamps on my passport which could support my reasons for obtaining a US Visa. You basically just have to be confident and honest in answering the questions of the consul. I set my interview at 7:15am but I came to the US Embassy at 6AM. There’s already a huge crowd waiting outside the embassy by the time I arrived.
What to bring:
2. Confirmation page of DS-160
3. Payment receipt
1. No electronics should be brought inside the embassy.
2. Have a little snack before your interview.
3. Do not overdress. Just wear comfortable office or school uniform (for students)
The first step is to queue together with the people who are scheduled on the same time as you. 7AM will be allowed to enter the embassy altogether in one line, and so on. Once inside the embassy, they will scan you for security purposes. Next, you will have to present your requirements to a window where they will assign your queue number. The queue range will be called out to enter the consular office. Before the interview, they will need to collect your biometrics first. Then your queue number will be flashed on screen when it’s your turn for interview.
The questions are basic and here are the questions asked during my interview:
Consulate: Why are you going to the USA?
Me: Because I like backpacking.
C: Do you have any relatives in the US?
C: What do you do?
M: I’m a Manager for a Global Health Data company.
C: How much do you earn on a monthly basis?
M: Well I just got a raise so I’m not sure how much it is now. (I was resisting the urge to show my income document. And it’s one of the unwritten rules not to show anything unless it is being asked by the consulate.) So, roughly it’s ***** PHP.
C: What other countries have you been to?
M: Oh, you have my passport so let me try to remember. Hmm… Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Australia, and New Zealand.
C: You said you like backpacking, what’s your most favorite backpacking experience. (Smile)
M: Well, the recent one was in New Zealand. And it’s the best winter experience ever. I started in the North Island in Auckland then flew to Christchurch. And then I traveled by bus on my way back to the North Island. (I had to visually draw the route on the window to indicate the directions.)
C: So when you’re backpacking where do you sleep?
M: I sleep at hostels. I don’t really care where I sleep. I could sleep at airports too. I’ve done that in Indonesia.
It took her a bit more time to ask the next question. She was pressing buttons on her table and typing information on her computer.
C: Do you have relatives in the USA?
M: Nope. Uhm, you’ve asked me that question earlier.
C: Ah yes. You said that before right? So where are you planning to visit in the US?
M: I don’t have any definite plans as of yet. I might go to Guam, or Hawaii. Or maybe California next year starting in San Francisco down to San Diego. Not sure yet.
C: On your DS-160 you said you were planning to visit New York.
M: Oh yes. I’m also planning to visit the east coast… if visa is granted.
The consul punched more characters on her keyboard and pushed buttons on a gadget beside her.
C: Ok. When are you planning to visit? You said you don’t have concrete plans yet right?
M: Uh huh. (Yes)
C: Your visa will be delivered to your address in 5 days.
M: Oh. Thank you.
I went back home happy and rewinding the conversation I had with the consul. It wasn’t scary at all. The dreadful part was the heavy traffic on my way back home from the embassy. 3 days later I got my passport with the 10 year multiple entry Visa on one of the pages.
NOTE: A few advantages of having a US visa on your Philippine passport are the following:
1. Visa Free travel to Taiwan
2. Visa Free travel to Mexico
3. Eligible for online visa application for Turkey