Just like other Filipinos, most of us see The United States of America as the land of milk and honey and going there is always an aspiration. Getting a US Visa is probably the most coveted for Filipino travelers, and maybe even in Asia. Whether you would like to have one for vacation or other purposes, acquiring a US Visa is possible with some luck and with this guide.
Who should apply for a US Visa?
All residents or citizens of the Philippines must apply for a tourist visa before they are allowed to visit the United States, and this is regardless of the length of stay.
This article focuses on the first time US Visa applicants. If you’re up for renewal, head over to this link for the steps in the US Visa application via dropbox.
I only plan to stay in the US for less than 90 days, can I apply for the Visa Waiver Program?
The answer is no. When the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was launched, the Philippines was not among the 38 countries covered by the program.
Citizens of these 38 countries can visit the United States either for business or tourism purposes and can stay up to a maximum of 90 days without getting a visa. However, citizens whose countries are covered by the VWP still need to pass the qualification requirements to travel without a visa under the program.
I wanted to apply for a US VISA, what are the things I should consider?
Before deciding to apply for a US Visa, you must be ready physically and emotionally. You must also prepare the requirements before anything else.
Since this is your first time to apply for a US Visa, here are some important tips that you need to take note of.
- Valid and unexpired Philippine passport, or won’t be expired for at least six months after the last estimated day of visit to the US.
- Appointment letter (more of this later)
- DS-160 confirmation (more of this later)
- Proof of payment (more of this later)
- Latest 2 x 2 Photos (formal shot with white background)
The above are all general requirements but it is also important that you bring supporting documents just to be sure. Remember that you are a first-timer US Visa applicant thus you need to convince the consul of your identity and financial capacity. Some secondary or supporting documents can be :
- Certificate of employment or Business Documents if Self Employed
- NSO Birth certificate
- NSO Marriage Certificate for married individuals
- Bank certificate
- Car registration, if applicable
- Old passport
Before the interview
Be aware of your schedule
It is advisable to be at the US embassy at least 30 minutes before your appointment. This is to give you some room to prepare and not appear hurried or tired during the interview.
Don’t bring anything except your requirements
If possible, bring a companion with you who you can leave with your smartphone, headset, large shoulder bags, and any items except for your documents. For the complete list of other things that are prohibited inside the embassy, you may check it out here.
What are the possible questions during the interview?
Expect basic questions because the purpose of the interview is to establish your identity, purpose of your visit, details of your trip, and be ready with your application form (DS-160) since its possible that the consul will ask based on that too.
The key here is, be honest with all your answers, maintain a calm or neutral composure during the interview, and make sure that you don’t appear desperate to get a US Visa. The consuls are experts and professionals in their jobs, you don’t have to appeal to their emotions.
What happens next after the interview?
After the interview, the consul will immediately tell you if your Visa is approved or denied. If it’s the latter, you will also be given the reason why. Don’t lose hope though, you can reapply anytime you want and this is a good opportunity for you to reassess your application.
I’m ready to apply for a US Visa, where do I start?
If you decided that you are ready to apply for a VISA, all you have to do is follow these four easy steps.
Fill out the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form
- The first thing to do is to click this link and fill out the online DS-160 form.
- Provide the information being asked as honestly as possible. You have to give details such as your bio, address, contact numbers, passport particulars, travel plans, educational attainment, work, and any other things concerning your US trip.
- You will be then asked a 5-page security question, and we hope that your answer to all of it is only NO.
- You will be given an auto-generated confirmation number after successfully filling out the form. You will then have to print the form, or you may forward it to your email address if you wish to do this later. Take note that each applicant has his/her own unique confirmation number.
Make your payment of $160
A Visa fee of $160 is required to move on with your application. This fee is applicable every time you apply for a US Visa, thus, those who were denied before should also make another payment if they wish to reapply. Take note also that this fee is non-transferrable and cannot be refunded anymore.
These are the two payment options that you can choose from :
Online payment via BPI Online
This is the most convenient way to pay your Visa fee. However, you have to create a profile first here to generate a reference number that you will use on BPI online. Make sure also that you have enrolled for a BPI online facility before choosing this step.
If you already did, just follow the steps of online payment here. Upon successful payment, posting time is within 24 hours.
Payment via BPI branches
For some people, payments via BPI branches are safer, thus, they choose this option. Take note though that not all BPI branches may cater to the US Visa fee payments. Print a Visa fee payment slip prior to going to the bank, you will need that.
Secure your confirmation number and proof of payment as you will need those all throughout the US Visa application process.
Online appointment setting
At this stage, you already have a profile on the US Visa application site because it was required when you were given a receipt number before the payment. On that page, there’s a link given on Step no. 5 that you have to click so you can schedule your appointment with the US embassy.
Make sure that you have the info of the following before filling out the online appointment.
- Passport number
- Proof of the MRV (Machines Readable Visa) fee payment receipt number.
- From your DS-160 confirmation slip, take note of the numbers given on the barcode. You will need this during your application.
Interview at the US Embassy
After getting a slot on the online US Visa appointment booking, you may now go to the U.S. Embassy for your scheduled date and time of your visa interview. Take note that failure to appear on your schedule will not give you a refund from the application fee.
No one is exempted not to attend the US Visa interview, while seniors citizens or PWDs can tagged along with an assistant.
The guidelines we shared here with you is not a 100% guarantee that you will be approved a US Visa. Again, with some luck, you may see yourself leaving the US Embassy with a happy heart. If not, however, never lose hope because you can reapply anytime. There are several instances that some applicants get approved after 2 or 3 tries.