The USA (United States of America) is one of the countries I dream of visiting one day. For now, it remains to be but Lyn, one of my very good friend is currently having her vacation there. She is actually my very first travel buddy in Ilocos where the travel bug bit me that made me went around the Philippines a few years back. She was also the one who accompanied me when we went to Singapore and Malaysia last year. Her face may be quite familiar to you because she has appeared in two local commercials aired in the Philippines. Just take a closer look of her.
She knew that I am very keen to know how to travel to US so a few days ago she sent me a message on Facebook. She reminded me to read about her post sharing information and trivia on how to apply for a US Visa in Manila Philippines. Though it is still nearly as impossible for me to get there, she inspired me to work harder and be positive that who knows someday or soon I will find myself going there in no time.
I remember while she was just in the process of getting the US visa, she even sent me a message to pray for her to not be denied or whatsoever so she can visit her sick mom in the US. She left September last year and is actually going back anytime soon this January and as soon as she arrives we will be preparing our trip to South Korea in the coming months. Take note: She is a freelancer, she did not had any permanent job since she left the job where we met few years ago and her savings is just enough but she managed to pull it off.
I will be sharing her tips to help those who have zero knowledge or very little in how to get a USA visa. She is no immigration expert my dear folks but what she is sharing is exactly the one she experienced and learned why getting her own US Visa. She also would like to add that these may not guarantee anyone a visa for following these since the consuls treat applications as individual cases. All in good faith she wishes every Filipino like you and me to never stop trying.
1) Before going online to apply, watch Visa Hour in Youtube. It's an online show of the US Embassy in Manila hosted by the consuls talking about the myths and facts of applying for a visa.
2) Each application costs $160 or around P7200. The US consuls say their application fee is actually the cheapest considering that lately they are issuing a 10-year multiple entry visas.
3) The official US Visa application form is found online. Before filling it up make sure to read all the requirements for the specific type of visa you are applying for.
4) Go to a photo studio to have your picture taken according to the required size of the embassy and ask the staff to save it in a CD or USB. You will upload this picture in your application form. After submission of your application, the embassy will email you an acknowledgement receipt which you will present to the bank teller upon payment and you will present on the day of your interview.
5) After paying, you need to call their hotline and schedule your interview date.
6). Most consuls don't ask for any documents at all but for your peace of mind, please prepare all of these that would back up or match all the information you stated in your application. For example, if you are a doctor, be ready with your medical license, if you are a businessman be ready with your sec registration forms, etc.
7) For those being petitioned, you have to know the important information about your petitioner like his or her job, residence, how many years he or she has been living in the US. The same goes with your contact persons in the US, especially the ones whom you will be staying with or who will sponsor your visit.
8)The most important information that the consuls need to know from you is "your ties" in the country, meaning your sources of income and family. The consuls want to see that you have significant reasons to return to the country and not stay in the US. And they want to see that you can support your stay there.
8) Your ties in the US are extremely important. If you have family or relatives or close friends there who can accommodate and support you financially, you will surely be granted 100% a US Visa. The consuls don't want to see you become a burden to their country. If you don't have relatives there and just like to tour the place, be prepared to explain where you will stay there, what places will you visit and your capability to pay for the tour.
9) Be confident, not arrogant. Some people are denied of visas not because of their documents or employment, but because of the way they carry themselves during the interview, how they answer the questions, how they convince the consuls, how they talk to them.
10) The consuls follow a CHECKLIST and when you pass most of them then there's a big chance for a visa. You will get an idea of what are included in the checklist from her own interview:
Consul - "Where in the US will you stay?"
Her - California."
Consul - "Do you have a family there?"
Her - "Yes, my sister, my mom and my brother."
Consul - "Are they US citizens?"
Her - "Only my mom and sister, my brother is a legal resident."
Consul - "Have you been to US before?"
Her - "Yes, in 2001 when we taped an episode of our comedy show."
Consul - "So are you still doing that?"
Her - "Not anymore."
Consul - "What do you do now?"
Her - "I am a storyteller for Adarna House and a dealer of Green Barley health drink."
Consul - "What is a storyteller?"
Her - "I am being assigned to a lot of places to tell kids stories as a marketing strategy."
Consul - "What is Adarna House?"
Her - "It is a top publisher of Filipino children's books."
Consul - "How long will you stay in the US?"
Her - "Two weeks."
Consul - "Have you been to places other than the Philippines and US?"
Her - "Yes, I have been to Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea
Consul - "Okay your visa is approved and it will be given to you in a week's time!"
She suggests to buy flight tickets during travel fairs like TravelMart usually in February and July because most airlines offer promo fares. The usual cost of round trip ticket to US from Manila is $1,200 plus but she got hers during TravelMart for only $768 or P35k including travel tax! The best time to travel in the USA and any place of course is during off peak seasons. Choose airlines which offer cheap fares. She recommends China Eastern. 1
11) If you came or have just visited countries affected by some deadly outbreaks like ebola, your chances of getting a visa are very slim for obvious reasons. During the day of her interview they denied those who came from the Middle East because then there was Mers-Cov outbreak.
13) Answer the questions as concise yet accurate as possible, clear and straightforward.
14) Less talk is better than long explanations because if you explain further more questions may arise.
15) There is no dress code nonetheless dress appropriately and comfortably.
16) Most importantly, pray and don't bring any electronic gadget like cellphone, camera, tablets, not even a charger, they are highly prohibited.
For more information, you may check US Embassy in Manila's official website at http://manila.usembassy.gov/. She wishes everyone good luck for travelling to the USA :)