They said at least 80% of US visa application gets approve every day in the US Embassy Manila. Last month, I applied for the first time and was granted a 10-year multiple-entry visa to the United States. I’m single, I haven’t traveled outside Asia, and I don’t have millions of dollars in my bank account—yet.
I wanna share my experience with the interview process and some helpful tips on how to get a chance on getting your tourist visa approved. You need to obtain a B1/B2 visitor visa if you’re a Filipino and wants to travel the US for business, pleasure or medical treatment.
At the time of this writing, President Trump issued a travel ban for a few countries. The Philippines is not included, but it left an impression for some Filipinos that it’s going to be difficult to score a visa because of the current situation in the US. They said it’s not a good timing to apply. When is the right time anyways? Well, I tell you what. If you really want it, you will get it. And I’m here to help you to get one.
What are the requirements in getting a US tourist visa?
DS-160 form -this is a visa electronic application form that you need to fill out online.
Passport – make sure it’s valid for at least six months or beyond your planned length of stay.
2″x 2″ photo – The minimum dimension is at least 600 pixels x 600 pixels. Maximum dimension is at least 1200 pixels x 1200 pixels.
Receipt of visa application fee – The current fee is 160USD or 8048Php, non-refundable.
You can bring additional documents that you think would help in your application but they seldom check it. Documents such as income tax return, land titles, business permit, bank statement and certificate of employment.
1. How much show money should I have in my bank account?
This is probably the most common question you will hear. Some would say at least $100 per day then multiply it by the number days of your intended stay in the US. That’s actually not true. Even if you have millions of pesos in your bank account, that doesn’t count. I read some horrible stories online, there’s this guy who sold their farm animals just to have that “show money” and then he got rejected anyways. Don’t let that happen to you. I mean, I admire his guts and stuff. But according to a US Consular officer interview on youtube, they seldom check financial documents during the interview. Just be prepared to have a printed copy of your bank statement with you, just in case.
2. I have relatives in the US but we’re not really close, should I mention them during the interview?
Yes. They screen your online application before your interview. There’s no reason to lie about your relatives. And also, consular officers are trained to detect if you’re lying.
3. I’m jobless, is there a chance that my visa will be approved?
One major factor that consular officer checks are your strong ties to your country. This could be;
financial ties (real estate, investment, or business)
family/social ties (relationship with your spouse, children, community)
and economic ties (student, professional job, caring for a parent, community leader, etc.)
4. How long can I stay in the United States?
For tourists, up to 6 months only. I suggest that you stay only for 5 months so you won’t have an issue with overstaying.
5. Should I buy my plane ticket before getting a visa?
No. I would recommend that you wait until your visa gets approved and your passport returned to you.
9. What is the exact address of your friend/family in the US?
10. What’s your itinerary in the US?
The Interview Day
I left all my electronics in my cousin’s condo since it is prohibited inside the embassy. There are some individuals outside the embassy that would offer to hold your stuff for you for a certain fee but if I were you, I wouldn’t trust them.
I scheduled my interview on the 10th of January 2017 at 10:15 AM, I arrived at the embassy at exactly 10 AM. When I got there, there’s a queue outside and staff members were checking our DS-160 form and passport. After that, they will give you a pink or green card for tracking purposes then you will go through security.
You will be asked to stand in line for the “Pre-screening“. The officer will check your passport and will attach your 2×2 photo. He asked about my purpose in going to the US and the exact city or state I will be staying in.
Next was fingerprint scanning or the Biometrics. The lady asked my full name and date of birth and began giving instructions on how to place my fingers on the machine.
After that, I was ushered to the line of people waiting to be interviewed. There were chairs but we were asked to stand in line and wait to be called by another staff who will direct us in which window you will be interviewed.
Having powerful ears, I listened to the interviews of other applicants.
Consular Officer: What is the purpose of your travel in the US?
Applicant 1: For pleasure. I wanna travel around the US.
Consular Officer: What do you do for a living?
Applicant 1: I’m a Physical Therapist.
Consular Officer: How much are you earning?
Applicant 1: Around 12,000 pesos.
Consular Officer: Why so low? How long have you been working there?
Applicant 1: Uh- my company is really small. It’s a small company. I’m working with them for 2 years now.
Then after that, all I hear from her was uh, um… She was really nervous. Then the officer asked, do you want me to get a translator for you? She nodded. She was given a translator then I didn’t hear the whole convo coz the person behind me accidentally hit my folder so I lost my focus. The translator said, “I’m sorry but we cannot process your application today. Thanks for your time.” Then the sad applicant walked away.
Applicant 2 (Housewife)
Consular Officer: I see that you’ve been to the US before?
Applicant 2: Yes, long time ago. I wanna visit again.
Consular Officer: Where do you wanna go this time?
Applicant 2: Seattle, Washington to visit my aunt.
Consular Officer: How long do you plan to stay in the US?
Applicant 2: 2-3 weeks.
Consular Officer: What do you do for a living?
Applicant 2: I’m a housewife
Blah blah blah then the officer said her visa is approved. She gave a thumbs up to the person behind me and smiled.
Applicant 3 (Nervous guy)
Consular Officer: Hi, good morning!
Applicant 3: Good morning! (stuttering voice)
Consular Officer: Where in the US do you wanna visit?
Applicant 3: New York (still stuttering)
Consular Officer: What are you going to do in New York?
Applicant 3: To visit my friends (stuttering and shaking his hands)
Consular Officer: I see, where exactly in New York?
Applicant 3: New York City
Blah blah blah I stopped listening, then the officer said he can try to re-apply after 3 months.
Applicant 4 (Indian National)
Consular Officer: Hi Goodmorning! It says here in your passport that you’re from India
Applicant 4: Yes sir. Pero Pilipino nako. (I’m already a Filipino)
Consular Officer: How long have you been staying here?
Applicant 4: 15 years
Consular Officer: Where do you wanna go in US?
Applicant 4: California
Consular Officer: Where in California?
Applicant 4: Duon sa may San Francisco, magpasyal ako dun sa Golden Gate Bridge. (In San Francisco. I will visit the Golden Gate Bridge)
Consular Officer: Do you speak English?
Applicant 4: Yes sir pero konti lang. (Just a little)
Consular Officer: Try to speak to me again in English.
Applicant 4: Okay sir.
Consular Officer: What do you do for a living?
Applicant 4: I’m sorry sir, I don’t understand.
Consular Officer: Okay I will get an interpreter for you.
Applicant 4: Thank you sir.
Interpreter: Ano daw po ang trabaho nyo? (What do you do for a living?)
Applicant 4: Buy and sell.
Interpreter: Anong klase daw po? (What kind)
Applicant 4: Nagbebenta ako ng electronics, mga TV, gadgets, kung anu ano. ( I’m selling electronics like TV, gadgets, etc.)
Interpreter: Magkano daw po yung kinikita nyokada buwan? (how much is your monthly income?)
Applicant 4: Mga 100 -200 thousand. Mga ganun. ( Around 100-200K)
Interpreter: May asawa na daw po ba kayo? Mga anak? ( Do you have a spouse? How about children? )
Applicant 4: Meron nasa India yung asawa ko. Meron ako 2 anak. ( My wife is in India. I have 2 children)
Interpreter: Magbi-business daw po ba kayo sa US? (Are you planning to do business in the US?)
Applicant 4: Hinde. Papasyal lang ako duon sa Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, tapos sa Union Square and mga museums. (No. I will just visit Golden Gate Bridge, Alcaraz Island, Union Square and some museums.)
Interpreter: Congrats po approved na po ang visa nyo. (Congratulation! Your visa is approved.)
Applicant 4: Talaga? San ko makukuha. (Really? Where can I get it?)
Interpreter: Ipapadala po sa inyo sir sa loob ng 5 araw. (We will send it to you in 5 days)
Applicant 4: Thank you sir! (then he salute to the consular officer and walked away happy.)
I heard their full convo because I’m standing next to him. Just 2-3 feet apart.
Consular Officer: Good morning! KT: Hello, good morning!
Consular Officer: Where exactly in the US do you want to visit? KT: San Diego, California.
Consular Officer: Who’s in San Diego? KT: My dad.
Consular Officer: Is he an immigrant? How long has he been staying there? KT: Yes. 3 years now.
Consular Officer: Is he going to petition you? KT: No. I’m too old for that. I heard you only accept 21 years old and below.
Consular Officer: (he look at the paper on his wall for a minute) Actually you’re not. You are still qualified. KT: Oh ya? But the cost of living in the US is kinda expensive.
Consular Officer: (he squinted and nodded like he’s agreeing) So, what do you do for a living?
KT: (they said to keep your answer short and simple but I can’t help it but talk a lot.) I’m an entrepreneur where I sell jewelry in Bluewave Mall in Marikina. It’s been operating for over 3 years now. I’m also an online marketer where I do Virtual assistant and aside from that, I’m a licensed financial consultant at Prulife UK.
Consular Officer: Wow! What is it that you don’t do?
KT: Oh, I’m also a dog walker. I have 4 dogs and 1 cat. (It just naturally came out of my mouth. Then we both laughed)
Consular Officer: Wow! Like a superwoman! How much are you earning?
KT: Depends on the season. On a good month like last December, around XXX pesos. Holiday season is always the best. But I also have a bad month. Average income is like XXX pesos.
Consular Officer: I see. Do you have other relatives in the US?
KT: Yes I do. I have an aunt and uncle in South Carolina. They also have a daughter, my cousin.
Consular Officer: Are you planning to visit them when you go to US?
KT: Not at this time because I have to fly from California in order to get there.
Consular Officer: Yeah. Anyways, there’s a lot to see in San Diego. I’m from there. You will like it there. Congratulations, your visa is approved!
KT: OMG! Thank you so much!
There was a big smile on my face as I walk out the building. I can’t wait to go back to my cousin’s condo and tell her the good news. I wanna call my boyfriend and yell, “I’m going to Hollywood!!!” That’s what they say in American Idol right? Corny. All the preparations I did pay off. The process was so quick and easy. in just under 30 minutes, I got approved for a US tourist visa.
3 business days later, I got my visa delivered to my house. My older sister received the package for me and texted me while I was at the mall. She congratulated me for getting a 10-year multiple-entry visa. I just wanna do the happy dance when I read her text message.
Fast forward today, I’m sitting here at my desk in Marriott hotel where my dad works. It’s 14 degrees Celsius here in San Diego. It’s cold outside, but it’s okay because I have a cup of black coffee in my hand and a good reliable blanket to keep me warm. Tomorrow I will go back to LA to meet my boyfriend and explore more destinations like Las Vegas and San Francisco. 🙂
via GIPHY (PS. I’m not into politics, I just find this avatar funny)
Do you have any questions about getting a US visa? I’m not an expert but I will try my best to help you. Feel free to contact me using the form below.
KT is a digital nomad who quit her job, bought a ticket somewhere, got a tan, fell in love with mother nature and she would never return to the normal life that society dictates. You can also connect with her on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @pinaynomad