Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to apply for a US Non-Immigrant (Tourist) Visa

I woke up really early today, actually I hardly had a good night sleep as I was so afraid that I might not wake up in time for my US Visa Interview.


US flag

Yes, dear readers, I am finally heading outward Asia and will soon explore the beauty of the West. :) I learned about the trip last month and given that I am scheduled to travel by next month, I basically have two months preparation time. However, thanks to the power of the internet, applying for your US Visa can be pretty easy and quick.

First things first : Check your passport

Be sure to have the brown covered Philippine passport and not the green one. If ever you still carry the green passport, have this renewed ASAP. Visit this website to schedule an interview and read this first in case you're wearing contact lens.

Step two: DS-160

Next step is to visit the Official website of the US Embassy here in Manila to go through the rules and procedure on how to secure a US Visa.

After this, fill up the online DS-160 form. This is the most important form that you'll need as they will be asking you for this in almost every step. Note that you have limited time to fill up the form. Better to have your passport and other documents (past US Visas) on hand.

As soon as you have completed your DS-160, you will be led towards your confirmation page and the same form will be emailed to you. Print it out preferably in colored or laser printer as the barcode will also be included in this form.

Step three: Visa payment

In order to secure your interview appointment, you have to pay the visa fee first. The current amount is $140 (that's depending on the current peso-dollar exchange rate). Head to any BPI outlet and state that you will be paying for your US Visa Application. Present your DS-160 Confirmation Page. Keep the deposit slip at all times.

Step four: Schedule for your interview

Go back online and visit the US Visa Appointment Website, have the following ready:
- Passport
- DS-160 confirmation form
- BPI deposit slip

You will be led to a calendar where you can choose your date and time. You will also be asked for the delivery address of the place where you want your passport/visa to be delivered.

As soon as you have made a reservation, print the interview form.


us visa

Step five: THE BIG DAY

Be sure to go early. By this I mean 45 minutes to and hour before your schedule appointment. Head to the US Embassy in Manila (Roxas Boulevard, across Bayview Hotel/Starbucks Coffee/Yellow Cab/Emerald). Ask the guard on duty where you should stay, most likely he will lead you towards the open waiting area.

Be sure to bring the following:
- Passport
- Visa ID picture
- DS-160 Confirmation Form / Application Form
- Proof of employment (if employed), School documents (for students)
- Proof of income (eg: bank certificate, ITR, other investments)
- NSO certified Birth Certificate / Marriage Certificate
- Photocopy of the first page of your passport
- Other assets (eg: land titles, car registration, etc)

Reminder: Cellular phones, all electronic devices, iPod/iPad, laptops, USB, lighter, weapons and food/drinks are NOT allowed inside the embassy. Better to leave them with your companion or in the car.

Exactly thirty minutes before your schedule time, you will be called in towards the tent area for inspection. This happens in two steps:

- Outside inspection : show your passport, DS-160 confirmation form, receipt and interview form

- Inside inspection : bag check

After which you will be asked to line up in the first counter where the officer will check your essential documents. She/he will be asking you basic questions which was pretty easy (eg: reason for going, your mom's maiden name, etc). At the end of the inspection, the officer will attach a number slip on your form. This will be your guide for the next two steps.

Heading towards the air-conditioned room, take notice of the digital board on the wall. It will flash your number and will direct you to which counter you should go to. It will flash twice, the first is for you to have your fingerprint scanned and the second is for your final interview.

Fingerprint Scanning

Upon arriving at the counter, give the officer your documents (passport, DS-160, number slip) and clearly state your full name and birthday. He/she will then guide you through the scanning process. First put the first four fingers of your left hand on the scanner followed by the first four fingers of your right hand and lastly to scan your two thumbs together. Easy peasy! :) Now, head back to your seat to wait for your number to be called again.

The grand finale: Interview

As soon as your number flashes on the screen, head to the counter to meet your interviewer. Present the same essential documents and wait for him to ask you questions. It's important to just simply answer what is being asked and to be truthful at all times. Have your supporting documents ready just in case he/she asked for it.

At the end of the interview, the officer will then tell you if you will be granted with a Visa or not.

Should you be granted with a US Visa, your passport will be delivered to your mailing address a week or so. Click here to track where your passport is already.

For those who were denied visa to the US, here's some guidelines to take note of:
If an applicant is refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and is requested to provide additional information or supporting documents, s/he will receive a 221(g) letter with instructions on how to proceed. S/he will not need to make another appointment or pay another application fee. S/he has one year within which to comply with the requirement of the 221(g) letter.

If an applicant is refused under Section 214(b) or any other section, s/he may reapply as soon as s/he can pay the application fee an appointment through the call center or the online appointment system. While on a second interview s/he will meet with a different officer, please be aware that s/he must still demonstrate strong ties to his/her country. In most cases, it is better to wait until his/her personal circumstances have changed significantly before reapplying. Quick re-applications based largely on the hope of finding a consul more inclined to issue may result in a second refusal.
*source: http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwhniv5.html
There you go folks! :) 5 easy steps on how to apply for a US Visa! :) Thank God for the power of the internet as everything is literally just a click away! Best of luck to all! :)

*US VISA UPDATE: I got a call from 2Go last Saturday, 3 days after my US Visa Interview informing me that my passport is ready for delivery. Thus, no need to wait for a week or so! Thanks to their new courier service, you'll get your visa/passport in no time! :)

photo credits:
http://stockwatch.in/files/Non-Immigrant-Visa.jpg
http://gkitch.blogspot.com/

24 comments:

  1. hi Fran, sayang d pala tayo magkasabay. Are you going to US for vacation? I'm going there pa on May 1 to 20 :)

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  2. Hi Fran, thanks for sharing. i didn't know that i should bring xerox copy of the first page of my passport. now i know. for my son what sort of doc should i bring? will a certificate of enrollment do or do i need to bring his report card also?

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  3. jill!! im going way ahead before u :) u have a visa na?

    @anonymous: no problem! i hope this will be able to help you with your visa application :) for your son he can bring a school certificate lang pwede na

    see this link: http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwhnv03.html

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  4. It sounds a bit more difficult than my last visa renewal though (drop box lang). Wah! Thanks for the post.

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  5. i hold a green passport and had no problems with applying for a visa (applied recently). little details count, so please check before publishing anything to the public. have fun with your trip!

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  6. Hi anonymous! Thanks for the comment. The advice to use the brown passport came from my travel agent. Thanks :)

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  7. Hi Fran, when you got to the pavilion, did they give you paper to write your name and your parent's name? secondly, what if i had the finger scanning in the past? can i skip the finger scanning part?

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  8. Hi Anonymous!

    I believe you still have to go through the finger scanning it seems like everyone in the room did it. Also yes, you will be given a pink paper where you have to write your name and the names of your parents :)

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  9. Hi Fran, thanks for responding. so after the bag inspection, they give you the pink slip to write your name and names of your parents. what's the purpose of writing your name and your parents names when you already have the confirmation with you. what do you think?

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  10. re. pink slip you get it after the initial passport/confirmation/bag check you fill it up before entering the 2nd door where you have to put your bag in an xray machine. well i guess they just want to confirm your details after you give the pink slip to the 1st officer who'll check your documents she'll ask you again for your name and/or your mother's maiden name :)

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  11. Thanks Fran. They're so particular about mother's maiden name. what happens if you made a mistake in writing the name? was anyone turned away for that during the time of your interview.

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  12. hmmm i havent encountered that the time i was there :) good luck!!

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  13. Hi Fran, thanks for all your advice. done with my interview and my renewal was approved. just waiting for my passport. hopefully this week.

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  14. you're welcome! glad your US Visa interview went smoothly :) same with Paul we're just waiting for his passport too then off we go! :)

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  15. hello there! :) thank you for this information. I am scheduled for an interview this October 4, 2011. I would like to ask you how old are you and what is your work? The ones that you listed:

    Passport
    - Visa ID picture
    - DS-160 Confirmation Form / Application Form
    - Proof of employment (if employed), School documents (for students)
    - Proof of income (eg: bank certificate, ITR, other investments)
    - NSO certified Birth Certificate / Marriage Certificate
    - Photocopy of the first page of your passport
    - Other assets (eg: land titles, car registration, etc)

    did you present this directly when it was your turn for the interview? what were the documents that you presented first and the ones that has been asked from to present by the consul.. thank you :)

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  16. hi onesanat!!

    good luck with your interview! :) to answer your question, I'm 29 and I'm a full-time marketing practitioner.

    I brought all documents listed above but the interviewer didn't ask to see them. the rule is you only show when asked. all i presented were my form and passport that's it :)

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  17. Hi Fran! thank you for your comment! :) I just prepared the important documents that I might need. How about the mother's name? will it matter if it was not written exactly as it should be? like, in the surname, I wrote her middle name first when she was not yet married and her last name. I'm sorry for this. I just got confused. thank you :)

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  18. @onesanat: i think when you get there they will be verifying your information again you can clear that info up :)

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  19. hi. i got this sa email nila after i booked for my interview,
    Bring the following document with you at the Embassy for your Interview:
    1 Appointment Letter.
    2 Valid Passport.
    3 CEAC Confirmation Letter.
    4 2” x 2” color photo in white background

    i dont know what number 1 is, can you help me? i got 2,3 and 4.

    thanks.also,can anyone give me an info about Rosas Garden Hotel at M.H. del Pilar, i ended up booking a room there kasi sa Agoda, malapit ang hotel nila(cheat posting scheme) kaya akala ko 1 or2 blocks lang pero it looks like na napalayo..

    anyway,any info po will be appreciated,salamat-kr

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  20. ok,sabi ng friend ko within the area naman daw ang Rosas Garden hotel so should be good :) ang agoda ata ang may maling posting anyway,same street nga po..

    wait ko po ang info nyo abt sa reqts:)

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  21. @karen:

    re. the appointment letter, that form will come out as soon as you have scheduled your interview already. its has a grid where the date and time of your interview is stated.

    sorry not really sure where rosas garden hotel is eh :) best to check google maps

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  22. Hi. I was interviewed yesterday with my husband. The consul said he will approved our visa and wait for 1 week. But we didnt get any pink or white slip as what others said/got. What we will do? But we applied/schedule our us interview online. What does it mean that we didnt get pink slip?

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  23. @joanne: actually when they get your passport and tell you to wait for a week that just means...your visa has been APPROVED!! :D congratulations!

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