There’s a party in the USA-- and you are invited!! So get your US Tourist B1/B2 Visa ready! In this post, we’ll try to get you that US Visa and we’ll try to get you into that party’s VIP! I’ll be giving you a step-by-step guide, a list of the requirements, tips for the interview, and I’ll answer the frequently asked questions.
I know you must have heard tons of horror stories from people regarding their denied visa applications. Because of the huge number of Filipino illegal immigrants, the US Government is really strict about their immigration laws. They are serious about it and they don’t take it lightly.
It’s alright to feel nervous, it’s normal! If you’re not confident enough, you can avail of my one-on-one travel coaching so I can go through all of your documents and prepare you for your visa interview. But for now, let’s set aside those ugly thoughts that would make you feel even nervous. Let’s be positive and that positivity will radiate to the people around you.. Even to the interviewer! So let’s attract positivity and take things easy, okay? :)
WHEN AND WHERE TO APPLY FOR US TOURIST VISA
Application shall be made at least 2 months prior to your intended departure. Application and the personal appearance for interview shall be at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines at 1201 Roxas Boulevard Manila, Philippines 1000.
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE OF APPLYING FOR US TOURIST VISA
1. Pay the visa application fee (USD 160);
2. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form (Answer it truthfully);
3. Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need three pieces of information in order to schedule your appointment: Your passport number, Your MRV fee payment receipt number, The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page;
4. Visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You will need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one recent photograph, your current passport and all old passports. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted; and
5. Interview proper, after which you’ll know immediately if your visa is approved or denied. If approved, your passport will be delivered to you after 5 working days. (Yay!)
PRIMARY DOCUMENTS FOR US TOURIST VISA
The requirements that they will ask of you on the day of the interview will depend on every individual’s personal circumstances. So don’t be surprised if you hear about somebody else’s story where the interviewer didn’t even have a glance at his/her documents. It happens, that’s for sure! But you’re not sure if it’s going to happen to you. So ALWAYS have ALL your documents with you.
1) Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets;
2) Your travel itinerary and/or other explanation about your planned trip; Confirmed Hotel Bookings (get $30 voucher for Hotel Booking here)
3) A letter from your employer detailing your position, salary, how long you have been employed, any authorized vacation, and the business purpose, if any, of your U.S. trip; and
4) Criminal/court records pertaining to any arrest or conviction anywhere, even if you completed your sentence or were later pardoned.
SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS FOR US TOURIST VISA
1) For students- Bring your latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such as monthly bank statements, fixed deposit slips, or other evidence.
2) For Employees- Bring an employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.
3) Business visitors and company directors- Bring evidence of your position in the company and remuneration.
4) For entrepreneurs and digital nomads- Bring your business registration certificate as well as your income tax return.
5) If you’re visiting a relative- Bring photocopies of your relative's proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).
6) Previous visitors to the U.S.- If you were previously in the United States, any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status.
NOTE: You have to establish deep ties in your country and convince them that you are coming back. Bring land/condominium titles, car registration certificate, lease contract, etc.
INTERVIEW TIPS FOR US TOURIST VISA
The interview will last for as little as 1-5 minutes, so you have to make the most out of it. Remember, this is your chance and it is up to you on what you do with this chance.
1) Dress appropriately- Look what you say you are. You don’t necessarily have to wear a coat and tie. If you’re a student, a lawyer, or an employee, then dress like one.
2) Look confident- By the way you walk, the way you talk (which should be in english), the way you smile (you can tell if a person is nervous from his/her smile), and the way you move.
3) Be polite- Never argue with the interviewer. Answer the questions with respect. If you fail to hear or understand the question, do not panic. Just relax and ask to clarify.
4) Less talk, less mistake- This is the cardinal rule. If they ask you what you’re going to do in the US, you can plainly say ‘I’m going there for vacation’ and not ‘I’m having a vacation with my friends and maybe we’re going to meet my best friend’s cousin there’. Believe me, you will screw the interview. If they want to know what else you’re doing there or if you’re going to meet someone, they will ask. You don’t have to provide every single detail in a question that doesn’t even ask for it.
5) Be honest- These people are trained to know if you’re lying or not. In fact, at the latter part of the interview, they will ask you few questions based on your previous answers to somehow confuse you and get the truth out. So don’t even try. You can’t outsmart these people.
6) Be brutally honest- Again, this isn’t only for the purpose of your current application but for the next one as well. The interviewers take a record of all your interviews. I remember this guy who was in front of me during the interview, he was asked: ‘Have you ever had a plan to study in the US?’ to which he answered: ‘No. None at all.’ And just like that, the interviewer said: ‘I’m sorry. I have to deny your visa right now. In your previous interview, you said you were planning to study in the US’. Just. Like. That.
So just be brutally honest even if you think it might cost you your visa. Now, this guy is really screwed. I can’t imagine what he’s going to say on his next interview if he decides to apply again.
FAQS ABOUT US TOURIST VISA
1) Do I need to have a ‘show money’?
I can’t really answer this outright because it really depends. Sometimes, they don’t ask for the bank statement, and sometimes they do. It really depends on the applicant’s personal circumstances. (Although I really think that they have means to know this so you should always have money in your account) (READ MORE: Our guide on SHOW MONEY)
2) What if my visa gets denied?
Don’t sulk, you can still re-apply! Some people get it on their third try ala Pia Wurtzbach!
3) Is there a time limit as to when I can re-apply?
None! And you can try as many times if needed.
4) Is the visa fee refundable if it gets denied?
5) What could make the consul change his mind and grant my visa on re-application?
There should be a "significant change" on your situation, whether it’s family, economic, or social. (Eg. You didn’t have a source of income then, but you’re employed/you have a business now)
6) How long is the validity of the US Visa?
It depends on how ‘generous’ the consul is. It could range from 3 months up to 10 years Multiple Entry Visa!! (You’ll know once you receive your passport)
7) Do I need to have a travel insurance?
It is not mandatory but I always recommend getting one. You’ll never know what will happen along the road during your trip so getting one is a MUST for me. Mabuti na ang sigurado! I highly recommend the insurance offered by World Nomads :)
8) Is it advisable to avail of the services of a tour agency?
For me, it doesn’t make any difference if you avail of their services. I got ALL my visas without their assistance. I did it all by myself! Aside from being very expensive, it doesn’t guarantee the approval. It’s always up to you-- the way you dress up, how confident you are, the documents you submitted, and the way you answered the interview questions that matters.
Not feeling ready yet? Here are more tips on how to answer those interview questions! If you need a little more help, feel free to avail of my one-on-one travel coaching services and together, we sure are gonna party in the USA! ❤
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