Applying for Tourist Visa if Working as a Virtual Assistant - Tips and Experience on How I got my USA Tourist Visa in US Embassy Manila
This article is written and contributed by my full-time Virtual Assistant who got her USA Visa in USA Embassy Manila.
It was one sunny day back in 2016 when I decided to leave my 8-5 job as a Digital Marketing Manager. I was stuck in traffic that day (which is worse than the usual Manila traffic for some reason) and in between the frustrated sighs from the driver, the constant honking from the cars and the buses, the constant yelling of the barkers, the sweat dripping down my face because of the heat, and the pressure I feel for coming in late-- I just decided right then and there that this isn’t the life for me.
I can’t change the traffic situation in Manila but I can definitely change my job. I’m sure I can get something closer from home, or probably something I can do at home. Lo and behold, Kach of twomonkeystravelgroup.com posted that they are in need of a Virtual Assistant, I hurriedly applied and among all the applicants, I was very lucky to get the job and I’ve been working for them until now. It’s so much better to work from home!
JUNE 2019 UPDATE: As of the present, the US State Department is now requiring nearly all applicants to submit their social media profiles as part of their visa applications. Applicants may now be required to provide their social media usernames, email addresses and phone numbers used in the last five years. Source: PhilStar
THE CHALLENGES OF BEING A WORK FROM HOME EMPLOYEE
One thing people are scared about from quitting their 8-5 job is the fear of being unsecured from come what may. I had this fear too.
1. You could be working in limbo. Depending on what kind of job you’ll do online and what kind of employer you’ll find, you’ll get paid for a ‘Per Project Basis’. This means you’ll be like working in a limbo where your income will depend entirely on how many projects you have.
2. You’ll be working alone. Since you’ll be at home most of the time, you’ll have no friends to laugh and to have coffee breaks with, you’ll have no supervisor to ask if anything goes wrong, and there will be a lot of times that you’ll get bored.
PROVIDING DOCUMENTS FOR YOUR VISA APPLICATIONS COULD BE HARD WHEN YOU’RE WORKING FROM HOME. IS THIS TRUE??
1. Certificate of Employment. Most Embassies require employees to have a Certificate of Employment signed by the HR and working from home means that you do not have an HR to deal with. Nevertheless, you’ll have a boss who can vouch for you. Ask him or her to write a Certificate of Employment explaining your status, how long you’ve been working for or how many projects you’ve completed for him, and the nature of your work. This works exactly the same!
2. The Payslips. You wouldn’t get a real payslip when you work online but you’d have your Paypal Account to back it up. This is how I get paid and I usually print my Paypal Transactions to prove that I have a stable source of income.
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE IN APPLYING FOR A US VISA (B1/B2) IN THE US EMBASSY IN MANILA
Applying for a US Tourist Visa is relatively easy, there’s no need to bring any sort of documents except for any special reason. Here’s the step-by-step guide as featured in the article How To Apply For A US Tourist Visa With Your Philippines Passport:
STEP 1: Pay the visa application fee (USD 160).
STEP 2: Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form (Answer it truthfully).
STEP 3: Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need three pieces of information in order to schedule your appointment: 1) Your passport number: 2) Your MRV fee payment receipt number; and 3) The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page.
STEP 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.
STEP 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.
STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS ON THE DAY OF YOUR APPOINTMENT
STEP 1: Be at the Embassy at least 30 minutes before your interview. My interview was at 9:45 AM but the guard let me in at 9:15 AM. You wouldn’t want to be late for this interview, don’t you?
STEP 2: Another guard will then call everyone based on their interview time. Once my schedule was called, the Appointment Paper was asked by another usher.
STEP 3: She then looked at my Passport, attached a sticker with my name and gave me something sort of a green card.
STEP 4: Once you’re inside the building, your bag will be checked for any prohibited items. Even food and gums are not allowed.
STEP 5: After that, you will be ushered to the waiting area. There are ushers who will guide you on where you should seat depending on which color your card is (in my case it was green).
STEP 6: Once your schedule is called again, you will then be ushered inside the area where the interview will take place. There’s another set of security check for this one.
STEP 7: Then, you’ll need to line up at different windows who will check your photo, your appointment paper, and for biometrics.
STEP 8: After which is the interview proper, this is the last step and you’ll immediately know right then and there if your visa is approved or denied.
THE INTERVIEW PROPER
This is probably ‘the toughest part’ of the US Visa Application for most people. Here, someone from the US Embassy will ask you certain things about you and your planned trip to the US. Make no answer which will lead them to doubt you and your intentions of visiting their country. Here is how my interview went:
Q: Where in the US are you planning to go?
A: I’m planning to go to Puerto Rico. I’ve been working with a couple who are Filipina (the wife) and British Travel Bloggers since 2016 and they are currently sailing in the Caribbean. They want me to go sailing with them from Puerto Rico to the US Virgin Islands.
Q: What is your job?
A: Since 2016, I was hired by these Travel Bloggers as their Website Manager and representative here in the Philippines to sign their sponsorship contracts and affiliates. I also handle their Social Media Accounts.
Q: What was your degree in college?
Advertising and Public Relations.
Q: What were your previous jobs?
A: I worked as a Digital Marketing Manager in a Real Estate Company. I have also worked for as a Digital Marketing Supervisor in an aesthetic company and as a Sales Manager for a Vietnamese Advertising Company.
Q: Have you ever traveled outside the Philippines?
A: Yes, I’ve been to the UK twice, Macau, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
“I will recommend the approval of your visa. You’ll get it in 3-5 days, congratulations!”
That’s it! The interview lasted for like 5-minutes and I was over the moon when he said that I will get my US Visa in 3-5 days! :)
MY TIPS FOR YOUR US VISA APPLICATION INTERVIEW
1) Don’t bring your mobile phones, headsets, and smartwatch. The security in the US Embassy is very tight and hence, these things are not allowed to be brought inside the premises. Don’t even attempt to bring it unless you’ll have someone outside to keep it for you. Trust me, the last thing you’ll want on the day of your interview is unnecessary stress. There are people outside whom you could leave it to for a fee (100-300 Php) but I wouldn’t recommend you do that.
2) Be there at least 30-minutes ahead of your scheduled interview. Expect a queue when you get there but getting there ahead of your appointment will guarantee you’d be closer to the guard. He will be the one calling names so make sure you listen well.
3) Bring a 2x2 ID Photo. This might be asked of you so just bring one. Make sure you’re not smiling on this photo!
4) Answer the interview questions well. I just followed all the tips given by Kach (I was lucky to get a Travel Coaching Service for free since I work for her) and it worked! If you feel like you’re not confident enough, then don’t hesitate to ask for help from someone you know or even from Kach!
5) Be confident. How can you make someone believe you when you sound like you’re guessing when you answer, right? Answer confidently and avoid looking up or looking around when you answer as these are signs that could make them doubt you.
That’s all for this post! Wishing you all the best for your US Visa Application! :)