Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Applying for a US Visa in the Philippines

I grew up watching the shows on Studio 23. 

Charmed.


I like Shannen Doherty as Prue Halliwell


Gilmore Girls.


I cried when the series ended. Gilmore Girls was a part of my growing-up life.
Seventh Heaven


My Holy-Week series marathon.

Dawson's Creek

Because of Joshua Jackson. I like Charlie Conway.

There's also CSI, Party of Five and bunch of other TV series that ate up hours of my youth. Watching TV was not the wisest thing to do. I lost a lot of hours of my youth and gained pounds. But hey, I was young and I didn't realize how precious time was. I know better now.



Watching all of these series did not give me a burning desire to fly to the US.*Shrugs*
I do not have relatives over there.  
Hongkong has Disneyland, so that scratched my Disneyland itch. 
And really, with all the Hollywood movies, I felt like I've been to the US already. 

But of course, I will still visit the US given a chance. I had to make that chance. Despite not having a solid plan, I applied for a US tourist visa anyway.



I am not a visa officer nor an expert at these things. I have no expertise in assessing your chances of getting a visa given your profile. I read the rules in the US Visa Application website and followed them. You will need: 1) TIME to read everything applicable in your case and 2) PATIENCE to read everything applicable.

A helpful community would be Pinoyexchange US Visa Thread and FemaleNetwork US Visa thread. Both are long threads so just backread for a couple of pages and you'll be fine. Allot TIME and PATIENCE in reading these. In all of the visa applications I've gone through, the US visa required the least amount of documents but I still did loads of prework.


Visa Application Process

This is the sequence of how I did it. Some people may have done another approach that worked for them. I cannot compare which is better because I was only able to try one approach.

1. I filled-out and submitted the DS Form 160. It took me two days to fill-out the form. Not the whole day of course. But I just wanted to check and recheck all the info I entered. You'll need your passport details, you should know how much you are earning a month, and you'll need to input your travel dates (even if those are tentative dates). You can save a copy of your form and just go back to it later.

2. I paid for the DS 160-Form online via BPIExpreeonline. You'll find the steps in the website.  Pretty easy and straightforward. The visa costs $160 at 46 forex rate = Php 7,200. Ouch. A painful cost if I will be denied a visa.

You can accomplish steps 1 and 2 in front of a computer without lifting your butt. I've read that you can interchange these two steps. #1 can also be done after #3.

3. I scheduled my appointment. I chose a December after the end of the school semester. I wanted a 6:30 AM schedule but no slots were available so I went with a 7:15 timeslot. You can only view the appointment calendar once you've paid. You can schedule an appointment up to two months in advance.

4. I woke up very early for my interview.

Interview Day

I took a cab from SM North Edsa. The taxi meter rate yielded Php 183  from SM North to the US Embassy, but I added some tip. Thing is, when the driver says "dagdag na lang po kayo", I conceded. When the driver doesn't ask for "dagdag" and the taxi meter is right, I add some tip for "good behavior". 

I arrived outside the embassy at 6:00AM for my 7:15AM appointment. People for the 7:15AM appointment started to go in at around 6:40.  Had to throw out my water but I kept the bottle. Pre-checking. Fingerprinting. They started interviewing tourist visa applicants around 7:40AM. Watch the number flash on the screen, the numbers are flashed randomly, not in chronological order. I brought a book to read to pass time. I am not a very chatty type of person when in lines.

The interview: 

I got the friendly blonde curly haired woman as the consul.
VO: Why are you going to the US?
Me: To watch the Lion King on Broadway (pangarap ko talaga to guys) with friends.
VO: Where do you work?
Me:
VO: What is your monthly salary?
Me:
VO: So where have you traveled to?
ME: Hongkong, Macau, Singapore, Netherlands, Germany, Italy France, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Indonesia, China
(Aba tinodo ko sagot ko para masabi that I have good travel history!)
VO: All of that in the past year?
Me: No, the past 5 years
VO: I see I see. *looks at my passport* Are you single?
Me: Yes.
VO: Who do you live with?
Me: I live at home with my parents and siblings.
VO: I see! That's why you can afford to travel, you still live at home.
Me: *Smile* Yes! (totoo naman!)
VO: Where did you go to school?
Me:
VO: So you are flying all the way to the US to watch a show?
Me: Yes, I missed their show in Singapore way back in 2010.
VO: Why not watch Beauty and the Beast here instead here?
Me: They don't have the same soundtrack
VO: *nods* Well it is good show. Allright, you'll get your visa in a week. Enjoy the show!
Me: *big grin* THanks!

I did not present documents other than my passport. I didn't seat near the windows, so I wasn't able to eavesdrop on other interviews. I think that was better, because I didn't get nervous. The book calmed me for my interview.

I got out at 8:30AM. I had to ask a jogger outside the US Embassy because I had no watch nor any gadgets with me. I walked all the way to UN and all the way to LRT station, which took me around 15-20 minutes. 

It pays to be early kahit di ka makakapasok agad. Kasi mauuna ka sa pila, tapos mauuna ka din sa number. If you have kids/elderly, pauunahin naman yun so in those cases, kahit on-time lang ang dating.

I had my interview on Tuesday. My passport was delivered on Thursday. Talk about efficiency. And I was granted a 10-year multiple-entry visa. Hoorah!



I don't have any special tips for the US Visa Application process other than following the steps. The steps are very straightforward, and you can get enough guidance from the US Embassy website.

Good luck!

7 comments:

  1. Congratulations! 10 year multiple entry at that! Happy Holidays!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi how much nilagay mo sa bank account mo?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The usual amount: emergency fund + travel fund + buffer emergency fund

      Delete
  3. 10 years ba ang minimum na ginagrant nila?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lahat ng nabasa ko na granted, they got 10 years. I don't know if that is the minimum they issue nowadays.

      Delete
  4. Ayos! In case, do you if I ask for help from firms offer visa services like this http://pnjgconsulting.com/services/visa-services/, my visa would be approve?

    ReplyDelete
  5. wat po naprepare nyo na docs na hindi nyo naipakita?

    ReplyDelete

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