“Is there anything more you wanted to say that we haven’t discussed yet?”, asked the consul to the group being interviewed right before me. I knew with that question that they won’t make it. Did it made me nervous? No. This was because after lining up for about an hour and hearing a number of applicants, I knew the consuls were just asking reasonable questions.
- 1 US Visa for Philippine Passport Holders
- 2 How to Get US Visa for Philippine Passport Holders in 4 Steps
- 3 Approved or Denied
- 4 Interview Day
- 5 My Interview
- 6 What I Prepared for my US Visa Interview
- 7 US Visa Application Tips
- 8 US Embassy
US Visa for Philippine Passport Holders
Philippine passport holders who intend to temporarily visit the United States for travel or tourism purposes are required to get the B-1/B-2 visitor visa. B1-visa is for visitors who have business objectives whereas B2-visa is for visitors with recreational or tourism purposes. Often, the B-1 and B-2 visas are combined and issued as one visa: the B-1/B-2.
This guide discusses how to get the B-1/B-2 for tourism purposes for Philippine passport holders.
How to Get US Visa for Philippine Passport Holders in 4 Steps
Step 1. Pay the Visa Application Fee
Pay the visa application fee of USD160 (~PHP8640). Go to this site. From the left pane, navigate to [Nonimmigrant Visa Application] section and click [Pay My Visa Fee].
In the [Fee Payment Options], select [Deposit Slip – $160 MRV Fee]. You will then be redirected to your [Visa Fee Deposit Slip]. Save and print it.
Payment via Bank of Philippine Islands (BPI)
Visa application fee can only be paid at BPI. If you have an account here, you can pay online. If none, you can visit the nearest branch.
If paying over BPI counter, make sure to bring the following:
- Printed U.S. visa application deposit slip
- Photocopy of your passport’s bio page
Be sure to pay before the expiration date as indicated in your deposit slip. Wait for 4 hours to 1 day (payment made after 3PM) for your payment to be processed.
Step 2. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form
Fill out the nonimmigrant visa electronic application (DS-160) form here. You can opt not to finish it in one sitting, you can save and complete it later. Just make sure to note your application ID. Aside from retrieving your application form later, you need the application ID when you schedule your interview.
Once you completed and submitted your form, you will receive an e-mail with your DS-160 confirmation page. Download and print it.
No Contact Person in the US
In the US Contact Information section of the form, you have to provide contacts in the US. In case you don’t have one (like me), you can indicate a place (specific store or attraction) you are going to visit. I put the Statue of Liberty in my application since I initially plan to visit New York.
You will also be asked for your address in the US. You can just indicate a hotel name and its address.
Step 3. Schedule your Interview
To be able to schedule an interview, you have to create an online account. Click here to register one. The appointment availability changes from time to time. Don’t be surprised if today the earliest available schedule is already for next month and then when you check again, you can get a slot within the next 2 weeks.
Before you schedule your interview, make sure you already paid the visa application fee. You have to input your receipt number before you can proceed. If your payment is not reflected yet, you will receive the message “No valid record can be found for the entered receipt number.”. Don’t panic, just try again at a later time.
When scheduling your interview, it is okay if you haven’t completed yet your DS-160 form. Just make sure to add the correct application ID of the DS-160 form you are working with.
Step 4. Attend your Interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate
Make sure not to arrive too early, you will not be allowed entry. Wear a smart casual attire. The interview usually don’t last for more than 5 minutes but the waiting time can be at least an hour. Everything is well coordinated inside the embassy. There are a number of staff assisting the applicants so you will not be lost.
What to Bring During the Interview
The following are mandatory documents you have to bring during your interview:
- DS-160 confirmation page
- Valid passport
- 2×2 photo
- Visa fee payment receipt
Aside from the required documents above, I also brought with me other supporting documents including COE, bank statement, bank certificate, stocks certificate, ITR, old passport with stamps, and sample itinerary. None of these were asked from me.
Approved or Denied
To date, US visa is my most favorite visa application. Why? Because right after your interview, the immigration consul will let you know if your application is approved or denied. No agonizing waiting game.
“Ma’am bawal ang cellphone sa loob (Ma’am you can’t bring cellphone inside.)” – a lady told me as I was approaching the gates of the embassy. Yes, electronics are not allowed inside the embassy and there are people waiting outside who can hold stuff for you for a minimal fee (at your own risk of course).
On the interview day, you will undergo three main procedures:
Your passport will be checked and your 2×2 photos will be requested. The following questions will be asked: (1) What is the purpose of your visit in the US? (2) How old is your photo?
You passport will be asked and then your biometrics will be obtained.
Line up until your turn comes.
Before my interview started, I was asked for my passport. Upon opening, the consul immediately saw my valid Canadian visa. Below was our conversation.
Consul: Have you been to Canada?
Me: Not yet, but I tentatively plan to visit in August.
Consul: What is your job?
Me: (explained my job as I described in the DS-160 application form).
Consul: Who are you living here with?
Me: My parents and my brother.
Consul: Who are you going to travel with?
Me: I’m travelling with my aunts together with their husbands. They have been living in Canada for about 10 years now. We plan to do a long drive from Toronto to New York. They frequent New York via land travel.
Consul: So your US visit is just part of your Canada tour?
Consul: How long will you be in Canada?
Me: Just 2 weeks.
Consul: Ok, your visa is approved. Congratulations! Expect it to be delivered in 3-5 days.
Me: Thank you so much!
I got a 10 year multiple entry US visa. I received my passport just 2 working days after my interview.
What I Prepared for my US Visa Interview
Prior to my interview, I made sure I prepared myself knowledge of the following:
- List of countries I had visited.
- I drafted a 4-day New York itinerary. I even memorized key destinations and why I wanted to visit them in case I will be asked.
- Since I indicated in my DS-160 that I will be traveling with my relatives, I asked them background of their work.
- Since I plan to enter the US from Canada (Toronto to New York) via land travel, I asked my relatives details about it.
- I made sure I can explain my job well.
US Visa Application Tips
- It is advisable to apply at least three months before your intended travel date.
- The immigration officer will only ask questions related to the answers you indicated in your DS-160 application form.
- During the interview, they usually do not request for any document. They will only get your passport. But as most people would advise, bring relevant documents just in case.
- The visa application fee already includes the courier fee.
- Photo to be submitted can be taken at the embassy itself.
- All fees paid are non-refundable.
- You are not allowed to bring battery-operated or electronic devices such as mobile phone and smart watch.
- Don’t be late but don’t be too early as well.
- Interview usually lasts for around 5 minutes but lining up for the interview proper can take you longer, at least an hour.
- It is indicated in the immigration website that you can only carry plastic bags containing application-related papers – no large backpacks or even shoulder bags will be allowed. Only bags that can be carried by hand will be permitted. I only brought with me a clear book containing my documents but I was surprised to see many applicants carrying huge bags.
- Make sure to save or write down your Application ID when you create your DS-160 application form. You have to enter it when you schedule your interview together with the Receipt Number in your deposit slip. You will also use the Application ID to retrieve your application if you decide not to complete or submit it yet.
- You can actually start accomplishing your DS-160 application form even if you haven’t paid yet the visa application fee.
- The visa application fee is valid for one year. Make sure you are able to secure an interview slot within that time frame.
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard