I decided to apply for a US tourist visa as I heard that most of the visas given recently are 10 years multiple entry which, before, is very rare for Filipinos. This is by far, the most expensive tourist visa application I have had and the preparation needs time and extra effort. Here’s what I did to prepare for the application all the way through the approval.
Disclaimer: This post is only for US tourist visa application (B1/B2 Class). If you have other type of visa application, you may refer to this site for further details.
- Pay the Visa Application Fee – Yes, you need to pay first before you can fill up the application form. Payments are accepted via BPI over-the-counter or Bancnet online. If you don’t mind the queue, I suggest paying via OTC so you can make clarification before payment because once you paid, it’s no longer refundable. For B1/B2 class, I paid $160 each person. I applied together with my son. Before heading to the bank, you need to download and print this Deposit Slip form as the Receipt Number in the form is what you will need to enter in your deposit details at the counter. Do not go to the bank without this slip.
*There is a payment cut-off that the bank follows. If you paid your fee before 3pm, you can wait for 4 hours before you can start filing your interview schedule. If you paid past 3pm, you will need to wait the next day before you can file your interview schedule. (you can do this after you have filled up your D-160 form)
2. Once paid, you are now ready to fill up your DS-160 form. This form is online. You need to fill in the details online. You can only print the DS-160 form once you have digitally-signed it after you filled up all the information. Click here for the DS-160 form page.
a. From the SELECT ONE dropdown, select Philippines (or country applicable to you). Enter the code shown (captcha). Select the type of application. In my case, it’s Start an Application. Once you’re done, you will be directed to the next page which will eventually start the filling up of needed information.
b. When filling up your application, always be thruthful about what you enter. Even before the date of your scheduled interview, there will be am investigation conducted by immigration officers about your profile and if this will not match with you put in your application, it may affect your visa approval.
c. Information about where you will stay is required. If you are planning a DIY trip, browse for hotel addresses from Booking.com or Agoda to get potential addresses for your stay. You don’t need to book it yet. You only need to get the address which will eventually be your home base when you get approved. If you have relatives in the US to which you intend to stay with, get their address and phone numbers for the details to be inputted in your application.
d. Picture needs to be attached to the application form. The required size is 2×2. It is important that you follow the correct size of the picture and specifications about its looks and angle. I had several issues when I uploaded my picture that it took me a while to get the correct cropping size and angle.
e. There is a section there regarding petitions. When I applied, our family is under petition for immigrant visa which was filed sometime in 2010. I declared it honestly as these types of information are being checked from the immigration database. If your application declaration did not match, it might affect your visa approval.
f. There are also sets of questionaires answerable by Y or N. Just be truthful about each questions.
3. Once you are done updating your DS-160 form, you will need to digitally sign it. Digital signing simply means submitting the form online. Once this is done, you will come across a page which says THIS IS NOT A VISA together with the picture you uploaded. This is your completed DS-160 form. Print this as you need to bring this during your interview.
4. Once you are done, every DS-160 form has a unique barcode generated when you started filling up your application. Record this barcode for referrence. You can start scheduling your interview to the embassy. Scheduling your interview can be done via phone by calling the embassy hotline or you can create a profile here. I took the online profile and scheduled my interview via the website. Double or triple check the DS-160 form barcode versus your payment receipt to ensure that you have entered them correctly. Incorrect information may affect your schedule online.
The Interview day….
My schedule was July 13, 2018 at 8:30am. Since we are coming from Taguig, I left the house at around 5:45am and reached Roxas Blvd area by 6:30am. I know we are too early for the schedule, but it’s better to let the time pass by staying nearby rather than compromising the schedule by being late due to traffic. Once you are late for the interview, you may not be able secure a new interview again and your payment will go to waste.
IMPORTANT: All electronic gadgets (cellphones, laptops, chargers, batteries, earphones etc.) are not allowed inside the embassy. If you happen to bring one, you will have to leave them to some ladies from the street (who apparently are doing it for business). During the interview day, I left my phone at home but I didn’t notice that my son brought his phone and so I was left with no choice but to leave it to the lady at the street. These baggers are not accredited by the embassy. You will have to just trust them that they will not take your phone after you give it to them for safekeeping. My son’s phone costs us P200 to be taken cared of by the ladies. They charge it by per number of phones. If you brought 3, then you pay P600. If you brought laptop, they will charge you higher. So, it’s best not to bring any gadgets. If you have relatives with you during your interview, just leave your belongings to them.
Upon entry, our records were scanned at the gate and the barcode will be attached at the back of your passport. This will serve as your tracker when you get inside. The attendants will give you color-coded big cards and you need to follow where the colors are indicated. Wait for your turn (color) to be called on for the initial screening.
Step 1 – Initial Screening – they will ask for minor details about your application. They may require picture as well. (Please note, these are done by Filipinos at the other side of the booth).
Step 2 – Finger Printing – The officer will scan the back of your passport for the barcode and will ask you to scan your 4 fingers (left and right) and your thumbmark. Since my son was below 14 years old, he was exempted from performing the finger printing as the required age is not yet met. (14 years old and above is the requirement)
Step 3 – Interview – This is the time when you will be face to face with the consul. They will ask you questions about yourself and related questions will emerge after your response is received. Here are some of the questions I can still recalled being asked from me:
Question 1: Why are you going to the US?
Question 2: Why US?
Question 3: Where is US do you plan to visit?
Question 4: How long do you plan to stay?
Question 5: Do you have relatives in the US? Who are they? How long have they been in the US? Are you going to visit them?
Question 6: Who are you traveling with? Why is your husband not joining? Does your husband have a US visa?
Question 7: What do you do here? Where do you work?
Question 8: It says in your application that you are being petitioned, who filed the petition? Do you plan to live in the US?
The consul also asked my son how old is he? And my son answered smartly. The consul then required to show me the Birth Certificate of my son. After checking, the consul said “Thank you for that. So you’re visa is approved, you may claim it after 1 week. NEXT!”
Everything happened so fast, I barely had time to say thank you to the consul. Still, I manage to say my thanks. No other documents were required by the consul aside from the BC of my son. I checked with the assistants at the embassy that the 1 week mentioned means 7 working days.
You may opt to have your passports with visa delivered to your house or you can pick it up at their designated locations.
So, there you go. Here is my experience into applying for a US tourist visa. Though the consul did not go into other details about my application, it maybe depending on how sensible you responses are to the consul’s questions. But in relation to this application, here are the documents I prepared for the interview
a. COE and Leave approval email (as I am currently employed)
b. Bank Certificates and Bank Statements (There is no required balances set by the embassy on your Bank Statement. You just make sure that if you will stay in the US for say 10 days, your bank balance has enough capacity to sustain your stay for 10 days if you will be doing your trip on your own).
c. Property Documents (I prepared my car and condo documents)
d. PSA documents (Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificate)
e. for my son – I prepared an excuse letter signed by his teachers and adviser. I also secured the school calendar of activities for the school year.
Though the consul said wait for 1 week, after just about 2 days, I was notified by the courier and embassy via text and email that my visa is already out for release. Only 2 days waiting time!
So here is our 10 years multiple entry tousit visa to the US! We are excited for our upcoming trip!
Try your US tourist visa application too! Good luck on your application soon!