Being in a relationship with someone who’s oceans and continents away from you is a very tough love fairytale. The everyday struggle of being apart is not easy through modern technology, we tried to filled up our longingness with unlimited conversations but it wasn’t the same as being together. From the Philippines to the United States, our desire to be with each other in the same place made us look for possibilities to make our dream come to reality. Due to certain reasons, my boyfriend (back then) could not find opportunity to visit me in my country so we planned to apply for my tourist visa and visit him with his family in California.
What I am about to share with you is based on my own experience therefore information may NOT be current. My purpose of sharing it, is to ONLY give you ideas to familiarize yourself with the process. In here you will find my own personal opinions and suggestions that you may use at your OWN risk. I recommend you to visit USCIS official website to get more specific and accurate information about the process.
U.S Tourist Visa Application (MY 1st Application: July 2016)
The first Step Process
1. I visited the U.S Visa Information Service for the Philippines on their U.S embassy website to know more about U.S visas and the requirements on how to apply for each. My application for tourist visa falls on nonimmigrant visa type which is also used for business, student, worker and people who would like to stay only for a specific period of time to accomplish their purposes. You can read all the information you need on their website and all the steps were enumerated clearly so you have the proper guidance on what to do next.
2. First step would be determining what type of visa you are applying to and know the corresponding application fee for that specific visa type. A visa type B with the fee of $160 is for business or tourist application and the equivalent in Philippine peso will depend on how much is the current exchange rate per dollar, bear in mind that payments were paid in local currency. (Please check the embassy’s website for the updated fees)
After knowing the visa type and application fee for my tourist visa application I then downloaded and printed the deposit slip for $160 fee(downloadable from their website) as a requirement before going to the bank BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands), the only bank where you can pay for any U.S visa application. With the printed deposit slip and the peso cash that was equivalent to $160 I went to BPI and pay the application fee. Instructions can be read in your printed deposit slip on how to make the payment when you are already in the bank.
After payment, I received my receipt and kept it as part of my records. I advise you to not lose the receipt because the bank would not issue a copy of your receipt. The bank receipt’s number is also a requirement when scheduling an appointment for the visa interview (online or via phone). Before thinking about getting an appointment schedule for your interview you first need to fill-up completely the required form DS-160 for your application. Follow the guidelines on the embassy’s website and read all the important instructions to complete that form. After I completed and submitted the form DS-160 with the required photo online- I was now ready to schedule an appointment for my interview. Make sure to submit your completed DS-160 form and have a printed copy of your confirmation page that comes with a barcode because this form will be asked by the consulate officer on the day your interview.
3. I made sure to check all my documents including my passport, payment receipt from the bank, DS-160 confirmation page and my email before scheduling an appointment for interview. I suggest you to have all these documents and information ready with you when you call or go online to get an interview appointment.
After checking all these supporting documents, I called to the U.S embassy call center services to schedule an appointment for my interview. Scheduling an appointment can also be done online using the U.S consulate’s website. I preferred to call through the embassy’s call center service because online scheduling is a bit of extra work to do. I mean the process requires me to first register then create my profile online before I can log.in and be able to access the steps of how to set an appointment schedule. For my convenience I called to the embassy and ask kindly to the agent to schedule me an appointment and provide the agent all the required document information.
My interview appointment was scheduled on the 18th of July 2016 which was only a few weeks after I submitted my application online. Some people claim to wait a month or so to get an appointment, but I guess it depends on your luck. After you scheduled an appointment make sure to read all the requirements you need to bring during the day of the interview as well as important reminders about the things that are or not allowed inside the embassy or consulate and some tips on what to wear.
Wearing formal attire would be the usual wear during interviews but I preferred to wear a casual wear . What matter would be the interview and how you carry yourself confidently with your honest answers that will assure them of your real purpose and give them strong assurance that you will go back to your country after your intended period of stay in the U.S. Aside from the requirements I mentioned above, four 2×2 passport pictures were also required on the day of the interview.
4. Interview day came and I went to the embassy/consulate 30 minutes before my scheduled time with all the required documents with me. The area for the applicants is near to the bay to fall in line to their scheduled time posted on posts specified to different visa type application. U.S consulate staff changes the time posted every 15 minutes so be alert to watch out for your scheduled time.
I was scheduled at 10:15 a.m so when the staff changed the time posted from 10:00 to 10:15, I and other applicants who were also scheduled at the same time started to form a line and were asked to proceed to the entrance for document verification. A verifier agent or officer asked for my passport, DS-160 confirmation page and the passport photos. After my documents were verified the officer posted a sticker on the back of my passport stating my name, the date and time of my scheduled interview. The officer handed back my documents then we proceeded inside the consulate and went through inspection (prohibited items like phones, headphones, charger etc. were asked to be left outside the consulate-so better be reminded NOT to bring all of those items or have someone you knew who will take care of it while you’re inside the embassy).
After the inspection, we were asked to be seated in the open hall and waited for our batch to be called to proceed for biometrics or finger scanning. We were then called and went inside the interview hall, was asked to applied hand sanitizer prior to finger scanning, got the biometrics done and proceeded to take a seat and waited our own turn for the consul’s one on one interview. While waiting for my turn to come, I was observing other applicants who were in the interview, as the time went by I started to feel very nervous and thought if all the questions that officers ask others would be the same as mine.
I witnessed approved and denied interviews of applicants with different purposes ahead of me and when my turn came for my one on one interview I ended up with an American lady consul. She asked for my documents including my passport, asked me to confirm all my information, encode it to the computer and asked me about my purpose of application. She asked about my boyfriend’s information, what he does for a living, how did we meet, how long have we been into the relationship, how long do I intend to stay in U.S, and asked about my current work and how much I earn a month. I made sure to answer all the questions honestly but I ended up receiving a blue form stating that I have been denied or my application was rejected. The consul also informed me that I am not qualified to have a tourist visa and the form states why.
I have learned from my experience that in-order to be approved for a visa the consul must be assured enough of your purpose and the particular period of time you intend to stay in U.S without finding any possibility of over staying in the country or you may have redoubtable reasons of returning back to your country after you accomplish your purpose in U.S. Such reasons would include children that you’ll be leaving at home, property, business or work within your country and you earn a high above average wage for living and all valid strong evidence that will make you go back and that you don’t have any hidden plans to over stay in U.S for any purpose it might be. It is best to answer each question with simple and precise answers but make sure to secure your reasons with powerful evidence that will give them strong assurance of your return and this will give you greater chance to be approved with a tourist visa.
The consuls are very detailed with their questions and they know so well how to evaluate each of your answers so being truthful and honest is the best way to go and they will start to analyze you situation and will determine or foresight possibilities of what you can or may do when you are already in U.S. I would say being rejected never means of giving up because there are more ways and opportunities ahead of me and I told myself that there will always be next time and when that time comes it will be the right time for me.