My sister and I just got approved last Monday–and we received our visas Wednesday (just two days after the interview)!
I decided to share with you what we went through so that we could be of help because the journey wasn’t that smooth. To guide you in applying for a US visa, everything you need is in this link. I read that everyday to ensure that I didn’t make any mistake.
But I still made some bloopers. So don’t fret. It’s best to be ready, to double check everything. The lesson I learned is this: that no matter how ready I sometimes think I am, I still get hit in the face by something I never thought of.
So here are the mistakes I made, which some of you may also commit. Don’t worry, everything’s going to be all right.
1. We were late. Our appointment was for 10:15 AM and because of Manila traffic, we arrived at 10:30 AM. We just approached the guard and showed them our appointment confirmation. They let us enter and go to Line 1 where the staff there put a sticker on our passports for tracking before letting us enter the embassy itself.
2. I forgot to leave my charger and powerbank. I knew that gadgets were not allowed inside the embassy. That’s why I left my cellphone with my mom before heading to the embassy. Upon entering and undergoing bag check, I was informed that my charger and powerbank were still inside! Ughhh. I was really frustrated! To make things worse, there was no one outside to hold my things for me.
However, there are random people outside the embassy who seem to have thought of this situation beforehand. And they saw it as a business opportunity. For around PhP 300.00, they will hold your stuff for you. It’s a risk, but I decided to go for it. They even gave me a laminated claiming stub.
3. I had to redo my 2×2 photo because my ears weren’t visible. I was so sure the photo I brought along with me was fine, because it was the one I used in my DS-160 form–and it was accepted! To be clear, I googled a lot about this and I saw no written word on the official website that ears had to visible. I even tried reasoning with the lady behind the window but she just said, “Ma’am” and I shut up. She then informed me that there was actually a small Kodak stall inside the embassy. So I paid PhP 80 for 6 pieces of acceptable 2×2 photos.
Waiting in line for the interview took the longest. I read some blogs that said that applicants were given numbers and that the numbers flash on screens, similar to banks. When we were there, we saw screens which were not being used, and we weren’t given numbers. You have to fall in line standing up, not seated unlike when you’re renewing your passport. As you move forward, you get to hear some of the interviews and you get to hear whether the applicants were approved or denied.
I felt genuinely happy for those who got approved and sad for those who didn’t. Though there were a few applicants who were a bit sketchy and inconsistent in their answers. Chiara and I were interviewed at the same time and it went smoothly.
The consul just asked us what we’re going to do in the United States (attending a wedding), what we do, how long I worked in UPLB, how long we plan to stay, and who’s paying for the trip (our grandfather). He even asked us where else we have been and of course we answered truthfully–that we had travelled to Italy when we were children, but that we didn’t have any recent foreign travels. He didn’t even ask to see any documents and we each brought an envelope of supporting documents!
I couldn’t hold back my smile as we walked out of the embassy.
1. If you can, schedule your appointment the earliest time you can. We made the mistake of scheduling it at 10:15. We arrived 10:30 and left by 2:00 PM. Our mom was waiting for us at her office for lunch, but when her officemates found out we were at the embassy, they told her to eat ahead because we won’t be done for another couple of hours. We thought it would be really quick, similar to our lovely experience renewing our passport at DFA Megamall (my appointment was 4:00 PM, I went in at 3:30 and left by 4:30). We expected that it would just be a few minutes before the actual interview, but no. Allot about 3-4 hours for this.
2. Mistakes can cost you. Because of the powerbank incident and the 2×2 incident, I had to spend an additional PhP 380.00. So it’s still better not to commit any mistakes. Still, the important thing is we all deserve second chances and of course, mistakes help us improve and become better versions of ourselves.
3. Be prepared. Just because the consul didn’t ask to see any of the documents we brought, it doesn’t mean that they won’t ask you. There were some applicants who were asked to show their invitations, bank accounts, and other details. So it’s still better to bring any document you think can help you. These can be any or all of the following:
- Income Tax Return
- Certificate of employment or enrollment if you’re still a student
- Invitation from someone in the US
- Bank transaction details showing a steady and stable flow of funds
- Letter of sponsorship if someone else is paying for your trip, plus their bank account details
- Former visas or passports especially if you have travelled a lot
- Business permits if you have your own business
So what’s the secret? There is no secret.There is no technique, no special document, or anything that can guarantee you a Visa to the United States or perhaps to any other country. But the thing that would be a huge factor in getting approved is your HONESTY.
The video in the embassy stated that your honesty matters more than your bank account, your civil status, or your travel experiences. If you have nothing to hide or nothing to lie about, you would be able to answer the questions with confidence.
So that’s that! It also helps to read a lot. During the weeks leading up to our interview, I spent a lot of time reading up on other Filipinos’ visa interview experiences. Here are some that have helped me:
- Jacklynne Lambino – my personal favorite blog entry about getting a US visa
- The Lifestyle Hub
- Ditz Revolution
- Where in the world is Nico
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to drop a comment! 🙂