It is not surprising that many Filipinos wish to go to America: find a higher paying job, be with families who migrated there or to see the attractions even for a short while.
No amount of bad publicity (high unemployment rate, strict immigration policies, etc.) would discourage most Filipinos. But such dreams could easily get quashed when someone gets denied a US visa. Obtaining a tourist visa not only got more expensive but Filipinos find them more difficult difficult o get.
Part of the blame is the fact that many Philippine passport holders who arrived in America betrayed trust of American authorities. They overstayed — officially bearing the TNT (tago ng tago tag) — and worked illegally. No wonder US embassy interviewers can be intimidating and as discriminatory as possible to prevent entry of additional violators into the country.
Interviews are typically very short, but a slight slip in response or lack of confidence may spell doom in your visa application. The number of applicants denied their visas far exceed those the successful ones. But this should not be a reason to be intimidated if you really want to go to America.
The following tips might be helpful in passing your interview, and getting that much-coveted visa.
Answer questions as if you were forced to go to the United States
Officers usually ask questions related to your purpose in the US and interviews last only for a few minutes. While it’s obvious that your purpose with a tourist visa is to visit the country for a short period, they want to hear reassuring words that you have no intention of extending the stay and you have enough proof you are returning to the Philippines. Prepare answers to follow up questions: where will you stay in the US, which places you plan to visit, how much money do you intend to bring and when is your return to the Philippines.
Be confident in answering questions
Take away the thought that you must convince your interviewer to give you the visa and not waste the US$160 you paid; such approach could backfire if the officer notices you’re just too aggressive. Nervousness will never be a good characteristic to show when you’re interviewed; officers are trained to read your facial expression and mannerisms. Act naturally as if you’re talking to your best friend, be honest as possible but avoid contradicting statements.
Choose an appropriate travel date
While it’s easy to say you want to visit America anytime upon the discretion of embassy officials, it would be more helpful if your travel time coincides something relevant. If officers know that you’re a student, they may be assured that you are returning to the Philippines to finish your studies. If work-related event takes place (say WWDC) you can time your travel during those dates, with no intention to deceive your interviewer.
Prepare your documents
Not at all times your interviewer would like to look at your supporting documents but in case they do, it’s best to prepare all documents necessary.
- Philippine passport
- Non-immigrant visa DS-156 form
- Supplemental non-immigrant visa DS-157 form
- Required photo
- Birth certificate
- Consent to travel for minors
- Application fee receipt
- Marriage certificate, for married couples
- Air ticket
- Invitation letter, if attending an event
- Travel itinerary
- Hotel booking confirmation, or letter from family or friend who will accommodate you
- Bank records
- Tax returns
- Employment certificate
- Any other document that will support your need to go to America or support your strong ties to the Philippines.
When you fail to pass your interview
Even at our best efforts we could still fail to convince consul officers to issue us a tourist visa. However, such denial of visa is not permanent. In such case, you will have to think of filing for another application after addressing the reason why your previous application got rejected. Otherwise, for a Filipino tourist there are many other places you can visit. Others don’t even require tourist visas!
US Embassy Consular Section in the Philippines
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Manila, Philippines 1000
Telephone: (632) 301-2000
Fax: (632) 523-1356
Disclaimer: This article only provides guidance and in no way guarantees approval of visa applications.