At the Manila US Embassy last Feb 2012, as I arrived on time and after falling in line for about 2 minutes, the receipt was first being requested from me on the first window by the entrance and then went inside and wait for my number to be called. Hmm if they should let the people bring the camera in, I should probably take so many pictures back then!
While waiting on my seat, I had the chance to feel (for the first time) what is the real feel of being inside the US Embassy and was able to calm myself and adopt to the environment and the situation. As everybody knows – applying tourist visa is really hard.
I carefully observed the interview of other applicants on different windows, some are just easy and some are having a hard time to defend themselves.
I was also able to chitchat with some tourist visa applicants who are waiting as well. The applicant beside me was about 14 year old girl (with her mother beside her) she looks very relaxed and confident. The mother said, her daughter was really complacent that she will passed the interview because she is determined to finish her schooling in Philippines and that her vacation in US is just really a vacation. And so that conversation probably gave me more confidence.
As my number was called, I immediately went to my designated window. The Consul greeted me with a smile, he is a kind looking American guy. I smiled and said “Good morning Sir” and then handed my Passport together with Form I-134 Affidavit of Support sponsorship and supporting documents such as Bank statement, tax return (etc.) of my sponsor. Other supporting documents are left on my expanding folder. He then ask me a series of questions
Q1: “What is your relationship to the sponsor?”
A1: “He is my boyfriend”
Q2: “O! Kelan ang Kasal?!” (“When is the wedding?!”)
I was stunned for a second coz he speaked tagalog. I unconsciously turned my head down and then up looking at him sadly and sincerely answered his question.
A2: “Actually no plan yet, we are still having a hard time to deal with this long distance relationship that makes it hard for us to know each other more better, however I don’t want to settle myself first without making sure what will gonna be our life in the US away from my family specially that I have a child already and had a failed relationship before. When I get married I want it to be really a life time commitment”.
During the interview, I noticed he is partially looking at me and partially looking on his computer. I’m expecting my Tourist visa will be denied (by default) because of negative hearsay about tourist visa and lots of my co-workers tried to apply tourist visa before and then get denied. So I tried to show my other documents such as Land Title, PAGIBIG housing receipts, Certificate of Employment, BC of my son, etc. but he refused to look at it and instead ask me another question.
Q3: “How did you met each other?”
A3: “We are working at the same company as an Engineer, I am in Philippine R&D branch and he is in US R&D main Office.”
Q4: “How much is your monthly salary?”
A4: “Php xx,xxx”
Q5: “O, bakit maliit?” (“Oh! Why is so small?”)
Aray! hindi naman yun maliit sa kin. Ouch! it’s not that small to me. (talking to my self)
A5: “Probably, because that is why they had the branch in Philippines, the labor is cheaper than in the US.”
After that he said “Ok, Next please!” while he wrote something on the small piece of paper inside my passport and put it away. I probably still enjoying the interview or whatever, coz we not even had 5 mins talking to each other yet. I don’t want to leave the window and still want to convince him more because as I’ve said, by default I have a negative thought that my visa will be denied because of hearsays from other people which are actually inadequate and insignificant.
However, the Consul said while checking next applicant’s paper “Ano pang hinihintay mo? Umuwi ka na, ipapadala na lang namin sa yo ang Visa mo after one week” in a calm manner. Me still standing in front of the window, “Really? I passed the interview?” He answered me “If you want you can wait here and sleep on the floor until Visa is done” while extending his head a little bit towards the window and pointing his index finger to the floor. I laughed and finally realized what is going on. I just said, “Thank you very much Sir!” with a big smile.
I just known after one week my visa arrived that he granted me with a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa for 10 years! Wow! Until now I still can’t believe it. I travelled to the US two times (2012 and 2013 holy week vacation) before we filed our K1/K2 Visa last 2014.
MUST READ: Tips and Lessons I learned from B1/B2 Tourist Visa Interview:
- Arrive at the US Embassy on time.
- Dress well: There is no really a dress code in going to US Embassy, however dress like you want to show you are “serious” about the visa application. Dress like you are going to a job interview.
- Be Polite: Smile and greet the Consul (Good Morning) as you enter the designated window. This will help drive your self-confidence and eliminate nervousness.
- Be Honest and Transparent: The Consuls are well trained and expert in reading facial expressions and mannerisms. They will ask questions randomly again and again and if you are caught lying, you might not be able to apply another visa again or worst you might be banned from entering the United States due to fraud. So just be confident and transparent in your real situation.
- Be confident, Be yourself: If you are really honest and have paid a lot of effort and stress in this visa application, just be confident, stand-up straight and maintain a proper posture. They should be there to help you process your application in able for you to pursue your travel plans.
- Make a persistent eye contact: As the saying goes, “The eyes are the window to your soul”. By just looking at the eyes they can tell so much about the person. The pupils are the part of our eye body language which we practically have no control over. If a person is over aware and sure about the message he is delivering, the eye contact is persistent. Therefore if you are really honest about your intention, just make an effective eye contact, it is very essential in interacting with the Consul.
- Answer the questions directly to the point: Listen to the question carefully and answer to what only is being asked in a loud and clear voice, do not be so talkative – you might give irrelevant information by mistake that will led to your rejection. Visa interviews ranging to only about 5 minutes per applicant, so be precise. Less talk, Less mistake.
- Be Consistent with your answers: If the same question is being asked again, you should also have the same answer again. Sometimes it’s tricky because the question will be asked in other form of scenario, so be attentive.
- Avoid mannerisms: Do not make unnecessary actions like touching your nose or your ears, curling the hair, or anything that will distract the Consul.
- Avoid arguing: If things turn out not the way you want it to be, do not argue.
- Have faith in your self and faith in almighty God: Prayers can help a lot. One week prayers before the visa interview helped me a lot to be determined.
- Speak your language: If you don’t speak English really well – it’s ok, no need to bring relative or friend as a translator. They have translator that will translate for you in Tagalog or any dialects you are used to like Bisaya, Ilokano, Kapampangan, etc.
- Strong Ties: As per my observation, the Consul doesn’t really much check or care about financial status and level in the society. They are more concern about the strong ties to your country that you will go back and you will not stay “illegally” in the US. For example in my case are: my newly bought house which is still under interior decoration back then, my job and my son. Or if you are a student, your determination in finishing your college in PI is a strong reason that you are still planning to go back after the US trip.
- Being a Tourist Visa granted – I don’t consider that I was granted a visa because of luck or the Consul was in the good mood or having a good day. It is because I confidently answered his questions with all my sincerity, transparency about my real situation and pretty much convinced him about my good intention of being a TOURIST! I was expecting it will be a single entry or probably 2 to 3 time entry, however it is such a bonus that I was granted a multiple entry for 10 years. God is good all the time, He really knows what we need and what we deserve in life.
- If your visa is being Rejected: That’s ok, chillax! It’s not the end of the world yet. The Consul just did his duty . You can re-apply again as many as you want. The hearsay that you will be banned in the US after failing a Visa application is just a worst case scenario and will forever be a hearsay (at least for me) unless proven. 😉
- ADDITIONAL TIP:
- If you are applying for Tourist Visa to visit your fiance or boyfriend but you are not yet decided to marry each other, DO NOT TELL THE CONSUL HE/SHE is a FIANCE, you will automatically be DENIED. It should be a “BOYFRIEND or GIRLFRIEND” because the term Fiance means you are engaged to GET MARRIED already and you are applying a wrong type of visa which should be Fiance Visa and Not Tourist Visa.
- If you are inviting your parents or any family member as a Tourist and have the intention to go back again to their native country (for example Philippines), DO NOT SAY YOU ARE PETITIONING YOUR PARENTS (OR ANY FAMILY MEMBER) FOR A TOURIST VISA, they will automatically be DENIED. Because the term petition means they don’t have the intention to go back anymore and you are applying a wrong type of visa. It should be INVITING your family member as a TOURIST. So be careful of the terms when talking to Consul.
FAQ: What’s the Secret in passing a visa interview?
There is NO secret in passing a visa interviews. It always depends on you. Good luck!
Many of us are afraid to apply for B1/B2 Tourist Visa because we heard lots of stories being denied and they become so disappointed no matter how many supporting documents as an evidence of ties to prove that they will be going back to the Philippines.
Never give-up on your dreams. Take a chance, you never know what Future brings.