Important Note: I applied for a NON-IMMIGRANT B1/B2 (Business/Tourism) CATEGORY VISA; so anything different from this particular subject will not be covered.
Schedule An Interview
- Go to this link: http://cgifederal.secure.force.com/
- Click on “New User?” and create an account.
- Once you have an account, log in and click on New Application/Schedule Appointment
- Follow the steps with the necessary information. Be ready with your passport details, Receipt Number and Application ID.
- Select the date and time of the interview.
- Select the method of delivery. I chose to pick it up at a 2Go outlet near me; but you may opt to have it delivered straight to your home/office. The delivery is already covered in the application fee; so there’s no need to pay for this anymore.
- Schedule the appointment.
- An Appointment Confirmation will be generated. Print this out. You may also have a copy sent to your email address.
I M P O R T A N T !
There’s a grace period before your application fee payment/Receipt Number goes through the system. Refer to this page http://ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-paymentinfo.asp under Scheduling Your Interview for full details on the timelines.
T I P !
Unless you’re really confident and complete with your supporting documents, I suggest scheduling the interview at least three weeks from submission of the DS-160 form. That way, you have enough time to gather all the documents you may want to bring to the interview. But this might, of course, turn out to be unnecessary. More on that later.
Go to The Interview
- Bring the following:
- Appointment Confirmation (all pages)
- Original MRV Fee Receipt: Php7680 Deposit Slip Confirmation
- Valid Passport
- DS-160 Confirmation Page
- 2×2 Photo
- supporting documents proving socio-economic ties to the country. Here’s what I brought:
- old passport
- latest ITR
- bank certificate
- employment certificate
- credit card statements from two accounts for the past 3 months
- Arrive at the US Embassy Consul at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview. There’s no need to arrive hours and hours before your schedule to line up.
T I P S !
- You are not allowed to unload people right in front of the US Embassy. I suggest you park/be dropped off where Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf is (Avenue of the Arts, 1388 Roxas Blvd corner Sta. Monica Street) and get across via the overpass.
- If your appointment is really early, you will see a bunch of monoblock chairs situated near the entrance to the tents. Those aren’t free. That’s Php30 for a seat. It’s cheap; but I sat without knowing I had to pay for the chair. Oh well… had to pay up.
- Do not bring any electronic or battery-operated device, big bags/backpacks, anything with an on/off switch, any flame generating device or sharp objects. They are very strict with this. There are people outside who are willing to hold your valuable items for a fee.
- There are people offering to sell black ballpens as well. You don’t need these. Don’t buy.
- If you arrive around 30-45 minutes before your scheduled interview, I suggest you go ahead and enter the first barricade. Chances are there’s already a line that has formed waiting for the go signal to enter.
- US Embassy personnel will put up signs giving notice as to which schedule is already being processed (ex. Now Processing Non-immigrant Visa 7:00am). Once your schedule is up, people are led to the first security check.
Entering the US Embassy/Consul
- FIRST CHECK: Present your Application Confirmation, DS-160 Confirmation Page and current passport.
- SECOND CHECK: Present the first page of your DS-160 Confirmation Page, fold it in half showing the photo, and insert it into your current passport on the page with your picture.
- THIRD CHECK: X-ray machines. Baggage check. The works. They just want to make sure you didn’t bring in all the prohibited items they explicitly told you not to bring. Believe me, some people still brought in mobile phones. Argh.
- Fall in line for STEP ONE: Present the DS-160 Confirmation Page and current passport. The person will ask for your full name and birthday.
- Fall in line for STEP TWO: Present the DS-160 Confirmation Page and current passport. You will then proceed to fingerprinting.
- Fall in line for STEP THREE: This is the interview. There are no number assignments anymore. Everyone is just in one long line and embassy personnel lead each person to a different window for the interview.
M Y P E R S O N A L E X P E R I E N C E
I couldn’t possibly recreate the interview verbatim; but here’s the gist.
- Career: I was asked about my job description and my monthly salary (gross and net).
- Previous Travel: I was asked about the countries I’ve been to before. My passport has been recently renewed; so it only had my Japan visa (valid 5 years multiple entry) on it. The interviewer didn’t ask to see my old passport anymore. He just asked what I did in Japan (I said tour with family).
- Purpose of Travel to the US: This is the topic where most of the interview lingered. I was asked where I planned to go (San Francisco and LA) and what I plan to do in the US, who will pay for the trip (myself), who I’m going with (brother) and if that companion has a visa (I said he’s in the process of applying as well.) I was then asked why all of a sudden, I wanted to go to the US. Of course, I said that I decided to tag along with my brother since he has this exhibition to go to in Las Vegas. He then said that Vegas and California are two completely different places. I said we’re flying in to San Francisco, then LA, then he’s going to Las Vegas. I’m guessing that was a test if I would trip up or lie. It was good that I already had a rough itinerary in mind; so I was able to answer quickly and honestly.
After a couple of seconds with him typing away at the keyboard, the magic words were spoken, “Your visa application is approved. Thank you.” Mental yipee!!
Once approved, I was free to go. My scheduled appointment was at 7:15am. I arrived around 6:40am. I was done a little after 8:30am.
T I P S !
- Be consistent. Be honest. Be confident. The interviewer will try to test you on your consistency/accuracy in terms of information. Be familiar with all the info you provided in the online application. There’s nothing more suspicious than an interviewee tripping up an answer and pausing in between sentences.
- Be brief. Answer in short, quick sentences. Dragging on and on about your job description or US trip plans will most likely do more harm than good.
- To truly have the intention of just going to the US to see the sights is half the battle. It will come across during your interview. Don’t be afraid to say if there’s a particular theme park you want to go to or a show you want to see. Prove that you are familiar with the landmarks and the activities in your destination.
- It is most likely that none of the supporting documents you brought with you will be needed. I only brought out my Application Confirmation, DS-160 Confirmation Page and current passport. Not even the MRV receipt and my picture needed to be presented. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared and bring what you may think you need. Better to have excess documents than lack documents.
Get Your Passport Back!
My interview was on a Monday. I received a text from 2Go that my passport is ready for pick-up by Thursday. I picked it up on Saturday. My US visa is officially on my passport. Quick and painless.
And that’s it. I’m happy to be in this stage of planning our itinerary and wholeheartedly researching about our destinations. I’m so excited!
At the end of the day, if you have the same answers to the following questions, then you have a good chance of getting a tourist visa:
- Can I afford to travel to the USA? YES.
- Do I at least have a rough itinerary in mind? YES.
- Do I have enough reason to come back to the Philippines? YES.
- Do I have any ulterior motive in traveling to the USA aside from sight-seeing? NO.
I admit the interview was still pretty nerve-wracking; but once I started, the questions turned out to be pretty straightforward and easy to answer. I relaxed and just went with it. Here’s hoping your application will result in an approval as well. Good luck!
Oh, and I got 10 years validity, by the way. Woo!
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