Applying for a US visa can be nerve-wrecking as it can help make or break your confidence to apply for other visas (Japan, South Korea, China, Schengen, etc.). However, getting approved can also help strengthen your travel credibility — so, it’s always worth the risk.
Before proceeding with my experience, here’s a quick overview and list of what you need to prepare for your Non-Immigrant US visa application:
1. Fill out the DS-160 form online
The filling up and submission process is done electronically, click here for the DS-160 form. No need to feel pressured to complete the form in one seating, you can always save it and continue when you can.
Make sure to take note of your reference number for when you need to retrieve your form later on.
2. Sign-up at the Consular Affairs website
You will need to register here to set your interview schedule. In our case, it was my mom who registered, she individually inputted our reference numbers and other details. It was then considered as a family/group application.
3. Pay the non-refundable application fee of $164
Having the account is an important step for application of your US visa, as your payment will also be referenced in this account before you can set your appointment.
You can choose from two options on how to pay for your application: bank deposit or online transfer. As far as I know, you can only pay through BPI — $164 is roughly Php 8,500 with no visa approval assurance.
Take note that there is also a processing time for when you can schedule your interview even after you paid the fee. Was able to schedule the next day after payment.
4. Schedule your Interview
Through your Consular Affairs account you can schedule your interview after submitting your DS-160 application and paying the application fee.
The earliest schedule we were able to see was for July already, and we started our applications in May. We chose to schedule our interview on a Friday, at 7:45 am. It is encouraged to be at the embassy at least 15-30 mins before your appointment schedule.
We arrived at around 7:40am due to traffic and multiple cancellations from Grab, but we got accommodated easily. When we arrived, they were already letting in those scheduled for 8:45am.
Take note of what you only need to bring inside the US Embassy. The security is very tight, as cellphones are not even allowed inside, best to have someone tag along whom you can leave your stuff with. However, there are also some street vendors stationed outside the embassy to whom you can leave your things with — you will have to pay the Php 100 fee and they will give you a claim stub (includes their name and picture! lol).
Unlike my experience with the South Korea embassy, it was more spacious and organized at the US embassy.
There are three easy steps to go through on your interview day. The whole process can take 1.5 hours at max.
STEP 1: Checking of Passport and Photo
In this window, your passport and photo submitted will be assessed. I needed to re-do my photo, and went to the photo place just outside the consular office (it is where it took long, around 45 mins for a 2×2 photo)
After I had my photos, I just went straight to the window that accommodated us to gather our passport and proceed to the next step.
STEP 2: Finger Print
We were asked about our details: Name and Birthdate just to see if it checks out with their DS-160 copy and our passports. Once cleared, you will be asked to scan your finger prints on both hands, all fingers.
STEP 3: Interview with the Consul
It took almost an hour in line, as other scheduled interviews are coming in. The consul directed most of the questions to my mom. Here are some of the questions asked:
- Why are you visiting the US?
- When are you planning to visit the US?
- Why did you decide to visit the US now?
- Who will you be visiting?
- Where are you visiting in the US?
- Do you have relatives in the US?
For my siblings, here are the only questions asked:
- When are you graduating?
- What course are you taking up?
- What are your plans after you graduate?
For me, the only questions were:
- What do you do now? (work)
- What course did you graduate in?
After that, she said – “Okay, you guys are approved.”
Since I have a same day flight, I informed the consul about it and asked if I can have it temporarily pulled out. I even brought a printed copy of my ticket as proof. I was just given a green paper, and instructed to have it together with my passport dropped off at any 2GO offices so they can shipped it back to the embassy when I get back.
I got my passport 5 days after I got an acknowledgement that they had received it. 😊 10 years, Multiple entry!
WHAT TO BRING
Since we are under the family application, it was really my mom who had more documents than us. For my part, since I am a working individual, I had to secure the following to help strengthen my ties in the country:
- DS-160 application form (best to have a copy, tho they didn’t as ours)
- Passport (important to have this as you will leave this should you get approved)
- Certificate of Employment
- Bank Statement
- Bank Certificate
My mom brought in some documents such as the following:
- Our birth certificates (to prove we are her children)
- Income Tax Returen (ITR)
- Bank Statement
- Bank Certificate
- Certificate of Employment
- Land Title (or any other properties you may have)
- 2×2 photo
Here are other documents you may need depending on situation:
- For students – Bring your latest school results, transcripts and degrees/diplomas. Also bring evidence of financial support such letter of guarantor from your parents or relative, sponsor’s bank credibility, relation to the sponsor (birth cert., baptismal, etc.)
- For Employees – Bring an employment letter from your employer and pay slips from the most recent three months.
- Business visitor or Company representative– Bring evidence of your position in the company and remuneration
- For entrepreneurs and digital nomads– Bring your business registration certificate as well as your income tax return
- If visiting a relative – Bring photocopies of your relative’s proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc)
For previous visitors to the U.S. you may bring any documents attesting to your immigration or visa status
If you have other tips, don’t forget to comment and follow this page 🙂