I told myself that if I get approved for the US Tourist Visa, I will start updating my WordPress account after years of being out of it. I know there’s a good number of people who has the same situation as I am. A registered nurse in the Philippines who just wanted to explore the US as a tourist.
At first, I was hesitant to apply for the visa for several reasons:
- A non-refundable application fee of $160
- Less than 2 years with my employer
- No fat bank account
- Lastly, I graduated in 2010 with a degree in Nursing
But for the love of traveling. I took the risk. A decision which took me days and even weeks to finally head to the bank and pay the fee.
Steps in Applying for a B1/B2 Non-Immigrant Visa.
Step 1: Payment of the Application Fee
- Print the application US Visa Application Payment Slip
- Go to Bank of the Philippine Islands and present your US visa application slip – I paid PHP 7, 360 and be sure to bring your passport with you. You can also pay online through BPI bill payment and Bancnet.
Remember that this fee is valid one year after the date of actual payment. So if you are undecided to take the interview just yet, you have the whole year to ready yourself.
Step 2: Prepare Required Documents
- DS-160 Online Non-Immigrant Visa Electronic Application – Be sure of all the information you’ll be declaring in the form. Most of the questions asked in the interview were based on the information I provided.
- Valid PASSPORT for at least 6 months from the date of intended departure from the US
- Recent 2 x 2 US Visa Photo (Be sure to have a soft and hard copies of your photo)
Step 3: Schedule an Interview
- You can call the US Visa Hotline: (02) 982-5555 / (02) 902-8930 to book an interview but I decided to do it online instead. Visit http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph
I initially booked a schedule August 27 but since something came up in the office and I can’t afford to be out on my initial schedule, I rescheduled it at an earlier date.
The Week Before the Interview
They say if it’s meant to happen, it will happen. If it’s for you, you’ll get it but prolonging the agony is something I hate the most. I was restless and would usually find myself daydreaming and wondering what’s going to happen in the interview. I spent sleepless nights reading blogs and watching videos on how to ace a consul interview. I listed down common questions and my answers to that particular questions. I had this piece of paper posted on the wall of my restroom and read it as I do my morning routine. I also memorized my aunt’s address in the US where I will be staying including the zip code. I even asked my co-workers who have been granted a visa to do a mock interview with me.
August 14, 2015 – 7:15 AM
I didn’t get to sleep well. I was up at 4 AM, read through my list of questions again and checked my documents. I only had the DS-160 confirmation, Payment Receipt from BPI, Appointment Letter, Photo, my old and new passport, Certificate of Employment, 3 month payslips.
Yes, no bank certification, bank statements, land titles, car registration, credit card statement and letter of invitation.
At 5:00 AM, I went to a nearby coffee shop to get a shot.
At 6:00 AM, I was already at 7-11 right across the US Embassy. It was raining. I left my umbrella in the car so I had to buy one. Also, cellphones and gadgets are strictly prohibited in the embassy premises.
Around 6:30 AM, I decided to line up with the rest of the people scheduled the same day. At 7:00 AM, I was already inside the embassy, had to go through strict frisking. The usher asked to prepare the passport and the first page of DS-160. They gave us a piece of paper with corresponding number. We waited for another 20 minutes (seated) and were asked to enter to another building. I noticed that the visa videos I’ve seen on YouTube (link) were being played on huge TV screens all over the place.
Once inside the building, the 3 Step Process Starts:
Step 1: Meet with Pre-Screening Staff – The photo on my DS-160 form was blurry. I was asked to provide another photo. Good thing I have.
Step 2: Fingerprint Collection – We were given a hand sanitizer to remove dirt and moisture.
Step 3: Interview with an American Consular Officer
At around 8:00 AM, I’m done with the fingerprint collection and was asked to wait for my number to flash on the screen for the main interview. I can’t help but overhear people who gets approved, others get denied. My heart was beating so fast. I remember, this was the same feeling I had when I was about to take the Nursing Licensure Exam.
At around 8:30 AM, I saw this: 2089 to Window 6 – and this is it.
Here’s what happened.
Me: Hi Good morning. (Handed my passport and DS-160 form)
Consul: Good morning. So why are you going to the US?
Me: Holidays. I want to celebrate Christmas and New Year in your country.
Consul: When do you plan to go?
Me: December 19 to January 5, for 17 days.
Consul: Do you have relatives there?
Me: Yes. My aunt, uncle and cousin. (She was typing something on the computer)
Me: In San Diego, California 92128
Consul: Are you employed?
Me: Yes. I am a Recruitment Consultant with ____. The Regional Headquarters for Asia is based in Manila. I’m handling all the recruitment activities for our offices in Malaysia and Singapore. (I felt my legs were shaking, I stuttered a bit but she kept on typing)
Consul: How long have you been with the company?
Me: 1 year and 7 months.
Consul: How much do you earn?
Me: Oh, no. it’s xx,xxx. (This must be a tricky question – I said it clearly and it’s as if she didn’t hear anything so she had to ask again)
Consul: Okay. Did you practice nursing?
Me: No. Right after passing the board exam, I started working as a Sales Consultant and eventually given an opportunity to work in Human Resources.
Consul: Okay. Have you traveled outside the Philippines?
Me: Yes. I’ve been to Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and just recently South Korea.
Consul: Okay. And your family is here in Manila?
Consul: You will get your visa. Enjoy your trip.
Me: Thank you very much.
I was overwhelmed. Over the moon-happy. I regret that I didn’t manage to ask how many days will it take for me to get my passport back with US visa in it.
And I have to say, I didn’t have to show any documents.
It was a 2 minute interview. Maybe the longest 2 minutes of my life. I was ready to be denied but I still tried and it turned out the other way I expected it to happen. It was all worth it.
- Be honest. Be confident. Be yourself
- Only answer what is being asked. I would suggest to be specific with your plans especially the dates, addresses, contact numbers and even the places you’d like to visit. The piece of paper I had actually helped me to be familiar of places I’d like to see. It will appear as if you really planned for the trip. Don’t overshare. Less talk. Less mistake
- If you plan to work there, don’t apply for the tourist visa
- Dress well but don’t overdress
- Good travel history especially in countries which requires visa helps
- It was a good thing that the consul didn’t ask for any documents to show because I might not have it anyway. But I still suggest to prepare all possible documents that would support your ties in the country
- Read blogs and watch legit videos on how to ace a consular interview. Some articles might boost you, some might discourage you to apply but always remember, your case is different from other’s case . It is just the consul who can tell if you’re qualified or not
So whether you’re a Registered Nurse, Single, has short tenure with your employer, it is POSSIBLE to get a US Tourist Visa.
I still don’t know if I was given a single or multiple entry visa. Hoping to have my passport back next week.
My passport was delivered in our office last Wednesday, 19th August at around lunch time via 2Go courier and I was given a multiple entry visa for 10 years! US here I come! 😉