[US Visa] Part 1 – Introduction

The best gift a passport holder from a country like ours can receive in a lifetime!

Some time last year, I got a poster of Eva Air (a Taiwan airline) which showed, out of all their possible destinations, the Empire State Building in New York. I took it as a sign to mean that I might be visiting the US soon. But with what visa? Little did I know that I’m about to get approved for one of my own, for a 10-year visa at that, and on my first application! Third time’s the charm? Not this time!

Traveling for Philippine passport holders can be a huge bother in going to countries that require a visa, and getting one for the US is particularly intimidating and discouraging. I hear of so many cases of visa denials because they say your fate is up to the visa officer. But I can guarantee people that the embassy is quite objective, and really does take into account guidelines based on US immigration law. Had I known that wouldn’t have waited so long to apply! But now that I have, and subsequently got approved and got my visa three working days after my interview, I would like to share some of the tips with everyone who’s planning to apply, or has been doing so over and over for quite some time now.
At the inside waiting area of the embassy, there were monitors that showed the visa application process (which you should have already known since you were inside), along with some “myths” as to the process. They basically clarified that it doesn’t matter if you are a single, female, college student taking up nursing, with a pending immigrant petition, as long as you can prove strong economic and social ties to the Philippines. I personally found the visa adjudicators quite impartial and that they adhere closely to US immigration law. It was quite amusing to see that the US Embassy Manila possessed good old fashioned American humor. One of the myths on the screen was that “only cute people get approved for visas.” [Clarification]: “even non-models get approved.”

Facing a visa officer may technically be for an interview, but you can regard it as other similar encounters:
Catching up with an old friend. First and foremost, establish rapport like you’ve been dying to see them for a long time.
Battle. One does not emerge victorious from a battle without thorough preparation. Have every weapon available in your arsenal. (I am talking about requirements here, if that wasn’t clear.)
A trial. You are guilty (of planning to be an illegal immigrant) unless you defend and prove yourself to be innocent. Or:
A press conference where you are denying all false allegations against you, such as having intent to overstay, in a composed and professional manner.
A debate. You have to build your arguments around your case and stick to them, to win. Make the other party believe those arguments.
An audition, where you’re trying out for the role of a B1/B2 visa holder. To get the part, you have to win the heart of the casting director (the visa officer). Be as charming as possible and rehearse your performance ahead of time. Take out your props (requirements) when asked.
A first date. Make a good impression and make them fall in love with you.

I didn’t feel ecstatic when my visa was approved. Neither did the sky seem brighter or the trees greener when I stepped out of the embassy. Maybe because I never had any doubt I wouldn’t get it. But I did get to appreciate a walking tour of Malate, ironically after undergoing a task which involves leaving the country. I got to check out the grandiose and newly-reconstructed Luneta Hotel. For lunch I avoided fast food chains, which had lots of applicant seamen out and about. Instead I had a good, satisfying meal at a nice Filipino restaurant. 

If I can do it by having thoroughly prepared, so can you!

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Hi! I'm Kevin, a published travel writer, and this is my travel blog about first and business class flights, airport lounges, shopping, visa information and local travel credit cards for mileage programs. In 2017, I fulfilled my personal goal of visiting over 30 countries before I turned 30 years old and I would be more than glad to help you achieve your own #travelgoals too. ;)

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