|Getting this in the mail would surely brighten up even the worst of days!
As with any interview, along with preparing for it, I’m sure that we all worry about certain things that we may or may not had to. In going to the US Embassy Manila for my B1/B2 visa interview, here are the things I learned that I DID NOT have to worry about, and you don’t have to either (regardless of what kind of visa you applied for):
1. Being late. With the thousands of people that were lining up, you will eventually just be grouped together with the other dozen or so people with a similar schedule. A friend of mine was scheduled at 8am and left (approved and happy) at 1130am, which is exactly what happened to me too. So just be there on or before your scheduled time.
2. Losing the bank payment confirmation slip. They did not ask for it since there were probably no issues with my payment. Still, don’t lose it though.
3. Not having the right photo. They also didn’t take my photo since they could use the one I submitted in the online application form. There was also a Kodak booth inside the premises offering a set of six 2×2 photos for P80.
4. Getting hungry for hours. There was a food and beverage concessionaire at the outside waiting area. It also sold some US Embassy souvenirs which would have been quite awkward if you bought them and didn’t get approved. The prices were moderately outrageous and you’re better off buying (and eating) snacks from the vendors outside (because you can’t bring them inside.) There is even a Family Mart across the street.
5. Getting thirsty. There is a drinking fountain available.
6. Having to pee. There were at least two bathrooms in the premises.
7. Not dressing for the part.
I think I could have worn boxer briefs and the VA wouldn’t see because the window was from the waist up. I also wondered if I needed to wear perfume. The answer is no, because again I was interviewed from behind a glass window.
You will see a lot of people who will make you go, “Really? That’s your Sunday best? That’s what you pulled out of your closet after a week of preparation for this day? No wonder you got denied! (Note: most of those who dressed sloppily got denied, but some of those who dressed decently get denied too.)
Dress the part. If you’re a company president, come in a suit and tie. But don’t overdo it to the point of looking pretentious. I saw women who were carrying LV bags and wearing Fendi coats. Pretty sure half of those were either borrowed/rented or fake. (I know, I’m awful. But it’s true.) Saw lots of college students in their school uniform. I personally don’t recommend it. Generally for men, come in a long sleeve button-down and slacks (anything except blue jeans). Women can wear blouses and a skirt or smart pants. The personal interview may be primarily to assess your body language, but how you dress could have some effect too.
TL;DR: Don’t dress balahura like you were going to the talipapa (because palengke does not have as much of an impact.)
8. Bringing prohibited items. Although I knew better than to bring my phone or any electronic gadget basically, as well as USBs, lighters and any weapons, there were a number of vendors(?) offering their safekeeping services. I’m not sure how it works since I didn’t need them but essentially you leave your gadgets with them, probably in exchange for a claim stub or something? Not sure why they wouldn’t just run off with all the gadgets they’re keeping for strangers, but it seems to be a thriving business. NOTE: They also sell pens for some reason, at an exorbitant price of P25, which you absolutely would have no need for. Don’t let them trick you into buying one simply because they’re being sold, just like those bubblegum, toothbrushes and razor blades being sold at the supermarket check-out counters.
Good luck with your application!
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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. ;)