Whatever your reasons may be, whether for travel and leisure, to be finally reunited with your OFW family members, or for personal economic gain, you’re definitely not alone in wanting to set foot on American soil.
There are a lot of horror stories about applying for a US visa, with flat-out denials ringing harshly in the ears of the applicant despite having a complete set of requirements on hand. Securing that spot for application, after all, is neither cheap nor easy. Here are some helpful tips that should improve your chances of securing that US visa on your passport.
Determine Your Type of Visa
The very first thing that you must do before even thinking of gathering the requirements for your application is properly identifying what kind of visa you need. Each kind has strict stipulations on what you can or cannot do while you’re in their country.
If you’re there to simply go on tour and see family and friends for a short visit, then you can apply for a tourist visa. If you have intentions to work, then you’ll need a working or employment visa. If you happen to have an American partner with plans of getting married, your partner can file for a petition to help you file for your fiancé visa. If it is a family member petitioning you to be allowed entry into the country as an immigrant, then you’ll need an immigrant visa.
Each of these types of visas will have different sets of requirements, although the more basic documents (i.e., birth certificate, NBI clearance, certificate of employment, BIR forms) are expected across the board. You may feel the need to add certain supporting documents, although for your own convenience, just stick to what’s stipulated in the required list by the US Embassy.
Fill Out the Forms and Complete Requirements Carefully
It’s not just the typos that you will have to watch out for when filling out your visa application form. More importantly, you have to be very careful about the accuracy of the details that you will be writing down. Embassy reps will be carefully scrutinizing every bit of information that you provide, and your full transparency is going to be required. Especially now that they have gotten a lot stricter with the vetting of foreigners coming into their country, the last thing you’d want is for you to give them something to be suspicious or wary of.
That said, as you fill out the forms, make sure that you’ve also got all the necessary documents ready. Do be mindful of submitting original documents. If you miss out on a document, your application may be pushed back so you can complete all your requirements.
For those who are planning to go as tourists, it would be advisable to have a clear and thoroughly organized itinerary on the ready. Have an outline of where you want to go, on which particular date, and the kind of activity that you will be doing, as well as its projected cost. If you’ve made bookings or reservations for lodging and tours, include them in your itinerary document as well. If you have friends and family who will tour you around, they can help you plot your itinerary. These little details should help reassure them that your intention is really only to enjoy the sights. There are many online tours and lodgings that allow a Pay Later option anyway.
Speaking of which, that’s one other thing: don’t be too quick to buy a plane ticket. The US Embassy itself dissuades visa applicants from buying plane tickets before actually getting their visas. This is wise advice because you wouldn’t want to be spending a significant amount of money for something that you are not guaranteed as of yet to push through.
On the day of the interview (the date of which will be set by the Embassy upon submitting your intention to apply via their website), come on time. Better yet, come a safe 15 minutes earlier than your schedule. Although the interviews are usually famous for the long waiting time, you’re much better off waiting rather than rushing to get there because you’re running late.
Here’s another thing that you should keep in mind: your assessment starts from the moment you walk into the room. Sure, it’s not yet your turn at the window, but the serving consuls are trained to read body language, to see who is confident or not, who is fidgety, who seems uncertain, or even suspicious. As with any other kind of interview, you will be judged based on your appearance and how well you carry yourself.
Keep calm and be confident in the fact that you have all the complete documents with you, you know your itinerary inside out, and that you have no ill intentions of exploiting the access to their country that you will have, should they decide to grant you one. Being able to articulate yourself well is going to be a big plus, too.