US Tourist Visa is one of the most desired visa of Filipinos, maybe the world. It’s not easy to acquire because of the US Gov’s general paranoia, but I love it that they may grant you 10-year multiple-entry visa. I got my 10 year multiple visa in 2009 and was useful during my 2011 trip around the world as it allowed me a lot of flexibility. It also let me instantly confirm an invitation to Visit Guam in 2017.
This blog post on first time application of US Tourist visa for Filipinos will follow my dad’s application. If you are looking to renew your US VISA via dropbox, I’ve written a post dedicated to that.
Note that this blog post will only be about US Tourist Visa (B-1/B-2) Application.
The official US VISA website is actually very comprehensive, but it does deal with several types of visa, so it can be confusing. My blog post will streamline the process focusing only on the application of US Tourist Visa, otherwise known as the B-1/B-2 type visa.
If you require visa for working, studying, marrying, transit etc, please check out the official US VISA APPLICATION website for the respective requirements.
US Visa B-1/B-2 for Tourists Criteria
The B-1/B-2 visitors visa is for people traveling to the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2)
• B-1 visa is for attending business conventions and educational conferences
• B-2 visa is for tourism, visiting friends or relatives, medical treatment
To be granted a US tourist visa, you must be able to prove that
• your visit is only temporary
• you have enough money to cover all your expenses during your stay
• you have binding ties that ensure your return to your country
4 Steps in Applying US Visa Online
Step 1 – Fill up DS-160 Form
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form. It’s an easy form you can finish in 30minutes or less. You’ll be asked to enter personal information, address and telephone, passport details, US travel plans, travel companions, previous US travel, US contact, immediate family, work and education, and last but not the least, 5 pages of Security questions, which hopefully you can honestly answer NO to all of them.
The confirmation number generated after filling up the form is needed to set up appointment. To start filling up your own form, click this link –>DS-160 Form
Step 2 – Pay Visa Application Fee $160
Visa Fee is the Philippine peso equivalent of $160. It is non-refundable & non-transferable. US Visa Fee can be paid thru BPI online for BPI customers, Bancnet online for Bancnet customers, or Cash at BPI branches in the Philippines.
How to Pay US Visa Application Fee?
There are 2 ways to pay US Visa Application Fee: (1) Online via BPI website or Bancnet website (2) Directly at the BPI Bank Branches.
Online Payment via BPI or Bancnet
For online payment, generate a unique receipt number and follow instruction on how to go about setting up online payment <here> . You must enter this reference number when making the online payment. This number will also be serve as your receipt number in booking the appointment.
I used this option because you don’t have to line up at the bank and can do it any time of the day, but it can be a confusing. There is a 24H waiting time when your payment is posted.
Paying directly at BPI branches
This is technically a simpler option except NOT all branches accept payment and BPI is the Philippine bank with the worse service. Before going to the bank, you have to print a receipt which you need to bring with you when you pay. If you are applying for B1/B2 visa, this is the link –> Deposit Slip 160$ MRV Fee
Key points to remember:
- Unique Receipt Number – every time you click on that link, it generates a unique receipt number (see photo below). It means that if 2 or more people are applying visas together, you need to generate 2; one for each applicant. You cannot just print one and photocopy.
- This number is important throughout your application.
- This paper has expiration date (5 days) as to when you should make the payment using this deposit slip. If it expires, just generate a new one. You just don’t want to go to the bank and found your paper already expired. BPI is one of the lousiest bank in the Philippines where in you need to live long or never get served.
- After making the payment, guard it with your life. If you lose the payment receipt, you may have to pay again.
Step 3 – Book an Appointment Online
First you must create a profile on this Apply US Visa site. After filling up the DS-160 Form (step1) and making payment (step2), you can schedule your appointment on that site. The following info is needed to schedule your appointment:
- Your passport number
- Your MRV (Machines Readable Visa) fee payment receipt number (see photo above, highlighted in neon green is the number you needed.
- The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page
Step 4 – Go to US Embassy
Visit the U.S. Embassy on the date and time of your visa interview. In the Philippines, there is no exception for children or senior over 80 like other countries (Japan, India). Every applicant needs to show up for the US Visa interview. But seniors or PWD can bring caregiver or kasama.
VERY IMPORTANT!!! You will need to bring the following with you
- Printed copy of your appointment letter
- Printed copy of DS-160 confirmation page (photo)
- one recent photograph 2″x 2″ (white background, facing front)
- your current passport and all available old passports
- your supporting documents*
- US$160 visa application fee receipt – just bring it
- YOU DO NOT need to submit the application form at the time of the interview. They are so serious about this instruction so don’t even try.
DO NOT BRING – NOT ALLOWED inside the U.S. Embassy:
- battery-operated or electronic devices such as mobile phones, digital diaries, digital watches (APPLE WATCH NO!), pagers, cameras, audio/video cassettes, compact discs, MP3s, floppy disks, laptops, or portable music players
- large shoulder bags/purses – only bags that can be carried by hand will be permitted
- bags such as travel bags, backpacks, briefcases, suitcases, leather, cloth bags, and zip folders – you can only carry plastic bags containing application related papers
- food items (refreshments are available for purchase in the waiting area)
- sealed envelopes or packages
- cigarettes, cigars, match boxes, lighters
- sharp objects such as scissors, pen knives or nail files
- weapons or explosive materials of any kind (ha ha)
- Other items may be prohibited at the discretion of security staff.
Once you enter the embassy, you will find that there are many many staff to guide you every step of the way. It is impossible to get lost!
What do they ask during the interview at the U.S. Embassy?
This year I’ve accompanied my father, my father’s nurse, and my aunt and they were all granted visa. First question is always what’s the purpose of your travel? They have a copy of the application form (DS-160) you filled up online so they will ask you about that. In our case, seeing my father on a wheelchair, the officer asked me when was the last trip my father took.
B1 Domestic/Personal Employee Applicant
For 10 years now, my family travels with Eva, my dad’s caregiver. I’ve previously applied visa for her to China, Japan, Korea. I applied US Visa for her the same process as for my dad, not knowing that there’s a special category Visa for B1 employees (Yaya, Caregivers, Secretary, etc.) who will need their visas attached to yours. Step 1 & 2 above is the same. The difference will start at Step 3 when you schedule her for interview. You have to choose Domestic Employee
Domestic Employees schedule is at 7:30am. Business/Tourism is scheduled from 9:00am. So it means you can still go on the same day, but not go in the same time. In that case, both will have a long wait. I don’t know why they can’t do it the same time. It is recommendable for the employer to accompany the domestic employee applicant.
US Visa B-1/B-2 Result
You will immediately find out if you are granted your US Visa. You leave your passport with them and have the option to pick up your passport the next day or having it home delivered by courier, which you don’t have to pay extra
Embassy of the United States, Manila
1201 Roxas Blvd, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila