OBTAINING A VISITOR VISA

The Application Procedure
Before a foreign national can enter the U.S. as a tourist, he or she must first obtain a B-2 visitor for pleasure visa from the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Embassy suggests that applications for visas in the Philippines be made three months prior to the date of departure.

B-2 visa applications consist of the following:
1.Form DS-156 Nonimmigrant Visa Application and Manila Supplement;
2.Form DS-157 Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application (for males between the ages of 16-45);
3.A current and valid Philippine passport;
4.A recent photo with white background (1.5 inches square) signed on the back; and
5.A payment receipt of the $100 application fee.

Forms DS-156 and DS-157 can be obtained from travel agencies, selected Citibank and Bank of the Philippine Island locations, or downloaded from http://usembassy.state.gov/posts/rpl/wwwfforms.pdf. The application fee must be paid in Philippine pesos at the current exchange rate at designated Citibank and Bank of the Philippine Island locations.

In addition to the required documents listed above, the following documents are also helpful in obtaining a visitor visa:
1.Current bank statements with balances;
2.Employer or company letter stating the applicant’s salary;
3.Proof of other income from supplemental sources or investments;
4.Deeds and titles to real and personal property; and
5.Proof of marital status and children (certified copies of marriage certificate, birth certificate, etc.).

If the applicant does not have sufficient funds to finance his or her own trip to the U.S., he or she should submit a letter of invitation from a U.S. host accompanied with an affidavit of support on Form I-134 along with an employment letter on company letterhead stating the sponsor’s salary, a bank letter documenting the balances of bank accounts, and a copy of the sponsor’s most recent federal tax return.

The Interview
All applicants above the age of 14 must attend an interview at the U.S. embassy. The U.S. embassy in Manila is located at 1201 Roxas Blvd., Ermita 1000, Manila. Appointments are handled on a first-come-first-serve basis. Business hours are Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except Philippine and American holidays.

The applicant must be appropriately dressed for the interview. We strongly recommend western business attire. The applicant should dress as if he or she were going to a job interview. The applicant should exude professional and respectful behavior and should speak conversational English.

During the interview, the applicant has approximately 60 seconds to state his or her case to the consular officer in an articulate, succinct, and well-organized manner. The applicant must state the purpose, duration, and financial ability to finance a trip to the U.S. In addition, the applicant must demonstrate to the consular officer’s satisfaction that he or she has no intention of living or working in the U.S. Finally, the applicant should limit his or her answers to the questions asked without volunteering any unnecessary or irrelevant information.

Written by: Attorneys Robert Reeves & Leslie Tioseco.