How to Apply for a US Tourist Visa for Philippine Passport Holders
As a Philippine passport holder, I know how difficult it is to apply for a US visa and get approved because of its strict visa requirements. But, with thorough preparation, you can be granted a 10-year multiple entry visa!
In this post, I will walk you through on how to apply for a US tourist visa.
Miguel, my husband, and I only got a confirmation of our visit to the US two months before the intended travel. When I was searching for blog posts about how to apply for a US tourist visa for Philippine passport holders, I often see some horror stories!
Before I start telling you how to apply for a US tourist visa, you will find two US tourist visa application experiences here. One is my husband’s visa application experience at the US embassy in the Philippines, and another one is my visa application experience in Sweden.
We are both Philippine passport holders and applied for a US tourist visa two days apart. Luckily, we were both granted a 10-year multiple entry visa!
The US tourist visa application process is a lot easier than the Schengen visa in terms of requirements.
In This Post
- Before you apply for a US visa
- How to apply for a US tourist visa
- US visa requirements
- US visa interview
- Tips on how to pass your US visa interview
Before you apply for a US visa
Before you apply for a US tourist visa, you need to verify if you qualify. You must show to a consular officer that:
- Your purpose of the visit is temporary: business, pleasure, or medical treatment.
- You have sufficient funds to cover your expenses while in the United States.
- You have a residence outside the US and other binding social or economic ties that will ensure you will return home at the end of your visit.
In this US visa application guide, I am only covering the B-2 visitor visa. But, B-1 and B-2 visas are often combined as one visa: B-1/B-2.
- Consulting with business associates
- Attending scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions/conferences
- Settling an estate or negotiating contracts
- Visit friends or relatives
- Medical treatment
- Activities of a fraternal, social, or service nature
For other visa types, visit ustraveldocs.com for more information.
How to apply for a US tourist visa
The steps on how to apply for a US tourist visa is quite simple! You only need to remember the following:
- Create an account on the website of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs
- Complete the DS-160 application form
- Pay the US Visa application fee of $160
- Confirm your payment
- Schedule US Visa appointment
- Attend your scheduled interview at the US embassy
It doesn’t have too many requirements unlike when you apply for a Schengen visa. Not because the steps on how to apply for a US visa is simple; it doesn’t mean it is an advantage!
I think this makes it more difficult and unpredictable to be granted a US tourist visa because it all depends on the DS-160 application form only.
Create an account on the website of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs
You need to submit your US Visa application online. So, you should create an account at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (CGI Federal Inc.) website.
This account will be used later when you schedule your US visa interview.
Notice how it says Select Country For Visa? That’s because you submit your US visa requirements depending on where you live and where you have strong ties.
- I am a Philippine passport holder
- I live and work in Sweden
I have strong ties in Sweden; so, I will submit my US visa requirements to the US embassy in Sweden, and that’s where I will go for the interview.
Complete the DS-160 application form
The DS-160 application form is for temporary travel to the US. In this form, you will provide information such as about yourself, your family, and your travels.
- Navigate to Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application (DS-160) website.
- Select a location where you will be applying for the US visa.
- Click the “Start an Application” button.
- Write down the application ID (10 digit barcode number) found on the top right corner of the page.
- Follow the instructions on each page and answer all the mandatory questions.
- Upload your photo.
- After you finish all the questions, review your answers.
- Click on the “Sign Application” button.
- Submit your application.
- Print your confirmation page. If you want to create a group application, don’t navigate away from this page and follow the steps below.
Just recently, all US visa applicants are required to input all their social media platforms used within the last five years.
Here’s a sample DS-160 application form.
If you are traveling with your family, you can create a family or group application after you submit your application.
When you select the “Email Confirmation” on the Confirmation page, you will be redirected to a “Thank You” page.
- Select the option to create a family or group application
- Create an individual application for each person
Pay the US Visa application fee
You need to pay the US visa application fee of $160 (PHP 8,320) through cash at the bank or online payment. The US visa application fee is non-refundable.
- Pay cash at any RCBC. Download and print the US visa application deposit slip first and take note of its expiration date.
- Online payment via PesoNet. You can pay online through BDO, BPI, Metrobank, and PSBank. Follow the steps on how to pay online here.
After paying your US visa fee, keep your visa application (MRV) fee payment receipt so you can schedule an appointment.
The US visa fee is quite expensive especially when your application is denied. But, once you are approved, you might get ten years’ validity which is worth the cost!
Confirm your payment
Before you can schedule your US visa appointment, you need to wait for at least four hours to process the payment.
Schedule US Visa appointment
You can apply for a US visa at least three months in advance of your intended date of travel. In the US embassy in the Philippines, the appointments are usually full 2-3 months in advance.
- Login to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs (CGI Federal Inc.) website using the account you created in step 1.
- Provide the following information:
- Passport number
- MVR fee payment receipt number
- Application ID (10 digit barcode number) from your DS-160 confirmation page
- Select your preferred interview appointment.
- Print out the confirmation email.
Attend your scheduled interview at the US embassy
Visit the US Embassy in Manila on the date and time of your visa interview. Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview, and bring the necessary documents with you. Read more about the US visa requirements below.
US visa requirements
As I have mentioned previously, you need to apply for a US visa depending on where you live and where you have strong social or economic ties. Each US embassy in any country could have additional requirements.
But, the US visa requirements for Philippine passport holders applying in the Philippines are the following:
- Completed DS-160 (Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application) form
- Valid passport (at least six months validity beyond your intended period)
- One 2″x2″ photo taken within the last six months
- Receipt of your US visa application processing fee of $160
- Current proof of income, tax payments, property or business ownership, or assets.
- Travel itinerary
- Latest school results, transcripts, and diploma
- Proof of financial support such as bank statements
- Letter of employment
- Payslips from the most recent three months
- Visiting a relative:
- Proof of your relative’s status like a green card, naturalization certification, or valid visa
US visa interview
The US embassy does not impose a dress code on US visa applicants. Regardless, you need to dress to impress; so, wear something at least smart casual.
Prepare for your interview and practice the commonly asked US visa interview questions. You only have a few minutes for the interview, and I know the longer you wait in the embassy, the more interview you witness. So, the anxiety will build-up, but you’ll be fine!
Don’t forget everything you wrote in your DS-160 application form. Not even trivial information.
Commonly asked US visa interview questions
- What is the purpose of your visit to the US?
- Have you been to the US before?
- Do you have relatives or friends in the US?
- Where are you staying in the US?
- How long are you planning to stay in the US?
- What is your job?
- Where have you been traveling?
- When do you plan to travel?
- When will you come back to the Philippines?
- Who will you be traveling with?
Interview at the US Embassy in the Philippines
Miguel’s interview is at 7:15 AM. At exactly 7:00 AM, the guard called those with an appointment at 7:15 AM, and he checked the schedule confirmation.
There are a few steps you need to go through before the interview:
- Someone checks your passport and DS-160 form. He will add a barcode on your passport then you will receive a card. You then need to queue according to your visa type.
- Security check and preprocessing of your application. This is where they will verify your details and photo.
- Fingerprints are scanned, and you need to show the barcode from your passport.
- Relax and wait for your turn. Good luck!
Here’s how Miguel’s US interview went:
Consul: What is your purpose of visit? Miguel: I’m going to attend my cousin’s wedding. Consul: *saw his Schengen visa* what did you do in Sweden? Miguel: I visited my girlfriend. Consul: Is your girlfriend Swedish? Miguel: No. She just got a job there. Consul: Are you going to see each other in the US? Miguel: Yes. Consul: What is your girlfriend’s work? Miguel: Test Automation Engineer. Consul: Is your work in Sweden too? Miguel: No. Consul: Your visa is approved.
Interview at the US Embassy in Sweden
My interview was at 9:45 AM so I arrived around 9:30 AM. There were a few people in the queue, so I managed to enter the US Embassy early.
As soon as I got there, I was asked to show my appointment confirmation and passport. Once inside the security area, they will check your bag and ask you to leave your cellphone or small devices in the small storage area.
When I entered the embassy, a guard asked what type of visa I am applying for and asked me to go to the first window to submit my documents.
The guy from the window asked the purpose of my visit and the following documents:
- Residence card & passport
- 2×2 photo (only if you want to change the photo you’ve submitted in your DS-160)
- Additional documents that I think would help with the visa application
It was a mistake on my part. I was too nervous, I couldn’t understand what documents he wanted me to provide so I only gave my personbevis* & DS-160 confirmation page.
* Personbevis — Extract from the Swedish Population Registry (“120-personbevis med all relationer”) that you can order over the phone.
I had to wait for 2 hours before my turn. Here’s how my US visa interview went:
Consul: What are you going to do in the US? Karen: I was invited to attend my partner’s cousin’s wedding. Consul: Who is your partner? Karen: *gave Miguel's full name* Consul: Does he live here with you? Karen: Oh no, he’s a Filipino and he’s in the Philippines. Consul: What are you doing here in Sweden? Karen: I’m working here. Consul: What is your work? Karen: I’m a Test Automation Engineer. Consul: Company? Karen: *my current company* Consul: How long have you been here in Sweden? Karen: Since the end of April last year (2018). Consul: Have you been to the US before? Karen: No. Consul: Which places have you travelled to in Europe? Karen: Here in Sweden and in Berlin. Consul: Who’s getting married again? Karen: My partner’s cousin. Consul: Where is the wedding? Karen: In New Jersey. Consul: Your visa is approved.
He had an interview 2 days before me. I got excited when I found out he was granted a visa and hoped that I will be granted one too! We both received our passports two working days after the interview, and ta-da! 10 years visa to the USA! ❤️
Tips on how to pass your US visa interview
- Make sure you have strong ties to your country — a strong reason that you will come home.
- Don’t embellish.
- Give a direct answer. Don’t give too much information, and don’t give too little information.
- Be consistent & confident. They would know immediately if you’re not telling the truth.
- Prepare for their questions, and don’t get nervous.
- Don’t get intimidated by the people around or people that might overhear your conversation with the consul.
- Bring any documents that could support your US visa application.
While preparing my documents, I read a lot of stories about their experiences with their visa applications — denied a visa, granted a visa. Nonetheless, all those stories got me worried.
Now that I experienced applying for a US tourist visa, I am more confident. I think it also helped that I am living and working in Sweden, even though I don’t have a strong history of travel.
Good luck with your US tourist visa application! I hope this post helped you understand how to get a US visa!