Tips on Getting a Multiple Entry US Tourist Visa

Do you remember your very first job interview? You might have felt nervous, frightened, and ironically, even confident that you would nail the interview and get into your dream job. You might have probably worried about how to express your thoughts coherently and well,.. in English.  A trip to the US Embassy for a US Tourist Visa interview is also similar. But, don’t worry as these tips will help you get your chances to be granted a US Tourist Visa high. This might be a long post, but I hope I would be able to enlighten and help you gain confidence to nail that dreading interview with the consul officer!

Here is the outline of this blog post. You may immediately jump to the Tips, or just simply read the whole post.

Overview and Eligibility < Requirements < Steps < Tips < Red Flags < My Profile < My Interview Process

Overview. The Basics.

If you are a regular tourist and your purpose is to visit the United States temporarily for business or for pleasure or medical treatment, you should be applying for a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa respectively. In our case, a tourist visa is referred to as the B-2 visa.

According to the US Embassy website, regardless of the type of visa applied, you must be able to demonstrate to the consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  Generally, the embassy presumes that every B-1/B-2 applicant is an intending immigrant.

In other words, you must be able to show strong ties to your country — and not be assumed as a TNT (tago ng tago) in the US. Each applicant is expected to overcome the stated legal presumption by showing:

  • Purpose of the trip is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment
  • The timeframe of your stay in the US is for a specific period of time
  • Adequate funds to finance your expenses while in the US
  • Residence outside the US with strong social or economic ties.

Requirements for a Business / Tourist Visa (as copied directly from the US Embassy’s Website)

  • Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. For more information, visit the DS-160 webpage
  • A passport valid for travel with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
  • One (1) 2″x2″ (5cmx5cm) photograph. This page has information about the required photo format.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$160 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency.

In addition to these items, you must present an interview appointment letter confirming that you booked an appointment through this service. You may also bring whatever supporting documents you believe support the information provided to the consular officer.

Steps on How to Apply for a Business / Tourist Visa (as copied directly from the US Embassy’s Website)

Step 1
Pay the visa application fee.

Step 2
Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) form.

Step 3
Schedule your appointment on this web page. You will need three pieces of information in order to schedule your appointment:

      • Your passport number
      • Your MRV fee payment receipt number
      • The ten (10) digit barcode number from your DS-160 confirmation page

Step 4
Visit the U.S. Embassy/Consulate on the date and time of your visa interview. You will need to bring a printed copy of your appointment letter, your DS-160 confirmation page, one recent photograph, your current passport and all old passports. Applications without all of these items will not be accepted.

U.S. Embassy, Manila
1201 Roxas Blvd
Ermita, Manila

Tips on Getting your Chances to be Granted a US Tourist Visa

  1. Dress appropriately – Just like any other job interview — you have to dress to impress. Of course, you would want to show the consul that your image speaks for your capability and confidence to leave for the US. Don’t show up on a pair of shorts or flipflops. Don’t also be too OA and wear a long gown or a tux for guys. This doesn’t make sense. Just wear something that would normally wear to impress your future bosses on a typical job interview — collared top, skirt, corporate pants, heels (this adds confidence!), and light make-up.
  2. Supporting Documents – Proving ties to your country is a big factor in determining your Visa status. Have the following documents ready with you, but classify them for your interview so you won’t get rattled looking for a specific document when asked.
    • Working Adults, Employed, Freelancers, Entrepreneurs
      • Original and Photocopy of BIR ITR Form, proof of income and assets
      • Travel itinerary (a dummy booking, if possible, a copy of your flight details – but not required)
      • Detailed US Trip Itinerary (optional)
      • Certificate of Employment (if possible, include allocated VLs, salary, rank/position)
      • Bank Statement / Bank Certificate (a 3-week stay might entail a Php 200-300k 6-month ADB requirement)
      • Proof of Billing (credit card statements, phone bills, etc.)
      • Transcript of Records or Current Copy of Grades / School ID / Certificate of Enrollment (if you are a Graduate student and employed)
      • Previous travels, old passport/s
      • Previous Visas, more importantly to OECD countries (ex. Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia, etc.)
    • Student
      • Transcript of Records or Report Card
      • School ID
      • Affidavit of Support (if travelling alone)
      • Bank Statement / Bank Certificate of the student, and better, the parent or guardian who will be financing the travel expenses
      • Detailed US Trip Itinerary (optional)
      • Previous travels, old passport/s
      • Previous Visas, more importantly to OECD countries (ex. Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia, etc.)
    • Unemployed
      • Affidavit of Support
      • Bank Statement / Bank Certificate of the student, and better, the parent or guardian who will be financing the travel expenses
      • Letter of Explanation (if you are currently looking for work in the Philippines, or there is a pending job application)
      • Detailed US Trip Itinerary (optional)
      • Transcript of Records or Current Copy of Grades / School ID / Certificate of Enrollment (if you are a Graduate student and unemployed)
      • Previous travels, old passport/s
      • Previous Visas, more importantly to OECD countries (ex. Europe, Japan, Korea, Australia, etc.)
  3. Consistent Answers – Whether or not you are applying alone or with a group, always be consistent with your answers. Collectively and consistently with you and your peers, your answers to the following must be one and the same: the purpose of the trip, which state/s to visit, dates of the trip, who is your contact person in the US and all the details about that person, which airline are you planning to take, budget, and events/festivals to attend in the US, if any. 
  4. US Contact Person – This may not be necessary, but this will help. Imagine when you just put the telephone number or email address of the dummy hotel you booked, in your application. Although this is still technically correct, admit it, you feel anxious and not confident in your mind for that particular question, right? Having a relative or close friend in the US may work to your advantage when asked by the consul as to your place of stay in the US. If you know someone, please do yourself a favour, and write his/her details on your application. Of course, once granted with a visa, you don’t necessarily have to really visit your contact person. But please, advise the contact person that you will be indicating his/her name on your application, prior to your interview. The embassy might randomly validate that information by calling your US contact person.
  5. Be on Time – Don’t be a proud Filipino and proudly practice the Filipino time. Be there way ahead of your interview schedule. Just to share, we were scheduled for a particular timeslot during our interview. When a local officer was reviewing our documents, he noticed that my ID picture did not meet the prescribed standard and requested me to had my picture taken again at an in-house photo studio. If I had just arrived a few minutes or at exactly the time of the interview, we would have never made it on time, with the correct requirements.

Red Flags

  1. Money in the Bank – Unfortunately, there are slim chances to be granted a US visa if let’s say your savings just total to Php 100,000-150,000 and below. A minimum outstanding balance of Php 250,000 may be a safe spot, at least for the interview. If you find yourself struggling to meet this requirement, borrow extra funds from someone you know and transfer the money to your account. Make sure to let that fund level stay in your account until you get your visa. Note — after getting your visa. We all don’t know if the embassy might verify it with the bank, even after mentioning to you that your visa has been approved. So, just to be sure, let it stay in your bank account until you physically receive your passport.
  2. Relationship with an American Citizen – This might be tricky – it can be a good thing or a bad thing. It’s up to you if you want to mention that you have a relationship with an American Citizen, but personally, I won’t mention it because it gives the impression that I may eventually migrate to the US and never return to my country. For some, this might also be a good thing if your application entails having a ready job or a new school to attend to in the US once you arrive. Pictures to prove your relationship may also help. If you don’t have a relative for the US Contact Person requirements, then go ahead and write the name of your partner.

For the next sections, I am sharing my profile and my interview experience back when I applied for my US Tourist Visa in 2014.

My profile (back in 2014)

Age: 23 years old

Status: Single

Occupation: Management Trainee / Product Manager (Assistant Manager rank)

Employer: One of the top 10 Local Banks in the Philippines

Number of Years Working: 1 year and 5 months

Salary: (I won’t disclose this, but my pay was highly competitive)

Previous Travels: USA (1 expired visa but used, 1 cancelled visa), South Korea (single entry-visa), Singapore, and Malaysia

Bank Certificate Presented/Savings: Php 400,000 in one bank, around Php 200,000 in another bank

Prepared documents: Certificate of Employment (COE), Previous stamps/visas, Proof of Billing (I presented an insurance statement and credit card billing statement), Bank Certificate

We did not present a dummy flight or hotel booking.

How was my US Visa Interview? 

I had my US Visa Interview at the US Embassy in Manila first thing in the morning, sometime in February 2014. I was with my mom and my sister. I had previously been to the US, so this was my second granted US Visa. The interview was easy. I came there, appropriately dressed up, and nothing but an optimistic vibe, that I will be easily granted a multiple US Visa.

As far as I could remember, the interview transpired something like this:

Us: Good morning! 

Consul: Good morning! How are you? (then reviews all our submitted and only required documents) 

Us: We’re fine (the usual talkies. Don’t say I’m so excited to visit the US and visit Times Square, please grant me a US Visa. The desperation will just annoy the officer) 

Consul: So where in the States are you going?

Mom: Florida. My husband’s sister lives there. 

Me: We will go to Disney World! (I know I know… this was the first thing that popped into my mind, so don’t judge me. I love Disney) 

Consul: (asks my mom) so which countries have you been to? 

Mom: (mentions the countries she has previously been to, including the US) 

Consul: Alright, (then asks me a question), where did you study for college?

Me: I studied at Ateneo de Manila University

Consul: Great, and where do you work? 

Me: I am working at (mentions the bank where I was currently working for during that time) 

Consul: How about you? (points at my sister)

Sister: I am taking up Accountancy in (mentions school)

Consul: Ok. (points to my mom), I thought you were sisters, you all look the same and young 

Us: (giggles) Thank you. 

Consul: Okay, so you’ve all been granted with a 10-year multiple US visa. Your passports will be processed… 

Us: Thank you so much! Have a great day!! 

That easy. I think the interview just went for about 5 minutes. To add to my profile, I had a previously cancelled US Visa, which was supposed to be my 2nd US visa, due to overstaying (lol), but I declared it on my online application still, to avoid any doubts or inconsistencies that the consulate may see. We were not asked anything about it. We were not required to present any other supporting documents, aside from the ones required in a typical US Visa application.

It pays to be nice and spread positive vibes to the consuls. I hope I am able to enlighten and give you helpful tips to nail that interview!

And just to share my excitement, I will be spending this year’s Christmas in Florida and New Year’s Eve at the Big Apple in New York!!

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