If someone would ask me which state I would like to visit in the US, my answer would be New York, because of FRIENDS, Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, 27 Dresses, The Devil Wears Prada and the list goes on. While the books that influenced me are written by Nora Roberts and Rick Riordan. Aside from those, I would also love to have a selfie with the Statue of Liberty and a photo at the Grand Central Terminal.
But before we get excited about going to the US, we have to face the scariest and nerve-wracking visa interview first. I know it feels like going through the eye of a needle but don’t worry, as long as your intention is good and will return to your home country then you’re good to go. And to help you out, here are the steps on how I applied for a US tourist visa or the B1/B2 visa.
Step 1: Pay the Visa Fee
In other guides, Step 1 and Step 2 are interchangeable, but if you’re 100% sure about your visa application then go pay the $160 visa fee ASAP to secure your preferred interview date. There are two payment options, just choose whichever is convenient for you.
- Online Payment
Choose this option if you have an account with either BPI or Bancnet and its online bill payment. You have to pay the exact amount and enter a unique reference number for each applicant. The reference number is also the receipt number that would be used to schedule your interview. You’ll receive an email confirmation for your visa payment.
- Over-the-counter at BPI
If there’s a BPI branch near your place that caters to visa payment then print a deposit slip of $160 to pay your visa fee. Each deposit slip has a unique receipt number and an expiration of 5 days. If you needed a new deposit slip just re-click the link. Don’t forget to keep all your receipts.
Processing time is around 24-48 hours after payment.
Link for Visa Fee Payment
Step 2: Complete the DS-160 Form
Once you’re done with the visa payment, you may now fill-out the Online Non-Immigrant Visa Application (DS-160) Form which takes around 10-15 minutes.
Before you proceed, please prepare the following:
- 2 x 2 picture (Have it taken in a photo studio, just tell them it’s for US Visa.)
- A Valid Passport
As for answering the DS-160 Form, needed information are as follows:
- Personal Details
- Travel Plans
- Previous US Travels
- Contact Information
- Passport Details
- US Contact Person or the Hotel Information
- Family Information
- Work / Education / Training Information
- Security and Background Questions
Tip: Higher chance of getting approved if you finance your trip.
The consul’s questions will be based on the information you input on your DS-160. Review all the details before submitting them. You cannot edit it once submitted, you may fill out a new one or just inform the consul about the error.
Link for DS-160 Application Form
Step 3: Schedule an Appointment for your Interview
After accomplishing the DS-Form and the visa fee has been processed, you may now schedule your interview through the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Create an account and fill out your details again, a shorter version of the DS-160 Form.
Remember to bring the following:
- Valid Passport
- 2×2 picture
- Appointment Confirmation
Other supporting documents that you could bring:
- Bank Certificates
- Proof of Property Ownership
- Certificate of Employment
- Marriage Certificate
- Sample Itinerary
Prepare for your interview: Top US Visa Questions and How To Answer Them
Link for Visa Interview Appointment
Step 4: Show up at the US Embassy for the Interview
This would be the final step and also the critical one for your US Tourist Visa application. The decision will depend on how you answer the consul’s questions.
It is advised to arrive 15 minutes before your interview, you may opt to stay at a nearby restaurant than standing at the gate.
Once your schedule is called, an officer will check your appointment confirmation and direct you to another officer that will put a sticker at the back of your passport and will give you a colored card. You may now enter the premise and have your bags checked. Do NOT bring any electronic gadget or any sharp object inside the US Embassy.
After that, you will be sorted according to your colored cards and be seated in an open area as you wait for your turn. They usually let 15-20 people enter the building where you will go through another security check.
The consular officer would ask a few questions such as your name, birth date, marital status, the purpose of the trip and the state you’re going to visit. Prepare a copy of your photo that you submitted online, just in case they ask for it.
Have your passport ready to show the sticker at the back as the consular officer would scan the barcode to check your profile. Follow their direction for the fingerprint-scanning, it’s gonna be the left thumb, right thumb, left four fingers then right four fingers.
The final step for your US visa application, yey! You may go to the comfort room first to prepare yourself and then fall in line for the interview. You would be directed to which window you will be interviewed and as you wait, you may hear the other applicants being interviewed. Better to just tune them out and pray.
Where to Stay near the US Embassy
Book thru AirBnB: Get Php1,600 OFF on your first booking worth Php3,500.
Step 5: Monitor your Visa Status and Passport Delivery
Once your visa application is approved, Congratulations! You may check your Visa Application Status online.
- After the interview, your status will be at Administrative Processing since your application is still undergoing further investigation, mine was updated after 2 days, it can be longer for some applicants though.
- When the status of your visa is Issued then you can track its delivery at Tracking – 2GO. Use your UID Number that’s in your appointment confirmation as a tracking number. Delivery time usually takes 2-3 business days for residents in Metro Manila and 5-7 days outside Metro Manila.
I hope this helps you with your US Tourist Visa application, and enjoy exploring what the 51 States of the USA could offer. Good luck!
Disclaimer: Your visa approval will still depend on your case and the consul’s discretion.
For US Visa Assistance you can reach me through: