A U.S. tourist visa is needed if you’re planning to visit the United States for tourism or to visit family and friends. This post outlines the step-by-step process on how to apply for U.S. tourist visa in the Philippines (for Philippines passport holders).
Applying for U.S. Tourist Visa (B-2) in the Philippines
There are different kinds of U.S. visa. The purpose of your intended travel will determine the type of visa that will be required by the U.S. immigration law.
If you intend to visit the United States for leisure or tourism, you will be needing a U.S. Tourist Visa (B-2) under Nonimmigrant Visas.
What are the activities covered by the B-2 Visitor Visa?
The holder of the B-2 visitor visa is only intended for the following activities:
- visit friends and relatives
- undergo medical treatment
- participate in conventions, conferences, or convocations of social or fraternal organizations
This visa is therefore not for people seeking employment. It’s against the U.S. law to use this visa for purposes beyond the list mentioned above.
When you apply for a B-2 visa, you must demonstrate to the consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (Source: U.S. Travel Docs). Each B-2 applicant is presumed to be an intending applicant. Hence, you must overcome this presumption during the very short interview through:
- showing that the purpose of the trip is for business, pleasure, or medical treatment only
- that you only intend to stay in the United States temporarily
- that you have strong social and economic ties to your home country (i.e. the Philippines) that will ensure the return of your visit
Basic Requirements for Applying for a U.S. Tourist Visa
The following are the basic requirements for applying for the U.S. Tourist Visa:
- A passport with a validity date of at least 6 months beyond the intended period of stay in the U.S.
- $160 non-refundable Nonimmigrant Visa Application Fee
- A duly-accomplished DS-160 form
- a 2″ x 2″ photo that complies with these guidelines
Step-by-step Process on How to Apply for U.S. (B-2) Tourist Visa in the Philippines
In 2016, I intended to visit A in Colorado. As it was my first time to apply for a visa, I was nervous and overwhelmed. However, the website of the U.S. embassy in the Philippines helped me with the step-by-step process.
This is the process that I’ve gone through and it’s still the same process applicable today:
Step 1. Pay the non-refundable Visa Application Fee
The nonimmigrant visa application fee for business/tourist (B) is $160 (PhP 8,640). This is non-refundable, which means you will not get it back even if you didn’t obtain a visa.
You can pay this application fee at any Bank of the Philippine Islands.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure to print the applicable visa application deposit slip before you pay at the bank.
Also, take note of the expiration date on the deposit slip. If the expiration date passes prior to making a payment, simply go back to this website to generate a new deposit slip.
They won’t accept the payment for the Visa application without it or if the deposit slip is past its expiration date.
Step 2. Complete the Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application form (DS-160)
You can find the DS-160 form here.
General Guidelines for Filling Out the DS-160 Form:
- All questions must be answered in English.
- Make sure the photograph you upload complies with the guidelines set by the U.S. Department of State.
- After 20 minutes of no activity, the page for DS-160 “times out.” Make sure to click the “Save” button to save your details (worst case scenario: you’ll have to start all over again).
- Review the information you input in the form. All must be correct and accurate. Once you submit it, you cannot make any changes.
- Once you complete the DS-160 form, it will generate an alphanumeric barcode confirmation page. Take note of this as you will need it to book your appointment. You also have print this confirmation page as you will need it during the interview.
Step 3. Schedule your visa appointment
How to schedule an appointment:
1. Create a profile on their system.
To do this, please visit this link. Click on New User to start the process.
2. Select New Application/Schedule An Appointment.
As you can see on the bottom left, there’s the First Available Appointment information.
3. Select the appropriate Visa Type.
If you’re going to the U.S. mainly for leisure (i.e. tourism or visit family and friends) , choose Nonimmigrant Visa. On the next page, choose Business/Tourism and then select B-2.
4. Complete your profile.
Make sure all information is correct and accurate.
5. Provide your Visa Application Fee Receipt Number.
Once you complete your profile, you’ll be led to a page where you can enter your receipt number for your paid Visa Application fee. You will need it to schedule your appointment.
6. Schedule your appointment.
Choose the date and time of your Visa Interview. You are only allowed to reschedule twice (not including the initial appointment) without penalty.
If you cancel your interview thrice (which means after the second rescheduling attempt), you will only be allowed to reschedule a new date after a waiting period of 90 days.
Step 4. Show up on your scheduled visa interview.
You’re almost there! But before that, make sure you have the necessary documents before you show up for your interview.
Things to bring on your U.S. Tourist Visa Interview:
- 2×2 photo
- your Philippine passport valid for at least another 6 months
- DS-160 confirmation code/page (printed)
- Visa application fee receipt
- Appointment confirmation (printed)
- Supporting documents like employment certificate and I.D., bank certificates, etc. (I brought mine but the consular officer didn’t really ask for them)
VERY IMPORTANT: Do not bring any electronic device during your interview date. You will not be allowed to get inside the U.S. Embassy with any electronic device (e.g. phones, tablets, MP3 player, USB).
Be there 15 minutes before your scheduled interview. So, if you’re scheduled your interview at 9 A.M., be there by at least 8:45 A.M.
If you live outside Manila…
If you live outside Manila, you may want to stay close to the embassy, just to make sure that you’ll be there for your interview on time.
I’m from the southern part of the Philippines so after scheduling an appointment, I book a flight for Manila and stayed in a hotel close to the U.S. Embassy. It’s nothing fancy, just a basic hotel that’s less than 15 minutes’ walk to the embassy.
There’s a coffee shop across the embassy so if you get there way ahead of your schedule, you can chill and relax (very important) in the coffee shop before your interview.
What can you expect during the interview day?
- You will be queued up. A staff from the embassy will call out scheduled interviewees.
- Once in line, a staff will check your passport and printed DS-160 confirmation code/page.
- You will be instructed where to go next (they group interviewees based on the visa type they’re applying for). Another staff will check your appointment confirmation form, passport, and 2×2 photo. He/she will then place a sticker at the back of your passport.
- You will undergo security check, including your belongings/bag.
- You will queued up again for pre-screening where you will be asked for the type of visa you’re applying for, name, birthday, and marital status. You will then have the finger scanning.
- You’ll wait for your turn for the interview.
The U.S. Tourist Visa Interview
It’s a very short interview, probably less than 5 minutes. You will know right there and then if your visa application has been approved.
In my case, I was asked with these questions:
- What’s the purpose of your visit?
- What’s your job?
- What degree did you finish in college?
- Do you have a spouse and kids?
- Do you have relatives in the U.S.?
- How long has she (referring to my aunt who’s living in the U.S.) been in the U.S.?
And that’s it! I wasn’t asked for the supporting documents I brought.
Did I pass the interview?
Unfortunately, I didn’t.
As mentioned, each consular officer would have the presumption that each nonimmigrant visa applicant has the immigrant intent. Hence, it’s our job as applicants to overcome the presumption.
Looking back, I think I didn’t get the visa because of my weak social and economic ties in the Philippines.
Back then, I was single, working as a freelancer, and living with my parents.
It all boils down to having strong social and economic ties in the Philippines to convince the consular officer that you have enough reasons to go back to the Philippines.
If you ended up not getting the visa, you can still re-apply. I actually applied thrice though all has been disapproved.
I hope this tutorial has been helpful and if you have more questions, drop them in the comment section below and I’ll get back to you the soonest I can 🙂
Best of luck to you!