The Visa Hour- NonImmigrant Visas

MIMI: Hello Welcome to this month’s episode of The Visa Hour Today, we will be discussing non-immigrant visas to the United States which are for people who want to travel to the United States to temporarily visit My name is Mimi I’m a vice consul here at the Embassy I’m from the state of Pennsylvania, home of the Philadelphia Phillies, which is where this t-shirt is from This is Jenny JENNY: Hi, I’m Jenny I’m from the state of Michigan where my alma mater Michigan State University is located Later in the program, Mimi and I will talk about a little bit more about our hometowns MIMI: You can send us questions for The Visa Hour today about visiting the United States and we’ll answer them live on this show In order to send us a question, post the question on Twitter using the hashtag #TheVisaHour You can also post it on the U.S. Embassy Facebook page or on our Google+ page Speaking of contacting us, we wanted to make sure that you follow the U.S. Embassy Twitter account at You should also like our Facebook page at and visit our Google+ page at G+.TO/USEmbassyManila JENNY: Before we start with questions we wanna make sure that you know about other resources for learning more about visas First, you can check out The Visa Wall on our Facebook page On The Visa Wall you can find lots of useful information on all different types of visas Also, you can check out our visa blog called VISAtisfiedVoyager – that’s VISA and SATISFIED as one word If we’re unable to get your question answered today, you can always send us an email at for non-immigrant visa questions for immigrant visa questions or for American Citizen Services And you can always find useful information on our website at MIMI: OK, and now on to our first question Today, in addition to answering questions that have been submitted by you guys online, Jenny and I will be discussing common myths and misconceptions about the non-immigrant visa process and things that we’ve heard about applying for a U.S. visa that are simply untrue JENNY: Here, I have one “Lots of people tell me that you shouldn’t tell the officer if you have relatives in the U.S.” MIMI: That’s not true You should always be honest with the visa officer when you’re interviewing for your visa If you have relatives in the United States you shouldn’t try to hide them If the officer asks you about them, you should be honest When you lie, frequently the visa officer can tell that you’re not telling the truth and it hurts your credibility The officer may think, “Well, if he has a sister “in the United States but he’s telling me he doesn’t, “maybe he’s also lying about where he’s going “or how long he’s going for or how long he’ll be staying in the United States.” So the bottom line is, in your visa interview you should always be honest Here’s a common question that we always get: “When people apply for their tourist visas to the United States they try to submit an affidavit of support Is it true that you need an affidavit of support for your non-immigrant visa application?” JENNY: Mimi, that’s not true MIMI: Not true?

JENNY: In fact, for non-immigrant visas you don’t need an affidavit of support Just remember that for other visas like immigrant visas there are certain requirements you can find on our website But for a non-immigrant visa interview you don’t need an affidavit of support You will be interviewed based on your social, family and especially economic ties Really, the economic ties of your friends and family are not what we’re talking about during your interview, so you should bring all documents with you in case the officer wants to review them, but you don’t necessarily need an affidavit of support MIMI: But what if I’m applying for a student visa? Will the visa officer ask me to show proof that I can pay for my studies? JENNY: That’s a good point Mimi For some categories, like student visas, you do need to be able to prove to the officer that you can afford the tuition [NO AUDIO] MIMI: Oh, we have our first question from Angel G that was submitted via Twitter It says, “Can I exchange my expired Green Card to a non-immigrant visa?” JENNY: Thanks for the question Angel Yes, that’s – it’s not actually an exchange Every applicant still needs to be interviewed whether or not you are a former Green Card holder If you come to the Embassy and you still hold a valid Green Card or permanent resident card, and you haven’t yet abandoned it and you’d rather do that and become a non-immigrant for a tourist visa, the officer will direct you to the Department of Homeland Security, or USCIS, which are housed in our Consulate There, you can abandon your status if would like to – if you decide to do that – and then you can return to apply for a non-immigrant – but, however, just because you were once a Green Card holder or a permanent resident in the U.S doesn’t mean you automatically qualify for a tourist visa You’ll still have to go through the interview process MIMI: And how do people get to USCIS? JENNY: They have a website called and they’re also here at our Embassy and you can find information on our website Our next question is from JoJo [INAUDIBLE] coming from Twitter JoJo asks, “I applied for my mom online and she paid “the fee already How do we schedule and interview?” MIMI: OK So if she already paid the fee, you can pay the visa fee at any BPI branch Once she gets the receipt from paying the visa fee, she can call our Embassy call center to schedule an interview or she can schedule a visa interview online The links and the phone number for the call center and the online appointment schedule website are on our website at JENNY: So I’ve got another myth A lot of people say that if you’re young and single there’s no way that you’re gonna get a visa Is that true? MIMI: That’s not true at all Having personally interviewed thousands of visa applicants, I’ve issued lots of young, single people visas The key is to qualify for a tourist or non-immigrant visa to the United States you need demonstrate that you’re truly a non-immigrant That you’re not intending to go live or work in the United States, unless of course you’re applying for a working visa So every applicant is judged individually based on their own situation The Consular Officer must be convinced [NO AUDIO] In fact, sometimes Consular Officers will look at if you’re married and you have family here as a tie to the Philippines But it’s also possible that you can have lots of other ties to the Philippines even if you’re not married and do not have children or family here We have another question from Martin [INAUDIBLE] that was submitted via Twitter His question says, “How long would it take to get a renewal on A non-immigrant visa?” JENNY: Thanks for your question Martin So we don’t actually have a renewal process There could be a couple different things you’re talking about If you’ve previously had a tourist visa but it expired more than 12 months ago, you go through the normal – the normal interview process If you’ve had a visa in the past and you’ve used it well, this is certainly in your favor But you’ll still go through the normal interview and the officer will try to determine if you have strong ties outside of the U.S If you do and you’re qualified for the visa, you’ll receive your visa That process usually takes about 3 to 5 business days for delivery However, maybe you’re talking about the visa renewal process or VRP For those applicants there’s actually a set of requirements listed on our website that you can see and if you meet all of those requirements, your interview is waived If you have additional questions about VRP, you can email us or check on our website for all of the requirements MIMI: And our website is – and if you have a question about non-immigrant visas, it’s – CONSManilaNIV all one word,

JENNY: So we have another question from Facebook, from [INAUDIBLE] He asks what will happen to my 10-year multiple entry visa if I was given another visa which is J-1 for an exchange visitor? MIMI: As long as your B1/B2 or your tourist visa to the United States was not cancelled at the time that you applied for a J-1 visa, your tourist visa is still valid Typically we issue 10-year multiple entry visas You’re allowed to hold different categories of non-immigrant visas at the same time So you can have a J-1 visa and a B1 and B2 at the same time A B1/B2 – a tourist visa and an F-1 student visa at the same time The only exceptions to this rule are if you’re issued an immigrant visa, we have to cancel your tourist visa since you’re intending to move to the United States Also, for certain categories of work visas – for the H-1B specialty occupation visa and for the L-1 intercompany transfer visa we will cancel your tourist visa when we issue you the H-1B or the L visa because you’re moving to the United States with your family in most of those cases, so it’s hard to say that you’re going to be going for a vacation But you can have multiple visas in different categories at one time MIMI: We have one more question from Facebook from Eden [INAUDIBLE] Reyes Thanks Eden for your question She says, “I got an indefinite and multiple visa “last 1989, unluckily it was recalled after a few months “I did not have a chance to surrender it Can I apply again?” JENNY: Thanks for your question Eden I think what I’m understanding is that you received a visa in 1989 and then maybe you came in again and that time you were denied or did not receive another visa So at any time, Eden, you can reapply for a visa following the steps that Mimi mentioned earlier And if you forgot those steps you can find them on our website People are free to reapply at any time However, we recommend that you really read the information on U.S and immigration law that we give you at the time of the interview and once we feel that you’re qualified, meaning that you can demonstrate that you have strong social, family and economic ties outside of the U.S., that you’re free to reapply again MIMI: Also, for indefinite visas that we issued back in the 1980s, unfortunately those are no longer valid So if you got one back in 1985 and haven’t traveled to the United States in the past 10-20 years, you’ll have to apply again for a visa unfortunately We no longer issue visas with no expiration date JENNY: Our next question is from Monalisa [INAUDIBLE] Monalisa asks, “I applied for a job in the U.S “and luckily found an employer “But they told me that the U.S. Embassy “in the Philippines had already met the quota “for releasing working visas by June 2012 for the year 2013 “When can I wait for the next – [NO AUDIO] JENNY: Applicants aren’t pre-screened Every applicant is treated fairly As soon as they arrive at the interviewing window, the Consular Officer has to look at the information that you submitted on your application and then asks you a series of questions in your interview Based on that, we use the law to determine whether or not you’re qualified for a visa at that time MIMI: And I’d like to remind everyone that the visa officers conduct hundreds of interviews a day and thousands of interviews over the course of their time here, so your interview may feel short to you, but the visa officers are very skilled at interviewing and have in-depth experience doing this, so they all make a fair decision We have another question from [INAUDIBLE] [INAUDIBLE] asks, “What are the possibilities of “applying for a student visa? What are the requirements?” Jenny, do you want to answer this? JENNY: So we have a student visa and all the information

is on our website ’cause there are many requirements, but maybe Mimi wants to take us into the details MIMI: So to apply for a student visa, first you have to apply to a school in the United States and get in Unfortunately, if you say, “I wanna study in the United States,” the Embassy can’t really help you until you have plan for studying in the United States You have to apply to a school on your own; you have to get into the school Once you get into the school, the school issues some forms that you should be bringing to your visa interview and you’ll still have to pay the application fee, fill out the visa application, bring in the forms, you’ll have to pay the appropriate fees and then demonstrate to the visa officer that you are a true student and that you’ve really thought about what you’re studying You have to be able to talk about why you picked this program A lot of times people apply for visas and they can’t really explain why they picked this program and they really just, you know, their sister’s in the United States and they said, “And now I’m gone.” Because the F visa or student visa is still a non-immigrant visa, you still have to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent The easiest way to do this is to see whether or not you’re a credible student and, I’ll ask the visa applicants, “OK, so why do you wanna study this? “Did you apply to any other schools? Did you – why did you pick this school over other schools?” The program has to make sense a little bit to the visa officer We have to be convinced that you’re really a true student who wants to go and that you will eventually try to return to the Philippines So unfortunately if you just, a lot of times people come to me and say, “I wanna study in the United States,” and I would love to be able to help you out, but you have to apply to a school that has – that’s accredited by the Department of Homeland Security for issuing the forms for student visas before the Embassy can really do anything to help you out in the situation JENNY: That’s a good point Mimi When you come for your student visa interview, it’s not enough just to have the documents It’s better to be able to tell the officer what your past experiences were, what course you wanna take and what you wanna do with that degree in the future MIMI: I think that’s true for tourist visa applications as well as student visa applications A lot of times I get people who come to the interview and try to hand me a stack of documents this thick I could take that home and it would still take me three days to read through it It’s much faster sometimes to ask someone a few questions and if you’re able to talk about it easily with the visa officer, you’ll have a better chance of convincing the visa officer of your true intent to go to the United States We know that people are nervous and we encourage you not to be nervous, I know that’s easy to say, but if you’re able to talk freely about it, it’s better than having a lot of supporting documents that you give to the visa officer to read JENNY: So our next question is from [INAUDIBLE] from Twitter He asks, “What happens if the petitioner dies and the “petition is current? Can you still appeal?” MIMI: OK, I think this question deals with immigrant visas And so I can talk about this briefly If you have a question about your specific case where your petitioner has died, I would advise you to email the immigrant visa unit at with your name, your date of birth, and your case number – the case number usually starts with MNL and then there’s a long string of numbers Typically though, when the petitioner dies, the visa petition is automatically revoked by USCIS There are certain cases though where the petition can be reinstated and you can still go to the United States However, you need to – you should contact the immigrant visa unit about your concerns specifically and they’ll be able to provide you with more information JENNY: I’ve got another one Lots of people ask on the blog and they think that it’s OK to work in the U.S on a tourist visa – on a B1/B2 visa MIMI: Unfortunately, that’s a very common misconception, but it’s not true If you enter the United States on a B1/B2 visa – the tourist visa – you are not authorized to work in the United States Working – we will define as performing some sort of work – helping out, even if it’s just at your aunt’s business, if you get money in the United States A tourist visa is intended for a short, temporary visit If you need to be working in the United States, if you need to make money to pay for your visit, that’s not really going for vacation So even though there’s no criminal penalties for – you don’t go to jail or anything if you work – however, if you work on the tourist visa, if the visa officer at your next visa interview discovers it or if the next time you go to the United States, immigration will likely ask you about it, your visa may be invalid And it’s very unlikely that you’ll get another visa because the tourist visa is not intended for you to work in the United States So when you’re using it to work in the United States, you’re not using it correctly JENNY: And there are some non-immigrant visa categories where you can work legally in the U.S for temporary periods of time, such as the H-1B like we mentioned earlier The H-2B. The L So if you’re interested in actually working in the U.S. legally, there are many resources on our website

that indicate which type of visa category it is But it’s definitely not the B1/B2 MIMI: OK, and a question from the Embassy Facebook page says, “What is the visa reissuance program?” JENNY: The visa reissuance program, or VRP, is a program that allows applicants who meet a certain set of requirements So I’ll mention a few of them now You must have been issued a visa in Manila in the last – that has expired within the last 12 months, have no overstays or extensions and have not been refused a visa between that issuance and now There’s a whole other list of other requirements and those are listed actually on the website and are listed as a part of the application process So while you’re applying, those are certain questions that you can answer and if you answer them – if your answers to them match, then you are qualified for the VRP program For those applicants, they still have to appear at the Embassy in order to be fingerprinted, but they don’t actually – their interview is waived However, you have to remember that no matter what, we always reserve the right to interview any applicant for any reason, and so just because you’re VRP, number one doesn’t mean that you won’t be interviewed; some applicants will still be interviewed And number two, it doesn’t mean that it’s an automatic reissuance We’re still are reviewing all the information you submitted on your application and if there’s a reason why you may or may not be qualified, you’re called back in for an interview and at that time we go through all of the requirements again If at that point you’re found to not be qualified, then you won’t be issued a new visa MIMI: And so my personal advice whenever I talk to people who ask about VRP who live outside of Manila is, if you’re coming to the Embassy anyway to be fingerprinted, to drop off your application, you might as well schedule an appointment for an interview If you’re flying from [INAUDIBLE], if you’re flying anywhere, if it’s anything that takes longer than five hours to get to Manila, you don’t want to come into the Embassy, be fingerprinted and have to come back for an interview Just because you’re called back in for an interview, doesn’t mean you’re not getting your visa It just means that the Consular Officer has a few questions that they’d like to talk to you about It’s a great program for people who have a lot of visas or have had visas in the past and have limited time, but if you’re traveling a long distance, I always tell my friends you should just make an appointment for an interview It’s about an hour long that you’re staying at the Embassy, but you don’t have to travel and it can save a lot of hassle in the long run JENNY: So our next question is from Jeannette [INAUDIBLE] “What’s the main reason why applicants are not qualified for their visa?” MIMI: For a tourist visa to the United States, tourist visas are – applicants are required in order to get the visa to demonstrate non-immigrant intent So unfortunately the way that U.S. visa law is written, you are – every applicant is presumed to be an intending immigrant to the United States unless they demonstrate – we always say strong family, social and economic ties outside the United States to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent Well, what does that really mean? It means that when you come to the visa window, I as the visa officer have to assume that on this trip you’re going to stay in the United States, work in the United States, that you’re not really just going for a vacation or to visit your sister And so I have to see what would make you come back to the Philippines Most people are denied because they fail to make a strong case for why they are coming back to the Philippines You have to remember that you should be able to talk about your trip to the United State too, but when the officer is asking you questions about your job, you should be able to answer them truthfully and convincingly You should know things about your job, be able to answer them So the number one reason I think is that people have a hard time sometimes, they’re nervous, they wanna talk about their trip to the United States, they wanna talk about their ties to the United States – they’re visiting their sister – and that’s all great We know you have a sister in the United States, but we really need to know why will you come back to the Philippines People are nervous and sometimes people, again, like we discussed earlier, they’ll say, “I lied about having a sister there.” Be truthful, be honest Try not to be nervous MIMI: And we have one more question from Divine submitted via Twitter She says, “My immigrant visa was not approved last year Can I apply for a tourist visa now?” JENNY: Sure Divine I’ve never worked in the immigrant visa section like Mimi has, but when you’re applying for a tourist visa we take into account all sorts of things So if you applied for an immigrant visa, we will see that and we will ask you about that And as long as you can explain it and still show us that you’ve got ties to the Philippines, like Mimi has mentioned, and that you do intend to come back, then you could be qualified for a tourist visa However, if you were applying for an immigrant visa before, that is a signal to us that you were interested in immigrating, and so we will look at the reasons why you didn’t For example, if you didn’t because there was a problem with your application or like another person asked, maybe the petitioner died, that could lead us

to one decision However, some people have the immigrant petition open but then decide that they’ve taken a good job here in the Philippines or get married here in the Philippines and have children, and have really established a life here, and have decided that they don’t wanna pursue a life in America So again, it all comes down back to being able to show that you are really tied here to the Philippines and you intend to return MIMI: That’s a very good point And it’s likely that the Consular Officer who interviews you will ask you why your immigrant visa was denied If it’s because you decided perhaps you were applying for a spouse visa because your American citizen spouse lives here, and now you’re not moving back to the United States That’s a perfectly fine reason Now you just want to go and visit his family, things like that Or, if there’s another reason – if there was – if you had some sort of – there’s a lot of reasons why immigrant visas are not approved They’re usually put in a sort of pending status that we’re waiting for you to submit more documentation, but very rarely are there hard and fast refusals The Consular Officer will ask you about that, but you still have to demonstrate non-immigrant intent JENNY: Exactly And so it’s not an automatic refusal of course If you have an open or a past immigrant application, but the most important thing is just to be honest about it because the officer is going to wanna know what happened and so just be truthful MIMI: And we’d like to remind you that you can watch this video later on YouTube at [LAUGHTER] JENNY: And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at MIMI: And also like us on Facebook – JENNY: And like I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of really good information on our blog called VISAtisfiedVoyager Many of questions we’re addressing here today came directly from our blog MIMI: If you have specific questions about your specific case for an immigrant visa application or your non-immigration visa application, we can’t talk about your specific case here because of privacy concerns, but you can email for non-immigrant visas, and for immigrant visa inquiries JENNY: We have another question in “Is there a minimum balance requirement that I must have in my bank account to assure my visa will be granted?” MIMI: No If you are applying for a tourist visa, we like to see that you can afford to pay for the trip to the United States Say you’re going on vacation to Disneyland for two weeks; we like to see – we ask you questions about your job, what your source of income is in the United States We don’t necessarily have to see bank statements You can bring them along if you think it’ll support your case, however, if you borrowed a lot of money to pay for this vacation, and we look at your bank statement and you had nothing there before and now suddenly last week you have a very high bank balance, that’s something the Consular Officer’s going to consider when he evaluates why you’re going to the United States Now we understand that there are lot of people who want to travel to the United States who don’t necessarily have bank balances and who don’t make a ton of money, and that doesn’t mean that you won’t get a visa Remember that every visa application is unique and that you have to demonstrate strong family, social and economic ties to the Philippines It has to be a combination of everything Just having the money doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to go JENNY: What about this one? “I’ve heard people say that there are quotas; “that you should really apply early in the year “or early in the day if you wanna have any chance at getting a visa?” MIMI: That’s not true; especially not for tourist visas I think that that myth comes from the numerical limitations on certain categories of immigrant visas, and like we mentioned earlier, for certain categories of working visas, only a certain number of petitions are approved every year For the tourist visa though there is no numerical limit on the number of visas we issue either per day or per year Coming in earlier is not going to make your application any easier We want to encourage tourism to the United States We love when Filipinos travel to the United States and see all of the different places that you can go So there is no quota on the number of visas that we issue every day So if you can’t come in until 11 AM, schedule your appointment for 11 AM I hate getting up early I would schedule my appointment for as late as possible, but there is no advantage in applying earlier in the day or earlier in the year JENNY: So another question from John [INAUDIBLE] “My fiancée just received her letter with her Manila “case number and she was told that the next step is to pay “BPI for the visa “And the next thing is the medical check-up “Are there any more papers that I need to fill out?” MIMI: So this is actually – I think you’re referring to a K-1 visa application; the fiancée visa The K-1 visa is technically a non-immigrant visa, but we actually do all the interviewing for them on the immigrant visa side because immigrant visas are visas that as soon as you travel to the United States on them you become a legal permanent resident or a Green Card holder

For fiancée visas you don’t become a legal permanent resident until you get to the United States, marry your fiancée and then file some paperwork there So for K-1 visas you have to have an approved petition in the United States before you can be scheduled for an interview There is a list of – there’s actually a very, very good check list on our website for K-1 visa petitions and applicants Manila processes the largest number of fiancée visas of any visa issuing post in the world, so the information on there I would really encourage you to check it out Basically though, to get an immigrant visa you have to have an approved petition, you schedule an interview, you pay the fees – you can come in and pay the fees if you haven’t already done that In some cases these fees are already collected in the United States The immigrant visa applicant has to get a medical exam at St. Luke’s Extension Clinic The exam might take longer than one day for it to come through So you should schedule that early Once you have your medical clearance, then you can come in for your interview Again though, the easiest way to make sure you’re covering all the steps is to go to click on the visa side, immigrant visas, and there’s a checklist for K-1 visas One of the forms that you will have to fill out though if you are trying to bring your fiancée to the United States is an affidavit of support But all the information is on our website and it’s a lot easier to print it out and check off each of the boxes as you go along MIMI: So another common misconception that we have at the visa window is that you must present an invitation letter with your visa application to the United States JENNY: That’s a myth MIMI: It’s not true? JENNY: It’s not true It’s not required to have an invitation letter for a non-immigrant visa Lots of our applicants like to show us their invitation letters, but when you tell us that you have a sister that wants to visit you ’cause she just had a baby or that your mom wants you to come visit her in the U.S., or maybe your aunt, who haven’t seen in 10 years, would like you to come visit her in California, we usually believe that that’s what you wanna do You should of course bring any supporting documents that you might think are gonna be necessary, but we may not ask to see them during the interview But for other types of visas, such as maybe your employer wants you to go for a training in the U.S., or wants you to go visit some clients or check out some equipment, for those types of visas, it’s sometimes a good idea to bring a letter in case we have some specific questions and we wanna check it out But for an invitation letter it’s not really necessary MIMI: And the visa, again, like I said earlier, you should have all the documents with you but the visa officer will ask you for any requirements that he or she wants to see So if he wants to see bank statements, you can have them ready, but don’t try to hand over a big stack, because a lot of times it’s easier to just talk about it For example, if Jenny wants to go visit her sister in the United States, she should be able to talk about it rather than giving me a letter that has her sister’s address and everything It’s also not required that you memorize the address of where you’re living in the United States I have friends that live in the United States If I’m visiting them I don’t know their street address A lot of people are trying to remember; they say “557” and the street number – just the city and state is fine, if we ask where you’re going JENNY: How about another one? A lot of people go on a J-1 visa and some of them are subject to this two year rule, but from what I’ve heard other people say that once you have the J-1 with the two year rule, you can’t go back to the U.S at all for another two years Is that true? MIMI: That’s not true So J-1 visas are for exchange visitors to the United States, also sometimes for internships and traineeships in the United States Depending on the type of program that you’re on and what you’re going to do there, the Consular Officer, the visa officer, will determine when your visa is issued whether or not this thing called the two-year rule applies The reason that – the two year rule basically means that after the end of your program you have to come back to your country of residence, to the Philippines, for two years before you can be issued an immigrant visa or an H-1B working visa or an L working visa in the United States And the idea behind that is that this is only for certain categories of J visas; it’s when you’re going to do research fellowships in the United States or you’re going for trainings in the United States and the program is setup so that people come to the United States, learn things and then bring back their expertise to the country where they’re originally from, to apply it and to try to improve the Philippines So the two-year rule only applies if you’re going for an immigrant visa or an H-1B or L visa You can go on another J program, you can go on vacation, whatever you wanna do It’s really for only if you’re moving to the United States, you have to come back to the Philippines for two years first And you can get waivers for that if the two year rule applies and you haven’t fulfilled the two year rule OK, so we have another question from Nico Augustine submitted via Twitter He says, “I’m unemployed and my mom wants to go back “to the U.S. next year Is there any possibilities that I can get a visa?”

JENNY: Thanks for your question Nico So as we’ve covered today that every person is interviewed as an individual as long as they’re an adult For those children who are traveling with their parents, their application is based on whether or not their parents are qualified because they’re a minor and it’s difficult for someone who is maybe six years old to show that they have ties to the Philippines So for anyone who’s over 18 who is an adult, they have to show on their own that they have strong social family and economic ties Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do for let’s say a young student But again, we take every person as an individual, so I can’t tell you now whether or not you’d be qualified or unqualified just based on the fact that you’re unemployed We’d have to really have an interview and talk about your other situation; what family members you have here, what your other ties are to the Philippines So if you want you could maybe do a little research before you come in, so that you don’t maybe spend the money and come in when you know in advance that you’re not qualified, but every person is reviewed based on their own merits MIMI: And we’d like to emphasize that you’re allowed to reapply again as many times as you want, as often as you want If you’re denied a non-immigrant visa, you can reapply to – you can go and reapply the same day However, when you come in and reapply, the Consular Officer can see the record of every time that you’ve applied before, so you really wanna be thinking about well, why was I denied? Do I understand the reasons that I was denied? And don’t just keep – people come in and they say, “I’m trying my luck.” And I hate to see that because it’s an expensive application and you’re just – if you haven’t thought about the reason that you’re denied or what you didn’t show the Consular Officer and maybe, maybe you were nervous and you weren’t able to convince the Consular Officer of your true intent to come back to the Philippines, if you don’t think about that before you just try your luck to reapply, you’re really wasting your money You really should think about your reasons for applying Figure out if anything has changed What’s different this time around? JENNY: So another question from J.J. Magalona says, “Hi, my grandparents will visit “the U.S. early next year “Can they bring my daughter? My daughter doesn’t have a visa.” MIMI: So again, as Jenny mentioned earlier, I’m assuming that your daughter is a child under the age of 18 Typically for children under the age of 18, in order for them to be issued visas, we require that their parents also qualify for visas; either their parents currently have tourist visas or their parents would qualify for the visa We see a lot of grandparents who wanna bring their grandkids to the United States and that’s really, really nice, but unfortunately we have to look at the children’s – the children’s ties are to their parents If the grandparents have legally adopted a grandchild or have full legal custody of the grandchild, the grandparents traveling to the United States, the child can go to But, unfortunately, we have to assume that a child’s ties are to their parents So if you don’t currently have a visa, the Consular Officer will evaluate whether or not you and your partner would likely qualify for a U.S. visa But, typically, we do require that children applying for a visa, their parents usually have to have visas or would qualify for visas So if you’re visa’s expired and you wanna bring your kid, or your child wants to go to the United States with the grandparents, you know, we’ll consider that, but that’s [INAUDIBLE] JENNY: I think the best advice is that if you want your minor child to travel to the U.S with another family member, that’s fine But when they come in for their interview, you should also interview for a visa You should make the appointment together If you are qualified at that time, then your child will also be qualified and you can both receive visas That doesn’t mean that you have to travel with your child If you then want your sister to take your child to the U.S., that’s fine, as long as you already have a visa MIMI: And we know it’s an expensive application, but it’s a 10-year multiple entry visa You can go as many times as you want So really it works out to about less than $15 per year It’s the longest maximum validity visa It’s the longest validity visa that the U.S issues for any nationality So if your child wants to travel, best advice, as Jenny said, you should have a visa too OK, so we have another question from Lenni [INAUDIBLE] who says, “A relative of mine got denied “a visa 30 years ago because she declared on her “application that she was married and her husband who “had a pending immigration application that time “declared that he was single “And so she got denied a visa as a fraud case “They are now separated, not legally, for 29 years “She’s retirement age and just wants to travel “and enjoy life “Can she still get a U.S “tourist visa despite the case that happened 30 years ago? “That wasn’t even her fault Is there an appeal she can file?” OK, this – do you wanna talk about it? JENNY: Well, I start So – it depends When she was found to have a fraudulent situation during her immigrant visa application, if she was given a permanent ineligibility, that’s a different story and for some of those cases there’s sometimes a possibility of overcoming that Now, if there’s no permanent ineligibility,

then the officer might ask her what happened during that time And because it was 30 years ago, if she can show that she doesn’t have a permanent ineligibility and she’s now qualified for the visa, she has strong ties here, social, family and economic, then there shouldn’t be a problem in getting a tourist visa However, if she has a permanent ineligibility that’s a different story MIMI: So sometimes this is a good time to talk about this People lie – or – people lie about a lot of things in visa interviews Some of them aren’t important and we issue visas anyway However, it is important to remind our visa applicants that if you lie during your visa interview or misrepresent something – if you say that this child it’s yours; it’s not yours – that there are sometimes results in a permanent ineligibility that you’re permanently not allowed to enter the United States There are sometimes waivers for this ineligibility and in the case that was just asked, one of the factors that’s considered is the amount of time that has passed since the ineligibility was first entered, whether or not you’ve tried to reapply But it is important to remember that one of the reasons it’s important to be honest and truthful in your visa interview is that if you’re not honest you can possibly be permanently barred from the United States and we don’t want that to happen JENNY: So the next question is from Chitty Cortez [INAUDIBLE] She asks, “My non-immigrant visa expired in June 2010, but before that, in 2005, it was damaged by a house fire.” She informed the U.S. Embassy Manila at once and faxed all the pertinent documents as they requested She [INAUDIBLE] renewing was not a priority then because of the situation, but now that she’s married with a child and an up and coming wedding in the U.S that she’s hoping to witness, what does she need to do to prepare for her non-immigrant visa application? MIMI: OK, so this happens a lot People, you know, 10-year visas, you don’t travel for five years, your visa is expired, basically if you come – she’ll need to come in and reapply for her visa and be interviewed by a Consular Officer However, one of the factors that we consider is whether or not you’ve had visa to the United States before and whether or not you’ve used it responsibly For example, going for tourism and not working while you’re in the United States So she’ll have to come in and make a new visa application and be interviewed – present the case, overcoming the presumption of immigrant intent, strong family and socio-economic ties However, one of the key factors that we do consider is past visa use Another thing that this is very important to bring up is that if your visa’s damaged or lost or stolen, you should report it to the Embassy as damaged, lost or stolen, especially if it’s stolen because, if your visa’s stolen someone could use your identity to travel to the United States, and then that causes a lot of problems for you, it’s illegal, lots of other things So you should – in order to report a visa lost or stolen, we need to have an affidavit of loss So you can email the non-immigrant visa unit at and they can give you information about that But if you have a damaged visa or passport, you should definitely report it because we don’t want people stealing your identity to travel into the United States OK Archie Garcia via Twitter asks: He says, “I’m the only left here in the Philippines “I have been denied twice “Will it help if I promise a personal appearance before the Consul?” JENNY: So thanks for that question Archie I guess I’m not completely clear what you’re asking, but it sounds like two times now you’ve come in to apply for a tourist visa and were denied It also sounds like maybe your whole family has immigrated to America Sometimes that happens Sometimes we get someone at our window whose entire family has been petitioned, but for whatever reason maybe you were too old, or you got married, you didn’t qualify for the petition at that time So I understand of course your family’s living in the U.S and you wanna go visit them But you still have to be treated like every other candidate So as you can probably imagine, to start, you may have a little bit of difficulty showing your family ties to the Philippines, especially with your whole immediate family residing in America However, if you’re married with children or have other extended family here, that can show us some family ties I’m not sure what your specifics of your case are, but as long as an applicant can still show that they have, let’s say, a good job here, they’ve been working for many years with a good salary and that they’ve got other family members here and other reasons to come back to the Philippines, that they don’t want to go live permanently with their family in the U.S., they could still be issued MIMI: And I think, sometimes I see applicants who all their siblings are in the United States, and they say, “I had the opportunity to go and I wanted to stay here,” and that’s a really, really good sign As far as Archie’s question about appearing before our Consul, every visa applicant has to be interviewed before they’re issued a visa, so regardless of whether or not to make a visa application you have to be interviewed JENNY: So our next question is from [INAUDIBLE] who asks, “Can a tourist visa be used to travel to the U.S while waiting for the approval of a pending

fiancée visa?” MIMI: Yes If you already have a tourist visa to the United States, you can use it to travel to the United States while you’re pending your fiancée visa However, if you have already – if you don’t yet have a tourist visa to the United States, and your fiancée in the United States is filing a fiancée petition for you, it can be very difficult to demonstrate to the Consular Officer that you are going for a short visit now but maybe in two months you’ll be moving there So that’s something that you should consider if you haven’t already applied for your tourist visa If you already have one and you’re pending – your fiancée’s filing paperwork for a fiancée visa, feel free to travel to the United States It should not be used as an immigrant visa You shouldn’t be using it to move there, but you can travel back and forth Some people are worried about the wait times We try to process fiancée visas as quickly as possible Just last week I was interviewing fiancées whose visa petitions had been filed, I think, two months before So it’s very, overall, a very, very short wait time So don’t be worried about it For certain categories of immigrant visas it’s a much longer wait time, but if you don’t already have a tourist visa you should wait for your fiancée visa We have a question from Google+ from Lee Lee says, “I’m a freelance tutor and I’ve been tutoring “the kids of a family for six years “Could I present a letter from the parents as proof of employment?” JENNY: Thanks for your question Lee This actually brings up a really good point Often we ask applicants what their job is, and they say they don’t have a job; meaning that they’re not working for let’s say a company or the government, meaning that they maybe have a business or they do some other type of work, such as freelance work So feel free Lee, of course, you can bring in any documents you want, and if you’re a bringing a letter it’s possible the Consular Officer might wanna see that However, what we’d rather do is just talk to you for – maybe ask you a couple a questions about your work, so you should come prepared to talk about what you do as a tutor – to talk about how much money you earn, what types of subjects you tutor the children; that type of thing Normally, you don’t really need to prepare for that type of question because if you’re doing the work for six years then you should be able to converse about it very freely So again, you don’t have to have a certain type of employment Some people own businesses, some people work for the government, some people do freelance work, and all of them could be qualified as long as they’re able to establish that that’s a strong economic tie that’s keeping them here in the Philippines MIMI: And I think that brings up a really good point about when the visa officer asks what’s your job or what do you do for work In the Philippines we understand – we know that when you – “trabajo” means employment – and people think if I have a business that’s not a real job To the visa officer it’s what is your source of money and what do you do all day So if you’re tutoring and you get paid for it, that’s a job to us So you should answer with that OK, so we have another question from [INAUDIBLE] She says, “I lost my passport with my 10-year “B1 visa and I was not able to report it “Would it be difficult for me to apply for the tourist visa again?” JENNY: So like Mimi mentioned earlier, it’s really important that as soon as you notice that your passport or your visa is lost, damaged or stolen to report it immediately to the Embassy, but of course that sometimes that doesn’t happen So it’s still important either before your interview or at the time of your interview to bring with you or send in advance an affidavit of loss to report it to the police or to make a damage report It’s good that we have that on file Like we said before, if it’s lost, you don’t want someone to try to travel with your identity to the U.S., ’cause that can cause problems for you later too So if you haven’t already done so, send it now to the email address we mentioned earlier or bring the affidavit of loss with you to your interview MIMI: But it will not affect – unless – it shouldn’t really affect your application for a tourist visa unless you sold it, which I’m assuming you haven’t sold your visa JENNY: So next the question’s from Irene She asks, “What visa type should a professional photographer apply for and what are the chances that he or she can get it?” MIMI: It really depends on why you’re traveling to the United States – I assume to take pictures If someone in the United States is paying for you to take the pictures – if you will be paid for work that you’re doing in the United States, you need some sort of employment visa So your employer or whoever is paying you in the United States has to file the necessary paperwork for you However, if you’re being paid an honorarium and not really a salary or commission, an honorarium is allowed under the B-1 visa If you’re just traveling to the United States – if you’re a professional photographer, you just wanna travel and take some pictures and not receiving any money at all, you can apply for a B1 or a B2 visa The B1/B2 visa and that’s fine I can’t really speak to whether or not your chances of getting a visa are good It depends on the type of visa that you’re applying for and, again, your family, social and economic ties here in the Philippines But we do see that a lot People – bloggers – things like that It really depends on whether or not you’re receiving money in the United States If you’re not, feel free to apply for a B1/B2 visa If you are, you’ll likely need some sort of employment-based visa unless it’s just an honorarium

that you’re getting JENNY: And Mimi brings up a good point That’s why the interview is so important so that we can ask you these questions to make sure that you’re actually are applying for the right type of visa because just because we grant you a visa here, you still then have to get to the port of entry in the United States, and there the CBP, or Customs and Border Patrol, is going to review it again So it’s important that you tell us honestly what your plans are for the U.S so that you have no problems in the U.S when you get there MIMI: So we have another – [INAUDIBLE] says, “My petition for the K-1 visa was approved “and now I have all my papers with me complete “I’m going to the bank to pay the visa fee tomorrow Do I need to apply for a DS-160 from online after that?” So it’s a very good question It’s a very common question The DS-160 is the online application form for non-immigrant visas All non-immigrant visas, except for the K-1 visa – so the immigrant – the K-1 visa is still a paper-based visa application It’s not online So again, I will refer you back to our website with the very handy checklist, and they can give you the information on the forms that you need to fill out Once you’ve scheduled your appointment, you can come in, fill out the form and they’ll collect your documents to make sure that you have everything that you need But the K-1 visa is unique in that it’s technically a non-immigrant visa because you don’t get a Green Card when you go to the United States But because it’s a visa for immigration purposes we actually process it with the immigrant visas and the scheduling is done on the immigrant visa side So no, you don’t need the DS-160 The DS-160 is used only – it’s also called the CEAC and it’s used for tourist visas, student visas, working – certain kind – working visas, exchange visitor visas And the links of the online application form to the DS-160 is also available on our website and also at OK, so another question that we get all the time is, “You should wear a suit to your interview Is this true?” Do I have to wear a suit for my tourist visa interview? JENNY: That’s false You don’t need to wear a suit to your interview So you can see today that Mimi and I have dressed down a little bit for The Visa Hour, but normally we dress in our business clothes because we recognize this is an important event for all of our applicants who are coming in to interview However, for our applicants we also understand that you spend some time waiting in the waiting room, you have to get up early and sometimes travel far distances So you should come to your interview dressed comfortably You can choose to wear whatever you want We don’t judge you based on what you’re wearing at the window Like we mentioned throughout the entire application that whether you’re wearing a sweat suit or you’re wearing a ball gown, as long as you can demonstrate your ties and you’re a qualified applicant, you’ll receive your visa MIMI: I will say though that the waiting room can be a little bit cold, and so – it’s air conditioned – so bring a sweater You also may be waiting outside for a little bit, and it can get quite hot in Manila So bring some layers, but there’s no dress code for your visa interview JENNY: So this question’s in from Twitter Faith asks, “As my 10-year U.S “tourist visa just expired last December, how do I go about the renewal?” MIMI: I think Faith is asking about the visa renewal process, the VRP, so assume that you had a 10-year multiple entry visa and it expired within the past year You go online, you still have to fill out the same application, pay the fee, and you come in and you basically – you come in, you drop off your application, they do some prescreening and then your fingerprints are taken and then you can – then you can go home for the day And then the Consular Officer will issue your visa or decide that you need to come back in for an interview So again, like I mentioned earlier, the VRP is a really great program for people who don’t have a ton of time, who live close to metro Manila However, in some cases, it may be easier if you live far away, if you think that there may be a question or a concern about your visa application, to just schedule an interview And, basically, the steps for whether you schedule an interview or you apply via VRP, are to fill out the application, the TS-160 online, pay the visa fee at any BPI location and schedule an appointment And when you schedule an appointment through the call center or on the appointment website, you’ll be able to specify whether you want the full visa interview time or the VRP The VRP advantage is usually that the waiting time is shorter However, it’s a 10-year multiple entry visa, so apply early We always encourage everyone to apply early and sometimes an interview is a better choice OK We have a question from Twitter, from Jenny [INAUDIBLE] Jenny says that she is holding an expired U.S. C-1 visa Is it easier for someone to get a tourist visa? She needs to see her sick father JENNY: So a C-1 visa is used for transit So sometimes we have applicants that say who are flying into Canada, but their flight path takes them to the U.S And maybe they have to stop over at the Detroit airport for a couple of hours The C-1 visa is also a non-immigrant visa,

and so you go through the same interview process If you previously had a C-1 visa and when we have the interview, you show that you used that C-1 responsibly, like we talked about earlier, you maybe just used it for transit, you never stayed there very long, you never worked illegally, well that works in your favor That helps show that you once held a visa and that you used it properly However, it’s not an automatic reason to give you a new visa You still have to go through the same interview process ’cause maybe your situation has changed since then MIMI: And also this is where it’s really important that you when you come to the visa interview you are able to talk about your purpose of travel The questions I ask if you’re going on vacation – and that you’re honest and truthful – the questions I ask about going on vacation are different if you’re transiting If you’re transiting through the U.S., I’m usually not going to ask a lot of questions about how will you pay for your stay in the United States because you’re only staying in Detroit airport for a few hours But if you need to go see your sick father, we try to be very, very considerate for humanitarian reasons, but you still need to demonstrate your family, social and economic ties outside the United States Have a clear plan for where you’re going, how long you’re staying, how long you’re taking off from work, who’s going to take care of everything So I’m very sorry that your father is sick, but a C-1 visa is an encouraging sign you’ve already been issued a U.S. visa in the past, but it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get a tourist visa All right So we have about five more minutes, so we are going to try to wrap up We’re going to take one more question from online, but we also wanted to talk a little bit about our hometowns I’m from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where this shirt is from It’s home of the Philadelphia Phillies; best baseball team in America in my opinion But basically the U.S. Embassy has been promoting tourism in the United States The President – President Barack Obama has launched this initiative – the tourism initiative to the United States and we have this wonderful website called Discover America – – you can go on it and find out lots of destinations that you can go to the United States – different states, things to do there We also are promoting this different destinations in the United States on our blog – the VISAtisfied Voyager blog – where we’ve had different Consular Officers talk about their hometowns and things to do So if you go on the VISAtisfied Voyager blog at you’ll be able to see a post from me actually where I talk about Philadelphia and the things that I would recommend people do Philadelphia to me is – I grew up there It’s one of my favorite places in the world It’s the birthplace of America and it’s where the Declaration of Independence was signed They have cheesesteaks which are really, really delicious, and so I encourage you all to visit It’s much better than Michigan JENNY: Is there any place we can get cheesesteaks in the Philippines? MIMI: There is There’s a really good cheesesteak shop – it’s called the Cheesesteak Shop actually, and they import their rolls from Philadelphia JENNY: Wow! So I’m from Michigan And something interesting about Michigan is that it is shaped like a mitten So it’s really easy when people ask you where you’re from, just show them right here on your hand So my school, Michigan State University, my alma mater, is actually very close to the capital called Lansing, which is sort of right in the middle of the palm But where I was born was from a city that most people know about in Michigan which is called Detroit, and that’s located a little bit down here, not far from Lansing Michigan is surrounded by the five Great Lakes and how you remember them is they’re called HOMES – Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eerie and Superior And they’re five really gigantic fresh water lakes So if you are planning to travel to the Midwest in the summer, Michigan is a great destination because you can spend a lot of time on the beach MIMI: Thanks I didn’t know so much about Michigan Sounds like fun I’ll have to try it. All right So our last myth of the day is that it’s hard to get a U.S. visa JENNY: And that’s not true, and I hope that we have cleared that up today because most of the people who interview here at U.S. Embassy Manila are granted a visa We have a lot of Filipinos who travel to the U.S for a lot of different reasons The Philippines has the largest number of seafarers who are granted visas who travel through U.S. waters and U.S. ports all the time We have so many Filipino students who go to our universities in the U.S., whose companies have their headquarters in the U.S., but also have branches here in the Philippines And, of course, like everyone knows, everyone I talk to has a family member somewhere in the U.S who they want to visit at some point in their lives So again, I think some of the most important things we talked about today were to come prepared to your interview, to be able to describe your ties to the Philippines, to be honest and truthful about why you’re going and how long you plan to say and what you plan to do there, and just to be comfortable when you come in for your interview MIMI: All right, and if you missed something earlier today, you can catch this entire video online on YouTube at JENNY: And don’t forget there’s lots of great information you can follow us on our Twitter account at or

MIMI: And please also check out our Google+ page – G+.TO/USEmbassyManila And a lot of our concerns, a lot of the questions we talked about today are addressed on our visa blog VISAtisfied Voyager – you can find it at JENNY: And again, if you have something specific – like we mentioned, we can’t talk about individual cases, but if you have a question about your own case that’s maybe pending here with us, you can always email NIV questions – non-immigrant questions – to or immigrant questions to MIMI: Thank you for joining us today We hope we’ve answered a lot of your questions about the visa process JENNY: And hope you join us next month