For those who require a tourist visa to enter the United States, if you’ve never applied before, you’ve probably heard how difficult it is. Difficult for some, yes, esp., if you’re a first-timer but not impossible. Consider these things when applying for a US Visa and you might just get it.
1) Fly away – You must think this is an oxymoron but if you’ve just gotten your passport, you’re single and dreaming of going to the United States, applying for a US visa may not be the best route for you. One of the factors visa officers consider is your travel history so if your passport is empty, it’s dodgy already. Being single also suggests you lack social ties. But if you can show that you’re a frequent traveller then you might just get away with it. Otherwise, hop on a plane and fly away to neighboring countries and explore. Your primary goal is to collect stamps on your passport. If you could make your way to Schengen countries, the better. Remember, the world is vast. There are many other countries that will welcome you with open arms. For Filipinos, there are at least 50 countries that do not require a visa. Check this list.
2) Stash cash – If you know you’re planning to travel sometime in the future, be sure to save enough money way in advance. Embassies like the United States require at least six months’ bank statement. Don’t try to deposit a big amount a few days before your visa appointment and plan to withdraw it afterwards. It doesn’t do the trick. Sometimes (I say sometimes not always) visa officers check bank statements thoroughly. They can easily pick out that recent big deposit you made. Even if they don’t check, why risk it? The best thing is to plan and save (at least USD 3,000 should be safe) and budget for your airfare. If you have a sponsor in the US that’s another story. Bear in mind though that having a sponsor is still no guarantee you will get a visa.
3) Papers in – Be sure to have all your papers in, anything and everything that could tie you to your home country as well as your country of residence. Car registration if any, land or house titles back home, and/or any other forms of assets. The more assets you have the more likely they’ll believe you have reason to return, the more chances of getting a visa. Boyfriends (sometimes), siblings also count as ‘social ties’ so put them on the list.
4) Be honest – If you have family in the US, declare it. In some cases, if a person has family in the US they think that person has a proclivity to overstay . Some people try to pre-empt this by lying in their documents. Please don’t. If the immigration office finds this out you might be banned for life. Personally, I’ve always believed that, “If God wills it, nothing and no one can stand against it.” If you get the visa, thank God. If you don’t get it, thank God anyway. It may not have been the perfect time.
5) Be clear – Be clear on your intentions. Whether it’s for business, leisure or pleasure, it must be clear why you’re going to the United States. Be transparent on how long you plan to stay. It helps if your stay is shorter, less pressure on your pocket. Unlike other embassies, the US embassy is more generous when it comes to the validity of the visa. Nowadays they normally grant a 10-year visa. This allows you be more flexible with your travel dates.
6) Book early – I know in the Philippines and the UAE, appointment dates can get snapped up pretty fast. The earlier you book the better your chances of getting your preferred time and date of appointment. You can do this at least three months in advance of your planned departure date.
7) Ooze confidence – On the day of your appointment, be sure to ooze confidence. Remember, it’s just a visa application. Whether you get it or not it’ll be just fine, unless you’re applying for emergency reasons (God forbid). The world is vast. You can always go to other places. There is a wide expanse out there, uncharted territories waiting for you to conquer.
These are just tips and ‘tricks’ when applying for a US visa. I must reiterate there are no guarantees. You may have all documents in place, have travelled in Asia and Europe, be married, have a flourishing business and yet you can still be denied. There are those who have never travelled before and have small amount of money but got a visa. The good news is, if your application is denied, you can always try again. Some get theirs after four attempts. You can also refute the embassy’s decision but it can be a lengthy battle. Re-applying can be heavy on the pocket I know. But if you really want to go, give it a go. If you do get a visa, please don’t let it expire or travel a year later. It can pose problems for you later.
For more info on documents required and other factors to consider, please check here. Should you have further questions, please feel free to email me. I’ll be happy to answer if I can. Or if you have anything to add, please do share your thoughts. Here’s to getting your US visa and exploring the land of the free.
Photo above: The imposing US Capitol