In Travel, United States of America

US Tourist Visa Interview Experience

I don’t know how many times I heard and read so many stories from my relatives, friends, and people online of people applying and getting denied a US Tourist Visa, that’s why applying for this visa was really nerve-wracking as hell for me. Though I was granted a UK Visa the other year, I was still a bit traumatized after being denied a Schengen one at that time since we wanted to go to that part of Europe as well. But then, getting a UK visa was relatively easy for me since my aunt lived there, I was traveling with my sister, and my intended travel there was in the middle of my 3rd and 4th year of college.

Compared to applying for a UK and Schengen Visa, what made the application for the US one easier was that it required lesser documents (applying for UK and Schengen visa literally required so many documents that we had to bring 2 fat envelopes of documents during the interview/application). And though applying for a US Visa’s easier, it was the riskiest one I applied for since the application fee cost $160 (during the time I paid was equal to ₱7,680). I also fit almost all of the criteria that the embassy usually look out for (TNTs) —

✓ Applying alone

✓ Aged 20

✓ Graduating in the summer of 2016

✓ Unemployed

✓ Single

So I was a little scared of having a large amount of money go to waste if I’d be denied a Visa. But then again, a huge pat on the back for me for going along with the interview and just going with what my gut told me to.

THE APPLICATION PROCESS + INTERVIEW

 

Step 1. Fill out and pay for application

To see all the steps and information on applying for a non-immigrant visa, visit HERE.

In order to fill out the application form, you will be required to pay the application fee first. There are different fees for different types of visas so make sure you know which category you belong to. I found it convenient that they had the option to pay online through BPI, which lessened the hassle of having to go to a bank. Paying online also allowed me to get a schedule almost right away. (Note: Make sure you keep a copy of your deposit slip/receipt after paying as you’ll be needing this once you go to your interview. For those paying online, take a screen cap of the payment confirmation)

After paying, you can now fill out your DS-160 Application form and then print the confirmation and appointment page after.

Step 2. Set your preferred interview schedule

After filling out everything and paying for the visa fee, you can now schedule an interview appointment (dun dun dun). I filled out and paid for my application around December 2? or 3? and then I was deciding on whether I should get an appointment date before or after Christmas and the New Years day. I decided to get the one before Christmas (hoping that if I do get approved, it would be a perfect present for myself lol). I also decided to take an early appointment – I took the one scheduled at 7:15am – which was a good decision since I was able to get over with the nerves right away and I didn’t have to wait too long in line.

Step 3. Prepare necessary documents

Get a 2×2 picture taken. A lot of photo studios offer photo packages for visa pictures, which makes the process a lot easier since they already know the specifications of the size and look of the photo you’d need for the application. As mentioned earlier, the visa application doesn’t require you to bring a lot of documents, but it’s also best to come prepared since it is possible for the consul to ask you for documents related to you and your trip.

The documents that they’d only require you to bring are – your passport, DS-160 confirmation page, appointment confirmation page and proof of payment (receipt/mrv/deposit slip).

Other documents I bought along with me were my birth certificate, previous passports (a must esp. if you’ve traveled abroad before), proof of enrolment and, my parent’s bank statements (since I don’t earn my own income yet). If you think you’d need to bring other documents, better to bring them as well than to be sorry later.

Step 4. Go to the interview

Remember to dress your part. You don’t need to look too formal when going to the interview, especially if your purpose is only for touring/vacation. I wore black jeans and a striped polo shirt during the interview. I arrived around 30 minutes early for my interview and had to line up outside the U.S. Embassy. There were people helping out the guards (tho I think they weren’t officially working for the embassy) make people line-up per appointment schedule. Our driver drove me to the embassy so I was easily dropped off outside. If you’re the one driving, I suggest going a little earlier since parking is on the other side of Roxas Boulevard (across the Embassy). Note: Leave your gadgets in your car or where ever since they won’t be allowed inside.

Then outside, we had to go through 3 people – the first one checks if you have the right appointment schedule and form, the second rechecks your schedule and then gives you your number, and then after passing through security check, the third person checks your passport and DS-160 form and tells you which area to go next (depending on your visa type). In the waiting area, we were called again per batch (this time according to the number given to you) and was instructed to proceed inside the interview area. Inside, we had to to go through 3 different areas again – first was the screening, where they recheck your documents. Second was the biometrics where they scan your fingerprints. And last, was the interview.

Waiting area, where people are called in per batch to enter the main area
Interview windows (this one is on the second floor though which are for American citizens), but looks the same at the ones on the 1st floor which are for Non-Immigrant Applicants

While waiting for my turn, I wasn’t really able to listen to the other interviews that took place before me since I was seated far away from the windows, so I took that opportunity to just relax and get rid of my anxiety (lol). The numbers showing up the board were at random and I probably waited around an hour or 2 before I was called. When my number showed up, I took a deep breath and just hoped for the best. Here’s how my interview went:

Me: Hi, good morning.
Consul: Hi, what is the purpose of your trip?
Me: For vacation/touring
Consul: Where do you plan on staying?
Me: In California
*types on computer*
Consul: Do you have relatives there?
Me: Yes
Consul: How long do you plan on staying there?
Me: For around 2-3 weeks
*types on computer*
Consul: Who will be paying for your trip?
Me: My parents
Consul: What do your parents do?
Me: They run a computer business
*types on computer*
Consul: Okay! Your visa is apporoved. Wait for it to arrive in about a week.
Me: Thank you! Happy holidays.

Step 5. Wait for your passport + visa / Retry next time

My passport just arrived December 29 via 2Go (5 working days after the interview) and I’m so so happy to share that I got a 10-year multiple-entry visa! In case you apply and don’t get approved, don’t lose hope. Reapply again when you’re ready again and just hope for the best.

So there! That’s how my interview went. I hope this post would at least help those of you who are hoping to apply for a US Visa soon. I’m super thankful that I was granted one since I personally know a number people who have been denied visas even though they had huge bank accounts, had past travels and had all the documents with them. So here are a few things to take note of that I personally learned on applying for a US Visa:

  1. Be confident and be honest. If you have no intention of overstaying or becoming a TNT, there’s nothing to be worried about. Just answer all the consul’s questions truthfully and you’ll be okay.
  2. Bring documents that you think would be necessary, but note that the consul almost never asks for them.
  3. Every situation is different. Like I mentioned earlier, there are people who get denied even when they’ve shown all possible documents. Sometimes it really depends on the consul and the way your interview went.
  4. Don’t be scared of the consuls. During my Schengen visa interview, I was a little bit traumatized on how the consul there spoke to us since I think at that time he wasn’t in a good mood or something, haha! But keep in mind that every consul is different and all of them are only doing their job, so don’t be too nervous when they seem a little grouchy.
  5. If it’s meant to be, it will be. HAHA. But seriously. If you don’t get approved, it won’t hurt to try again.

 

Definitely getting more excited for next year. Fingers crossed that my plans go according to plan so I can share with you guys here the places that I hope to go when I visit the US!

Main photo from here.

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35 Comments

  1. broccoli
    1 year ago

    hi! i just got my visa approved this morning. i noticed that they did not ask for my 2×2 picture (they got my passport and ds-160 page). is this okay?

    Reply
  2. Bea
    1 year ago

    Hi,

    I’ll be applying this year too and I’m too nervous until I read this! I was really thinking of hard questions from the consul but yours is just like talking to a friend. That made me relax a little. I hope I can make it too. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Franz
      1 year ago

      Yay goodluck!!

      Reply
  3. John
    1 year ago

    Hi Franz! Im happy about how your interview went. May I ask what ties that youd showed to the consul.? Thanks in advance ?

    Reply
    1. Franz
      1 year ago

      Hi! The consul didn’t ask me for any documents at all during the interview 🙂

      Reply
  4. Kim
    1 year ago

    Hello! Thanks for the tips on the interview. Reading your article actually calmed me down for my interview in 2 weeks. 🙂 Question though, how long did all the ordeal take from the time you arrived up to the end of the interview?

    Reply
    1. Franz
      12 months ago

      Glad I was able to help! It took me around 2-3 hours I think all in all, which wasn’t so bad. I think it’s best to choose the earliest time slot and arrive around 30 min earlier prior to your schedule 🙂

      Reply
  5. Patrizia dacanay
    1 year ago

    Hi. May i ask how many countries you visited before applying for US and what supporting documents did you bring? ? I’m planning to apply within this month.

    Reply
    1. Franz
      12 months ago

      Hi, I actually went to around 4-5 coutries around Asia years before and what I think helped me a lot as well was being able to go to the UK last year. During the interview, I bought my parent’s bank statements and my itinerary but they didn’t ask me for those during the interview 🙂

      Reply
  6. Kat
    1 year ago

    Hi! What exactly is in the application form? I’m also graduating in 2017 and I’m planning to go to the states alone for my parent’s grad gift! Since I wont be shouldering my expenses, do they ask (in the app form) for your parents social security number or anything to prove they own a business/ can cover your expenses? I’m super worried huhu

    Reply
  7. Kat
    1 year ago

    Also, one more thing.. Did you have to fill up an affidavit of support to prove your parents will shoulder all your expenses for your holiday? 🙂 thanks so much hehe

    Reply
    1. Franz
      12 months ago

      No I didn’t fill up any affidavit of support 🙂

      Reply
  8. Jo💓
    11 months ago

    Hi! I am planning to apply for visa this month! Fudjjj im so nervous! But this helped me! I hope my interview goes well like yours. My mom told me to bring my bank statement (which i have bcoz whenever my mom sends me my allowance i always put it in my bank) my mom is planning to put a lot of money in my accout for “show money” but after reading your story i think it’s bezt to bring my mom’s nalang diba? Since she will be paying for my trip naman, & like you i also dont earn my own income yet. Which do you think is best???? Or should I bring both?

    Reply
    1. Franz
      11 months ago

      Glad this helped!! I think it’s best to bring both just to be sure 🙂 but in my case, they didn’t ask for any.

      Reply
  9. Chel
    10 months ago

    Tomorrow’s our interview! hoping the president’s statement today about US ties doesn’t have any bearing on the tourist visa applications. But as you said, if it’s meant to be, it will be. 👆

    Reply
    1. Franz
      10 months ago

      Yes! If it’s meant to be it will be!! Goodluck on your interview <3

      Reply
      1. Chel
        10 months ago

        We got approved!
        We were tensed when we arrived because I brought prohibited items (powerbank, earphones, phone) I had to go outside and paid 400 pesos to a stranger who keeps items. Huhu.
        Anyway, you’re blog post was a great help! We practiced by answering in long sentences. But when I’ve read your interview above, we got the idea that our answers should be concise and direct to the point.
        I guess it worked.
        Thank you! 😃

        Reply
  10. Anne
    10 months ago

    Hi! Your article is very helpful. I will have my interview at the US Embassy next month.

    What did you wear during your interview?

    Reply
    1. Franz
      10 months ago

      Good luck!! I wore jeans and a simple polo shirt 🙂

      Reply
    2. Daniela
      10 months ago

      Hi Chel and Franz, I don’t have savings on my bank account even if Im an employee for I didn’t think about saving in the bank. will that matter even if sponsored?

      Reply
  11. Daniela
    10 months ago

    I’m scared with my upcoming interview. I am applying for tourist visa but sponsored by my BF. is there any chance of approval?

    Reply
    1. Jelina
      4 months ago

      Hi, I’m planning to go to Texas sponsored by my boyfriend because he wants me to meet his family before we get married here in the Philippines, but I’m unemployed, is there a chance I get approve?

      Reply
  12. AD
    8 months ago

    I’m a government employee, what should i provide for primary occupation? should i put government and specify my job position in describe your duties or provide OTHER then specify my job position? thanks 🙂

    Reply
  13. CA Omandac
    8 months ago

    When can i schedule interview when im planning to leave on April? thank you.

    Reply
  14. BMA
    8 months ago

    Hi sis! i was planning to apply US visa (tourist) but i dont have any out of the country trips. do you think my visa will be approve? thanks 🙂

    Reply
    1. Franz
      5 months ago

      It would depend on the consul, really 🙂 Like I mentioned, someone with a lot of previous trips may not be issued a visa, so it really depends.

      Reply
  15. Jaba D Desiree
    8 months ago

    Hi. Your article is very helpful. I just have one question, when the consul told you the your visa got approved, did u leave right after the interview or u went to another window for delivery option of your passport? Can u tell me what happened right after ur interview? Thank.

    Reply
    1. Franz
      5 months ago

      You can just leave right away after your interview 🙂 Mine was like that in my case. I just headed back to where we entered.

      Reply
  16. VIRGINIA ALMARIO
    7 months ago

    hi, me and my 3 kids are planning to visit my husband who is presently working in Guam, what kind of visa do we need to fill up

    Reply
  17. Brise Gallosa
    7 months ago

    Hi Mam! For how long is your issued visa?

    Reply
    1. Franz
      5 months ago

      Mine was issued for 10years 🙂

      Reply
  18. Remy
    7 months ago

    Hi, how’s the payment process? So i just have to get a receipt number from the site and pay OTC?

    Reply
    1. Franz
      5 months ago

      Hi, yes 🙂 The payment instructions are given in the website as well

      Reply
  19. gab
    5 months ago

    hi franz i applied 9 months for tourist visa but sponsored by my friend she will be having her brain operation so basically i will be taking care of her until her full recovery..do think my visa will be approve?thank you 😀

    Reply
  20. Jelina
    4 months ago

    Hello, I just wanna ask if I have the Chance to get Approve, I just resigned at my work last April 20, 2017, my boyfriend from Texas came to visit me thrice and he met my family, now he wants me to process my tourist visa, he will be the one to pay everything especially the ticket, and I will stay in his family’s house for 3 weeks only and I’m planning to get the ticket as soon as my visa get approve but the my problem is I’m unemployed, do I still have the chance to get approve? Thank you

    Reply

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