Interview and Supporting Documents: What you Say and Not what you Show Matters (NIV)

mock interview

Are you applying for a nonimmigrant visa and preparing for your interview, trying to decide which supporting documents to bring to justify your purpose of travel and ties to your home country?  

One of the common misconceptions regarding the nonimmigrant visa process is that an applicant’s documents are central to their application. While it’s always advisable to be prepared and important to know which documents are required for certain visa classes, consular officers typically will base their decision more on the interview they have with the applicant than they will on the supporting documents presented to them. The consular officer will likely want to hear you explain your purpose of travel and ties to your home country. If an officer would like to view your documents, he/she will ask for them during the interview. There is no need to present documents if the consular officer does not ask for them.

Consular Officers often use the information in the DS-160 application to process the visa application and, combined with a personal interview, determine an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa. When preparing your application, you must provide accurate information in your DS-160 application. Be prepared to answer the questions asked by the consular officer. The consular officer is likely to be interested to know your purpose of travel, how long you intend to stay in the United States, your contacts in the U.S., and your ties to your home country that would compel you to depart the U.S. after your visit.  Do not lie to a consular officer. Lying has serious consequences and can make you permanently ineligible for the visa. Applicants should be honest in discussing their residence (at home and abroad), employment, and family relationships with the consular officer.

Always remember: It is what you say, not what you show, that matters in your visa interview.

Visit the Nonimmigrant Visa website for a list of required documents for applicants at http://manila.usembassy.gov/niv-application.html. If you have questions or comments about this topic, feel free to post your comments below.

Returning Resident

Dear Vizard,

I entered the United States last January 15, 2011 under the F2A category. In February of 2012 I went back to the Philippines to finish my degree. I am graduating this month and ready to go back to be with my family in the United States. My question is, now that I have lived outside of United States for almost two (2) years is my Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status still okay even if my green card is valid until 2015? Will I have a problem entering the United States?

Respectfully yours,

Sophia Magtalas

——————————————————-

Dear Sophia,

First of all congratulations on your graduation! In answer to your questions – if an LPR lived outside of the United States for more than one (1) year without permission or a re-entry permit (Form I-327) from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the person is generally considered to have abandoned U.S. residency and is subject to loss of LPR status regardless of the validity of his/her green card.

In order to return to the U.S. and resume residence there, the individual may find relief as a “Returning Resident” as defined in U.S. immigration law.

To qualify as a Returning Resident, the individual must demonstrate to a consular officer that he/she departed the U.S. with the intention of returning after a stay of less than one (1) year abroad, and his/her failure to return to the U.S. as planned must be shown to have been for reasons beyond his/her control.

Before applying for “returning resident” you should contact the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) office in Manila to determine your current status.

You may also visit http://manila.usembassy.gov/returning-resident.html to know more about returning resident visas.

Sincerely,
Vizard

 

“Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa” video

Weren’t able to go to America in 3D last March 1 and 2 at SM Mall of Asia?  If so, you missed the premiere of our exciting new video which explains how to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.

 However, there’s still good news! Even if you missed the premiere, you can still watch it! Just click the video below.

In the video, consular officers describe the four easy steps required to complete a nonimmigrant visa application and the step-by-step interview process. It also highlights the importance of the interview when determining an applicant’s eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa.

For more videos, please check the U.S. Embassy Manila YouTube channel

For more information, please check our blog posts:

Tips for Your Next Embassy Visit (NIV)
NIV Interviews: Step-by-Step Process (NIV)
New Nonimmigrant Visa Fees and Bank Payment Process

Consular Corner at America in 3D 2014

A3D banner 

Yes! The long wait is over. Next stop… SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City!

This March 1 & 2, 2014 you are invited to join the U.S. Embassy and be a part of America in 3D: A Roadshow in Diplomacy, Development, and Defense at SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

Every year, The U.S. Embassy invites the public for free food samplings, cooking demonstrations, musical performances, dance clinics, car shows, information sessions about U.S. services such as visas, and so much more.

Attending mall-goers and shoppers will have the chance to personally meet representatives from the Visa Section and various other U.S. Embassy sections and agencies. In addition to its booth which will regularly feature representatives from the Visa Unit for walk-in chats, the Consular Section will have live presentations about visas (Consular Corner: The Visa Process Demystified/Visa Hour) and the official video premiere of “Applying for a Nonimmigrant Visa”!

If you can’t make it to the mall, the Consular Corner: The Visa Process Demystified/Visa Hour episode will also be livestreamed! So don’t forget to tune in LIVE via the U.S. Embassy Manila YouTube channelVisa Hour on March 1 (Saturday) at 5:15PM – 6:15PM and March 2 (Sunday) at 12:00Noon-1:00PM (Philippine time). The Visa Hour is an online broadcast/event exclusively brought to you by U.S. Embassy Manila.

For the full schedule of America in 3D, visit http://www.americain3d.net/2014/02/full-schedule.html

For more information, visit the official blog for America in 3D –  www.AmericaIn3D.net

See you March 1 and 2, 2014 at A3D SM Mall of Asia!

Coming with Children Applicants

Planning to bring your kids to the US for a temporary visit to see their lolo and lola? Or perhaps to see Disneyland or one of America’s other great theme parks for kids?

If yes, here a few simple reminders to take note of when you come for the visa appointment with your kids:

1. The waiting time can sometimes be several hours, depending on the volume of applicants for that day. Given this lengthy period,  children may become impatient and bored. Therefore,  it is a good idea to bring items that may help pacify their restlessness:

          * small toys (no sharp points, no loud or alarming sounds, no electronics)

          * books

          * food

Parents can bring small toys and books to keep their children entertained.

Parents can bring small toys and books to keep their children entertained.

2. For applicants below 18 years old, at least one parent should be present. Read more about this on “Who Can Come With You on Your Visa Appointment”

3. If your child is not applying for a visa, please do not bring him/her with you, since the Embassy does not allow access to non-applicants.

4. We all love happy and active children, but it is the responsibility of parents, to always keep track of their kids in the waiting room and ensure they are not interfering with other applicants. We will do our best to speed the process along for those applicants with very young children. 

Let us know if you have concerns, feedbacks and/or suggestions with regards to this topic and feel free to post it in our comment box below.

Read also our previous posts: $how Money, Entering the United States

$how Money

I am an U.S. Citizen and my girlfriend is applying for a tourist visa. She asked me to deposit $5,000 to her bank account as requirement for her visa application. Is this amount sufficient for her to qualify for a tourist visa?

I am applying for a visitor visa. I have recently deposited P100,000 to my bank account to show I have adequate funds for my travel. Is this amount sufficient as show money to qualify for the visa?  If not, how much money should I have in my bank account to prove that I have strong financial ties?

These are common questions regarding the financial requirements for in applying for a U.S. visa. Please be aware that “show money” is not a requirement for nonimmigrant visa applicants. In fact, bank statements are only occasionally requested by the consular officer and often not requested at all.

“Show money” is usually described as funds deposited into an applicant’s bank account just prior to a visa interview. Such deposits are generally not helpful to applicants since it creates the appearance that an applicant’s financial situation is being represented as better than it actually is. This can often times even have a negative impact as it can make an applicant appear not entirely honest. Applicants should only present their current and actual financial situation when they apply for the visa. Honesty is always the best policy.

To qualify for the visa, the consular officer needs to see that the applicant has strong ties to his or her home country. Ties are the various aspects of one’s life that bind an applicant to their place of residence, including (but not limited to) family relationships, employment, and properties. Information on how applicants can demonstrate their ties is provided at the Nonimmigrant Visa website.

Let us know if you have concerns and questions with regard to this topic. Feel free to post your comment below.

Entering the United States

 

 Congratulations, you have a visa!

 

Now, here’s how to use it! 

 Visitors to America officially come to the US through ports of Entry.  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Customs and Border Protection(CBP) officers work at ports of entry.  Their job is to clear travelers, collect duties, accept merchandise, and enforce U.S. laws and regulations.

 Having a U.S. visa allows you to apply for entry to the United States.  Please note that a visa does not guarantee your entry to the U.S.  When you arrive at the port of entry, you will first speak to the Customs and Border Protection officer.  The officer will determine if you can enter and the length of your stay.

 You cannot use the visa expiration date as the length of time you can stay in the U.S.

Under a new process that was fully implemented in May 2013, the Customs and Border Patrol officer will provide an admission stamp on the passport that records either an admitted-until date or D/S (duration of status).  This notation is the official record of your authorized length of stay. 

 

For more information about entering the United States, you may check our previous blog posts:

Visatisfied Voyager’s 2nd Anniversary!

Visatisfied Voyager is happy to announce that it is celebrating its 2nd Anniversary online.

The Visatisfied Voyager blog was created to respond to the thousands of Visa applicants with timely, relevant and updated information direct from the Consular offices of the U.S. Embassy Manila.

In a span of two years, Visatisfied Voyager has posted 156 informative blog posts in efforts to reach out to the public and provide accurate information, demystify common beliefs about the visa process and provide the public with the latest announcements. The blog has received close to 5,000 comments which were regularly read and answered by Consular experts. Since its creation in August 18, 2011, Visatisfied Voyager has received over 220 thousands visits from over 1,000 cities spanning 191 countries.

Who’s behind Visatisfied Voyager? A team of dedicated Consular experts write blog posts, respond to questions posted, and forward comments to the Consular staff. In addition, the Embassy’s social media team helps in spreading the word out via the Embassy’s huge online communities.

Visatisfied Voyager is also responsible for introducing fun fictional characters like Vizard answering questions from the Vizard’s Corner and Bong Voyage, the blog’s perpetual immigrant visa applicant, who shares his continuing adventures in applying. It also featured write ups about different cities in the United States from foreign service officers through the My Hometown, Your Destination series.

Because of the success of Visatisfied Voyager, the blog has emerged to be the top blog among all U.S. Embassy blogs worldwide. This month alone, Visatisfied Voyager has received over 11 thousand visits, equivalent to 37% share of visitor traffic among all U.S. Embassy blogs.

We’d like to thank all our readers for making Visatisfied Voyager the top U.S. Embassy blog and continuing to visit Visatisfied Voyager. We’re looking forward to providing more blog posts in the future and reading your comments.

IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR IMMIGRANT VISA APPLICANTS

Effective September 1, 2013, the DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application & Registration, and DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent will replace the paper-based DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (parts I and II) and the DS-3032, Choice of Address and Agent.  The DS-260 and DS-261 are fully integrated online electronic visa application forms used to collect the necessary application information from persons seeking immigrant visas. These online forms are completed and submitted online to the Department of State via the Internet through the Consular Electronic Applications Center (CEAC). The forms may be partially completed, saved online to finish, and submitted later; or the forms can be completed and submitted in a single session.

To determine if your petition began processing in time to join the program and to access Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application, and Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent, click Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website. After logging in, follow the directions displayed noting the following:       

  • If CEAC provides you with the option of completing a DS-260 (note it may be grayed-out because you have not paid your Immigrant Visa Fee), you are required to complete the DS-260.
  • If CEAC provides you with online payment information only, you are NOT required to complete the DS-260.
    • If your petition did not go through the NVC process (for example, you filed your petition overseas), your invoice ID number will be the principal applicant’s date of birth (YYYYMMDD).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – Review the DS-260 FAQs if you must complete the online DS-260 form.

If you have questions or need assistance, please click Online Immigrant Visa Forms or contact the NVC.