Fact File: Immigrant Visa (IV) Unit

U.S. Embassy Manila’s Immigrant Visa (IV) unit is the second busiest in the world, processing an average of 65,000 cases per year.  In accordance with U.S. immigration law, most petitions are based on family connections, but we also see a fair number of employment-based petitions, primarily in the healthcare field. Unfortunately, high visa demand means that some Filipinos wait longer than anyone else—over two decades at times. On the other hand, nearly one out every five fiancés petitioned around the world are Filipino—more than 5,000 each year! And with the U.S. Supreme Court striking down key aspects of the Defense of Marriage Act, the IV unit has received dozens of same-sex fiancé petitions in recent months.

To manage this workload, our American adjudicators are assisted by a talented team of local staff who provide translation services, cultural insight, and continuous processing support.

For more information, check our Consular Affairs Fact Sheet.

Petition with Pride

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Windsor v. United States that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (the 1996 law that denies legally married same-sex couples over 1,100 protections and responsibilities of marriage) is unconstitutional. President Obama then directed federal departments to enforce the decision and ensure that federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples were implemented swiftly and smoothly. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was tasked with reviewing immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.

U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national can now sponsor their spouses for a family-based immigrant visa, and U.S. citizens who are engaged to be married to a foreign national of the same sex can file a fiancé(e) visa petition for their partners. For more details please visit http://www.uscis.gov/family/same-sex-marriages.

Same-sex marriage is now permitted in 19 states plus Washington, D.C. The states are: Oregon, Pennsylvania, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Three other states allow civil unions or domestic partnerships for same-sex couples: Colorado, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Stay tuned for more about same-sex marriages in our succeeding blog posts.

U.S. Embassy Hosts Temporary Worker Workshop To Discuss Visas, Trafficking Issues


Manila, May 30, 2014: U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Brian L. Goldbeck offered the keynote speech at the Nonimmigrant Workers Visa Workshop, emphasizing that combatting trafficking in persons is one of the Embassy’s primary goals. The workshop served a two-fold purpose: highlighting the rules and regulations surrounding visas for semi-skilled workers (H-2B), professionals (H-1B), and intra-company transfers (L-1); and focusing on Philippine and U.S. anti-trafficking efforts.

Attendees at the conference included the Office of the Vice President/Overseas Foreign Workers, the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency , Philippine Bureau of Immigration, Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking , recruiting agencies, Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration, Homeland Security Investigations members of other missions, along with leaders from non-governmental organizations focused on anti-trafficking initiatives and Philippine overseas workers’ rights.

Source: http://manila.usembassy.gov/tempworkvisalayout.html

Visa Quota

I am one of the last applicants to be interviewed; can I still make it to the visa cut-off?

How many visas applications can the U.S. Embassy approve in a day?waiting in line

These are two common questions we encounter regarding the belief that there is a quota on the issuance of U.S. Non Immigrant Visas.

Well, here is the thing. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A QUOTA for Non Immigrant Visas. The U.S. Embassy processes hundreds of applications every day and approves visas to all QUALIFIED Non Immigrant Visa applicants.  This means that 100% of visa applicants could potentially be approved on a given day if ALL of those visa applicants were qualified; on the other hand, this also means that 0% of visa applicants will be approved on any given day of NONE of them are qualified.  Even if you are the last applicant in queue, you may still be given a visa. 

The U.S. Embassy in Manila seeks to facilitate and promote international travel to the United States.  Be honest during your interview, and if the Consular Officer finds that you meet all of the necessary qualifications for the visa class for which you are applying,  you will be granted a visa.

To learn more about the Non Immigrant Visa application, please read related articles as below:

·         214(B) Refusal (NIV)     

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

·         Non Immigrant Visa FAQ

For your feedback and questions, feel free to post on the comment box below.

U.S. Visa Policy Remains The Same

There has been no change in US visa policy for Philippine citizens wishing to travel to the United States.

The Philippines has not been added to the list of countries eligible for participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

If there are any changes regarding VWP-participant countries, the information will be reflected on the U.S. Embassy in Manila’s Nonimmigrant Visa website, http://manila.usembassy.gov/nonimmigrant-visa.html

For further instructions on the U.S. visa process, please watch this videowalang sikreto

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.



“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