Non-Immigrant Visa FAQ

We’ve made a list of our most common questions. If you can’t find the answer here,look through the blog and leave us a comment. We’ll respond to your question as soon as we can.

Application Procedures

How do I apply for a nonimmigrant visa?
Please see the step-by-step application procedures at the Nonimmigrant Visas webpage.

My nonimmigrant visa has expired.  How do I renew my visa?

If you are not a first time applicant, you may be eligible for an appointment without interview through the Visa Reissuance Program (VRP).  See our blog post on VRPs and look at our website to see if you are qualified.

The available interview schedule is late for my intended date of travel. Is it possible to get an earlier appointment?
Early interviews are occsaionally granted in limited cases and pressing circumstances –  see the Early Appointments webpage for more information.

Can I use my valid tourist visa to take a short course of study in the United States or do I need to apply for another visa?

Check out our post here!

Interview Process

Why are the visa interviews so short. The interviewer hardly looked at my supporting documents?

In a typical 8-hour day, a consular officer may need to interview 150 applicants or more. We want to make sure that as many qualified applicants can visit as possibe. Also, the application form, if completed thoroughly, contains most of the information needed to adjudicate the visa. Additional documents are examined only if the consular officer needs  further clarification.

If I present a letter of guarantee of return from my U.S. sponsor, will I get a visa?
A letter of guarantee is insufficient to fully establish an applicant’s qualifications for a visa, or to establish the applicant’s social, family, and economic ties to the Philippines.  U.S. law requires that each applicant qualify for a visa based upon his or her own circumstances.

I am a U.S. citizen, can I accompany my relatives/friends to their nonimmigrant visa interview?

Only nonimmigrant visa applicants and parents of minor (unmarried 17 years old and below) applicants are allowed in the interviewing area. American citizens and US Lawful Permanent Residents are not allowed to accompany nonimmigrant visa applicants to the interviewing area.

My parents are not fluent in English. Can I accompany them to the interview and act as interpreter?

See our post on interpreters!

 

Eligibility

How do you decide whether or not to issue a nonimmigrant visa?

With few exceptions, nonimmigrant visa applications are evaluated under Section 214(b) of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act, which states, in part, that every applicant for a nonimmigrant visa ”. . .shall be presumed to be an immigrant until (s)he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for a visa, . . .that (s)he is entitled to nonimmigrant status. . . .”   This statutory presumption of immigration may be overcome by demonstrating sufficiently strong familial, social, professional and economic ties to a country outside the United States that would compel return after a temporary stay in the United States.

 If refused, how soon can I apply again?

If you were refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, you need to submit more information. You do not need to make another appointment or pay another application fee. You have one year to comply with the requirement of the 221(g) letter.

If you were refused under Section 214(b) or any other section, you may reapply as soon as you can pay the application fee and schedule an appointment through the call center or the online appointment system. While on a second interview you will meet with a different officer, please be aware that you must still demonstrate strong ties to your country.  In most cases, it is better to wait until your personal circumstances have changed significantly before reapplying. Quick reapplications based largely on the hope of finding a consul more inclined to issue may result in a second refusal.

Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?
Having an immigrant petition on file is not grounds for an automatic refusal for a non-immigrant visa. The consular officer reviewing your nonimmigrant visa application will require strong evidence that you are not intending to immigrate at this time and that you are returning to the Philippines after your planned and temporary visit to the United States.

Can the fiancee or spouse of a U.S. citizen apply for a non-immigrant visa?

A foreign national engaged or married to a U.S. citizen must prove that s/he is not an intending immigrant. This is usually difficult to do, as the fact that an individual is engaged to a U.S. citizen is usually considered evidence of intent to immigrate. The consular officer reviewing the nonimmigrant visa application will require strong evidence that he/she is not intending to immigrate at this time and that he/she is returning to the Philippines after his/her planned and temporary visit to the United States.

 

Issuance and Validity

What is the validity of my visa and how long can I stay in the United States?

A nonimmigrant visa is valid for use before its expiration date provided that it is in good condition and has not been tampered with or altered in any way.  The validity of the visa is the period where a traveler can enter the United States.

The consular officer issues the visa, but the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer at the U.S. port of entry determines how long you can stay. USCIS generally grants permission for the amount of time needed for purpose of the visit. If you want to stay longer, submit a request for extension to the USCIS. Without an extension, you may become ineligible to visit the U.S. in the future.

How can I ask the status of my application?

Have a look at our post on checking your status online. You can also check your status by calling (02)301-2104. The Nonimmigrant Visas helpline is available from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, Manila time.  Applicants can also send an email to ConsManilaNIV@state.gov.  When you inquire, please provide your full name, passport number, and date of birth.

Other Questions

I want to know why my employees’ visa applications were denied.  Can I speak to the consular officer about their cases?

Under United States law, visa records are confidential.  The Nonimmigrant Visa Unit will only respond to visa inquiries from the applicant or from the applicant’s legal representative with a signed Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative). The Form G-28 should be signed by the applicants and sent to the Nonimmigrant Visa Unit at ConsManilaNIV@state.gov .  In cases of minor applicants, inquiries should come from one or both parents.

Should I buy my plane ticket before getting a visa?
We do not recommend purchasing tickets before qualifying for a visa.  If your travel depends requires a U.S. visa, you should make no irrevocable travel plans until your visa is approved and your passport returned to you.

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