$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.

Destination – Indianapolis, Indiana

Hi, my name is…

Donna

I’m from…

Indianapolis, IN

My hometown is known for…

the Indianapolis 500, which is a 500-mile open wheel car race that takes place each year in May. The drivers regularly compete at speeds of over 250 mph.  The track is 2.5 miles in circumference. The racetrack is so big it has a golf course in the middle, as well as a museum. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway seats more than 250,000 spectators for the race.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. More than 250,000 fans go to the Indianapolis capital on Memorial Day weekend at the end of May to watch the famous Indy 500 race competition. (Photo credit: discoveramerica.com)

My favorite thing about my hometown is…

seeing live sporting events with my friends. Sports are a very important part of Indianapolis. We have the Indianapolis Colts NFL team, which won the Super Bowl in 2006. In addition, we have the NBA team Indiana Pacers (named after the pace car from the Indy 500), the Indiana Ice hockey team and others.  Tickets to games are not very expensive, and it is always fun to go to a game and then go with friends to have a late dinner or a few drinks.

If you came to visit me, I’d take you…

walking on the Monon Trail. Indianapolis has a walking trail that goes across the entire city.  Not only is it a peaceful trail used for exercise, but there are art installations, cafes, city parks and historical locations to see along the way. You can rent a bicycle for a long ride, or rent a paddle boat to go on the canal.

We would also go to my favorite restaurant, Bazbeaux’s pizza, which is located along the trail, for a large Bayou Chicken pizza and a Blue Moon Beer (my two favorite treats).

Things you have to try before you leave…

Duck pin bowling (which is like regular bowling but miniature in size), a pork tenderloin sandwich, a ride on a tractor at a local farm and an ear of Indiana sweet corn straight off the grill!

Going as a group: Requesting group appointments

Are you applying for a B1/B2 visas with a group? Why not request a group appointment?

To qualify for a group appointment, your group of three to ten people must:
• apply for B1/B2 visa
• travel together for the same purpose,
• travel on or around the same date

Examples of groups include sports teams, choir groups, school groups, and groups traveling for competitions. Please note that family members traveling together do not qualify. If your group has more than 10 members, you have to make a separate request for them. If you have too many people on one application, the request for group appointment will be refused.

Going as a group? Request for group appointments

If the Embassy approves the request, you will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule the group appointment. Please ensure that each group member has not booked or scheduled an individual appointment yet or they will not be added to the group unless you cancel the existing appointment.

To request a Group Appointment, please complete the steps online and appear for your interview. For general information regarding group appointments, please visit the online appointment website or call the Embassy call center.

If you’ve traveled with a group before, tell us about your experience!

Short courses, B visas, and you

We sometimes hear people ask, “can I use my visitor visa to take a short course in the U.S. or do I need a student visa?”

You may use your visitor (B) visa if you are going to the U.S. primarily for tourism but would want to take a short course that is recreational and not for credit toward a degree or academic certificate.

Study leading to a U.S.-conferred degree or certificate is not permitted, even if you only study for a short time.

When you get to the U.S., you may inform the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials that aside from general tourism, you also intend to engage in a short course of study.

For more information about student visas, check out the Embassy YouTube channel for a special student edition of The Visa Hour. Vice Consul Diego and Education USA advisor Eileen Valdecanas answer your questions about student visas and studying in the U.S.

In a hurry? Pick-up your visa at MOA

We do our best to interview, process and print visas quickly, but sometimes travelers need their passports back even faster. We process expedited processing rarely and only in emergencies. There is, however, another way to get your travel documents in a hurry.

Usually visas are printed and passports returned through 2GO in 7-10 days. If you need your passport soon and you will be staying in Metro Manila, it may be a better idea to pick it up from the 2GO outlet at SM Mall of Asia. Passports are usually returned a day or two sooner.

If your visa has been approved, ask the consular officer for instructions on how to pick up your visa at Mall of Asia. We’ll hand you a sheet of paper with instructions, and you’ll be on your way!

We hand out these instructions on request after interviews - picking up your visa at MOA can help save time

Visa Validity and Length of Stay in the United States (NIV)

I was granted a 10 year nonimmigrant visitor visa.  Can I stay in the U.S. for 10 years?

No. The expiration date of the visa is the last day you can use the visa to seek entry into the United States.  It has nothing to do with how long you may stay in the U.S.  The length of stay in the U.S. is determined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the port of entry.

How long can I stay in the U.S.?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the port of entry generally grant permission for the visitor to remain in the United States for the amount of time needed to accomplish the purpose of visit.

What are the consequences if I overstayed my visa?

If you overstayed your visa, you should not attempt to reenter the U.S. on this visa.  Your visa will be automatically cancelled.  This means you may no longer use the visa with which you entered the United States under U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act Section 222(g).  This section renders void the visas of nonimmigrants who remain in the United States “beyond the period of stay authorized by the Secretary of Homeland Security.”   Continue reading

NIV Interviews: Step-by-Step Process (NIV)

All nonimmigrant visa applicants must appear at the Embassy (except those applying for diplomatic visas). If you have had a B1/B2 visa in the past, you may qualify for the Visa Reissuance Program (VRP) and bypass some of the steps below. See our website for more information on VRP.

For all other applicants, you will follow the process outlined below:

Step 1: Arrive at the Embassy

Applicants are requested to arrive at the Embassy gate at least 15 minutes before the time listed on the appointment letter. The line on the right side is for seafarers, and the line on the left is for all other nonimmigrant visa applicants. Applicants must bring all the basic application requirements: the interview appointment letter, the DS-160 confirmation page, a valid passport, one 2” x 2” photo, and all prior passports and U.S. visas, if available.

Additional documents may be required based on the visa class for which you are applying. Please see our website to view the details for each visa class.

Note: Electronic devices are not permitted on Embassy grounds.

Step 2: Receive a Number

Once through security, applicants must line up and submit their passports and DS-160s at the window. Applicants will receive a small pink slip, which you should fill out correctly in order to avoid any delays later in the process, and a queue number stapled on the left corner of the DS-160. The queue number will be used in the pre-screening, finger-scanning, and interview processes. Applicants then proceed to the Pavilion Waiting Area and wait for Embassy personnel to assist with the interview process.

Step 3: Interview Process

1. Pre-screening (Windows 21-29): checking and verifying information in the application form and confirming who filled out the form

2. Finger scanning (Windows 14-19, except 17): scanning applicants’ fingerprints electronically

3. Interview (Windows 1-13): conversation between the consular officer and the applicant; the consular officer will let you know at the end of the interview if you are qualified for the visa

Make sure to check the queue numbers on the queuing board. Embassy personnel are ready to assist applicants at every step of the process.

For more information, read our blog post “Tips for Your Next Embassy Visit.”

VRP: When Is an Interview Needed? (NIV)

In order to qualify for the Visa Reissuance Program (VRP), applicants must meet nine criteria listed on our website. However, qualifying for VRP does not mean that you automatically qualify for a visa.

A consular officer will review each VRP application carefully. The Embassy reserves the right to call any applicant for an interview, even if he/she qualifies for VRP. If an interview is required, a representative of the Embassy will contact the applicant within two business days of his/her VRP appointment.

Being called back for an interview is not an automatic refusal. It simply means that the consular officer needs to speak with you in person to clarify some aspects of your application. At the end of this interview, the officer will let you know whether you qualify for the visa.

Please note: If a VRP applicant receives a call, he/she is requested to return to the Embassy for an interview and may appear from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, Tuesdays or Thursdays, except Philippine and U.S. holidays. Please bring your green 221(g) letter, your passports, and any other documents you submitted with the original application.

For more information about VRP, see our blog post.

The Consequences of Working on a B1/B2 Visa (NIV)

While on a B1/B2 (business/tourist) visa, you may engage in some business activities, including such things as a need to consult with business associates, negotiate a contract, buy goods or materials, settle an estate, appear in a court trial, or participate in business or professional conventions or conferences. You may also use a B1 visa when you will be traveling to the United States on behalf of a foreign employer for training or meetings.

However, you may not receive payment (except for incidental expenses) from a United States source while on a B1/B2 visa. Working at a job in the United States while on a B1/B2 visa is generally prohibited and is not an appropriate use of this visa class.

If you are planning to work while in the United States, you will need a different class of visa, such as an H, L, or J visa. These working visas require petitions from U.S. employers and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from the Department of Homeland Security.

There are consequences for working without authorization in the U.S. If you have worked while on a B1/B2 visa in the past, you are less likely to receive another visa in the future. The consular officer must be convinced that you will use your visa correctly. If you have misused a visa in the past, you may have difficulty convincing the consular officer that you will use it appropriately in the future.

While adjudicating visas, consular officers look very closely at past stays in the United States. Long and/or frequent trips (even with approved extensions) will often cause a consular officer to question whether you were working while in the United States.

While in the United States under any class of visa, it is your responsibility to know the types of activities that are permissible under your visa class. Please visit travel.state.gov for more information about conducting business and working in the United States.