The Philippines is not included in the Visa Waiver Program of the United States. Thus, Filipinos who hold Philippine Passports are required to apply for a Tourist Visa to enter the US. Below are my answers to some questions frequently asked when Filipinos want to travel to the US.
1) What is the probability for a Filipino to get a U.S. Tourist Visa / Visitor Visa?
Filipinos’ chances to get a tourist visa for the US vary from one person to another. Filipinos need to prove during the application and interview process that they will not become a burden once they arrive in the United States, have good intent, and will travel back to the Philippines. The consuls will approve the visas or not based on the applicant’s situation, documents presented, and answers during the interview. There are even some circumstances that the they will deny the application without the interview process.
2.) What documents do I need to prepare for my application?
You need to fill out the form for non-immigrant visa application, a valid passport, and one(1) 2×2 photo. Aside from these, you need to provide:
- A letter or documentation for why you will visit United States
- Proof that you intend to leave the United States because of your strong ties to the Philippines or current country of residence (Such as letters of certifications from your current employers showing your position and length of tenure, property titles and other registrations for possessions [house, cars, business], photos of families staying in the Philippines, and other documents to show your commitments in the Philippines or country of residence [organization membership]. In case of students, school registration certificate, grades, and proof of parents situation, and student’s long-range plans in the Philippines.)
- Proof that you are financially capable to stay in the United States (such as copies of your bank statements for the past 6 months, credit card statements, copies of pay stubs, income tax returns). If you do not have any, provide letters (and if possible financial documents) from people funding your stay in the US.
- Letters of Guarantee of you departing US do not make you highly qualified for a tourist visa approval. It will still be going about your strong ties to the Philippines (education/employment, properties, families).
- Birth and/or marriage certificates
Remember: The documents vary from one applicant to another, so just think of what documents you can show that you have good intentions and will plan to go back to the Philippines or your current country of residence.
3) Does it look bad if someone else pays the Visa fee for them?
I don’t think so. My then-fiancee, now my husband, paid for my visa fee. But this can still be a case-to-case basis.
4) If I did acquire the U.S. Visa, what would be the length of time I would likely be granted to stay in America?
There are different types of visas and length of time depends on the visa you applied for. My visa to get to US was Fiance/e Visa, and this allowed me to stay in US for 90 days to get married. Other type of visas are B-2 Tourist Visa and B-1 Business Visa which both allow holders to stay up to 6 months.
5) Is it better or worse to send a letter of invite for that person to present while interviewing for the Visa?
Sending documents with your application and during the interview that support your reasons for going to the US is always advisable. During the interview, only present these documents when asked.
6.) I just want to travel to Hawaii, do I need to still apply for a Tourist Visa?
Hawaii is one of the 50 states of the United States; although it is an island away from the main land, same rules apply, you need to apply for a visitor visa. Same rules when you wish to travel to Guam and Puerto Rico since these are territories of the United States.
7.) Where else can I get more information about Tourist visas for entry to the United States?