Tips for a Smooth US Visa Application & Interview
Here’s a few tips on how to apply for a US Visa to work in the USA. This process is a bit different compared to applying for a tourist visa. After you accept the job offer and signed the contract, your employer will then file a petition for you to work be given permission to work in the United States. They will send this petition to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Depending on your agreement with your employer, they may petition you for Permanent Residency or for you to receive a temporary work visa.
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If you have questions and additional tips related to process of applying for a US Visa, feel free to leave a comment on this article or send us a message at http://Facebook.com/AMightyLife.
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Wait for the USCIS Form I-797, and other important documents from your employer.
Your employer or their lawyer will send this to you via FedEx (or any courier), but they may also scan it and send it to you via email. Don’t ever lose this document.
In addition to this, they will also send you a very thick document that the United States embassy will need. You will also need to bring this document for your interview.
If your employer provides for the relocation of your whole family to the US, you better apply for the visa together. In our case, I applied first, and then my wife and my son applied about a month after. To save time and money, you could apply together. The consular officer who interviewed actually asked me why I didn’t bring my wife and son together for the interview.
Pay the US Visa application fee.
There are several options for you to pay this. Since I have a BPIExpressOnline account, I used that to pay the US visa fee. It was fast, easy, and super convenient.
You can also pay over the counter at a BPI branch. For more information about paying for your US Visa application, visit this link: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-paymentinfo.asp.
Fill out your DS 160 form
Fill it out truthfully, honestly, and completely. Make sure you have all the important information handy–including the contact person from the company employing you. If you have the USCIS form, and the other information from your employer, it shouldn’t be too difficult to fill this out.
You will fill this information online and as soon as you submit it, it will be uploaded to the database of the US Embassy that will handle your application.
In most cases, US Consular officers handling visa interviews will look at the information you submitted through your DS 160 form and will make initial decisions. I’ve heard of some instances in which an interviewing officer made a decision solely based on the information submitted through the DS 160 form–they didn’t even ask questions or documents from a tourist visa applicant.
Schedule an appointment
You can only schedule a visa interview after completing your DS 160 form and paying for the applicable fee. Because of the high volume of visa applicants, you should schedule one as early as you possibly can. Sometimes, applicants may wait for 2-3 months for their visa interview schedule.
You will need to create an account at the US embassy’s appointment scheduling system. You have the option to change your schedule twice.
For more information about scheduling an appointment, visit this link: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-appointmentschedule.asp.
Once you have an appointment, organize your papers and prepare yourself mentally and emotionally.
Some Tips for the US visa interview
Arrive at the US Embassy 15 minutes before your schedule.
Don’t be too early, but DON’T EVER be late. There are several cafes near the US Embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. Those are good places to hang out in case you arrive a little too early for your appointment.
Don’t bring any electronics: phone, mp3 players, iPads, tablets, etc.
The embassy used to have a baggage drop off area where you could leave your bags and other personal belongings. But they have removed this probably because of security issues and for administrative purposes. So don’t bring anything that runs on a battery. Or at the very least, if you have someone who will wait for you outside the embassy, leave it with them.
Formal wear is optional, but don’t go there in your shorts and slippers. You don’t need to go to the Embassy in your barong or tuxedo. But if you want to do so, why not? Dress in comfy, casual clothes. But wear shoes and not slippers. Dress up in clothes that will help you feel more confident.
Answer truthfully & confidently.
If you’re applying for a work visa, the interviewing officer may ask a bit about your educational background and your experience. In my case, I applied for an R-1 (Religious Worker) visa. This visa is usually reserved for pastors and priests, but it is also applicable for other professionals that will work in a religious capacity.
The interviewing officer asked about my Bachelor’s degree and whether I am an ordained Minister. I am not. And I said that my bachelor’s degree is Political Science, which is not quite related to the profession that I will be doing. So I explained a bit about my work experience and how I ended up hired for the position I was going to work at.
Don’t give any document to the interviewing officer unless he/she asks for it.
I was ready with a 500-page document that was given to me by my employer. It contained information about the employer, the offer letter, benefits, and other documents needed. I checked online the kinds of information the consul will ask for and I marked the important sections of the document so I could easily show it to the interviewing officer.
To make sure you have all the important documents you need, check out this link: http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-typework.asp#visadescription
Wait for your visa.
Most of the time, if your employer applied for a petition on your behalf, there is a high likelihood that your visa application will be approved. And if you follow a lot of the tips above, you may even get better chances at getting approved.
If your application is approved, you will then wait for your passport to be delivered to you via courier. It usually takes about 5 business days, or a full week till you receive it. But you can also track it through their online system.
If you get approved, congratulations! You will need to start preparing for the transition. Believe me, it’s going to be a BIG, BIG transition for you and your family.