While it is easy for Americans, through their visa-free entry eligibility, to travel to the Philippines for tourism, Filipinos and other nationalities have to undertake a thorough procedure in obtaining a tourist visa, so that they may visit the US for business, tourism, vacation, or medical treatment.
The Reality a Filipino Applicant Should Face when Applying for a U.S. Tourist Visa
Acquiring a Tourist visa to visit the U.S. proves to be a difficult ordeal, especially for Filipino applicants who are relying on the sponsorship and invitation of their U.S. citizen friends, fiancé(e), spouse, or relatives. The US government’s rigorous procedure and scrutiny for non-immigrant visa applications can be attributed to the thousands of people who legally entered the country, but unlawfully stayed, engaged in visa fraud, and misrepresented their issued tourist visa by engaging to paid employment. The consular officer, while evaluating the tourist visa application, has the presumption that the tourist visa applicant who is seeking entry to the US, is an intending immigrant. Additionally, the consular officer meticulously evaluates that the applicant will not resort to public funds nor will go to welfare
As such, the U.S. tourist visa applicant must successfully overcome this presumption and provide evidence of “self-financial” capability for him to be issued a Tourist visa.
Qualifications in Overcoming the Presumption and Establishing “Self-Financial” Capability
There are ways to overcome the “intending immigrant’ presumption and the “self-financial sufficiency” requirement.
As the assessment of the tourist visa application is specifically based on the applicant’s capacity to prove that:
(1) He can financially support his self without anyone’s help throughout his stay in the US., and
(2) He has strong ties with his country of origin that will compel him to return and leave the U.S. after his allowed stay, it is recommended that the applicant has the following qualifications in support of his tourist visa application:
- Stable job in the Philippines. This refers to an employment that is at least a year for the applicant to be able to establish employment stability. In fact, the longer employment an applicant has, the better, otherwise, having an employment, though shorter in duration, is better than being unemployed. You can demonstrate this by presenting an employment letter or an employment contract, pay slips, and income tax.
- Assets and Properties in the Philippines. These do not only demonstrate strong ties, but also financial capacity. These assets and properties can be a car, a house, a piece of land, or a condominium. These furthermore can be substantiated by your car registration certificate, title deed, or mortgage agreement or any document that will prove your ownership of such asset or property
- Business ownership in the Philippines. Should an applicant own a business, he can show his business/company registration, tax return, or balance sheet or any document showing business ownership
- Substantial Money in the bank. Having a substantial amount in the bank is another way for the applicant to prove financially capability. This can be supported by the applicant’s most recent 6 months bank statement showing a regular flow of money. A point to consider in depositing a huge amount of money one time to inflate the amount, is that though it helps to elevate an applicant’s financial status, it doesn’t show a regular flow of money, hence, may not be seen positively. However, if the applicant’s sponsor in the U.S. plans to deposit money to the applicant’s bank account to show that the applicant has money, it is recommended that funds are deposited discretely instead of a lump sum deposit as this may raise questions.
- Family or Children in the Philippines. Having a family or minor child who are depending on the applicant, though not a very strong proof for Filipinos in showing strong ties with the Philippines, will also help, depending on how the applicant articulate this aspect to support strong ties.
- Detailed itinerary. Providing the applicant’s detailed itinerary indicating the duration of his trip, activities, accommodation, places to visit also helps in showing the applicant’s duration of stay, and purpose.
Boyfriend/Girlfriend as the Applicant’s Sponsor
Boyfriend or girlfriend sponsoring the applicant’s U.S. Tourist visa has raised a long running debate in terms of visa approval. Applicants always have this fear and misconception that declaring a boyfriend or a girlfriend as the sponsor is synonymous to visa denial. This is why some applicants resort to concealing the truth, which is in fact too risky, as this may cause legal problems, which then may affect the applicant’s future visa applications. It is always best to be honest.
Though it is true that comprehensive scrutiny of application is done owing to a lot of cases of tourist visas being misrepresented, it is not impossible to get an approval. The approval or denial of this tourist visa application is dependent on how the applicant demonstrates the above-mentioned qualifications to overcome the presumption and to prove his financial capability, as well as how convincing or how well the applicant answers the interview questions.
When does a U.S. Tourist Visa application have a slim chance of Approval?
An applicant’s U.S. Visa application will have a slim chance of approval if above qualifications are not met. However, it is also important to note that a Tourist visa application is evaluated or assessed subjectively, hence, the denial or approval of an applicant’s U.S. Tourist visa is completely on the discretion of the consular officer evaluating the application. This is in fact the reason why a tourist visa application has a lower success rate compared to other visas, as well as the reason why some applications, despite presenting all required documents, are still denied.
Using the Assistance of a Visa and Immigration Consultant
Increasing an applicant’s chance of getting the approval of a tourist visa application is possible through the help of a visa and immigration consultant, whose expertise on the visa and immigration process does not only guarantee that the applicant’s application packet is well prepared, as well ensure the applicant’s preparedness for the interview. Applicants should be wary though about the so-called unscrupulous “visa professionals” who make unrealistic or unfounded promises.
Apart from proper planning, researching and familiarizing with the requirements and the visa application process, it would be beneficial to consult a visa and immigration consultant about an applicant’s US Visa in the Philippines to guide him with the visa application.