Passing the Interview for a Nonimmigrant US Visa

(Second of two parts)

Kumar Balani

NEW YORK  — We trust that those who are reading this column are well aware of the documents required, as mentioned here last Wednesday, 21 November 2018, in the first part of this article, before scheduling an interview with a consular officer at the US Embassy in Manila.

If you have not yet read that, we suggest you read it first before proceeding to read this part.

What we write here now and what we wrote in the first part of this published article are based on our review of contents provided on the website of the US Embassy in Manila, which is a primary source. We learned from our earliest professional education and training in journalism at the University of the Philippines’ Institute of Mass Communication (IMC) that it is best to obtain information and corroboration of facts and figures from primary sources.

A few days before your scheduled interview date and time, you must do the following:

  1. Complete the online visa application form, if you have not done so, at https://ceac.state.gov/.
  2. Print the confirmation page with the barcode and take it to your interview.
  3. Create your profile by going to http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph and follow the instructions on how to create a profile and schedule a visa interview. Call (632) 548-8223 if you need assistance.
  4. Register a delivery address (for the return of your passport) and your contact phone number.
  5. Complete the document checklist, ensuring that you have all of them.

The above steps should be followed in order not to waste time. If you do not have all the required documents, your interview may not proceed. Remember the saying: “Haste makes waste.”

The purpose of the interview is for you to obtain the particular nonimmigrant or non-petition visa you have applied for to fulfill your brief US-stay purpose, such as to pursue or conclude a business deal, to visit attractions, to meet relatives, to attend family events or any number of other matters.

But the purpose of the interview for the interviewer, however, is to ask you questions about you that conform with US nonimmigrant visa issuance guidelines pertaining to whether or not you may become a “public charge” (by illegally obtaining government benefits), whether you may overstay beyond your allowed stay limit, or potentially become a threat to US security or possibly become a threat to US public health by unknowingly carrying a communicable disease.

At the interview, you must answer all the questions asked of you as truthfully and as correctly as possible as you can. Just remember and keep in mind the dictum, “Honesty is the best policy.”

The US Embassy in Manila is one of the busiest in the world. American consular officers there interview more than an average 1,000 applicants every day, so you are competing with a large number of people wanting to go to the US temporarily for a specific purpose. The better prepared you are with your documents and being in the right frame of mind and disposition, the greater are your chances of getting a visa. The good news for you is that more than 80 percent of applicants are eventually granted a nonimmigrant visa.

What are some of the questions you will be asked?

Many will pertain to questions we indicate above on the interviewer’s visa issuance guidelines but some of the more basic ones will be:

  1. Why do you want to visit the United States?
  2. What do you do, what is your business, career or profession?
  3. What is your annual income or your family’s annual income?
  4. How do you plan to pay for your expenses such as accommodation, meals, travel?

We suggest you roleplay the interview process by having someone close to you ask these questions and you reply with your answers. Do this several times until you feel fairly comfortable and confident and are able to answer all these questions with great ease.

If you have trouble with language or understanding the questions, another consular officer will be provided to assist you. And if you lack a document or if it is incorrectly filled up, you will be given some time to provide it at a later date. If the consular officer decides after the interview to issue you a visa, you can receive or obtain it in about five working days.

Related article (Part 1):  Procedure in obtaining a nonimmigrant US Visa 

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Kumar (Kem) Balani joins the Philippine Daily Mirror as a columnist. He also writes for the Daily Tribune in the Philippines. He is the founder and current publisher of New Jersey-based BIZ INDIA Online News (www.BizIndia.net) that followed the print publication BIZ INDIA Magazine begun in 2002.

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