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Lessons Learned: U.S. Visa Interview

December 19, 2012

INSTRUCTIONS on the Confirmation Letter

Arrive at the Embassy 15 minutes before the time listed on your appointment Letter. Bring the following documents with you at the Embassy for your Interview:

  • Appointment Letter.
  • Valid Passport.
  • CEAC Confirmation Letter.
  • 2″ x 2″ color photo in white background.

For safety and security of all applicants and employees, visa applicants are NOT PERMITTED to bring any kind of electronic and battery-operated devices (cellular phone, digital camera, laptop, music player, portable game consoles such as PSP, etc.) into the U.S. Embassy. Applicants who bring such devices will be denied entry. Please check the website for the security policy which includes a list of additional prohibited items. Subject to conditions at

What happened on the day

I will not delve into the detailed procedures inside the Embassy, or the questions asked by the Consul, but I will give the gist on what happened; mainly because these procedures might change in the future.

I was scheduled for the 6:30AM interview. I arrived about an hour before the supposed time, and the line was already long. When the time hit 6:00AM, the 6:30AM-scheduled interviewees were led inside.

While inside, there were a series of making lines and queuing. I didn’t worry much because there were assigned people who assisted us with where to line up, how to order ourselves per window, and what to do. There were a number of pre-screenings, a fingerprint scanning, and followed by the interview itself with the Consul.

I got in a little over 6AM, and then got out about 8AM. Total time inside: approximately 2 hours. However, I had to queue in line 5 times, averaging about 20 to 25 minutes of waiting per line.

What do I have to say about it?

I actually want to share what I think should be done, and what NOT to do on the day. Like say:

Reconsider bringing a book – I don’t think a book will be necessary. There are televisions inside set on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, some News Channel, a looping instruction video on how to perform some of their procedures, so I’d think anyone would be preoccupied watching those. However, if you think you need to pass time faster through books, then please do so.

Bring 2×2 photo! In case you forget, DO NOT opt for those peddling outside the Embassy. DON’T! You can have your picture taken for Php 80 inside the Embassy. A Kodak stall will be waiting to take your picture, and will be open at 6:30AM. Those peddling outside are selling their service for Php 190, and there’s not even a guarantee of actually getting your photo.

Bring your own ballpen! In case you forget your ballpen, you may opt to borrow the ballpen from someone in the line who has one. You may not need to buy from the one peddling outside for Php 15. Fortunately, the one who was selling ballpens was nice enough to give it to me for free since I didn’t have change, but of course it’s best to bring your own.

Bring some money just in case you get hungry. The Embassy sells some snacks and drinks inside. You may also need the money in case you forget your photo or your ballpen.

Bring other assisting documents especially your old U.S. Visa. Remember that anything can happen during your interview. Bring documents that will help support your claims whatever they may be: Certificate of Employment, Invitation Letter, Proof of Income, Credit Card bills, etc. However, in my three attempts, the Consuls never asked for any supporting documents, but it always helps to be prepared. However, don’t bring too much; I think the Consuls are trained to smell fear, uneasiness, and anxiety. Make sure that they’re easy to pull out as well.

Be yourself. You can actually wear anything you like. Well, I didn’t find any sign there that said “No sando and slippers allowed.” but please don’t be the first one to try. I believe that if you have to wear anything to the embassy, you should wear something comfortable, as well as presentable. I noticed some people wearing shirts, and denim blue jeans, and sneakers. I’m thinking, “Hey! If you think you can carry yourself to convince the Consul in casual clothes, why not?” It’s your style.

Get a good rest. It’s best to be calm during your interview. Being nervous is normal, but having more sleep can help you keep your cool.

Leave your electronics at a safe place. DO NOT BRING IT WITH YOU as mentioned in the instructions above. But in case you DO get to bring it with you, I’d suggest trying to talk to a hotel manager in one of the hotels across the street from the embassy to safeguard your electronic device, or maybe call a friend to pick it up for you. BUT DO NOT LEAVE IT TO THOSE PEDDLING OUTSIDE. YOU MIGHT NOT GET IT BACK. I’m saying “might” because I’ve heard of three different outcomes: The first one was the cellphone was returned, but there was some drama involved; the other one lost his phone to someone who never showed his face again; and the last one had to pay more than they agreed just to get it back. So you know..

Be open to whatever the Consul will decide. Remember that when you apply for the Visa, it is actually as good as yours already; That few minutes of interview is for formalities’ sake. If they decide to deny you (simba ko lang), keep in mind that it’s not because they have a personal agenda against you, so be open – expect the worst, hope for the best.

Well that’s about it for now. We’ll see if I remember anything I’ll just add them up here. If you have questions about preparation, do ask at the comments section. 🙂


From → Advice, Thoughts

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