(SPOT.ph) Applying for a U.S. visa can be a daunting process, often accompanied by various myths that create unnecessary anxiety and confusion on our end. Is it true that female applicants are more likely to be accepted? Do we really need to show our bank statements? By dispelling misconceptions, we can focus on meeting the actual requirements.
Over 325,000 visa applications to the United States are expected to come in this 2023. U.S. Embassy in the Philippines Consul General Mark McGovern stated in a press briefing on June 1 that there is no specific list of supporting documents that guarantees automatic approval of the U.S. visa.
“There is no magic checklist," McGovern said. "Everything is based on the individual circumstances of the applicant."
What not to bring for a US visa application
According to McGovern, bank statements, land titles, and recommendation letters have no bearing in securing a non-immigrant U.S. visa. It could be encouraged, but not required.
Proving one’s financial capabilities is a must in the interview, but McGovern said this is rarely verified though bank statements as it can easily be faked.
“The money that’s in the bank account makes no difference because we know, as well as people know, that somebody could put that money in there one day and then take it out the next,” McGovern said.
The biggest no-no is inserting a recommendation letter as part of the visa application, which McGovern calls a “very cultural thing to do” in the Philippines: “Third-party endorsements mean nothing to the visa application. A letter from the mayor, the governor, or the teacher—we don’t even look at it.”
Ultimately, McGovern said it is up to the applicant to decide which documents will support his or her visa application best: “People can bring documents to support them if they think that’s going to be helpful, but the interviewing officer may or may not look at them.” At the end of the day, being overprepared is better than being underprepared.
Having a family or work to go back to in the Philippines (and proving that!) is usually enough reason to secure a visa application. For McGovern, there are only three rules to abide by: 1) always tell the truth, 2) don’t use agencies, and 3) rely on official information in the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines website.
“They just have to demonstrate that there’s a reason for them to come back, that they’re not giving up everything to move to the U.S.,” McGovern said. He also mentioned it isn’t true that women are more likely to be granted a U.S. visa on the sole basis of sex.
So, if not those, what documents are actually required for a U.S. visa application?
- Valid passport and if applicable, old passport/s with a U.S. visa
- A completed visa application
- Receipt of payment of visa fees
- One 2x2 colored picture
- Evidence of ties to home country (e.g. proof of employment, family ties, property ownership, or other evidence)
- Health and character requirements (e.g. medical certificate or police clearance certificates)
- Other supporting documents (e.g. travel itineraries)
What happens if we forget to bring a requirement?
“We’ll hold the application until they provide it. That’s like a temporary-type refusal,” McGovern said. “If there’s a document really needed, we’ll ask for it, but otherwise…they’re not necessarily needed at the interview.”
In cases like these, the consul officer will ask the applicant to mail in or scan and email the missing documents for checking while the visa application is put on hold.
Take note that non-immigrant visa fees for some categories will increase from U.S. $160 to $185 starting June 17. It will now cost around P10,400 for a non-immigrant visa application.