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U.S. EMBASSY MANILA TOURIST VISA INTERVIEW EXPERIENCE
Personal, Travel, Visa

U.S. Embassy Manila Tourist Visa Interview Experience

Once upon a time, it was my ultimate dream to go to New York City. All those high buildings, fancy streets, and that overall vibe. However, life happened; I matured and realized that there was more to life than NYC and what it is portrayed on the movies. I prioritized my European dream and worked hard to achieve it. Needless to say, my Eurotrip was the highlight of my whole existence. My USA fantasy went into the backburner but of course, I still want to have the option to visit it.

With all the horror stories I’ve heard from friends, families, and even on the Internet, I kept on delaying my plan to schedule an interview. They said that you need show money, land titles, cars, properties, businesses, and whatnots. The fact that I have just graduated a year ago, with less than 2 years in my current employer, single, no kids, and no properties, it was a risk to apply. Imagine PHP 7680 going down the drain in case I got denied? 

Because I’m me, I didn’t care; I just did it!

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You wouldn’t believe how many people told me that it’s super hard to get a US Visa and they also said that I should wait for a few years just to be sure. I don’t know but I’m that kind of person that I jump when it’s the scariest to jump. What’s to lose? I mean, yeah, the PHP 7680 but I can still earn that. I can reapply if ever I get denied so I have to do it.

The plot twist is: I have no ties there. I have my distant relatives but they’re first and second cousins of my mother and I doubt the consul will acknowledge that. All I have with me is my closest college friend and she’s the one I want to visit first. I asked for her permission to use her information in filling out the DS-160 form and she happily agreed. I LOVE YOU, ANNE!

When I saw that they have an available interview on my preferred date, I immediately paid the visa fee via BPI Fund Transfer and waited 4 hours to activate the payment and confirm the interview date. I have less than a week from scheduling it to the actual interview and I didn’t do anything but secured the ff.:

  • Passport
  • DS-160 form
  • Appointment confirmation
  • Payment confirmation
  • Certificate of employment
  • Income tax return

That’s it! Remember what I told in my previous post that I have 150 pages of documents that I presented to the German Embassy? In US Embassy, it’s just that! The last two are not required but I brought it anyway just to be sure.

However, from the U.S. Embassy website, here are the things you should consider bringing:

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You can do the whole application yourself that’s why I am still wondering why there are people who pay for visa assistance. They do not guarantee approval, they’ll just do what you can do which is assisting you on what you should answer in the form – all of which you know yourself. It’s useless and a waste of money. If you can read and you’re not dumb, there’s no use of getting their service.

Now, on to my experience! Click next!

experience
Germany, Personal, Travel, Visa

Schengen Visa at German Embassy Manila Experience

I wrote this post to give you an idea on what to expect on your interview. For the steps on how to get your Schengen visa, check my post here.

My visa interview was March 2, 2016 10:30 AM-11 AM.

Since I work night shift, I went straight from work to the embassy carrying all the requirements with me. I live in Makati City and the embassy is just located in RCBC. It was a mere 30 minutes away but I decided to travel two hours before the appointment just to avoid the traffic. I arrive at the lobby around 9:00 AM the guard told me to come back around 9:50 a.m. They won’t let you loiter inside the building so you have to arrive just 30 mins before the interview time. I went to Moonleaf to buy a milk tea and just surf the net to kill some time.

I swear, my tummy was aching because I was so nervous. 

I didn’t even finish the large milk tea so I asked the staff if she could keep it inside their fridge and I’ll just come back later. LOL! I can’t be wasting any more money because this visa application alone cost me a lot!

I went back inside RCBC and went straight to the guard manning the German embassy desk. I presented my visa appointment form they emailed on my account. They will confiscate your umbrella, laptop, and tablet before you go to the embassy itself. I left my umbrella and proceeded to the 25th floor of the RCBC Building.

When you arrived at the 25th floor, you will be greeted by two guards on your left side. Here, your bags will be checked and you will have to submit your declaration to the lady in the window. She will give a priority number and will ask you to proceed to the right side. There is a lady guard who will confiscate your phone, charger, power banks, etc. and will give you a small key for your locker. I went inside the interview section and surprisingly, there were less than 10 people. The one in front of me was a Chinese couple and they were interviewed for only 10 minutes. Then, it was my turn. Not verbatim but here are the questions asked:

Interview questions:

Jack: Good morning!

Consul: Good morning. Purpose of travel?

J: For vacation.

C: *types, types* For how long?

J: xx days

C: Nakapunta ka na ba ng ibang bansa? (Have you ever been abroad?)

J: I’ve been meaning to travel before but I had just received my corrected birth certificate and…

C: *she cuts me* —-So, hindi pa? (—-So, you haven’t?)

J: *smiles* Yes, I haven’t.

C: Ano ginagawa mo sa trabaho mo?  (What are you doing in your job?)

J: Almost everything digital. I do email automation, email campaigns, Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter audience targeting, SEO, copywriting, and sometimes I do web and graphic designs.

C: Magkano sahod mo? (How much is your salary)

J: xxxxxx pesos

C: Per month?

J: Yes

C: Gross na ba ‘to or net? (Is this gross or net?)

J: Net

C: So, you had an error in your gender? *encircles the gender on my birth certificate*

J: Yup, but it’s now fixed.

C: What did you finish in school and what school?

J: Communication at Adamson University

C: What year?

J: Until 4th year (HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHA OMG I’M SO DUMB!) 

C: No, I mean what year did you graduate?

J: Oh, 2015. Last year. Sorry!

C: *types, types* How old are you?

J: 21 po.

C: Any kids?

J: None.

C: Okay, here’s your tracking number. We will just deliver your passport next week.

J: Thank you.

As you can see, it was a very chill interview. The consul might seem to be super intimidating but that’s their job – to intimidate you! When you’re planning to be an illegal immigrant, they can get into your head and you will be nervous but why should you be nervous when you don’t plan on doing something illegal? I was so chill the entire time and I was smiling. By the way, they will not get all of your documents. They didn’t even ask about my aunt and family friend who will accommodate me to make their home as my home base! Just pass the documents if they asked for it but if not, don’t insist. To check what they got and what they didn’t, check my post here.

After that, I went back to the milk tea place and went straight home. I’m glad it was over and I’m feeling very positive.

Tips:

  • Arrive early but not too early. 30 minutes will do.
  • Don’t bring too much electronics
  • Make sure that you have your visa appointment and visa declaration printed
  • PHOTOCOPY EVERYTHING – I MEAN EVERYTHING! I made a mistake of not doing so. Now, I no longer have my original certificate of employment, ITR, etc.
  • Wear an appropriate clothing but don’t overdo it because it might look like you’re too desperate. I wore something like this but in olive green.
  • Arrange your documents to how it’s written on the embassy website
  • Don’t be nervous! Unless you’re planning to do something illegal, there’s no need to be nervous!
  • Be honest! The embassy knows more about yourself than you do yourself lol so there’s no need to lie!
  • Thank the consul after your interview
  • Do not call the embassy to ask for your visa status! Just wait patiently! Call 2Go and they might have a word on your visa status but refrain from bothering the embassy.

I received my visa after 3 business days. Kudos German Embassy Manila for my good visa experience. They granted me multiple-entry and added a few days to what I requested.

I can’t wait to save up more money after this trip and apply again! 🙂

schengen
Blog, Germany, Personal, Travel, Visa

How to Get A Schengen Visa to Travel Europe

I’m using a speech to text program because I know that this post will be super long. I wanted to be as detailed as possible because like you, I had no idea before how to get a Schengen visa if you’re from Philippines. All I know is that it was super hard especially for a citizen from a developing country like me. Let me tell you now, it’s hard but it’s not impossible. I really hope that by end of this post, you will learn a lot on how to get your own visa.

Just a background about my profile: I’m a 21-year-old Content Writer and Marketer – Digital Marketing for Bolton International since July 2015. I graduated a year ago and I landed my first job as a Search Engine Optimization Writer for Lazada Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore where I worked from March-July, 2015. I have no kids/dependent and I’m not married.

Ask me six months ago and I would tell you how it’s my dream to go see the world and travel. Ask me six months ago and I’ll also tell you how I think it’d be impossible for me to do so because I know it’s hard. Sure, I know that I will eventually get my dreams of traveling around the world but I would have never guessed that I will be able to accomplish it at the age of 21 years old and without the help of anyone financially.

This might not be a big deal to some but let me tell you, I didn’t come from a well-to-do family and to top that, there was an error in my birth certificate. It took me 3 years to finally correct my gender from male to female (but I’m a legit female, okay lol) and those 3 years, you have no idea how many buckets I cried. I can’t get my passport and travel because of that stupid error which I have no idea why it took so long. I missed the opportunities in New York City last year, Dubai, and New Zealand this year because of this gender error.

Long story short, God knows the right timing and weeks after I had my birth certificate error corrected and after I hit my financial goal, I received my multiple-entry Schengen visa.

Schengen Visa Germany Mania Philippines

Everybody wants to go to Europe. Germany, France, Netherlands, Greece, and Spain are just some of the countries you’ll find in there. Everything in Europe speaks of class, culture, and art! However, not just because you have a money and can afford the plane ticket doesn’t mean you can visit those places. You will need a visa to do so and today, I will teach you how you can obtain one.

What is a Schengen Visa?

This is basically a pass or a permission that allows you to travel to the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Unlike first world countries, citizens from our country need to apply for this visa in order to travel Europe. They say that it’s harder to get a Schengen visa than a US visa because a single visa will allow you to travel to 24 freaking countries in a maximum span of 90 days / 3 months. By the way, this visa is only allowed for tourism. There’s a different type for work/marriage/study.

I only know how to get one for tourism.

When can I apply?

You can start planning for your trip, completing the requirements, and booking your interview 3 months before your trip. I planned for my trip the first week of November 2015, asked for my employer’s approval for my leave around the first week of January 2016, booked my visa interview by the 30th of January, and completed the requirements by the 26th of February.

For the full timeline on my visa progress, refer to this post.

Is it hard to get one?

Obtaining 150 pages of document is hard but the effort was so worth it.

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Do I need to be super rich to be granted a Schengen visa?

Nope. Don’t believe the Internet and the naysayers telling you that your chances are low because you’re not rich. I am not rich! I live near a highway and vulcanizing shop, my parents are teacher and driver, I studied at a public school, I don’t have a car, nor do I have a rich boyfriend to finance me. So, no! As long as you can prove that you won’t stay there illegally, then you’re safe. Just be sure to have a job and a decent savings on your account. My sister applied for a visa last 2013 and unfortunately, she was denied. We think it’s because she didn’t have a job back then when she applied. To secure your chance, look for a job, save some money, and then apply for your visa. Don’t rush because Europe will wait for you. Do it slowly but surely.

Do I need to have a boyfriend/friend/relative in Europe to be granted a Schengen visa?

Nope. If you can do it yourself, it’s nice to do it yourself. I do have a relative in Europe but the embassy didn’t even ask me to submit a document showing that I do have one. It still depends, though. If you think you lack the money needed for your Europe tour, you can declare that you have a boyfriend/friend/relative in Europe who will support you. As for my case, I am really blessed to have an aunt in Europe who is so supportive and willing to make their home my home base while I travel (I love her so much!) but even if family is family, I still don’t want to cause inconvenience  to anyone  and ask for money just for my dream.

I’m glad to say that I financed this whole trip 100% using my own money from hard work but I won’t judge you if you need help from someone. Whatever floats your boat just as long as you’re not hurting anyone and you’re happy.

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How much money do I need to show the embassy?

It depends upon the embassy. France is an expensive country to live in and they require 56.20 euro per day. The German embassy requires that you’ll have 45 euros or PHP 2,385 per day exclusive of your flight ticket. So for example, I’m planning to stay for 30 days, I need to have PHP 2,385 x 30 = PHP 71,550 + the flight ticket of let’s say, PHP 52,000 = PHP 123,550. Of course, you need to have more than that because the embassy might think you’ll have nothing left when you return from your trip. In my opinion, you need to have at least PHP 200,000 for a 30-day stay in Europe as PHP 123,550 excludes accommodation and activities.

Can you tell me the step-by-step process on how to get my Schengen visa?

Of course!

  1. Plan your trip.

Where in Europe would you want to go first and for how long? This is important because you have to apply in the embassy of the country you’ll stay at the longest.

What if I want to go to Germany for 10 days and then Netherlands for 10 days?

 If you’ll stay at different countries at an equal time, you should apply at the country you’ll go to first. In this scenario, apply in German embassy.

  1. Google, Google, and Google

…or Yahoo. Whatever floats your boat but research and read travel blogs to answer your questions. My favorite Schengen visa blog post is by Dream Euro Trip. DJ Yabis is an amazing person and he is very helpful answering people’s questions through the comment section. His post on how to get the visa is actually my homepage for 3 months. It’s so detailed and you will learn a lot from the firsthand experience of the commenters.

  1. Read the embassy’s requirements

Different countries included in the Schengen zone have a lot of similarities with their requirements but there are still some that differs. I applied in the German embassy and I’m glad that the website is very detailed and it answers a lot of questions.