My US Tourist Visa Interview: Questions and How It Went

My US Tourist Visa Interview: Questions and How It Went |

I was in Malaysia last August for a bloggers trip when my mom started bugging me on Viber, asking me questions about my job and my monthly salary (something I keep secret from her because I don’t want her to know how much I’m really making hehe). Turns out that she got tired of waiting for me to fill out my US tourist visa application form and decided to do it herself. To be fair, she just put the form on the shelf where I leave my house keys without telling me that they were for me! All along, I thought they were documents for my brother.

I’m pretty lucky that my mom and her travel agent did everything. All I had to do was take a 2×2 photo (which I took in our office stockroom because I kept putting it off and mom was getting mad) and email things to her travel agent who scheduled the interview for us. The US visa application fee is PHP7000+ and I believe the visa assistance fee her agent charged was PHP4000. You can do everything on your own, of course, but this was my mom’s choice.

Our interview was scheduled on October 19 at 11AM (same day as the protest that turned violent at the Embassy) and we arrived there at 9AM. We grabbed breakfast at a Starbucks nearby and headed to the US Embassy 20 minutes before our scheduled interview but because of the protest, the 11AM batch was let in early. I got nervous because it took Camie over 4 hours when she was “late” by a few minutes! Luckily, we were a small batch and we didn’t have to wait long; we were out of the US Embassy by 1130AM.

We came with our supporting documents; I had my certificate of employment, ITR, bank statement and certificate, and an invitation letter from my tita. My mom had the same documents plus her marriage contract. I was very worried because my name is spelled differently on some of my documents (Gabrielle vs Gabriele) but Karlo assured me I just needed to show the consul I had reason to come back to the Philippines. In the end, we only had to give our passports but it still pays to be prepared!

My mom and I were interviewed together. This is how it went:

Consul: How are you related?
Me: She’s my mom.
Consul: So mother and daughter. Benilda, are you married?
Mom: Yes.
Consul: What does your husband do?
Mom: He’s retired.
Consul: What did he use to do?
Mom: He used to resell organic rice.
Consul: How many children do you have?
Mom: Two.
Consul: Where’s the other one?
Mom: My son is in Abu Dhabi.
Consul (to me): You’re the youngest?
Me: Yes.
Consul: Where do you work?
Mom: I’m a real estate sales director at ******
Consul: Do you earn commissions on top of your monthly salary?
Mom: Yes.
Consul: How many employees work at your company?
Mom: Oh, lots.
Consul: Yes, but how many?
Mom: Hundreds!
Consul: So what will you be doing in the United States?
Us: We’re visiting family in ******.
(We explain that my mom’s mom and siblings live there.)
Consul: How long have they been there?
Mom: My sister has lived there for 33 years while my mother, 20 years.
Consul: And your other siblings? When did they move there?
Mom: In 2005.
Consul: Have you traveled outside the Philippines before?
Mom: In Asia, I’ve been to Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Bangkok, and Japan. I’ve also been to Europe.

Consul (to me): What do you do?
Me: I’m a copywriter at an ad agency.
Consul: How long have you been with your company?
Me: Since 2013, so that’s 3 years.
Consul: Are you married?
Me: No.
Consul: Do you have kids?
Me: None. Unless you count my cats.
(My mom and the consul laugh.)
Consul: How long are you planning to stay in the United States?
Me: Three weeks.
Consul: Have you traveled outside the Philippines before?
Me: I went to Bali and Malaysia this year and I’m going back to Hong Kong next month. I’ve also been to Singapore.
Consul: All right, you’ll be getting your US visas next week.
Us: Thank you!

My mom and I walked away with my mom quietly squeeing beside me. I was overjoyed and couldn’t wait to get my phone back and tell Karlo and my friends.

Honestly, I was a little surprised at how short our interview was! I was ready to talk about my job (I create digital ad campaigns for brands such as ****), my hobbies (I blog and post a lot on Twitter and Instagram so you know I won’t TNT in the US! Also, I’m into indoor cycling and rowing), my salary (I make **** BUT!~ I just got a raise this month! So tiny though because there’s a lot of us in this cycle and man, do I wish this one guy would resign), and my aspirations (I wanna see Big Sur and go hiking in California; there’s this outdoors blog I follow and it’s just *sigh* Instagram goals). I even had my tita’s home address memorized, just in case they asked.

While waiting for our turn, I tried to eavesdrop on other people’s interviews but so many things were going on that I couldn’t focus on one. Only two stood out: first, a frustrated consul who started raising her voice at a woman and someone who was denied JUST TWO WEEKS AGO coming back for a second interview. I felt so bad for the first woman, who couldn’t explain her reason for visiting the US. It went something like this:

Consul: Ma’am, I cannot give you a US visa if you can’t tell me what you’ll be doing there.
Woman: *says something we couldn’t hear*
Consul: Ma’am, please help me understand. Nothing makes sense. What are you going to do in the United States?
Woman: *says something we couldn’t hear*

And it went on and on like that. We were at our window for our interview when the consul said “I’m sorry, I cannot give you a United States visa” and I think the woman still tried to reason with her. From the little I could hear, the woman’s husband is a seaman and they plan to meet in Miami, Florida next month. I think she just panicked and wasn’t able to express herself clearly.

As our interview was wrapping up, I overheard this conversation at the next window:

Consul: It says here that you were denied a United States visa two weeks ago. What changed in the last two weeks?
Applicant: *says something we couldn’t hear*
Consul: There isn’t enough reason to give you a United States visa.

All I could think was “Daaaaamn, what a waste of money!” If you’ve been denied a visa, you can re-apply after six months.

Our visas arrived on the 24th. We were granted 10-years!

Notes: no electronics of any kind (not even headphones/earphones) are allowed inside. I also had to throw out my lighter and cigarettes.

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  • Reply Alissa October 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    What a breeze! Congrats on your US visa. My cousins applied months ago but were denied. I think they didn’t research much and weren’t at all ready. One of them even bought their phone lol. Anyway, have fun!

  • Reply Kristine October 27, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Congrats! I’ve been scared for the longest time to apply for a US visa because I’m a nurse and I’m single. What I applied for is a Canadian tourist visa, and I also did it through a travel agent. A lot of people have said it’s a waste of money coz I can do it without a travel agent but srsly it’s not worth the hassle to save a couple of bucks. A big difference I guess is there’s no interview for the Canadian visa. I’m currently in Saipan though, so if you ever go here, lemme know coz I’m a big Helga fan!!!

  • Reply Sarah October 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Whooooa congrats!

  • Reply Bianca October 27, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Woohoo! Congrats Helga and enjoy your vacay in the US :)

  • Reply Kai October 27, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Congrats, Ate Helga! You’ve done great and I think para sayo talaga Yan :) so excited for your US trip and blog about it. Yay!


  • Reply Augustin Ra October 27, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Congrats, Ate Helga! That was easy! I think people fail during interviews maybe because they’re nervous and because of that, they fail to express themselves. I hope when the time comes that I need to apply a tourist visa, it would be easy as pie. Hehe :) I can’t wait to read your future travel posts. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. At least, we know what to do once we’re already in the situation. Take care always! :D

  • Reply Loi October 27, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Wow! That was so quick. I wish when I apply someday it would be just same as yours. Hihi. I’m so excited to see your photos and read your travel posts! Congratulations! :>

  • Reply Corinth Suarez October 28, 2016 at 5:35 am

    Yey!!! Congrats! Now, fly to NYC and bring Camie along so we can all meet up there! :)

  • Reply Justine Condor October 28, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    You and I had a very similar experience! The interview literally lasted for 5 minutes between me, my mom and my sister. I think it took so long coz my mom listed out ALL the countries she’s traveled to when the consul asked her. My sister literally got one question, “Are you in school?” “Yes” “What grade are you in?” “10th grade” (last year) and that’s it! 2 months after we got our visas we flew to cold NYC! The tourist immigration line at JFK took longer than the whole visa interview process, lol.

    Oh we used an agency as well and paid only 2k each for the processing fee. It’s different every agency I think coz one quoted us 5k! What a rip off.

  • Reply Jamie October 28, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Aahhh!! I wish our application goes as smoothly as yours! We’re planning to apply next year because they say it’s easier to get one when you’re applying as a family. My mom has one already and I hope it helps in applying too! (She’s been to too many countries before so I guess that was a plus!) I haven’t gone outside the country so I maybe my first will be the US! Hahaha! So excited!

  • Reply Koji Arsua October 29, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Congratulations on getting your visa! I wish the same would happen to me if I apply.

    Can’t wait to read your posts about the US!

  • Reply Pia October 30, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    I cannot wait for your US Instagram pictures!!! <3

  • Reply Jhanz October 31, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    Woohoo congrats Helga! :)

  • Reply MONIQUE November 1, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    Yayy, that was quick! Congrats Helga and enjoy ! :) http:///

  • Reply Cae November 2, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Ahhhh! Such a breezy interview. But it was kinda obv you’d get it regardless. Have fun in the US!

  • Reply Kate November 3, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    Hi, Ik you can’t really tell but what are my chances of getting approved lol kinda reluctant kasi since I’m about to graduate college on may 2017. I’m only planning to visit my sister and my best friend in NYC and itll be my parents’ grad gift. Haha ty!!! ??

  • Reply Rejoyce Canaynay November 6, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I have the same situation sa 2nd interview you heard. I got denied again after 2 weeks I was denied by them. Hmmm, the reason I tried it again just after 2 weeks or 1 week I think is because of the date my US employer gave me.

  • Reply Christine November 8, 2016 at 2:19 am

    That’s amazing! Congratulations!


  • Reply Jae November 8, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Congratulations on getting your US visa! Where are you guys headed to? Sana may stopover kayo dito sa SoCal! :)

  • Reply AD December 22, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I’m a government employee, what should i provide for primary occupation? should i put government and specify my job position in describe your duties or provide OTHER then specify my job position? thanks :)

  • Reply dlysen December 30, 2016 at 5:41 pm

    Good story, one day soon kukuha din ako visa.

  • Reply The Secret to Getting a US Visa – Regina Writes Again May 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm

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