Visiting America


By: Dennis E. Chua, Esq.

The Philippine Department of Tourism has been receiving complaints from the public that some individuals and entities charge a service fee of around P300,000 Philippine Pesos to supposedly assist them in their applications for a US visitorís visa before the US Embassy in Manila. Worse, some of these individuals and entities claim that they have a contact working at the US Embassy in Manila which will almost guarantee the issuance of a US visitorís visa. Despite the representation and assistance by these individuals and entities, most of these hopeful visa applicants get denied of their US visitorís visas. The denial of these applications is even being blamed on the applicants themselves for their failure to properly respond to the questions of the US consular officer.

To avoid being victimized by unscrupulous individuals and entities, here are some information to note in applying for a visitorís visa before the US Embassy.

Individuals who wish to enter the United States as a visitor must apply for a visitorís visa with the appropriate US Embassy or Consular Office. A visitorís visa may be issued to a visitor for pleasure if the primary purpose of the applicant is to tour the country and visit friends and family in the United States. A visitorís visa may also be issued to visitor for business. Some of the permissible activities for a visitor for business include the following: (1) individuals who engage in commercial transactions that do not involve gainful employment in the US; (2) businessmen negotiating contracts in the US; (3) individuals participating in any court or administrative hearings; (4) individuals consulting with business associates; (5) individuals participating in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars.

The visitorís visa applicant must obtain the following basis requirements before he or she can schedule an appointment with the US embassy: (1) Application forms (Form DS 156 and DS 157); (2) Valid passport; (3) Passport style photos.

After these documents have been secured, the applicant may now schedule an appointment by either calling the embassy call center or online. The applicant must also pay the machine-readable fee of $131.

During the visa interview, it is important for the applicant to relax and be truthful with the answers he or she gives to US consular officer. Should the consular officer make a finding that the applicant has lied in his or her application, such finding may affect future applications before the US Embassy.

The applicant must also be ready to show the US consular officer with documents demonstrating the applicantís non-immigrant intent. Meaning the applicant will not overstay and remain in the US beyond his or her authorized stay or go TNT. To show non-immigrant intent, the applicant must present the following:
  1. Ties of the applicant to his home country. Ties could be in the form of: (a) presence of immediate and extended families in the home country and none in the US; (b) career and employment opportunities in the home country; (c) membership in groups; (d) ownership of property; (e) interests or opportunities that may be lost if the applicant does not return to his home country; (f) educational opportunities in the home country.

  2. Absence of ties in the United States.

  3. History of the applicantís family memberís timely return from the US on prior trips.

  4. Adequate financial arrangements for the trip.

  5. Specific travel plans.
After the interview, the applicant will then be informed whether he or she qualifies for the visa.


Atty. Dennis E. Chua is a partner in The Law Firm of Chua Tinsay and Vega (CTV) - a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Manila. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. The CTV attorneys will be holding regular free legal clinics at the Maxís Restaurant in Vallejo, California. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (415) 495-8088; (619) 955-6277; Dchua@ctvattys.com.
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