MANILA – For some, a scheduled visa application interview at the US Embassy in Manila could be nerve-wracking experience.
But is there really a reason to worry?
"One of the very basic tips that we give is: relax, be open and be honest. That's the key. Kasi ang tinatanong naman sa interview is something that you already know. It's about you, your plans, about yourself. Madali siyang sagutin," said Judith Octavio, a consular specialist of the US Embassy.
Vice Consul Luke Meinzen explained that when they are interviewing an applicant, they focus on whether they are qualified for the visa class or visa category that they are applying for.
"When I talk to an applicant, what I want to verify is what's on the online application form and is this all true? Have you represented yourself accurately so far and do you plan to go to the United States for the purpose that you said," Meinzen said.
The questions, he said, are just very basic and they have actually approved the application of many people who come to them for tourist visas.
"It's not a matter of me acting like a human lie detector. For the most part, it's a collaborative process between me and the person I'm talking to, to verify they are going for the purposes they stated and then we can all finish up very quickly," Meinzen said.
In terms of requirements, Octavio said they only ask for the very basic things:
First is to pay the required fee depending on the visa type one would be applying for; accomplish an online form; book an appointment online or through the embassy's call center, and then attend the interview.
"With regards to documents, hindi kami masyadong nanghihingi. What we require is your passport, application form and your photo. Iba-iba kasi. May set of documents depende sa visa na inaapplayan," Octavio said.
The steps in applying for a visa can be found on the US embassy's website at http://manila.usembassy.gov.
"Kapag mayroon emergency, meron kaming mechanism on expedited appointment. Nire-review pa rin, may paraan kami to gather information kung legitimate yung travel," said Octavio.
For those who are really not too comfortable conversing in English, they can request for an interpreter to help them better express themselves during their interview.
"Once you get to the embassy, pagnire-review na yung documents nila, pwede nilang sabihin I'm uncomfortable sa dire-diretsong English or minsan kasi English or a different dialect Cebuano, Ilonggo, Ilocano--we also have that. Sabihin lang nila so when they get to the consular officer the interpreter will be there para tulungan sila," Octavio said.
If, for some reasons, you are unable to attend your scheduled appointment, you have the option to reschedule.
Octavio also issued a reminder to visa applicants to not fall prey to unscrupulous individuals offering an easy way to obtain a US visa.
"We have a very active campaign. We call it "Walang Sikreto", walang sikreto talaga sa pagkuha ng visa because everything is in the website," said Octavio.
The US Embassy, together with its partners in the Philippines, will conduct a seminar on human trafficking.
"One thing were looking at doing across all our partners in the Philippines is making sure that we increase knowledge about trafficking in persons, how to make sure that you verify you have a good agency, that the agency is going to do the right process," Meinzen said.
He added that trafficking in person is a form of modern day slavery.
"This is something that we want to educate more people about," he said.