Preparing for the Interview
Apply in a timely manner!
Section 203(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act requires intending immigrants to pursue their visa applications within one year from the date they are given official notice to apply for an immigrant visa. The packet that comes with the appointment letter serves as the official notice that the application process must be started. If a beneficiary of a petition fails to act on this notice within a year, the visa petition is terminated and the beneficiary’s case file is purged.
To remain informed about the availability of visa numbers, petitioners, beneficiaries and their legal representatives should periodically check information available from the Department of State in its Visa Bulletin and from other sources that address immigration issues. Petitioners, beneficiaries and their legal representatives are responsible for providing current and accurate addresses to NVC and the Embassy to ensure that correspondence regarding visa petitions reaches beneficiaries in time.
Derivative family members may apply for visas at the same time as the principal applicant or may apply at a later date to “follow-to-join” (FTJ) the principal applicant. For FTJ applicants, the Embassy will need to ascertain the status of the principal applicant to determine the eligibility of the derivative family members to join their principal. FTJ applicants of a principal with a K visa must be issued their visas within one year from the date the K visa was issued to the principal applicant parent. K derivatives must therefore apply for visas in a timely manner to ensure visa issuance within the required period.
But don’t book your airline tickets!
Applicants are advised not to finalize their travel arrangements, dispose of their property, or give up their jobs until they have been issued visas. Quitting a job, leaving school, selling property and/or closing bank accounts prior to visa issuance may be risky. In some cases an application may be delayed for months or years.
Applicants should avoid individuals who attempt to provide false documents or who claim to have special connections to the U.S. Embassy. An applicant who engages in any kind of fraud or misrepresentation in connection with a visa application risks being barred permanently from entering the United States. Being untruthful or concealing relevant facts during your visa application may result in your ineligibility for a visa.
Before the interview:
It is possible that an applicant may come on the appointed interview date only to find out that he/she no longer qualifies for the visa he/she is applying for due to changes in the applicant’s or the petitioner’s status. To avoid any inconvenience and delay in visa processing, it is important that applicants and/or petitioners inform the National Visa Center or the Immigrant Visa Branch of any naturalization, relocation, death, marriage or birth. Such information should be relayed in writing or through the Visa Call Center before the visa interview takes place and before any application fees are paid.
Petitioner has naturalized: A visa application is normally quicker if the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen. However, due to the unique visa demand in the Philippines, F1 petitions (unmarried son/daughter of a U.S. citizen) currently take longer to process in the Philippines than F2B petitions (unmarried son/daughter of lawful permanent residents). If a petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen, a pending F2B case is automatically converted to an F1, and the beneficiaries will have to wait longer to apply for an immigrant visa. In such circumstances, applicants can apply to be retained in the F2B category using protection offered by Section 6 of the Child Status Protection Act, even though their petitioner has naturalized. Information on how to apply for retention in the F2B category can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page. The Visa Bulletin provides information about priority dates that are current for visa processing.
Petitioner has moved back to the Philippines: Petitioners must be domiciled or residing in the United States for applicants to qualify for an immigrant visa. Immigrant visa applicants must be able to show that their petitioners have established residence in the United States, or an intent to return. See What is the U.S. Domicile Requirement for Petitioners? for information on this requirement.
Petitioner is deceased: When a petitioner dies, the visa petition filed for a family member is automatically revoked and returned to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services (USCIS) office where it was filed. Beneficiaries may request the reinstatement of the petition for special humanitarian reasons through USCIS. Applicants may contact the USCIS office at U.S. Embassy Manila for more information about reinstatements for special humanitarian reasons of visa petitions. Attempts to conceal a petitioner's death will only jeopardize an application and may render applicants permanently ineligible to enter the United States. Note: If a petitioner has passed away and the USCIS reinstates the petition, a new I-864 Affidavit of Support will be required from a new sponsor.
Petitioner is a step-parent: In visa classes that involve a petition for a step-child (IR2, F1, F2B, F3), the marriage that created the stepparent – stepchild relationship must have taken place before the child turned 18 years old.
Applicant is about to turn 21: Applicants who are turning 21 years of age must notify the Embassy in a timely manner (at least four to six months before turning 21) about their “aging out” situation. An applicant, if petitioned under a visa category that classifies the applicant as a “child”, becomes ineligible for the visa once he/she turns 21 years old. A new petition will have to be filed on his/her behalf. If the Embassy is alerted of an “aging out” situation and if visa numbers are available for the applicant’s use, the visa processing may be expedited to ensure that the applicant is able to depart before turning 21. The Embassy will not be able to assist in aging out situations when cases have priority dates that are not yet current.
Applicant has married: Applicants in visa classes that require beneficiaries to be single (K-1, F-1 and F-2B, and derivative family members) must inform the National Visa Center or the Embassy’s Immigrant Visa Branch if they marry before they apply for immigrant visas. A new marital status changes the visa category. Attempts to conceal a change in marital status will jeopardize any future petitions and visa applications and may render applicants permanently ineligible to enter the United States.
Additional derivatives: During the petitioning process, a principal applicant may have to add names of newborns or adopted children as derivative beneficiaries of a petition. To register the new derivative family member(s), NVC or the Embassy must be advised of the addition(s). The proper documents establishing births or adoptions should be submitted to NVC or the Embassy. The Affidavit of Support should cover the additional derivatives. For information on Philippine adoptions and visa application requirements for adopted children, click here.
Claim to U.S. citizenship: Under United States law, persons born outside the U.S. may have a claim to U.S. citizenship if either parent was born or naturalized in the United States, or either parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the individual’s birth. U.S. immigration law prevents the issuance of visas to applicants who have a claim to U.S. citizenship. Beneficiaries of visa petitions who believe they may have a claim to U.S. citizenship should therefore check with the American Citizen Services (ACS) Branch of the Embassy before applying for a visa. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 also provides guidance on claims to U.S. citizenship.
Preparing your interview materials:
Affidavit of Support
The I-864 Affidavit of Support (and I-864A for household members when required) is used to prove applicants will not become a public charge dependent on government welfare. Sponsors fill out this form. It is a legally binding, complex contract on which it is easy to make errors.
You should talk with your sponsor before your interview and ensure an I-864 was filed. If there is any doubt, consider having your sponsor complete another I-864 (and I-864A for household members whose income is included in the pledge of support) and bring the original signed forms to your interview. I-864s no longer need to be notarized.
Tax return requirements. Sponsors need to present one year of tax returns. Consider bringing your sponsor’s most recent Federal tax returns to your interview. Photo copies are acceptable.
Form I-864W Exemption should be filed by the following categories of Immigrant Visa applicants who are not required to file an I-864:
Applicants who already have 40 quarters of qualified work in the U.S. covered under the Social Security Act;
Applicants who are the child of a U.S. citizen who will qualify for U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States;
Applicants who are self-petitioning widow(er) of a U.S. citizen;
Applicants who are self-petitioning battered spouse or child of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident.
Fiancé(e)s (K-1), spouses (K-3), and returning resident (SB-1) applicants use the I-134 Affidavit of Support form. This form must be executed less than one year prior to the visa application. A copy of the sponsor’s most recent Federal income tax returns and evidence of current employment must accompany the I-134.
NBI Clearance/Police Clearance (also specify if lived abroad in another country for more than a year)
- NBI clearance and police clearance. Applicants aged 16 or older must have a valid Record Clearance for Travel Abroad Purposes from the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and a Police Certificate from every other country where they have lived for one year or more since reaching the age of 16 (six months or more for K visa applicants).
- Police clearances should be in the applicant’s current name, birth certificate name, maiden name and any aliases or nicknames ever used, including different spellings you have used for those names.
- Information on how to secure police certificates from other countries is available on the Department of States’s website at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3272.html.
- Any applicant who has been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime must present an explanatory letter from the NBI listing each record on file and any relevant court records associated with convictions, dismissals or findings of innocence for serious crimes. For immigration purposes, an NBI clearance is considered valid only for one year from the date it is issued. You may contact the NBI at (632) 523-82-31 to 38 if you have any questions.
- Applicants must submit application documents to NVC to be documentarily qualified for the visa interview. Unless all requirements are submitted, the Embassy cannot process a visa application to completion. Be mindful of the expiration dates of the required documents, and bring updated ones to the interview if necessary.
- Medical clearance: All visa applicants, regardless of age, need to complete a medical examination at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC) before the visa interview. SLMCEC is located at 1177 J. Bocobo Street, Ermita, Manila. SLMCEC can be reached by telephone at (632) 521-0020 and (632) 521-8647. Operating hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost of the medical examination is U.S. $213.35 for adults (15 years and older) and U.S. $185.35 for children under 15 years of age. Medical clearances are generally valid for 6 months. Some applicants must have additional tests done and undergo long term medical treatment for tuberculosis (TB) and other diseases detected during the medical examination. Many people miss their visa interview appointment for these reasons. If you missed your visa interview appointment because of additional medical tests, SLMCEC, after determining that you are clear to travel, will instruct you to request a visa appointment by visiting the online appointment website or by calling the Visa Information and Appointment Service.
- Applicants must submit application documents to NVC to be documentarily qualified for the visa interview, except for medical clearance. Unless all requirements are submitted, the Embassy cannot process a visa application to completion. Be mindful of the expiration dates of the required documents, and bring updated ones to the interview if necessary. For a complete list of required documentation, please click here.
How to schedule your visa appointment:
- If you been notified by the Embassy to book a visa appointment, please visit the U.S Embassy in Manila’s Visa Information and Appointment online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph or call (632) 982-5555 or (632) 902-8930. The Visa Information and Appointment Service is available Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Manila time), except on Philippine and U.S. holidays. Applicants, agents, or petitioners in the U.S should call (214) 571-1600, from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time). Callers may speak with an English-, Tagalog-, Ilocano- or Cebuano-speaking operator.
- If you have an interview date but no time is indicated on your appointment letter, you should plan to appear at the Embassy at 7:30 a.m. on the date of your appointment.
- K visa applicants, who have been notified by the Embassy to prepare for their interview, must pay the visa application fee before they can schedule a visa appointment via the online appointment website or the Visa Information and Appointment Service. There are three ways to pay the K visa application fee:
a) Cash payment at any Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI) branch;
b) Online payment bill option provided by BPI to their clients
c) Online payment through Bancnet.
On the day of the visa interview:
- An applicant must have a scheduled appointment to submit a visa application to the Immigrant Visa Branch of U.S. Embassy Manila.
- Come on your appointed interview date. If you fail to show up, you will be scheduled for another interview, which will likely be at least a month later.
- Leave cell phones and other electronic devices at home. Applicants with such devices will be denied entry. Please make arrangements to leave your electronic equipment in a safe location off Embassy grounds during your interview appointment.
- If you are not sure if the entire fee was paid, bring money to cover the additional expense. The Embassy accepts dollars, pesos and major credit cards.
- The Embassy attempts to process applications as quickly as possible, but the visa interview and review of an application usually takes several hours. Because of the number of applicants at Embassy Manila, it is possible that an applicant may spend most of a business day at the Embassy processing an application. In some cases, the applicant may be asked to return for another appointment.
- The Embassy will make every effort to return an applicant’s original documents, but it is advisable not to turn in something that cannot be replaced. Consular officers often ask to see originals of documents. If the applicant wishes to keep an original document, he/she may submit a photocopy, but should have the original for inspection by a consular official.
- Some cases will need investigation or further review that may delay the processing of the visa application by several weeks or months. In such instances, applicants may be asked to return for another Embassy appointment or may be asked for additional documentation.