Friday, July 23, 2010

An Account of My U.S. Embassy Interview in Manila

The original interview date my fiancé set for me was on June 28, 2010. The courier service he chose failed to deliver the package in time so we were forced to reschedule the interview to July 1, 2010.

I arrived at the U.S. Embassy grounds at 5:40 am, a couple of minutes before my 7:00 am interview. I lined up at the K-1/K-3 line. Upon showing the guard my NBI I.D. and email confirmation letter, he let me in to join yet another queue. While waiting, a different guard approached us applicants and asked to see the Embassy letter for confirmation. At the entrance, my things were scanned through the machine as I went through the metal detector. At the Non-Immigrant Visa Section, the guard gave everyone clear instructions to sit down. I spent a few minutes with the two men I met (Cyrus and Charles) and helped them arrange their papers. As soon as they were done, I disregarded the guard's instructions and lined up at the booth beside the entrance with Cyrus and Charles. I submitted the DS forms along with the email confirmation and the blue BDO receipt. I was handed a number and was told to take a seat. I must say, Initiative gets you ahead of the pack.

While waiting for my number to be flashed on the screen, my name was called for biometrics. I proceeded to the area where Charles was since the number assigned to me was 7012 as he had 7013. I heard something behind the window a monotonous voice so I faced Charles and asked, "What was that? A computer?" It was finally my turn and upon advancing in line, I saw that it was an elderly American doing the biometrics. We had quite an interesting conversation. A Filipino employee assisted me with the biometrics while I conversed with the American.

Biometrics man: Good morning! You look nice. Are you Ma. Antoinette Cecilia YadaYadar Blahblah?
Me: Good morning! Thank you! Actually, it's Yadayada and not Yadayadar
Biometrics man: Oh! I'm so sorry! Yes, it's Yadayada. Yadayada Blahblah. So do you know who you're named after?
Me: My parents named me after the Queen of France who was beheaded because of her role in the war in the late 1700s.
Biometrics man: (laughs) She started the French revolution and yes, she was a queen whose reign was cut short. (Talk about a pun, huh? lol)
Me: She may not have gotten the result she desired but I will succeed today.
Biometrics man: Wow! You have a really good attitude. Your papers seem to be in order.
Me: Of course! Plus, I'm a queen in my own right.
Biometrics man: Well, good luck to you! You have great confidence. Thank you!

I headed back to my seat and as my number flashed, I proceeded to window 15 to submit my documents. The prescreener was a friendly Filipina. She asked me for my NSO Birth Certificate, CENOMAR and NBI Clearance. While sorting my documents, she asked me a couple of questions.

Name po?
Nagka anak na ba?
When's your birthday?
Name of fiance
Work of your fiance
What's your job?

I handed in my Proof of Existing Relationship and I-134. I insisted on including Jordan's co-sponsor just in case I'll need it. She told me that the acceptance of co-sponsorship will depend on the consul. I returned to my seat and waited for my turn. After a good 10 minutes, my number flashed on the screen so I proceeded to room 27.

Consul: Good morning! How are you feeling?
Me: Good morning! I'm swell, thanks.
Consul: Oh! Is that a fly?
Me: (glanced at the fly) Yeah, It most definitely is.
Consul: (laughs) It's fine though since it's on your side of glass and not mine.
Me: Ukkk!!!
Consul: So... Your name?
Me: Ma. Antoinette Cecilia Yadayada Blahblah
Consul: When's your birthday?
Me: March 28 ****
What does he do for a living?
Me: *&^%$##
Consul: I see he has a cosponsor?
Me: I included that in the I-134 just in case his income doesn't suffice.
Consul: Okay, so he was unemployed last year? Doing what?
Me: Unfortunately, his contract ended and the recession was of no help. He worked as a game tester.
Consul: What game did he work on?
Me: NBA Live 2008 (I knew that wasn't it but white lies are fine at the event of an emergency. lol.)
Consul: Where was your fiancé born?
Me: Hullabaloo, California
Consul: Okay, very good. So, is this your fiancé? (points at a picture of Jordan and I with my family)
Me: I even added captions! My OCD compelled me to do so.
Consul: Very well done. I see that. (looks at post its) Everything is good though I need you to submit your fiancé's pay stubs before I can issue you a visa.
Me: Yeah, okay. Thank you for your time.

The consul returned my Evidence of Existing Relationship then I left and proceeded to window Y. I was handed a blue slip (221g form) along with an instructional guide and a personal data sheet with a checklist at the bottom. The consul scribbled a note requesting for pay checks under the category of Evidence of Current Sustained Income. My passport was returned to me. He emphasized that I needed to submit pay stubs so I asked him how many and he curtly responded, "Three of his recent pay stubs will do." I was told to return between Monday to Thursday between 1-2 pm. He handed me an Air 21 form to fill out and submit at the Air 21 booth so I did just that. The attendant told me not to pay and to wait for them to contact me.

I finished at 8:43 am and went straight home. I was stoic in the car since I couldn't believe that I had to go through another waiting game. I was aware that the 221g form wasn't an outright rejection but still, I couldn't help but entertain the possibility of a denial. After discussing the situation with Jordan, we immediately acted on resolving the problem. My bubele knows just how to appease my nerves.

Instructional Guide
An original MNL-IV-22 form (refusal letter)
Personal Data Sheet with Documents Checklist (The original form was blue)

Since the U.S. Embassy was closed on July 5, 2010 due to the celebration of the American Independence Day, I went there the following afternoon. I arrived at 12:40 pm and went straight inside without any hassle. I submitted the forms at the booth beside the entrance of the Non-Immigrant Visa Section.

Documents I submitted:

-A photocopy of the MNL-IV-22 form
-Personal Data Sheet with Documents Checklist
-Scanned copies of Jordan's pay checks
-Valid Philippine passport

The papers were returned to me with an affixed number. I waited for roughly 40 minutes until I was called to window 20. I gave the Embassy worker the forms along with my passport.

Embassy worker: What's this? checks?
Me: Yes. He gets paid weekly.
Embassy worker: Please indicate that he gets paid weekly and sign it.
Me: Okay! So, Am I done? Can I have the Embassy's contact number?
Embassy worker: Yes, we'll inform you of your visa status.

I got the piece of paper and left at 1:35 pm. One week after submitting the documents, I called the Embassy at a local number given to me by a friend. My case was still under review after four days. I decided to email the Embassy and shortly after doing so, I received an automated message. I sent the NIV Unit two emails in the span of a week. I called the Embassy on July 16, 2010 and found out that my visa was approved on July 13, 2010. I finally received a reply from the Embassy On July 20, 2010 stating that my visa was issued on July 19, 2010. I began tracking my visa packet online at the Air 21 website and received my visa at 10:14 am on July 21, 2010.

Be persistent in reaching the U.S. Embassy. I never received a notice from the Embassy nor Air 21 so take it upon yourself to contact them. Bear in mind that the assessment of additional evidence will be subjected to greater scrutiny and processing times will differ from case to case.

You can contact the U.S. Embassy Manila Non-Immigrant Visa Section at 301-2000 press 7 then 5184 or 5185 plus the number sign. You can also reach them via email at

NOTE: Responses from the NIV unit are limited due to the large influx of correspondence they receive on a daily basis.


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