Filipino Tourist Visa Destination USA

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By Atty. Johnson Lazaro

People around the world are still crazy about America.  She reigns as a prime destination for the world’s tourists.  Despite what you hear about America – the tough economy, the rise in bankruptcy filings, the record foreclosures – this summer still promises to attract a record number of tourists to the United States.

The American landscape presents so many features and attractions for the curious and eager tourist.  Top destinations include San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, Disneyland, Miami, Hawaii etc.  Fifty five million people visited the U.S. last year. They spent an estimated $120 billion while staying here. Shopping was their favorite activity.  Close to ninety percent of the tourist in 2009 went shopping in the U.S.

Filipinos continue to arrive here by the thousands each year.  However, the biggest stumbling block in entering the U.S. remains to be the ever illusive tourist visa.  The paramount question is “how can one obtain a tourist visa?”  By some estimate, it is getting much harder to obtain one.

When it comes to getting a tourist visa, the overriding issue remains to be the intent to return to the Philippines. This issue is also known as the “intent to depart the U.S.” It appears to come down to persuading the consul that you’re coming back.

If you own a house or property in the Philippines, you’re probably coming back.  If you have a large deposit in a Philippine bank you may not want to permanently part with that.  If you have a good job or a family, you’ll probably return.  Bring the evidence.  A mere promise that will return will simply not do.  You’re not Douglas McArthur.

A tourist must have funds.  How can you shop and spend billions if you don’t have funds? Show the consul that there is adequate financial arrangement.  Show your bank account.  Three hundred pesos in a bank account won’t get you a visa.  However that’s good for coffee in Starbucks.  The key here is adequate funding.  How much will you need for a trip lasting several months?  Show lots of money.

Prepare an itinerary.  Be specific about what you intend to do in the U.S.  Who do you plan to visit? Where are you going? Are you attending a professional or business conference, convention, or executive seminar? Are you attending a wedding or a special event?  Be prepared to state how long you’ll be staying.

It’s amazing how many times we hear people declare that they want to work in the U.S. Sometimes they would tell the consul that reason they want to come to America is to have a better life.  While these are noble purposes, you won’t get the ticket.  If you’re applying for a tourist visa then stick to your purpose.

Finally there are some key things to remember.  Children under 14 and seniors over 80 years old need not be interviewed.    Parents or guardians of children under 14 may be required to attend.  All applicants, regardless of age, must complete Form DS-156 (online version only and must be completed online) and Form DS-157.  Officers would always inspect the authenticity of every document.   Applicants are encouraged to bring originals whenever possible.  Be careful about submitting fake documents as the consuls are trained to detect document fraud.  The best preparation is to visit the U.S. Embassy website.  There are tons of information and instructions to help you obtain that illusive tourist visa.

For questions please call 866-237-9555 or Email: law@lazarolaw.com. This article does not form an attorney-client relationship. It should not be relied upon as legal advice.

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