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US visa application ‘easy’; issuance rate ‘high’ in PH – embassy

/ 12:55 AM August 16, 2019
US Embassy in Manila

The US Embassy in Manila. (File photo from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — Consular officials at the US Embassy in Manila dismissed the perception that securing a visa is difficult, noting that the process is “easy and transparent” as seen in the “high” approval rate in the Philippines.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the embassy’s deputy consul general Kimberly Kelly said the number of visas denied in the Philippines is “much lower” than that of the issuance rate.

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“It’s actually not difficult to apply for a US visa. We saw more than 250,000 applicants last year applying for US visas and our approval rate is quite high. Filipino applicants are actually very good visa applicants,” Kelly pointed out.

Figures from the embassy showed that in 2018, its consular section has issued 204,137 non-immigrant visas, 32,123 immigrant visas, 5,919 fiancé visas, and 929 student visas.

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In relaunching m its #WalangSikreto campaign, Kelly noted that the US Embassy in Manila houses one of the largest consular sections in the world.

“There’s no secret in getting a US visa; we welcome qualified legitimate travelers in the United States,” she said.

“The goal of the #WalangSikreto information campaign is to warn people about scams and risks of using visa fixers to [and] to encourage people to be honest when applying for consular services and let everyone know where to find accurate information,” she added.

Alongside Kelly during the press conference was the embassy’s fraud prevention manager, Leon Genbin, who said that it is “important for the Filipino public to be aware…and to make educated decisions to when they decide to apply.”

According to Kelly, applicants of tourist visas are only required to pay an application fee.

“You don’t have to pay a visa fixer or someone else to fill out your paperwork. It’s an online form. That form is universal for the whole world,” she noted.

She further said that the embassy does not “require any applicant coaching.”

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“You come in and you see someone like one of us who does the interview. And we look at an applicant’s application. We interview them based on their application and their purpose of travel and we make the determination if they qualify for that US visa under law,” she explained.

In addition, Genbin said that while applicants are free to do so, there is no particular need to apply for a visa through a travel agency.

He said the problem arises when an agency or a visa fixer would provide fake bank statements or a fake employment history “claiming that that would improve applicants chances of getting a visa.”

“These claims are also patently false…Most of the non-immigrant visa cases, these documents are certainly not required. So it’s a waste of money for the applicants to do that,” he said.

“We certainly don’t recommend anyone to use services of visa fixers to provide these additional services,” he added.

‘No secrets’

Kelly assured applicants that there are “no secrets” in terms of applying for a US visa and “no special documents” needed to guarantee an issuance.

She reminded tourist visa applicants that they would just need to convince the consular officer that “they intend to abide by the terms of the visa” and “have strong social family and economic ties to their country of residence that will compel them to come back to their country of residence after a short trip to the United States.”

“That’s it, there’s no secret in terms of applying. There’s no special documents. Officers can choose and ask for supporting evidence if the feel the need to,” she said.

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TAGS: application, false documents, fixers, Fraud, local news, nation, News, Philippine news update, United States, US embassy, visa
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