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Pinoy Abroad

Some common reasons why people can't get US visas

March 4, 2012 11:30pm
GMA News Online is doing a series of stories about obtaining visas to the United States, the top destination of overseas Filipinos. According to data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), there were about 2.9 million Filipinos in the US as of 2009.

Some years ago, fresh out of college, 21-year-old illustrator Ollie tried to obtain a United States visa to attend a conference of comics illustrators in New York but was denied.

In an interview with GMA News Online on Thursday, US Consul General Michael Schimmel tried to explain the common reasons why the embassy denies giving visas to certain people.

The Philippines, he said, has about 200,000 US visa applicants every year and about 75 percent of them -- or three out of four applicants --  are given visas.

Why can't the 25 percent get a visa? Usually, these people cannot prove that they only want to visit the US and not stay there as illegal immigrants.

Schimmel said an applicant can easily acquire a visa if he or she has:
  • a good job
  • strong family ties
  • a "reason to return in timely fashion"
  • no reason to remain indefinitely in the US
  • and enough resources to support the trip.
 
Young travelers, he said, must “think of other ways to show that travel to the States would not be such a strange concept” by demonstrating:
  • “parallel support” from the family (i.e. a young applicant may still have limited financial resources but his or her well-to-do family can support the trip);
  • that his or her family members have US visas, and
  • he or she has travelled abroad before.
 
“Things like that start to suggest that, ‘Hey, I can travel to the States without falling victim to these temptations that you’re describing. I’m not interested and my family has done it, so I’m gonna do it as well,’” Schimmel said.
 
“Young people in particular have a hard time with that because if you haven’t been in your job for very long, it might be very easy for you to walk away,” he explained.
 
“It may be difficult for that person to convince us that he will come back to conclude his studies when in fact he might find himself in New York, tempted by a job opportunity that presents itself suddenly,” he said, noting that “young people are excited about new opportunities.”
 
“The opportunities that might present themselves are hard to resist, so they have to show that their situation here is strong enough,” he added.

Wait it out
 
For those who are denied visas, Schimmel suggested "waiting it out" before applying again.

“When they think they can present information that the officer perhaps didn’t consider the first time, or reflect the change in their circumstances” they can apply for a visa again, he said.

There is no limit to the number of times a person can apply for a visa. There is also no specified period of time before a person can apply again, he said.

In fact, he said, a person who is denied a visa today can apply again “the very next day.”
 
However, he said “that’s usually not advisable” because the application will cost another fee and the process "takes some time.”
 
“Usually it’s a better idea to wait a little bit until you can show the officer that in fact your circumstances have strengthened,” he said.

“We wouldn’t want to encourage someone who doesn’t qualify to pay more than once… it’s unlikely that you will qualify unless something changes. Maybe next year you can say, ‘Hey, I now have six years on the job instead of five, and I have had a raise since then and I have a responsibility now,’” he said.
 
The Consul General assured, though, that should someone re-apply, “your application will be given every possible consideration… [and] you will be seen by a different officer.”
 
Ineligible for a US visa forever
 
Schimmel warned that those who are caught lying may be rendered ineligible to apply for a US visa forever.
 
The applicants who end up in this category include:
  • impostors, or those who commit fraud in their applications;
  • those with criminal history;
  • those with medical conditions that might pose a health threat in the US; and
  • those who have a record of narcotic dependency.
 
He said: “It has to be something significant as what I described. If somebody, for example, has exaggerated their income, that’s a flaw, a mistake – we’re not likely to consider that a permanent ineligibility. But a combination of that and several other misrepresentations might lead to [that].”
 
Tell the truth
 
Schimmel’s advice to applicants is: “Tell the truth, because, as they say, it’ll set you free.”
 
“Tell us the truth – that’s the number one recommendation. The number two recommendation, of course, make certain that the presentation you offer represents a reasonably stable situation. Make sure that you’re stable enough that the officer will not have any doubt in your coming back to the Philippines.” - GMA News

Previous articles in the series:

Have a question about US visas? Tweet the Consul General

US Consul General: A kodigo could ruin chances of getting a visa



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