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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.
- “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.
- 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.