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Tagalog-speaking US Embassy exec debunks some visa application myths


Debunking some myths about United States visa application in the Philippines, a foreign service officer fo the US Embassy in Manila said there are more applicants — about 75 to 80 percent — who are granted US visas than those who are denied. In an interview with Mariz Umali for GMA Network's “Kape at Balita” program on Tuesday, Dustin Bradshaw, a Tagalog-speaking American, said about 1,500 visa applicants are approved daily.
 
Bradshaw also emphasized the importance of saying the truth during visa interviews. “Heto ang pinaka importante — just sasabihin mo yung totoo,” he said.
 
Telling lies won’t do an applicant any good because consul officials have access to applicants’ current and previous applications, along with government records from both the US and the Philippines. In an earlier interview with GMA News Online, Consul General Michael 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.
Bradshaw said the applicant must explain clearly and truthfully his purpose of going to the US. “Gusto ng officers malaman yung kwento mo, yung kalagayan mo, and kung qualified [ka] tumanggap ng visa,” he said.
 
He explained that an applicant must also show that he has a strong reason to return to the Philippines:
(1) Family ties
(2) Secure job
(3) Other binding responsibilities
“Dapat ipakita na may reason para bumalik,” Bradshaw said, adding that they discourage people from becoming illegal citizens in the US.
 
He explained that consul officials also have to prevent people deemed "harmful" from entering US borders.  
Visa interview
Meanwhile, Bradshaw also discouraged applicants from paying for costly visa seminars as a way of preparing for visa interviews.  He thinks these seminars, offered by private agencies, are useless because in reality, only the applicant would know the answers to the questions asked by the consul.
 
“Sa akin hindi kailangan,” Bradshaw said, adding, “Ikaw lang nakaka-alam ng sagot.”
US visa application questions include answers that only the visa applicant knows such as who your spouse is, how many children you have and things about your work and salary.
 
“Gusto malaman ng officers yung totoo lang, walang sikreto para sa US Visa,” Bradshaw said.
 
Instead of attending visa seminars, he urged applicants to visit the US Embassy's official website as it contains all the information they need in their application.
Other myths  
Bradshaw also busted the myth that applicants need to bring documents like their bank account records and land titles.
 
“Hindi kailangan ng documents pero kung gusto mo [dalhin mo], supporting yung kwento sa salary,” he said.
 
He added that the US Embassy does not discriminate against the elderly or young professionals like nurses who are considered to have "hot jobs." Bradshaw also debunked the myth that there is a quota for applicants per day, saying there is none.
 
About how it was easier for those who have traveled to other countries to get a US visa, he agreed, saying, “Siyempre. That’s part of it, kung may travel history kayo.” 
On the supposed dress codes for applicants, Bradshaw said there is none but he encouraged people to come to the US Embassy wearing decent civil attire and in time for their appointment.
 
Visa reissuance program
 
Meanwhile, Bradshaw reminded the public about the embassy's Visa Resissuance Program that allows US visa holders to renew their visas with ease.
 
He explained that visa holders who have expiring or expired visas, may renew their visas  within a year of the expiry date.  
All they need to do is to is to have their fingerprints taken and surrender their current passport to the US Embassy. They will then be issued a new visa without the need to undergo an interview.
 
For those who have been declined US visas, Bradshaw encouraged them to try again.
 
“Ipakita mo yung change,” he said, referring to possible changes in the applicants' personal situations that may convince the consul to grant them visas. - VVP, GMA News
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