I renewed my US non-immigrant visa recently under the interview waiver program.  This is a program for repeat visitors to the United States who need not appear for interview and need not submit supporting documents to renew their non-immigrant visas.

I was able to use my previous 10-year multiple entry visa three times.  Before that, I entered through a single entry visa. Not all applicants can avail of the interview waiver program.  It is only for applicants who qualify with the following criteria:

  1. Applicant has a previous B1/B2 (tourist/business) visa that he/she wishes to renew. 
  2. Applicant’s visa was issued after July 1, 2007.   
  3. Applicant’s prior visa was valid for at least five years. 
  4. Applicant’s prior B1/B2 visa is still valid or expired within the last 12 months
  5. Applicant is a citizen of the Philippines.
  6. Applicant’s  prior visa does not say “Clearance Received” or “Travel with Employer”.
  7. Applicant has his/her passport with the B1/B2 visa in his/her possession.
  8. Applicant’s name, date of birth and gender on his/her last B1/B2 visa does not need to be changed or corrected.
  9. Applicant’s most recent visa was issued on or after his/her 14th birthday.
  10. The last time applicant applied for a B1/B2 visa it was approved. 
To apply, these are the easy steps to renewing the visa:

1. Pay the visa application fee.  Tourist visa is 160 USD.  First you have to fill up the payment form online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph/ph-niv-paymentinfo.asp .  Print the form and pay over the counter at any Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) branch.  The site also gives you the option to pay online.  After printing the payment form, you only have four days to pay otherwise, you have to fill up again.

In BPI, just go over their machines where you get your priority number – and hit the “US Visa” button and select what kind of visa you are paying for.  Be sure to bring your passport because BPI will look for it and indicate your passport number in your payment form.  Tip:  Hold on to your copy of the validated payment form because you will be submitting this with the application.

2. Take your picture.  The photo shops pretty much know the required size and other requirements for the US visa photograph.  Just tell them it’s for your US Visa application.  Tip:  You have to get the soft copy of the photo because you will have to upload it with the application form to be submitted online.  The site does not accept scanned photos so heed my advice and save the soft copy when you take your picture.

3. Fill up the electronic visa application (DS – 160) at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/sg/sg-niv-ds160info.asp .  Before you fill it up, prepare your old and new passports, commencing from the time the prior visa was issued until your present passport.  Organize your last 5 entries and length of stay to the US because you will be asked to enter it.  You also have to prepare the names, addresses and contact numbers of family and friends in the US because it is required.  Your intended date of travel to the US as well as address and contact number of where you will be staying is necessary. 

There is no need to fret if there are mistakes in the application because as long as you have not submitted it yet, you can just hit the review button and make corrections.  If you cannot complete the application in one setting, you can just save it online BUT you have to get the application number so that you can access it later and continue.  Tip:  Copy/take note of the application number the moment it appears.

Upon completion of the form, print the confirmation form and save it.  You need not print the application form, unless you want it for your own file.  You only need to print the confirmation form – it’s the confirmation that the embassy has received the online application.

4. Check if you qualify for interview waiver program.  To do this, you have to register an account at https://cgifederal.secure.force.com/SiteRegister?country=Philippines&language=en_US .  After you shall have answered the questions here, you will receive an Interview Wavier submission letter, together with instructions how to submit your application.  Print the Interview Waiver submission letter.

5. Drop your application at a 2Go outlet.  The last step is going to any 2Go outlet to submit your documents, which are as follows:
  • Payment Slip (Step 1)
  • 2 pcs. Photo (Step 2)
  • Confirmation Form (Step 3)
  • Interview Waiver submission letter (Step 4)
  • Passports
6. Check the status of your application.  The US Embassy does not give a definite processing time of the application.  For my part, it only took the embassy two working days to process the visa and release it.  Add to that the time for the drop off at 2Go, delivery to the embassy and sending it back.  All in all, I got the passports back in exactly 7 calendar days from drop off.  While waiting, you can monitor your application at   https://ceac.state.gov/ceac/ .  Click ‘Check My Visa Application Status’.  Tip:  You will need your application number to do this. I was able to get another 10 year multiple entry visa after going through these easy steps.

Good luck!
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