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Saturday, 9 June 2007

USA Visa Information

Please note that application guidelines are constantly changing and you should refer to the embassy’s website for the most current information. The information is from the US Embassy's website.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides two nonimmigrant visa categories for persons wishing to study in the US. At an educational institution approved by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, the "F" visa is for academic studies, and the "M" visa is for nonacademic or vocational studies.

Students accepted at academic institutions will receive, from the school, Form I-20A-B, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status for Academic and Language Students. Nonacademic or vocational institutions issue Form I-20M-N, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students.

The spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old of the F and M visa holder may be given F-2 and M-2 visas, respectively, if they seek to accompany or "follow to join" the primary visa holder.

Student Visa applicants must provide the following documents:
- An application form (DS-156/157 and 158) completed and signed. One form is needed for each person, this including children. Blank forms are available at the bank where the application fee is paid.
- A valid passport.
- One color photograph 2" x 2" against a white background glued to the application form where specified. Do not staple the photograph to your application.
- A validation stamp on your DS-156 showing payment for the visa application fee.
- Form I-20.
- Financial evidence showing sufficient funds to cover the costs for the first year of intended study and a reasonable source of funds thereafter.
- Evidence of ties to your country and that you will depart the United States when you have completed your studies.

Important Information for Student Visa Applicants
Being accepted by a school in the U.S. and being issued an I-20 will not by itself result in issuance of a student visa.
Students must demonstrate that the primary purpose for their travel to the United States is for study. Under Section 214(b) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, applicants still must prove that they will leave the U.S. upon expiration of their authorized period of stay. A school admission as demonstrated by the I-20 is only one of the factors we must consider.
Student visas cannot be used to circumvent ineligibility for other types of visas.
On occasion student visa applications are submitted for children whose family members have immigrated to the United States. It is often difficult for such applicants to qualify, as it is difficult to prove that the applicant intends to return to the Philippines.
Student Visas will generally not be issued solely for English language study.
As the Philippines education system is conducted in English, individuals pursuing study in the United States should generally be proficient in English at the time of their application to a U.S. school.
Plans of study must indicate a reasonable course of academic progress.
Applicants planning to pursue a community college degree after already having received a four-year undergraduate degree in the Philippines are unlikely to be issued student visas, as in most instances the proposed program of study does not appear to be a plausible "next step." Applicants who already have a BA/BS degree from an institution in the Philippines are encouraged to pursue graduate study or at least a second BA/BS degree, with credit for prior undergraduate study.

J1 visa is for Exchange Visitors
Exchange Visitor Visas (J-1)
Applicants for Exchange Visitor (J) visas require personal interview and must book for an interview appointment. The following documents are required:
- An application form (DS-156, DS-157 and DS-158) completed and signed. One form is needed for each person including children. Form DS-158 is available at the Embassy at no charge from the guards at Gates 3 and 4.
- A valid passport.
- One color photograph 2" x 2" against a white background glued to DS-156 where specified. Do not staple the photograph to your application.
- A validation stamp on your DS-156 showing payment for the visa application fee, except for certain U.S. Government sponsored applicants.
- Form DS-2019 (formerly Form IAP-66) issued by a designated sponsoring institution or organization.
- Financial evidence showing sufficient funds to cover all expenses.

How to Apply for a Visa
All applicants for nonimmigrant visas must follow the following steps:

1. Pay the Application Fee at BPI or Citibank
Each applicant for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, except diplomatic, official and certain U.S. Government sponsored exchange visitors, must pay a non-refundable application fee equal to $100.00 US dollars. This fee can only be paid at designated Citibank and Bank of the Philippine Islands. It must be paid in Philippine pesos at the exchange rate prevailing on the day of payment. Applicants will receive a receipt and their DS-157 will be validated. Fees are valid for application within one year.
Please note: Visa application fees are not refundable. No exceptions will be made to this rule.
2. Complete the Application Form, Check Passport Validity and Obtain Proper Photo
Complete Form DS-156 online by accessing One form is needed for each person, including children. Form DS-157 is available at BPI, Citibank, or may be downloaded by clicking here.
For working (H,L), student (F,M) and exchange visitor (J) visa applicants, a completed DS-158 form is also required.
Present an undamaged passport, valid for at least six months upon date of departure from the Philippines.
Prepare a recent color photograph 2” x 2” (5.1 cm x 5.1 cm) against a white background. This photo must be a full-frontal shot clearly showing your face, with your ears exposed. The image of your face from the chin to the top of your hair must be 1” to no more than 1.25”. Glue the photo to the application form where specified. Do not staple your photo to the application.
3. Make an Appointment
Phone the Non-Immigrant Visa Unit call center to book the next available appointment through the following land lines within the Philippines with direct dial access:
For PLDT, SMART, or PILTEL : 1-909-101-0000
For Bayantel: 1-903-101-0000
For Globe landline, Globe handyphone and Touch Mobile Accounts: 1-900-101-0000
There is a cost of 18 pesos per minute, plus NDD charges for provincial calls
4. What to Bring to an Interview
The supporting documents you should bring to an interview depend on the type of visa for which you are applying.

If You Are Issued a Visa
If at the end of the interview the decision of the consular officer is to issue you a non-immigrant visa, you will be given a colored tag for each visa application that has been approved. Take this tag to the courier service desk in the Pavilion at Gate 3, where you will need to arrange for delivery of your passport and visa. The current delivery fee is 110 pesos per visa for delivery in Metro Manila areas, with an additional handling fee for provincial areas. Total fees for delivery of a visa anywhere in the Philippines should be no more than 220 pesos each.
You should allow five to seven business days for delivery of your visa. If you need it to be issued earlier, please inform the officer at the time of the interview. The officer will determine whether earlier issuance is possible.

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