I woke up really early yesterday at 4:15AM to get ready. My appointment with the US Embassy is at 7:30AM. I don’t want to be late and I do expect that the lines were long. I asked my father a week before if he could accompany me so he drove me to Manila that day. We ate breakfast along the way and reached US Embassy at 6:45AM. Yes, the lines were long. I wonder how many people they schedule for 7:30AM appointment. Hmm…
So upon arriving at the embassy, there are a lot of queues.
- Queues for pre-line at the gate. (Yes, there’s a pre-line. Haha. Parang dito nila iniipon yung mga padating, and they have them enter by batches.)
- Queues for the line at the gate for checking your DS-160 and Passport. DS-160 is the form you fillup online. And this is where they check if you really have an appointment that day.
- Queue on where you get your number to be called inside the US Embassy for verification. This is where they check your BPI receipt for payment confirmation, and to check if you previously requested for a Visa.
- Queue for electronic finger prints. This is the fun part. Haha.
- And finally, a queue for the interview.
The process didn’t take quite long. I started Queue #1 at 7AM and finished everything by 9AM. Here’s what happened.
When my father and I parked in front of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Roxas Boulevard, I thought the embassy was a few distance away. So I planned wearing 3-inch heels the whole time. And then he said, “Asan na nga ba yung overpass?” And I thought, “What? There’s an overpass? Sana pala di na ako nag-heels.” Buti nalang the overpass wasn’t that complicated to cross hindi katulad nung matataas ung baitang ng hagdan. There were a few stares and comments about my heels from the vendors. Sila daw yung nahihirapan. Ang funny!
If you were not being told about US Embassy stories, you’d be overwhelmed with the amount of people who’d ask you to buy their ballpens, surrender your gadgets to them for a fee, and the list of things that aren’t allowed inside. My father has briefed me before hand so I left my phone with him.
This is the first time that I’m attempting to apply for a US Visa so I always always ask questions with the people around me. Questions like, “Is this the right line?” “Do I wait until they call my number?” “What window should I go to?”, etc.
So I’ve finished Queue #1 and #2. In Queue #3, I was in the waiting area for maybe about 30 minutes. When my number was called, we were guided to various windows inside to have our Passport, DS-160 and BPI receipt checked. I opened my pink envelope to have them ready and realized that my BPI receipt was missing! I plan to go to PNB for my loan application after this so I had two envelopes with me that day. I misplaced my BPI receipt with my PNB envelope. Waah!
At that time, I thought to myself that maybe they won’t let me have an interview and they’d tell me to set another appointment. But then I still do have my appointment letter that stated that I already paid, so maybe that’ll do. But I still wasn’t sure. I carefully listened to what the person in the window would ask for the two persons behind me. Before he confirmed that they can proceed for the interview, he always ALWAYS ask for the BPI receipt. I’m doomed.
And so it was my turn, I didn’t present my non-existing BPI receipt until he asked me to. Maybe he’ll forget it, right? But then, I can’t escape that part because he still asked for it. I just reasoned out that the travel agency didn’t give me the receipt, just the appointment letter which states that I’m already paid. And the words “Please, please, please, please…” just kept repeating in my head. He asked me to wait and he left his seat for a few minutes. At that moment, sobrang kinakabahan ako. Parang bahala na if I’d be declined for an interview today, pero sayang nga lang yung punta ko.
And then I heard, “Okay, you may proceed with your interview, just wait for your number to be called.”
YAAAAAAAAAAAY!! That was so close!
I’ve finished Queue #4 and is currently waiting for my interview. This was funny because I thought the US Embassy interview was a closed-door interview like a job interview. Little did I know that I could hear what the consuls where asking from the waiting area. I was so near Window #10 and even witnessed a woman being declined for her Visa, it was heartbreaking, really. I kind of wished I won’t be interviewed in Window #10 because if I’d get denied, a few people in the waiting area could hear it.
And alas, I was called. Window #10. Hah.
I was nervous but I kept my cool. I prepared my company invitation just in case she asks for it and then waited for her questions. Here are the questions she asked me:
- What is the purpose of your travel?
- What is the company in the US?
- Who do you work for in the Philippines?
- How long have you been working there?
- How much is your monthly salary? (Which I answered in dollars.)
- What did you study in college?
She didn’t ask for any of my supporting documents. And then she said, “One week.” I asked, “One week?” I thought she’s approving me for a stay in the US for just a week.
"Approved. You’ll get it in one week." Yay!! But I still don’t know how long the VISA would be valid for. I’d have to see it when I get my passport.
I smiled and thanked her. I was all smiles pero pinipigilan ko because I’d look like an idiot. Hahaha. I left the US Embassy and looked for my father. When he saw me, he put up a thumbs-up sign, asking if I did get it. And I replied with another thumbs-up sign for confirmation.
I’m excited, but at the same time, overwhelmed with the things I needed to do before I leave. Ticketing, accommodation, cash advance allowance request, etc. I really hope I could accomplish everything within the week. If there’d be no hassle, I’d depart by Nov 2nd, and be back by Nov 29th. I also plan to visit my Aunt in California after my business trip.
OMG, New York, New York!!