The Visa Hour Episode 1 (Part 2 of 3)

The Visa Hour Episode 1 (Part 2 of 3)


CONSUL GENERAL: This one’s
from LAJC, I believe. “How do you get a travel
companion visa for my 16-month-old twins for
their first time to fly going to the US?” Sixteen-month-old
jet-setting twins. Wow, that is impressive! I’m trying to picture
them strolling up to the airport counter without
a traveling companion. It would be difficult. So you need someone to
take those twins to the United States or, let me
guess, you’re traveling to the States with your twins
but you want to bring with you somebody who can help manage
them because it’s a burden of course to manage
16-month-old twins on their first visit the States. So let me presume that
that’s the circumstance. This is someone asking how
do I get a visa for a nanny, someone to child mind while
we’re in the United States. Someone to assist me when I
take my 16-year-old twins to Las Vegas for a night at the
Casino or to Knott’s Berry Farm in Los Angeles or some
family friendly environment. That requires a visa B-1/B-2.
Generally, B-1 because that’s kind of for business or
for temporary work in the United States and the person
who would be assisting you with those lovely children would
solicit a visa appointment like anyone else, report
to the Consular Section for an interview and in the
course of the interview, demonstrate that the purpose
of his or her travel would be to attend to the children
of her employer during the short stay in the United
States that’s planned. But, let me throw
in another wrinkle. In the United States, there
are very strict labor laws; most of you are
aware of this. The wages in the United
States reflect the income and standards of living
in the United States which are expensive. So, we require that
employees are paid a minimum wage. Even know the employment
is generally in the Philippines, while in the
United States, the employer and the employee are bound
to abide by U.S. labor law. Curious. So up to the window
comes the nanny, who in this country is paid
a wage that may or may not be generous by
Philippine standards. When that nanny goes
into the United States, U.S. labor law applies,
and in most instances, the standard that she enjoys
in the Philippines is significantly lower in terms
of monthly income or hourly income than it is obliged
to be in the United States. Therefore, she must present
a contract signed by the employer that articulates
what her wage will be while she’s in the United States,
states exactly how many hours per week she will work
and promises to pay her premium pay if she exceeds
those hours weekly and cites a number of other
conditions that correspond to U.S. labor law. All of those conditions are
described on our website. So if you’re in a situation
where you want to bring your nanny to the United States
for a visit so that you can mind those two
lovely children, then go to the website
and follow the links that describe how a helper
qualifies for a U.S. visa and you’ll soon
conclude that it’s an expensive proposition
because in most states U.S. minimum wage approaches
$9 or $10 an hour for a nanny, with premium pay for any
work done on Saturdays, on Sundays, or after a
normal eight-hour shift. It could be that the nanny
ends up earning more than you. So have it in mind. It’s not an easy
obstacle to overcome. We wish that all nannies
could travel to the States, just as we wish all
Filipinos could travel to the States, but sometimes
the resources that are likely to be available for
the nanny are not going to be manifest in
the presentations. So take a look very
carefully at the contract requirements. Next tweet from Alya. “What is the best
example of strong ties to the Philippines?” Well, there are many ways
to demonstrate strong ties to the Philippines. We usually cite them as
professional and personal. The personal ties would
include your family. The professional ties,
of course, your career, your studies, anything
that would compel you vocationally to return. So who has the easiest
time getting a visa? Probably a couple with
reasonable incomes in both directions who are
looking for a vacation that’s not outside
of their means. So they’re making a
reasonable salary between the two of them and they
want to take a trip to New York and they
both have good jobs here. That’s probably
a good instance. More typically, let me give
you an example of a person who might have a harder
time than that couple. Say the person is
as a single man, 24 years old, looking
for fixed employment, working temporarily at a
call center for example, but not completely
satisfied, with a cousin in New York
City who’s been there about seven years,
and is also single, who’s inviting him to come. Well, the cost of the
ticket alone would approach a salary of more than a
month for this traveler. So the interviewing
officer would ask himself, is it reasonable for this
young man to take a vacation that is gonna cost him
maybe ten percent of his annual income just for
the airfare alone, and for most of us that
wouldn’t be reasonable. So the officer would suspect
that the true intention of this young professional
might be to integrate into the underground economy in
New York City and work under the table making more money
than he would have made in the BPO industry and
possibly staying for an indefinite period of time. So the ties there
would be thin, even if he had family ties
to the professional ties for a 24-year-old might be too
stretched for the officer to find a way
to approve it. So, I hope that explains it. I know it is a vague concept
– strong ties to the country – but when you think about
it what we’re talking about really are things that you
would not trivially abandon; things that you remain
committed to and would not leave behind simply for
an opportunity to work in an underground economy. So this one comes
from JP, and it says, “Good afternoon sir, I just
want to ask if there is expiration date on the
visa application fee?” The visa fee, as you
know, is $140 for the application, so if you’re
talking about a visitor’s visa, you pay your $140. I believe, you have to use
that application fee within the fiscal year – within a
12-month period – not the fiscal year exactly
but the calendar year, within a 12-month
period of having solicited the application. But, you know, I might
be wrong on that. And if you need to ask the
question again – if this answer doesn’t satisfy you
– I invite you to send an email with that
particular inquiry to [email protected] For most people, this issue
isn’t a serious one because they apply for the visa at
the time that they pay for it and they are seen
within a week or two. But if you are talking
about nonimmigrant visa, I don’t want to give you
wrongful information. I believe that the receipt
is valid for a year but you can check with us
again by sending in the email. With the immigrant
visa process, again, people generally don’t spend
too much time between the time they pay the fee and the
time they get interviewed. So I don’t think it’s an
issue in that category. Now I remind you, of
course, the visa fee for non-immigrant visa
appointment really pays for the interview. It doesn’t pay so much for
the visa as the experience in the interview because
about 20 years ago the US Congress mandated that the
State Department begin charging fees that reflect
the cost of the service. So what happens is they
calculate the value of an officer’s time, the value of
the time spent processing the visa with the
preliminary information and the intake, the
guards, the space, and they come up with a
figure that must be paid by the applicant since Congress
ordered that this process be self-financing. Hence, we have visa fees. Some of the old-timers
remember back before the 1990s there was no fee at
all attached to a U.S. visa application. You could apply for nothing. Many people have tweeted,
“Is my IV petition still valid?” I’m not certain exactly what
that means but I know many people are waiting for their
petitions to become current. If you have a
communication from the U.S. Immigration Service,
whichever one it might have been, because the names of
these organizations have changed over the years, but
if you have a document from the U.S. Immigration Service
saying that the petition for an immigrant visa benefit
for you, whoever you may be, has been approved, then your
petition remains valid. The petition is valid
until you are summoned for your interview. If you’re in the dark
about whether or not you are still in the
queue, say for example, you heard me say that a spouse
should wait about 14 years before being summoned and
you’ve been waiting 16 years; if you’re in the dark
then you are welcome to send us an email to
the following address: [email protected] – the letter “I”,
the letter “V”,
the word “manila”, the word “replies” –
R-E-P-L-I-E-S – no spaces between those letters
@state S-T-A-T-E.gov – [email protected],
simply saying for example, “Can you confirm for me that
I’m still in the queue? I’ve been waiting 16 years
and I understand that a priority date should have
passed a couple years ago,” and we’ll be
happy to oblige. We’ll happy to
respond to you, and if there’s any problem
we’ll help you straighten it out. We have a tweet from
Michael Carrillo. “Hi. Good day. I just wanted to ask how
long does a working visa get processed?” Of course, there are a
number of categories of visas besides tourist visas. There are what some people
refer to as working visas. Usually those are
you “H” categories. Those are people going up
to the States to fill a specific labor need defined by
the U.S. Department of Labor preceded by a labor petition
in the United States filed by the employer. So this is not something
that anyone listening today could simply decide to
solicit through the Embassy. They would have to be the
beneficiary of a specific petition filed by a
U.S. employer. For example, Microsoft
Corporation files petitions every year for
technologically-savvy people from around the globe to
come and work one year, two years, three
years for Microsoft. That’s one of the more
notable instances of working visas. How long does it take
for us to process? No time at all. Once you have your
appointment, of course, you’d have to have the
petition in place and we’d have to have it
sent to us through the electronic system. Then you would appear
for your interview, the officer would confirm
that in fact you’re eligible for the visa, and you
would receive your visa through the courier service,
like everybody else, within a few days
of the interview. There’s no further
processing of a work visa than there might be
for a regular visa. In fact, all of the work
is done before you get to the interview window. I hope that helps you. So we have a question,
a tweet from Kevin: “Will I be accommodated if
I walked into the embassy to apply for the renewal
of my U.S. passport?” So we have a
citizen question, which gives me an
opportunity to get up on my platform and remind all our
viewers that as carefully as we want to attend
to all the visa issues in the Philippines,
and again, I repeat, we very much want you to
understand the visa process, we hope that you can apply
for a visa and qualify, for one, travel to the
States, spend lots of money, keep our economy’s
revival going, we have to revert to another
principle which is the basis for our embassy’s presence here;
service to American citizens. So an American citizen has
just asked a question about renewal of
his U.S. passport. It gives me the occasion
to remind all our viewers and listeners that
citizen services are our first priority and I hope I
can respond to this person’s question when I tell you
that all passport services, except emergency
passport services, are managed by appointment. So please go to our website,
seek the links regarding passport renewal, and you
will find out exactly how to go about renewing
your U.S. passport. Why is it that we don’t
allow you simply to stroll up to the compound in order
to solicit renewal of your U.S. passport? Because you could well
imagine the chaos that could ensue if scores of people
showed up on the same day and, for example, we were
understaffed due to a rash of illnesses,
or staffing gaps, or any other such thing. The appointment
system suits everyone. You know exactly when
you’re going to be seen. You know your visit will be
attuned to the resources available that day. You can come in comfortably
knowing you’re not going to be waiting for
hours and hours. You’re gonna be seen
within a reasonable time. Your business will be
concluded and you’ll be on your way. So take advantage of
the appointment system. It served us marvelously. You can tell by
looking at me; I have been around for a
long time and I worked in the system before there were
appointments and sometimes it was very challenging. Many of the old-timers
listening today can recall the days before appointments
in the visa lines – in the visa system – and the hordes
of people that amassed on Roxas Boulevard, threatened
the security of the area and the sidewalk and made
everybody even more miserable thinking about the
need to go to the embassy to get a visa. Now we have appointments for
all processes and we think the system works well. So we have a tweet
from Angela Bueno. “I am married
to a U.S. citizen. We want to adopt a
two-year-old kid in the Philippines. What is the process?” Well, you would be, I hope,
pleased to know that the Philippines is an
outstanding manager of international adoptions. The Philippines is one of
the countries in the region that is a signatory to
the Hague Convention on international adoptions. What does that mean? That means that in the
Philippines there will be no sanctioned child trafficking
through illegitimate adoptions through
questionable attorneys, through dubious adoption
agencies because the government has undertaken to
scrutinize every step of the process and it signed an
international convention agreeing to do so and
stipulating terms that all interested parties must
abide by in order to complete an adoption. The United States applauds
this initiative on behalf of the Philippines and looks to
the Philippines as a model for countries in the region
that are contemplating a similar activity because,
as you probably heard in different instances
of celebrity adoptions, there are some agencies,
some attorneys, some venues where children
in fact are not available for adoption because their
parents are still alive but somehow they have fallen
into a queue for adoption and their destiny is
very unpredictable. So you want, I know, to
follow procedures in such a way that your process
is transparent and your child is genuinely adopted and
is genuinely an orphan. So how do you go about
adopting a two-year-old? Your first step is to
contact the Philippine agencies responsible
for this. And that you’ll find on
the internet if you type in the Philippine adoptions
social welfare and they will connect you to the links
that describe the process. It’s not too different from
adoption in United States but because the adoption is
gonna be coordinated across international borders there
are a few steps that you need to attend to
very carefully. We work very closely with
the Philippine Government and we process – we don’t
process an enormous number of visas to the United
States for adopted children, but we do manage several
dozen a year and we’re very pleased when they succeed
because we know that there’s nothing questionable
about the process, and the child is having
his best interests served through the adoption and
no one is being sold or trafficked through an
illicit activity. So do take note of that, and
type into the search engine the words “Philippine
adoptions” and up will come the links that will help you
pursue your family interest. I want to remind everybody
that this video will be posted on YouTube later, so
if you could not tune in live, you’ll still be
able to watch it later. So this will live forever. I hope that – I hope that
I’m making myself clear in these presentations and I’m
not asked to sing or juggle or anything like that
because I would hate for any of that to live forever, but
I hope these questions do help to clarify the process. And we have yet
another question. This one’s from @pinoy. “Do we have to pay for a
second interview or can we refund at least half
of the payment?” Well the bad news is,
actually most people like to hear the good news first. The good news is if
you are refused a visa, you are free to apply again. If you are refused a second
time, you are welcome to apply a third time, etc. You can apply as many
times as you wish. We don’t encourage
that, of course. We encourage people to
consider the likelihood of issuance, the reality
of eligibility, and to respond to the
officer’s instructions and consider waiting before you
apply yet again if you don’t appear to be qualified
the first time, especially the second time. The bad news is every
instance, as I said before, must be self-financing. So if you’re going to come
to the interview window you are going to have to pay for
that access because it cost us when you appear at the
interview window, of course, you’re generating
expenses that the U.S. taxpayer has
insisted you pay for. So in order to engage
the officer’s time, the time of the local
national superstructure, everything connected
to the process; the Teslin foil that
eventually goes into the passport, the
applicant has to pay. It’s been calculated
based on the number of applications worldwide that
that process costs $140 a pop. So every time you come
before the window, unless you’ve been asked
by us to come back, you’re going to have
to pay for the process. So yes, the second
interview costs the same as the first. I wish for your sake
it was different, but for the sake of
my fellow taxpayers, I can appreciate why
the cost is imposed.

One Comments

  • 1000 BRAIN TEASERS

    January 18, 2019

    I have a question: I applied to B1/B2 visa.
    The officer asked me just 3 questions:
    1. The purpose of your visit? I told him that I'm going to visit LA, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Silicon Valley. He said, so it's tourism. I said Yes.
    2. Are going to travel alone? I said, yes. This time alone. next time with my wife, but that can be another country, not USA.
    3. Have you ever been in other countries? I said, Yes. I've been in 2 neighbor countries (these countries do not require visa to enter)

    That's it. He rejected my application.
    What do you think what was the reason(s) of my denial?
    I think the problem is I chose B1/B2. But I should choose only B2. Because my intention was only tourism not Tourism + Business.
    Thank in advance for your answer!

    Reply

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