I was extremely surprised to read that seven of 10 Filipinos applying for a US visa obtain approval. I had the impression that most candidates inevitably meet with rejection. However, according to an April 29, 2011 online report on Inquirer Global Nation, the United States Embassy reported those figures this past Wednesday, refuting the common perception that most candidates inevitably meet with rejection.
The Philippines has a 70-percent visa approval rate according to Consul General Michael Schimmel. This falls under the “medium” category of countries given visas to the US. Schimmel also stated that getting a US visa isn’t difficult. That is, if the applicant can sufficiently prove that he or she will return to the Philippines by establishing their professional and economic background. Again, surprising news to this American expat, because the experience my asawa had getting her Spousal Visa in 2000 and her subsequent visits to the United States Embassy in Manila for her visa interview was not very pleasant.
After a wait of nine months and fulfilling all requirements that could be found at immigration and embassy websites, my wife was told she had to go back to her home province in Guimaras to get an official baptismal certificate from her home parish when she was called to the Embassy for her visa interview. Never mind she had all of her NBI and security clearances from other countries in which she had worked overseas. Never mind she had her official NSO (National Statistic Office) birth certificate and NSO certified Marriage Contract, the Filipina Embassy official that interviewed her demanded this further documentation and would not approve my wife's exit visa to the United States until she returned to the Embassy with it. After a flight from Manila back to Guimaras, my spouse was able to obtain the baptismal certificate from the local priest and return to Manila where her visa was approved two weeks later.
Mr. Schimmel made the remarks following the opening of the embassy’s new $50-million annex. The new building houses consular services and other offices. It has 99 windows (I'm thinking, why not just spend a couple of extra pesos and make it an even 100 windows?) for passport, visa and other consular service applications as well as comfortable and more spacious indoor and outdoor waiting areas. The new indoor waiting area alone can seat more than 550 applicants at any one time. According to the Inquirer report, next to Mexico, the new office is the second biggest US consular building in the world. The ground floor alone can accommodate 850 people, and the second floor 200 people. To anyone that has ever had occasion to use the U.S. Embassy's facilities, the new annex will certainly be a welcome addition.
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