Going to the U.S.A – even for a short vacation – can be any Filipino’s dream come true. Sadly, however, many fell short along the way, throwing away their good chances of making it – needlessly. Top of the list is failing to impress the consulate officer.
If Heaven has St. Peter, the U.S. has its consulate officer. Don’t you worry about it. It’s just plain old niceties to check if you’ve got the latest hair-do or speak the latest lingua franca (just kidding). However, it’s true. In any place worth looking into there is always a price to pay, a guardian of sorts is placed by the door to check if you’ve got what it takes. Just try visiting your old bud in some subdivision somewhere and before you get into the gated residences, a guard is out not just to greet you but to check you out. Likewise, though you may not like it, you have to visit the consulate, charm your way to the consul’s heart to get to the U.S. of A. Come to think of it, it’s really not that hard to pull. In fact, throwing cute smiles to your friend’s snarling pure-bred pitbull so as not to become its latest version of a snack is a lot harder.
Here are 10 of the most common lapses you need to avoid when facing the U.S. consulate officer in order to leave a good first impression and be granted your most-prized VISA.
#10 Lack of Preparation
For starters, this is not your 2nd year high school 1st Grading period exam. Where if you flunk, you get another try. Put things in perspective and shape up.
First, appear professional. Shabby clothing shows lack of interest and speaks volumes to the man behind the table. To get yourself in the right mental state, have ample time to rest the night before your interview. Low energy is not going to give you a healthy image.
Lastly, make sure you’ve done solid research about possible questions and appropriate answers. You may have to wait months – even years – to get to your 2nd chance to prove yourself. So don’t count on it and give your first try your best shot.
#9 Irregularities – Not Providing Complete and Truthful Information
Present solid information. If it’s not based on truth, don’t mention it. Incomplete information is as damaging and could throw you months or even years back – if at all.
And worse, you could be legally liable and legal proceedings could turn its ugly eye on you. So to make the cut, review your info and present only the truth – and nothing but.
#8 Providing Incomplete Documentation
Another key area is proper documentation. Lack of the right documents can be costly. Make sure – make doubly sure – that you have all the documents needed. If you’re not sure what to bring, research or ask around.
This is not the time to be timid. Rather this is the time to put your best foot forward.
Lastly, a well-organized documentation is going to give a good impression on the consulate officer. So having one ready is a must.
#7 Not Carrying Appropriate Fee
Again, this goes back to preparation and doing your due diligence.
Remember that the US Consulate prescribes a strict method of payment. Following it is vital.
You should be privy to the method and the exact amount of the applicable fee. For instance, most US consulates do not take in cash. Instead, would prefer separate bank drafts for the visa issuance fee and the visa application. Never second-guess; make sure you obtain the right information from a reliable source.
#6 Providing Unnecessary Extra Information
Do not stray. Answer questions straight to the point and never put on the table information that are not being asked. Being overconfident or appearing over-smart can be your undoing. So don’t act like one.
When you give unnecessary information voluntarily, you could be setting yourself up. More often than not, these could trigger additional queries from the consulate which could be lead to your undoing.
K-I-S-S (keep it short and simple). Keeping things simple is the way to go.
Question: Why do you want to go to the US?
Wrong Answer: I want to see how being in USA feel like. If I like it I want to stay for good with my son.
Preferred Answer: For tourism purposes. (or to spend some quality time with my family).
#5 Inconsistent Information
Make sure your story is not going to be your undoing. Tales that fail miserably at creating consistency will go back to haunt you.
You may even pass the exam but pretty soon years down the road you could be reaping the storm or worse a hurricane. There was the story of a married Pinay couple who lied in their interviews. They were able to make it stating in separate interviews that they were single. However, 30 years down the road after they have had kids and settled in the U.S. they face deportation with legal action, when the authorities found out they were secretly married.
#4 Appearing to be Nervous
Appearances are deceiving, true. But being nervous could count against you. Put in your best smile forward. Staying cheerful and positive can bring around the best of circumstances for you. Remember the consulate officer is also human. Talking to him with a long face is not going to leave a very nice impression for you.
#3 Talking Way Too Much
Be professional and act like a professional. Taking the reins of the conversation is rude and disheartening. Don’t cut the conversation and observe proper etiquette when talking.
Letting the officer do his thing with the given time is a sign of maturity. Not only will he appreciate you for being respectful, he’ll consider you an asset for his country.
#2 Having Poor Communication
Lack of fluency in English is going to be a huge deficit on your points as a Visa applicant. If you can’t speak fluently, take time to prepare yourself well, weeks or even months ahead.
There is no need to talk like you were born in the U.S.A.; there is a need to be able to express yourself well in English.
#1 Arguing with the Consulate Officer
And for a sure-fire way to get yourself denied: Try arguing with the officer.
No matter how wrong the consulate officer is, no matter how dead sure you maybe, or how 101% right you may think, arguing is a huge no-no. It will only put your Visa application down to never, never Land. So under no circumstances are you going to do it. Not for any reason.
Proving the officer wrong is only going to put you in bad light as somebody with utter lack of respect for authority. Not to mention raise the “high blood pressure” of your interviewer to heights unknown.
There you have it folks, a mouthful of helpful advices. If I’ve missed anything, anything at all, please holler. I’ve provided the comments section just for that.
I would certainly be glad to see you playing Frosty the Snowman in San Francisco Bay Area when the snow is all around you. Remember, preparation lies at the heart of all the endeavor.
As the quip goes, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”