I didn’t realize that I booked my appointment on Friday the 13th. Nevertheless, tinuloy ko na rin kasi ang mahal kaya ng application fee. I applied under the Visa Re-issuance Program or VRP. TAKE NOTE NA BAWAL DALHIN ANG CELLPHONES or any electronic device sa loob ng embassy. I left all my gadgets sa kotse. The appointment letter stated four important things:
- Be there at least fifteen minutes ahead of your appointment schedule. When I arrived, mahaba na ang pila. The security guard handed me a form which I had to fill up. Mabuti na lang I brought a sturdy leather folder kaya hindi naging mahirap sumulat while you’re standing in line. Kaso nga, I had to borrow a ballpen kasi nakalimutan kong magdala. The information needed had something to do with your current and old passports.
- Bring all passports covering the entire period of time since you received a US visa. This meant not only your current passport but all your passports from the time you were granted a visa. Nakakaawa nung mag-asawang galing pa ng Davao na hindi dinala ang previous passports nila. They were politely asked to leave the line. Just imagine the anguish and the EXPENSE! You need these passports too in filling up the details in the form that was handed to you by the guard.
- Present the appointment confirmation sheet. Ito yung dapat pini-print mo after you have gone through the setting up of your appointment, either online or via telephone. If you did it online, merong portion dito na tatanungin ka kung gusto mong magdagdag ng picture mo using your webcam. I strongly suggest that you do so with the following tips: (a) Take off your eyeglasses. Your eyes must be visible; (b) Your ears have to be visible too. Kaya kung mahaba ang buhok mo, hawiin mo to show your ears; (c) Don’t smile. Hindi naman Dating Game ito kaya wag nang mag-smile. Poker face lang. Normal lang.
- Bring a 2×2 ID picture in a white background. Take note na iba itong picture na ito from the one mentioned in Item #3. This picture is for your VISA approval (kung iga-grant sayo). The same requirements pa rin: Klaro ang mukha, kita ang mata at tenga and don’t smile.
- It took about fifteen minutes na nakapila kami outside the embassy. After presenting the requirements, we were ushered inside the grounds. I noticed that this time around, all the employees assisting the applicants are Filipinos. They were all respectful and helpful. A final round of documents-checking is done. This is where the embassy employee will check if the pictures are acceptable or not. Kung hindi man, you will be instructed to proceed to a Kodak Photo-booth to have your picture-taken. Kaya importante talaga na tama ang litrato mo kasi added layer ito sa process.
- Kaming mga walang naging issue sa documents (and pictures) were then led to a waiting area just outside the main embassy hall. Malaki na ang improvement ng waiting area. The seats are more comfortable and hindi na rin mainit. May food and beverage stalls na para sa mga applicants and restrooms are now available.
- When I checked my watch, 8:52 in the morning na. My appointment was at 9:00am. Our batch was then advised to proceed inside with our documents. Very systematic na ang procedure. Strict ang security checking but polite naman silang lahat. Their were embassy employees (all Filipinos) assigned per area whose role was to guide applicants on what to do and where to proceed. It took fifteen minutes for me to go through the process. My finger prints were taken electronically — no messy inks here.
- No interview was done. The Filipina behind the glass-protected counter said: “Mr. Manansala, if the embassy needs to confirm anything, you will be contacted in two days otherwise please expect your passports in five to seven days.” I left the embassy grounds after 45 minutes since I arrived. It was indeed a breeze.
- The waiting period for my passport was nerve-wracking. After the two days have lapsed, I heaved a sigh of relief. Buti na lang walang questions. It took seven days for my passports to arrive via 2Go. The previously approved US visa was marked “Cancelled without Prejudice” and the new visa approval made me smile from ear to ear. I was granted a B1/B2 multi-entry visa for ten years. Less stress. Less hassle. Less trouble. Time to save for my trip.