The title says it all. It sounds stupid, I know. But before you get all judgmental, for someone who travels often, losing my passport was heartbreaking!
Anyway, back in 2015 just when I was about to embark on my adventure and travel halfway across the world to South America, I lost my passport. I didn’t even realize it was missing until I needed some info from it and voila! That’s when I realized it was gone! Funny thing, I had no clue whatsoever of how I lost it.
Sigh. What’s done is done. I had no choice but to apply for a new one and spend another $160. Ouch.
Note: I only had time to apply for a new passport back then and it was only this year that I get to apply for a new US visa.
Here’s how it went.
At the start of the year, I decided on traveling long-term again starting in Asia and make my way to North and Central America. To be able to make this happen, I needed several visas to acquire before leaving. So back in January, I went on a visa run and applied for a Korean visa, Japan visa, and US visa. Happy to say that I got approved in all 3!
Based on my experience, all 3 applications were fast and easy. Even the timing was perfect!
What made it easy was, perhaps, the fact that I travel often, it was already my 2nd time applying for both Korean and US visa, and it’s not my first time traveling to the US. Also, US visa was the last that I applied for. I figured that if I already have a valid Korean and Japan visa on my passport, approval would be easier.
But that’s just a theory so don’t take my word for it. When it comes to visa application, it’s always a case-to-case basis. Note: If you are in the same situation as I am, please know that the US embassy will not issue a replacement visa for the one you lost. You will need to apply for a new one and also, having a visa once won’t guarantee approval of your new application.
Moving on, preparing for the requirements needed for a US visa seemed a lot harder. And it was mainly because I also needed an affidavit of loss and police report explaining how and when I lost my passport with a still valid US visa.
Here’s a list of requirements I’ve prepared:
- Affidavit of loss
- Police report
- Properly filled out application form (DS-160)
- One (1) 2×2 photo with white background
- Bank certificate
- Certificate of employment
- Explanation letter explaining why I don’t have an ITR
Once I have all these prepped and ready, I went online to schedule an appointment. To be able to schedule an appointment, you first need to pay the visa application fee. In my experience, I had 2 options: paying over-the-counter or online through BPI. I opted to pay online out of convenience. But I regretted it because it took forever for my payment to get validated. Normally, it would only take 4 hours but in my case, it took more than a day.
When paying over-the-counter, you will already have the MRV fee payment receipt number and you’ll just have to wait for 4 hours (more or less) to have it activated. So take my word for it and pay over-the-counter.
Once you have the MRV fee payment receipt number, you can now schedule an appointment via this webpage. When scheduling, you will also need your passport number and the 10-digit number in your DS-160 form. When choosing the time, I suggest you go early (between 7-8am). I scheduled my appointment on a Tuesday at 8am.
You can schedule your appointment even if you haven’t finished your application yet. Just make sure that the 10-digit number in your DS-160 is the same as the one in your appointment letter.
When completing your application form, be as truthful as you can be. There’s no point in lying in your application because the consuls know EVERYTHING! You will also be asked to include addresses and contact info of any friends and relatives that you may have in the US. Fortunately for me, I do have a lot of relatives and friends in the US so it was not a problem.
Also, before you hit SUBMIT/FINISH, make sure that you are satisfied with every answer you’ve provided. Because once you hit that button, you cannot retrieve your application to make any changes.
Considering that my appointment was at 8am, I left the house at around 6am to avoid rush hour. I arrived at the embassy at 7am and when I got there, I didn’t have to wait for an hour for my appointment. The staff were already letting people with 8am appointment in. [Note: electronic devices are not allowed inside the embassy]
I shouldn’t be surprised to see at how many people apply for a US visa each day, but I was still surprised because there were heaps of people! But since it was the US embassy, everything was organized and they obviously had a good system in place.
During my interview with the consul, I was first asked this question: “You still have a visa, why are you applying?” Told ya, they know everything!
I simply replied with, “I lost my passport”. And I got a sympathetic, “oh okay, do you have a police report?”
I gave the consul the affidavit of loss and the police report, and those were the only requirements asked from me. She asked a few more questions — what are you going to do in the US? how long will you be there? is this your first time to visit the US? where do you work and what’s your position?
The interview only took 5 minutes. The consul took my passport and told me to expect it to be delivered within 7 days. At that point, I am not sure whether I got approved or denied. Common sense would tell me that yes, my visa application was approved but I didn’t want to assume anything so I just waited until I got my passport back.
I was kinda anxious waiting for my passport because at that time, I only had 10 days left before I leave for Malaysia (my first stop). If there’d be any delays, I would have to rebook my flight. Also, if my visa application was denied, that only meant scrapping my travel plans to North and Central America. And that is just sad.
After 2 days, I got a text message from the courier service (2GO) saying that my passport will be delivered that day. And sometime in the afternoon it came — my passport with a multiple entry visa for 10 years!
I couldn’t stop smiling — 3 visas, all approved. Just one of those moments when I can say to myself — it feels good to be alive.
Before I end this post, I am sure you’ll have a lot of questions. Again, it’s a case-to-case basis and it highly depends on the purpose of your visit and your travel records. But to ease your mind, I’ve rounded up frequently asked questions from Filipinos planning to apply for a US visa.
1) How much money (show money) should I have in my bank?
There’s really no right answer for this. I believe it depends on how long you’re planning to stay in the US. I mean, if you plan to stay for months, then you should be able to provide evidence that you can support yourself, otherwise, the consul might assume that you’ll work there illegally. Also, it’s not often that they ask for a bank certificate but it’s better to have one ready just in case. As a benchmark, if you are staying for a month, it’s good to have $2500 in the bank as show money.
2) What if my visa gets denied?
You get 50-50 chance and if it goes sideways, it’s not the end of the world just money down the drain. Good news is you can easily re-apply.
3) Is there a time limit as to when I can re-apply?
None! You can try and try especially if money is not an issue.
4) Is the visa fee refundable if it gets denied?
Unfortunately, no. And you still have to pay $160 for each try.
5) Do I need to have a flight booked when applying?
No. It is not required, and even discouraged, to book a flight prior to visa approval.
6) Is there a guarantee that my visa will be approved on my next try?
No. Visa approval is highly subjective.
7) How long is the validity of the US Visa?
It depends on how ‘generous’ the consul is. You can be given 3 months or 10 years, single entry or multiple entries. You will only know once you get your passport back.
8) Do I need to prepare more supporting documents?
Again, it’s a case-to-case basis. You can have all the documents in the world and still get denied. I have all the documents with me but only the affidavit of loss and police report were asked. There’s no way of knowing what requirements will be asked from you but if it will give you peace of mind, then by all means, have those documents ready.
For your reference:
- Students: latest school registration, transcripts and/or diploma
- Employees: certificate of employment and pay slips for the past three months
- Entrepreneurs and digital nomads: business registration certificate and income tax return
- If you’re visiting a relative: photocopies of your relative’s proof of status (e.g. Green Card, naturalization certificate, valid visa, etc).
NOTE: You have to establish deep ties in your country and convince them that you are coming back. Bring land/condominium titles, car registration certificate, lease contract, etc.
9) Is it advisable to avail of the services of a tour agency?
No. It wouldn’t make any difference and you will only be paying extra for something that you can do yourself. But that’s just my opinion.
10) Can I pick up my passport instead of having it delivered?
No. You will only get your passport back via 2GO, the official courier service of the US embassy for all visa applications. Also, you won’t need to pay for the courier service. Once your interview is done, you can leave.
Do you have more questions about applying for a US visa? Drop me a line in the comments section or send me an email! I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you for stopping by and sending you love from my side of the world! Cheers!