|Consulate Review: Manila, Philippines
Review Topic: IR-1/CR-1 Visa
|Review Date :
||July 11, 2012
|Embassy Review :
||Where we Stayed: Lotus Garden Hotel
How to Get to USEM: walk/jog/taxi
Time of Interview: 6:30 (arrived at 5:45, finished at 8:30)
The day before our interview, we tried walking from the hotel to the US Embassy, just so we could be familiar with the route and not waste time being lost. I also timed it - it was less than 10 minutes from the hotel to USEM, and that's while walking at a leisurely pace. On the morning of the interview, however, things ran a little late (due to our breakfast taking an extremely long time to be served), so we opted to take a taxi instead. It took less than 5 minutes.
*If you will be having your interview with your kid, you may or may not be allowed to bring a companion. We weren't allowed, so it was only me and my daughter inside. The manang ballpen vendor outside said it depends on the guard on duty.
1. Queue outside US Embassy
- The queue is formed near the annex, NOT THE MAIN BUILDING. Pretty much nothing to do here but wait for the counters to open. You can admire the beautiful cars passing by in front of you while waiting, LOL.
- When the counters open, be ready with your interview appointment letter and your passport. TAKE THE PLASTIC COVER OFF YOUR PASSPORT AND LEAVE IT SOMEWHERE SAFE. YOU WON'T NEED THAT HERE.
- Give the passport and interview appointment letter to the lady/gentleman manning the counter. They will put a sticker on your passport, with a number corresponding to the number on the 2Go delivery form. You will also be given a ziplock bag, the sole purpose of which is to hold your passport. Put your passport inside, and make sure it lies open with your picture in front. You can take your time in filling out the 2Go delivery form, as you have to submit this one only after everything is done.
2. Going inside
- Make sure you don't bring any food or water inside. Only baby formula is acceptable. Don't worry, there is a mini-canteen inside (mineral water at Php30, Skyflakes at Php10 - WTF)
- You will go through 2 machines, similar to the ones in airports. Same procedure as in the airport - leave all your things to go through the machine, then you walk through, and the guard will frisk you a bit - you don't have to remove your footwear, though.
- First scan happens, then you line up at one of the windows to be given a number. Give your appointment letter, and a number will be stapled onto it, and you will be given a stub bearing the same number. NEVER LOSE THIS STUB, AND KEEP THE NUMBER IN YOUR HEAD AT ALL TIMES.
- Second scan happens inside the building proper.
- The first thing you do is to drop off your appointment letter (with the number stapled to it) at window 39.
- ALWAYS KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE BOARD IN FRONT OF YOU. If your number flashes, go right up to the window indicated.
- Our first call was to window 41. The lady just had me fill up some missing details ON OUR DS-230. Apparently, my husband forgot to fill in his address and contact number. What happened in our case was this: Before my husband returned to the States, I had him bring our DS-230's already, but did not fill up the address and contact number because he wasn't sure if he would be staying in the same place or continuing the same number he had before. So, he forgot to fill those in before sending out our IV packages to NVC. I was SO relieved we didn't get a checklist for that, and kept in mind to tease him about that later, LOL.
- Our second call was to window 43. I was asked my name and date of birth, and had my fingerprints taken: 4 left fingers together, then 4 right fingers together, then 2 thumbs together. Don't worry, someone will be there to assist you. For my daughter, I was only asked her name and her date of birth, no fingerprints.
- Our third call was to window 50+ (I forgot). This was our Filipino pre-screener, but the one we got was very kind. I expected someone stricter, having read some interview reviews in the past. He asked for our passports, and stapled it onto our file folder. He asked who our petitioner was, how he became a citizen, how we met, when we met (I actually answered this part wrong, but I don't think it mattered), when we married, if my daughter or I have been to other countries before (visits included), why we didn't file CRBA for our daughter (I actually ended up explaining to him about the residency requirement). He then asked me to sign part 2 of the DS-230. Then he asked me about our petitioner's job and how long he has been working as a nurse. It was only less than a year, and so it doesn't prove much financial stability, so he asked if I had a joint sponsor ready. GOOD THING I HAD!!! He asked who our joint sponsor is, and about his occupation. Lastly, he asked to see some pictures of our family together. He then told us to sit down and wait for our number to be flashed again.
- My daughter was getting cranky so I took her out for a 10-peso-Skyflakes-snack. There is still a signboard in the canteen, so you can see if your number comes up. I was expecting to be called again much much later, because I knew the American CO was our next stop. But I was wrong. My daughter didn't even finish eating one biscuit, then our number came up.
- Called to window 61. What a mess, our number was already being called out verbally, and I was sweating from running from the canteen, daughter in tow. The first thing I said to the CO was "I'm sorry, good morning." So much for first impressions, LOL. He asked me to raise my right hand and swear to tell the truth. He asked a bit about the petitioner, which state he lived in, when we got married, when he went to the States, his last visit here. Then he asked to see some pictures of us together, and then he said, "Okay, you're approved! Now, for your daughter". He just clarified why she wasn't eligible for CRBA by asking when my husband came here to the Philippines and when he went back to the States. Then he said, "Okay, you're both approved!" OMG, I can't believe that was it.
- As I was preparing to sit down again to wait for the next call, our number flashed up again for window 71. The lady asked me if I already had my fingerprints taken, and gave me our original interview appointment letters. Then she told me to go to window 69 to submit our 2Go delivery form.
- So, at window 69, I just passed our two delivery forms. I asked the guy, though, if I could have it for pick-up at Ayala Center Cebu. He just nodded and made a note on our forms. And that's it!