Does My Filipino Friend Need A Visa To Visit The USA?

Does My Filipino Friend Need A Visa To Visit The USA?

Does My Filipino Friend Need A Visa To Visit The USA?

(Updated 2 December 2018)

Does My Filipino Friend Need A Visa To Visit The USA?

Well, as some of you already know, the answer to this question is yes, she or he does.

Looking around at many of the articles I have written and others have as well, it seems many articles are starting at too advanced a level.

I should start at the beginning since a majority of my readers are from the USA and my fellow Americans are among the least traveled and most uneducated in the mechanics of international travel on earth.

Now don’t get your knickers in a knot over that last paragraph.  If you are already an expert on passports, visas and international travel, great, more power to you.  Feel free to move on to the next article then.

But there are plenty of people reading here who only have a vague concept of passports, visas (not the credit card) and international procedures.


Google defines a passport as:

An official document issued by a government, certifying the holder’s identity and citizenship and entitling them to travel under its protection to and from foreign countries.

In the USA, the Department of State issues passports (to US citizens only).

You can’t get a US passport unless you are a US citizen … either by birth or naturalization.

If you are living in the USA itself,  you get issued your initial passport by following the procedures here:

How to Apply for a Passport

After I Get My Passport, What Use Is It?

Well, the primary purpose is to use it to visit other countries.  There are at last count 186 countries that allow US citizens to visit with their passport alone.  See the list here: Visa requirements for United States citizens.

Now, What’s A Visa?

An endorsement on a passport indicating that the holder is allowed to enter, leave, or stay for a specified period of time in a country.

So to simplify things in your mind, think of it this way.

A passport is always issued by your own country of citizenship.  It proves your citizenship status and is proof that your own country gives you permission to travel to other countries.

A visa is granted by countries other than your own, printed or attached inside your assort, that is permission (or a license) to enter the country which issued the visa.

Citizens of a great many of the world’s countries are allowed to enter the USA for a visit merely by showing a valid passport from their home country.  List of countries that do NOT require a visa to enter the USA.

What’s Missing?  The Philippines, of Course

Now I am not going into the reason the Philippines is not included on this list.  After all, the Philippines was even a US territory for many years.  Answers to this question have to be found elsewhere, I have my own opinions, but opinions are not facts and I’m not choosing to share them here.

Reality Is, If a Filipino Citizen Wants To Visit The USA, S/he Needs a Visa

Now, who gives out these all-important visas? 

Easy, the US Department of State … all you ever wanted to know about US visas here.

And how does my friend apply for a visa?

If she or he is in the Philippines, that’s an easy question also … it all starts online, here:

Business/Tourist Visa

Who Can Apply?

Basically, any citizen of the Philippines.

Is a US Tourist Visa Hard To Get?

Well, according to the official figures of the State Department, no, not really.  The approval rate for tourisy=t visa application at the US Embassy, Manila, is close to 80%.

So what do we hear that there are so many problems in getting a US tourist visa from the Philippines?

Well, it kind of all boils down to qualifications.  These are the specific qualifications direct from the State Department site:


If you apply for a B-1/B-2 visa, you must demonstrate to a consular officer that you qualify for a U.S. visa in accordance with the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 214(b) of the INA presumes that every B-1/B-2 applicant is an intending immigrant. You must overcome this legal presumption by showing:

  • That the purpose of your trip to the U.S. is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment

  • That you plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time

  • Evidence of funds to cover your expenses while in the United States

  • That you have a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit

Now Let’s Break These Qualifications Down

In the first paragraph above, the rules are clearly stated.  Many reading those rules may not like them, but no one can say they haven’t been informed.

The State Department is saying that they believe everyone who applies for a tourist visa is intending to enter the USA and then just stay there.  In other words become an immigrant in some way or another, either by legal or illegal means.

Since our early school days, we US citizens have become very familiar with the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.

In fact, in cases involving criminal offenses, this is always true.  In legal terms, this is known as the “presumption of innocence”.

But when it comes to controlling who is let into the USA or who is denied entry, a completely different set of rules apply.

Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 214(b) all applicants are to be treated as if they intend to stay in the USA.  In other words, “presumed guilty”.

To be granted a tourist visa the applicant must overcome this presumption.  She or he must convince the Consular Officer making a decision on the application that he or she intends to comply with the following:

Specific Hurdles:

Trip Purpose:  The purpose of the trip to the U.S. is for a temporary visit, such as business, pleasure, or medical treatment.

Going to attend a relative’s wedding.  Visiting Disney World, attending a conference at a university … these are all specific reasons.

Just wanting to “experience the USA”, hang out with friends, look for work (a HUGE no-no) and very importantly, to meet a marriage-eligible acquaintance is a primary reason for many visa denials.

Personal Advice Here:  Remeber I am not a lawyer.  This is just one man’s opinion, take it for what it is worth:

I do not advocate (ever) lying to the US government.  When the application for a visa is filled out, or when an applicant is being interviewed at the Embassy, one should ALWAYS tell the truth.

But I also feel that if the trip has a legitimate purpose OTHER than meeting a marriage-eligible friend, one need not go too deep into details.  If you get my meaning?

US Citizens Really Have No Say

Letters from US citizens offering to sponsor the tourist, assurances that the tourist’s expenses will be covered, assurance that the US citizen will ensure the tourist leaves the USA when the time is up, etc. are WORTHLESS.  The Consular Officers often do not even look at such letters.

No US citizen can exercise any control over a foreign visitor who enters the USA legally unless and until the foreigner commits a crime.  Applicants must stand on their own.

Trip Duration:  You plan to remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time

This should be self-explanatory, but it is amazing how many visa applicants I have had contact with who could not really answer this question.

In my mind it is worthless to apply for a visa, just hoping you get the full 90 days od[f stay allowed by law, without having specific dates (and plausible reasons for those dates) firmly in mind.

Rest assured that even if the US Embassy grants the visa, the inspecting US Immigration officer at the POE (Port Of Entry) is going to ask.  Have an honest, believable answer ready or you may well be on the first plane back to the Philippines … at your own expense.

This is a good time to mention phones and social media.

In addition to providing access to your social media accounts at the time of application, Immigration Officers at the US border can demand access to personal cell phones, review text messages and check recent online activity such as Facebook posts.

Non-US citizens have essentially no “privacy rights”.

Presenting themselves for “inspection” at the border essentially waives any expectation of privacy they may have felt they had.

So if the tourist’s “story” is that she is going to visit her aunt in Idaho, rest assured the officer will likely call the aunt to confirm the story, and if the cell phone is full of “hot “text messages to a boyfriend in Iowa … it’s highly likely access will be denied.

Immigration Officers as US border points have absolute authority to admit or deny all non-US citizens who “present themselves” for inspection.

Evidence Of Funds:  Evidence of funds to cover your expenses while in the United States.

The ideal way to show evidence of funds for the trip is to have enough money in a Philippine bank account.

Obviously, a lot of applicants aren’t able to do this easily, so some other modern means of paying for the trip could serve the purpose, such as a credit card that’s not maxed out.

Be Very Wary Of A Common Scam Here:

I hear all the time from Americans who, in good faith, sent money … often large amounts for it … to “friends” in the Philippines to establish bank accounts.

The stated purpose of the bank accounts was to show proof of funds to cover the expense of a US trip for the tourist visa applicants.

Well after the money is sent, the “friends” sometimes just disappear.  Surprise surprise.

Sending money to a prospective tourist applicant like that could easily be construed as immigration fraud by the US government.  So don’t expect any assistance from US law enforcement on this.

On the Philippine legal side of things, you did willingly “give” the money to your “friend”.  The fact that there was a verbal agreement between the two of you that the money would be returned after the visa was issued may make you feel rather angry, but essentially your “friend” broke no laws.

If you send me money for dest in my account, the legal “title” to that money changes hands to me, as soon as you send it.

Be very, very careful if you try to “pull the wool over Uncle Sam’s eyes”.  The Consular Officers who make the decisions on issuance or denial of visas have pretty much seen it all.

Speaking Of “Seeing It All”, Do You Reall Know Who You’re Talking With?

I could write a book on this subject (maybe I will someday).  The tales of otherwise wary and intelligent US men being duped by “new love found online” are virtually endless.

The little town where I live is quite sleepy at night.  There are no nightclubs and bars or all night restaurants where people hang out.

But any time I come home late at night/early in the morning, I can count on a number of places brightly lit and busy with customers.  What businesses are these?  Why Internet cafe’s, of course.

Even though the Internet cafe business is pretty dead and dried up these gays with the advent of smartphones and free wifi in so many places, Internet cafes do a nice little business dut=ring the middle of the night here.

During the time American men are up and about … maybe even sneaking in a chat while they are at work.

There are plenty of females, from grandma’s to young (even some way too young) women and girls who hang out online … sometimes stringing along many “friends” at the same time.

It’s “easy pickings” and even fun for many in a country that’s very poor.

Not all the chairs in the cafes are occupied by females, either.

Thailand may get a lot of publicity about “Lady Boys” but the Philippines has some extraordinarily beautiful “Lady Boys” to its own credit, and there are times that no man from overseas, via long distance, is even going to know.

Before you fall “head over heels” or start sending money and building a real relationship with someone, you owe it to yourself to get on a plane and come here for a visit and meet your new online “friend” in person.

You may say, “Oh that costs too much”.  But it just might be the wisest expenditure you ever made.

Sufficient Reasons To Return: That you have a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding social or economic ties, that will ensure your return abroad at the end of your visit.

This is the last of the major qualification steps and the one that likely rests in more denied visas than any other factor.

The “Holy Grail” of the visa approval decision process is the intention of the visa applicant to return to the Philippines at the end of the US trip.

Let’s say, just for example, my Filipino brother-in-law, a man my age applies for a US Tourist visa.  He has been employed here in the Philippines for many years.  He owns a home, a car, has several bank accounts, even has a stock brokerage account.

He has a wife and children residing here, golf club membership, and many other ties.

The chances of him getting issued a tourist visa?  About 99% certainly a yes.  He’s not running off to the USA to get married or to get an under-the-table job in a nursing home or landscaping company who doesn’t check too strictly for US citizenship.

The Consular Officer might ask him directly about his intentions to return to the Philippines, but his words don’t actually mean much, his strong ties do it all,

Now let’s consider his youngest daughter, one of my favorite nieces.

She’s about 25, graduate of a high-end college here in the Philippines and has a good job,

But she lives at home, basically owns nothing but a smartphone and some fashionable clothes and (red flag), she’s very pretty and eminently marriageable.

If she applies for a tourist visa and the Consular Officer asks her about her intentions to return to the Philippines, how much weight do you think her words will have?

Very likely, not enough weight to get her the visa … because there is nothing except her verbal promise that indicates any strong ties to the Philippines to “call out” strongly to her.

This Is The Way It Is Folks

Many of you may not be happy with the way things are.  I can’t help that, though, I can only tell you the state of how things are.

Some more info here: Can My Philippine Friend Visit Me in the USA?

At least now, you should know a little more about the subject,

Does My Filipino Friend Need A Visa To Visit The USA?

2 thoughts on “Does My Filipino Friend Need A Visa To Visit The USA?”

  1. What’s up guy I got a question for you very important question about this tourist Visa I have a friend I’ve been knowing her 3 years we text we video chat back and forth I went over there the first week of July in 2018 and have plans to go back to this year of 2019 this summer will I be allowed to use a tourist Visa

    1. @ Ricky Mack

      Thanks for sharing. I’m glad you found your “someone special” and that you took the opportunity to visit, so you really know who you found.

      The answer to your question is easy, yes, you can come here in summer 2019, you can come as often as you like, You will automatically get a 30 day tourist visa waiver stamp in your passport when you arrive, and if you want to stay longer, you can extend that visa waiver a month or two at a time up to 36 months total.


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