25 May 2022

How to Apply for a US Visa for Minors below 14 Years Old via the Interview Waiver Program

Now that air travel is gradually returning back to normal, I find it timely to share my experience in applying for a US B1/B2 visa for my kid via the interview waiver program (i.e. no more personal appearance in the US Embassy). This used to be applicable only for renewal of 10 year multiple entry B1/B2 visas, but they have expanded the coverage late last year to first time applicant minors below 14 years old and those above 79 years of age. The process this year has actually gotten simpler compared to when I first did it late last year. Hope this blog post helps you to do the application process yourself seamlessly.

Please note that this process only applies to first time applications and visa renewals of minors under 14 years of age whose either or both parents have a valid US B1/B2 (Business/Tourist) Visa. As for my case, I am an unmarried solo parent and my kid (10 y/o) is under my sole custody (we have different surnames) and I was able to process my kid's application by submitting only my visa.

To summarize, here are the qualifications for availing of the interview waiver program for minors below 14 years of age:
1. Minor must be below 14 years old at the time of the application
2. Minor must be present in the Philippines at the time of application
3. Either or both parents must have a valid US B1/B2 visa

Step by Step Guide:

1. Pay the necessary visa fees

This step can actually go before or after accomplishing the DS-160 form. But I find it easier to pay for the visa fees first because it takes at least 24 hours for the payment to reflect. I opted to pay via RCBC over the counter which was more convenient for me. There's also an option to pay online via Pesonet.

For over the counter payment, generate and print a US visa fee deposit slip (best fits 8.5x13 sized paper) which you can obtain from the payment information page. As of writing, the visa payment costs $160 or Php 8640. Aside from the deposit slip and payment, they also ask for the birthday and contact number of the applicant so make sure to have those ready.

Be sure to secure the customer copy of the deposit slip or at least take note of your receipt number as they only validate the same and no longer issue a separate deposit slip.

2. Accomplish the DS-160 Form (Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application Form)

This is probably the most tedious part of the process. To start an application, go to the DS 160 application page and choose Manila, Philippines as the location. Be sure to take note of your application number because I got timed out multiple times even if I was actively answering the online form. This will enable you to retrieve your application so you won't have to start a new one every time.

Also, it helps if you prepare your answers beforehand so that you'll be able to accomplish it faster without the session timing out. Questions include Personal Details, Travel Document (Passport) Information, Travel Information (esp. if you already have an intended travel date), US Contact Information, Family Information, and Security and Background Information. For my kid's application, I used my own mobile number and email address since my kid doesn't have one yet. 

You'll need a digital copy of your 2x2 photo for this part. For the photo, I suggest having it done at a studio for ease. They'll be able to send you a digital copy as well which you can use for the DS 160 application. 

After signing the form, you'll be referred to the DS-160 confirmation page. Be sure to print a copy as it is one of the requirements for submission to the embassy. Lastly, I encourage you to save a PDF copy or a printed copy of your application. It will help you a lot in renewing your kids' visas in the future. 

3. Make an account at the Apply for a US Visa Website

To generate an interview waiver confirmation letter, you need to create an account at the Apply for a US Visa Website. Make sure that you are in the website for Philippines! Just like in the DS-160 form, I used my personal email to create an account.

Make sure that the information that you placed here are the same with the details you furnished in the DS-160 form. Otherwise, you may encounter problems in your application. 

Make sure to choose B1/B2 in the application. Otherwise, you will not be able to generate an interview waiver confirmation letter.

After placing your details, you will be asked if the applicant is below 14 or over 79 at the time of the application to which you should answer YES. You will no longer be asked to schedule an appointment for an interview by clicking yes. Last year, this used to be a series of questions only applicable for renewals that you have to answer yes despite not being applicable just to generate an interview waiver letter, thankfully they were able to fix it already.

You'll then be asked the shipping details where they will mail your passport after processing the application. Be sure to accurately put your address. Lastly, you'll be asked to put in the receipt number to validate payment. The interview waiver letter will be generated after this step. Print a copy for submission to the US embassy.

4. Submit the application via LBC

The US Embassy in the Philippines changed their courier to LBC this year. Last year, we were able to submit our visa renewals via 2GO SM Fairview branch since it was the nearest one to us. However, when I submitted an application this year, I learned that only select branches accept US visa applications. If you are from northern QC (i.e. Fairview), you may opt to go to their Don A. Roces Ave branch (located at 68 Don A. Roces Ave., QC) because they open before mall hours. Otherwise, you may also visit SM Cubao and Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City. 

Drop offs last year via 2GO used to be free of charge. However, drop offs via LBC now cost Php 440, except when dropping it off at the LBC SM Mall of Asia branch which remains free.

Be sure to include the following documents in your application:
  1. Valid Passport
  2. Two (2) 2x2 photos
  3. Printed Interview Waiver Confirmation Letter
  4. Printed DS-160 Confirmation Page
  5. Original PSA Birth Certificate
  6. Photocopy of valid US B1/B2 visa of parent/s
I placed everything in a small brown envelope and they'll be placed inside an LBC pouch. Be sure to check if all docs are complete before mailing!

5. Wait for your kid's passport

Since these are first time applications, they took longer than renewals. Our renewal only took less than a week from the time we submitted our visas via 2GO until we received them via mail. For my kid's application, it took more than a month before it was issued so I got worried when my kid's passport wasn't mailed in a week. I was able to monitor the application here.

For reference, here's the timeline of my kid's application:
Sent via courier - Dec 17, 2021
Case created - Jan 5, 2022
Application received - Jan 10, 2022
Administrative Processing - Jan 24, 2022
Issued - Jan 25, 2022

UPDATE: We were able to process my nephew's application via the same procedure and the wait times are slightly shorter now.
Sent via courier - May 25, 2022
Application received - Jun 1, 2022
Administrative Processing - Jun 3, 2022
Issued - Jun 6, 2022
Received - Jun 9, 2022

I was able to receive my kid's passport with visa on January 25. Upon delivery, we were required to furnish a delivery fee of Php 440 by LBC. Along with the passport, they also returned the original copy of the birth certificate submitted.

Basically, that's it! It's actually easy to follow, especially now that they have fixed their CGI website. Hope this helps you in your kid's application and happy travels!

XO, Mish


1 comment:

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