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APPLYING FOR A US TOURIST VISA

Applying for a US Tourist Visa is usually dreaded by several people fearing they might get denied because of very strict US criteria on who can enter US as a tourist and in previous years, the grant rate is very low. However, it might be easier to get a Visa now that US needs tourists to help their economy.

My post here would detail how I applied for a US tourist Visa together with the supporting documents I brought with me. If you are lucky, you will be given multiple entries and even be granted a 10-year validity Visa.

How to Apply for a US Tourist Visa

1. Fill out the DS-160 form online. This is for the Non-immigrant Visa application.

2. Have your 2×2 photo ready, including a soft copy which you could attach in your online application form. The US Visa photo guidelines are listed here.

3. Pay your Visa application Fee.

a. As of August 16, 2011, the Visa processing fee is $140 (P6,020.00 using the current exchange rate on that day). I paid through BPI. Once you’re in a BPI branch, get the blue Deposit/Payment Slip. Fill out the normal transaction details such as date, check the appropriate boxes: “Payment”, Currency = “Peso”, etc. and put the ff.:

Depositor/Merchant’s Name: US Visa

Policy/Planholder’s Name:      <Passport Number>

4. Schedule for an interview using their online booking here or through their call centers:

  • (02) 982-5555 and (02) 902-8930 for calls within the Philippines and other countries aside from mainland United States
  • (214) 571-1600 for calls from mainland United States. The call center is open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and is closed during US and Philippine Holidays.

5. Attend the interview at least 30 minutes before the scheduled time. Don’t bring any electronic devices as you will not be allowed to enter the embassy if you do. Bring the ff. with you when you attend the interview:

a. Current and old passports

b. 2×2 picture

c. Appointment letter, and Visa processing payment receipt

d. Visa Confirmation Page

e. Supporting documents

You will know immediately after the interview if you are denied/granted a visa. If you are granted a visa and you chose to deliver the documents through a courier, they will send your passport with the visa attached to the address you have provided. It usually takes 2 to 3 days but you can check the Visa Processing timelines via this website, select your country and click “Get Wait Times” for an updated statistics.

If you’re unlucky and were denied, and you have money to spare on the processing fee, you can re-apply as soon as you want. However, it is recommended that you re-apply only if you think you have a substantial change in your current status.

Here are the supporting documents that backs up your “ties” here in the country. Not all of these (or none at all) will be requested but better bring as much document as you can.

  • Proof of Income and Funds -  Certificate of Employment / Business Registration, Income Tax Return, Last 3 months payslip and Credit card statement, Bank statement, Passbook, etc
  • Original Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate from NSO
  • Wedding and family pictures
  • Proof of Property ownership – Land titles, Car registration, etc

We got our visa after 3 days, multiple entries, with a 10-year validity period.

Smurfs Village iPhone Game

Another game that I’m currently addicted to – The Smurfs Village iPhone Game.  The objective of the game is to start building the Smurfs’ Village from scratch in an empty land since Gargamel, the evil wizard, destroyed their home town.

My Friend's Smurf Village

Every mushroom house accommodates 1 Smurf. You plant crops that will help you gain gold and you use the gold to buy additional Smurf mushroom houses, garden, decorations, plants, trees and more. You also gain experience from harvesting crops and completing quests.

Different Smurf characters can be seen in the game and gives a special quest every level – Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, Clumsy, Grouchy, and more. Jokey Smurf gives random daily gift while Vanity Smurf, Lazy Smurf, Baby Smurf, Miner Smurf, Handy Smurf, Greedy Smurf and Farmer Smurf have their own special houses with mini games or they just provide special bonuses.

Some notes on the game:

-    You increase your experience by harvesting crops, buying and placing an item, and completing quests. Some decorations, plants, crops, trees, houses, etc are unlocked as you increase your level.
-    Some special items can only be bought using Smurfberries. A few smurfberries are given each time you level up. If you want more, you have to buy it using real money.
-    Some crops help you gain more gold, experience, etc. (see table / spreadsheet below)
-    You can visit your friends’ village and give gift
- You can upgrade the mushroom houses to accommodate more Smurfs.

Mini Games:
-    Papa Smurf’s Potion Mixing Game
-    Painter Smurf’s Painting Game
-    Miner Smurf’s Mining Game (my favorite)
-    Greedy Smurf’s Baking Game
-    Handy Smurf’s Hammering Game
-    Lazy Smurf’s Fishing Game

Mini Game: Greedy Smurf's Baking Game

In the recent Smurfs’ Village version 1.1.3 update, there are some additions to the game play:
-    Marco Smurf will appear starting level 16. He can be found wandering in a friend’s village. If you click on him, you’ll get an XP reward.
-    Alchemist Smurf available at level 23
-    Potion Making game update:  1 new game mechanic, 3 new difficulty levels, Magic flask available
-    New Day/Night feature

There is a cheat for Smurfs Village game – you can manually adjust the time in your iPhone to speed up the time. However, once you revert to the current date and time, Papa Smurf’s message will appear “I’m disappointed that you’ve been overworking the Smurfs by changing the clock. Careful, or your Smurfs will leave the village.”

Growing Crops

List of Crops in Smurfs Village

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