Travel 101: Applying for a visa like a pro Marlet Salazar December 3, 2018 Life Hacks Applying for a travel visa could be nerve-wracking. The preparation of documents could be tiring but the waiting game in whether your application is approved or not could give you sleepless nights. First of all, while it is easy to say “not to stress over it”—but yes, don’t lose sleep over a visa application even if you paid P8,000 (U.S. non-immigrant)—always remember to expect the worse and hope for the best. There is nothing wrong with wanting something so much but because we don’t hold the key to that happiness (the consuls do), we can at least manage our expectations. Here are a few tips we learned over the years when applying for a travel visa that might help you in getting yours. Build your bank account Having a fat bank account is not a guarantee that a consul will be impressed and grant you a visa right away. But it helps to show them that you can afford to go visit other countries. Do so gradually because it might come as suspicious if you put P100,000 in your bank account in one go. In the U.S. visa application process, not all consuls will ask for a bank statement. But be prepared anyway. Research Before you decide to finally file a visa application form, do a lot of research about the country you intend to visit. Different countries may have different requirements. Ireland, for example, takes months before granting someone a visa. If you file in December, you might get your visa in April next year. Or it might be easier to get a Schengen Visa from the German Embassy rather than from the Spanish Embassy. (It’s not always the case, though.) Each country has different requirements and it won’t hurt to sift through the internet for other travelers’ experiences in applying for a visa. Complete all your credentials and then some If you have already been to other countries but you are using a new passport to apply for a visa, bring with you the older stamped passports to the interview just to show that you intend to come home. Frequent flyers, for sure, get extra brownie points. If you are a journalist, bring some bylined articles with you just in case the consul asks for proof. Have a bank statement AND bank certification with you. It is just to show that you have a good financial standing and relationship with the bank. If employed, ask your company for a certification of employment. If you are self-employed, bring your ITR with you. These are not necessarily required in some embassies, but being prepared is better than not being prepared. Read and fill out forms properly There are times that because we are anxious, we tend to overlook certain boxes and lines in the application forms. You cannot, and we mean cannot, make mistakes when filling out forms. Read the forms over and over before filling them out. Look successful Just look professional. You don’t have to wear hoop earrings (nothing against big accessories) for a visa interview. Looking professional and well-kept gives a nice first impression. Send that message to the world that you mean business and you can carry yourself. Be confident This one is pretty hard. As mentioned, it is nerve-wracking. Answering the consul’s questions is gazillion times more nerve-wracking. But honestly, they don’t bite. If you are sure of yourself and your intentions are good, you can answer each question confidently. Some countries have relaxed their visa application process. There are countries where visa application depends on the current head of state’s foreign policy. There are also countries that can accept visa of another country. In Taiwan, if you have a Japanese or U.S. visa, you don’t have to apply for a Taiwanese visa. You only need a certification that can be downloaded online. Bottom line is always be prepared with your documents and with the result. If you are granted a visa, great. If you don’t, use the second chance wisely because you have already gone through the process.