Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Renewing My US Visa

It has been ten years since I last stepped foot in the US embassy. Back then, I was still a university student trying to get a travel visa. Since I was unemployed then, I had to make a solid case about why I wanted the visa and convince them that I will return to Malaysia afterwards. Armed with so many supporting documents (I even gave them a photocopy of my ASB account to prove my financial standings!) I was finally granted a ten year visa.

Fast forward to ten years later, I found myself googling for the same thing - "how to apply US visa Malaysia". *giggles* You see, my boss told me that I needed to travel to US to witness a testing. I confidently said yes because I was soooo certain that my visa was still valid. Alas, just 5 days before the testing (he told me about the testing the day before), I checked my passport only to find out that it had justtttt expired. I sheepishly told my boss the bad news the next day, but he told me to try my level best to get a renewal. 5 days to get a US visa?? Unless you're related to Obama, you can probably kiss your trip goodbye.

Anyway, despite knowing that I wouldn't be able to make it for the trip (boohoohoo... no shopping!) I decided to just go ahead with the visa application. You know, just in case there are any other trips coming up in the horizon. 

So here's my crash course on how to apply for a US visa. The first step is to choose the type of non-immigrant visa you are applying for. For holiday or business travels, choose B1/B2. Once you have chosen the relevant type of visa, you will need to pay the application fee. Since I do not have an account with Standard Chartered Bank, I chose to pay cash at the bank. Note that you will have to generate a deposit slip (from the US travel docs website) and bring this slip to the bank when making payment. If you are applying for multiple family members, each will need a unique deposit slip. Upon receiving your payment, the bank will issue you a receipt. Save your receipt. It cannot be replaced if it is lost. You will not be able to schedule an appointment without your receipt number.

Just 4 hours after you have made your payment at the bank, you can proceed to make an appointment. Create a profile online and and fill in the DS-160 form. You will require a soft copy version of your photo (white background). Allocate about 30 minutes to fill in the form - it is quite a lengthy one! After submitting the DS-160 form, you will be given a number. Using this number (10 digit barcode number), your receipt number and passport number, you can proceed to make an appointment. Usually, the first appointment you can book will be a week after! Print the appointment confirmation letter.

On your appointment date, schedule to arrive 15 minutes earlier than your appointment time. Too early and you will not be allowed to queue. Bring the appointment confirmation letter, your passport and any other supporting documents to support your application. I suggest the following:
  • All previous passports containing previous US visas
  • Latest 3 months payslip
  • Job confirmation letter from your employer
  • Letter from employer of your intent to travel (for business trips) or training schedule (company training)
  • Bank statements or any other evidence of financial standing
  • The website also asks you to bring the DS-160 form confirmation page, one recent white background photo, bank fee receipt - I brought this but they didn't ask for it
Sounds complicated??? Don't worry, the shopping in US will make it all worth it. *chuckles*

The extremely longggg queue.

Once you get to the front of the queue, they will ask to see your appointment confirmation letter. You will have to leave your IC here in exchange for a visitor pass (in green). Once you get the visitor pass, it is back to queuing to get through security.

Loveeeeee these baskets. *sarcasm* Yes, you will have to leave your phone and car keys in this basket and pass it to security. Don't bother bringing your laptop because you will have to leave this too. In a nutshell, no surfing on Facebook or Instagram while waiting in the embassy!

The security door... and the last photo before I had to surrender my phone.

The security check includes taking off your shoes, so wear something you can easily take off and put on. Once inside the compound, you walk through a very pretty garden, up some stairs and through another door. A guard will point you to a door, go inside and queue up to get fingerprinted. All ten fingers yea! After that, you will be given a number. Wait patiently for your number. If you must, visit the ladies while waiting. Don't worry, you will have plenty of time in the loo. (Don't make the same mistake as me... I went to the ladies before being fingerprinted so after I got my number I had to wait again. Such a waste of time!)

Pray hard that you get a kind mat salleh (and not some show off don't-even-look-like-mat-salleh-but-probably-has-a-US-green-card) interviewer as the interview will determine whether you get a visa and consequently, the duration of your visa. Truthfully, I was sweating buckets before they called my number. And just my luck, I got a very unfriendly non-mat-salleh lah. She looked like a local Malaysian but had such a weird accent that she threw me off guard. Anyway, she didn't even smile, didn't want to see any of my supporting documents (I offered!) and the only thing she asked was, "When did your last US visa expire?" I answered, and then she ended the interview. Before I left the counter, I asked "How long is my visa for?" and she curtly answered "You will know when you get your passport." Uuurrrggghhh menyampah

Two working days after my interview, I received a text message saying that my passport was ready for collection. The pick up point was somewhere in PJ. 

Collecting my passport.

Alhamdulillah, despite the sullen faced interviewer, she granted me another 10-year visa. *smiles* Now let's hope the oil price goes back up, to fund my next trip to Houston!


  1. Replies
    1. US Visa memang usually 10 years... tapi proses nak dapatkan 10 years tuh, alahaiiiiii susah sangat! :P

  2. Hey there. Getting US visa was laborious but yup, the shopping was worth it! We came back with 3 suitcases full of shopping hauls, and since we stopped midway in UK, the luggage was quite a hindrance!

    1. Oh wow, you certainly did a fair bit of shopping! For me, what I usually shop for in the US (household good) is different from what I would shop for in the UK (handbags). If I were to do the same trip as yours, I would probably pengsan jugak nak bawak balik my load of shopping!


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