VISAtisfied Voyager: new visa blog of the U.S. Embassy Manila

The U.S. Embassy Manila is now the most active embassy in the Philippines on social media (with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr). And just recently, they did it again!

They now have….*drumroll*…..a VISA BLOG!

You read that right. They have an official visa blog, VISAtisfied Voyager, whose goal is “to provide timely and relevant information to members of the public interested in learning about the Nonimmigrant and Immigrant visa processes.”

The choice to put up a blog shows the determination of the embassy to draw in feedback from readers. Every week, topics relevant to visa applicants will be posted. You can ask questions, leave comments and even provide feedback with any experience you may have while applying for a U.S. visa.

Behind the blog is a team of visa experts from the embassy’s Non-immigrant and Immigrant Visa units. It is hoped that through this blog, visa applicants can be kept up to date with new developments that may affect their applications.

Take note though. The U.S. Embassy Manila will not be able to respond to individual visa-specific questions on the visa blog. If you have questions that are specific to your situation, email the embassy at the following addresses:

consmanilaniv@state.gov (for individual, non-immigrant visa applications)

ivmanilareplies@state.gov (for individual immigrant visa applications)

With literally thousands of Pinoys applying for travel visas every year, the addition of this visa blog is sure to clear up many myths and provide clear advice for everyone, more so for those who may be applying for the first time.

Congratulations to the entire team of the U.S. Embassy Manila who are behind VISAtisfied Voyager as well as responsible for all its social media efforts!

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U.S. Embassy in the Philippines holds its first web chat

In an unprecedented move by an embassy to connect with Filipinos and answer some burning questions, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines is hosting a web chat right now (Feb. 23, 2011) as I am typing this post out. The first topic: U.S. Non-Immigrant Visas.

The hour-long web chat (from 4pm to 5pm) was well-announced. First, a Facebook event page was created. Then I heard the announcement of the web chat several times since yesterday over Crossover 105.1 FM. And a friend told me it was also announced over DZRH when a consular representative guested.

The chat room has about 117 participants as of this writing which includes people from the U.S. Embassy who are answering the questions posted on the chat room. To log on, go to this page.

The questions range from general questions — like what documents are needed to apply for an immigrant visa, why certain people were denied, how long before a schedule can be given — to specific family situations like an entire family wanting to apply for visas to attend a wedding.

I believe that this move not only brings the U.S. Embassy (and its government) closer to the Filipinos but attempts to address issues that are close to the Pinoys’ hearts. The issue of non-immigrant visas was a good choice, considering summer is very near, and many are planning vacations.

There were a few technical difficulties at the start of the web chat but I believe those are just birth pains. I hope that this marks the start of more technology-based communications with the Filipino people on matters that are of importance to both countries.

I’d like to congratulate the U.S. Embassy in Manila as well as the entire team behind it. More power to you!

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