The Priority Interview Program (PIP) is designed to promote and facilitate legitimate business travel between the United States and the Philippines. It allows qualifying businesses access to:
- Expedited visa appointment – appointments within two days vs. the normal three-week wait time
- Dedicated line of communication – PIPManila@state.gov
- Priority processing of visas and deliveries
Please note that employment with a PIP-designated company does not guarantee visa issuance.
HOW TO APPLY FOR PIP MEMBERSHIP
There are no application forms to complete. To apply for PIP membership, the interested company must submit the following:
- A cover letter including a brief description of the company and the type of business in the Philippines, including the number of full-time direct-hire employees in the Philippines. Each subsidiary must submit a separate application for individual PIP membership.
- A statement of the company’s annual travel needs, including number of employees sent to the United States in the last two years, as well as those anticipated to be sent within the next year.
- A Specimen Signature page printed on company letterhead. This one-page Specimen Signature should contain signatures of at least two but no more than four people designated to sign guarantee letters and other documents with respect to the program. To view a sample signatory letter, click here. If you have more than one location, a maximum of six signatures on the Specimen Signature is allowed.
- Complete contact information (email address, telephone, and fax) for each company signatory and authorized representative designated to act on behalf of the company.
- Three letters of references from customers, suppliers, or business partners in the United States. Only one reference letter should be from a business partner in the United States.
- Evidence of the company’s annual revenue for the last three years, i.e. audited financial statements.
Applications for membership should be sent to PIPManila@state.gov or to the following address:
Priority Interview Program Coordinator
Nonimmigrant Visa Unit
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Boulevard
Most membership applications will require a site visit by Embassy officials in order to meet key managers/staff and understand the travel needs of the organization. Your application will be reviewed for eligibility and you will be contacted for a site visit if necessary. Companies accepted into the program will receive a membership letter containing instructions on how to apply for visas under the Priority Interview Program and how to obtain a group code for the on-line appointment system.
Questions regarding PIP membership can be emailed to PIPManila@state.gov.
CRITERIA FOR PIP MEMBERSHIP
When evaluating applications, the Embassy uses the following criteria:
- An established profitable business, as indicated by:
a) Annual revenue (typically in excess of 20 million pesos)
b) Number of full-time, regular employees (typically in excess of 100 employees in
positions requiring college degrees)
c) Profitable business activity
- Strong business ties with the United States: This may be demonstrated by factors such as a large customer base in the United States, or partnership, subsidiary or supplier relationships with U.S. companies that have been in place for at least three years.
- Frequent business travel by employees to the United States (typically, at least 10 employees traveling to the United States per year).
- Positive community awareness and reputation in the Philippines: The business must be well known in its industry and business community and enjoy a strong, positive reputation.
REQUIREMENTS FOR PIP COMPANIES
A PIP company must ensure that all visa applications are limited to full-time direct-hire employees of the company who are being sent on temporary company business in the United States. It will be the responsibility of PIP member company to:
- Provide and maintain an updated list of authorized signatories, electronically submitting in ADOBE format, a complete Specimen Signature each time there is an addition or removal of an authorized signatory, to PIPManila@state.gov;
- Provide and maintain updated contact information, including e-mail addresses, for company signatories and other authorized representatives;
- For L applicants, submit a signed itemized compensation package agreement between the company and the employee;
- Ensure that employees of non-member subsidiary companies do not apply under the PIP program;
- Notify the Embassy immediately if any employees resign while in the United States, or fail to return to the Philippines after their visit;
- Respond to periodic audits by the Embassy to verify compliance with PIP regulations;
- Ensure the integrity of the PIP program by safeguarding PIP Specimen Signature and on-line appointment code.
HOW TO APPLY FOR A VISA UNDER PIP
To apply for a visa under this program, please check the Nonimmigrant Visa Application Procedures page. In addition to the basic documentary requirements, each PIP applicant is required to do the following:
- Apply for a visa through the PIP channel. A PIP applicant who failed to comply will be automatically refused and will need to apply again through the PIP channel.
- Bring a Guarantee Letter on company letterhead and signed by at least one authorized signatory mentioning the applicant by name and explaining the purpose of travel. For a sample guarantee letter, click here. An applicant who appears for an interview without a valid Guarantee Letter will be automatically refused and will need to apply again with a valid Guarantee Letter in order to be considered.
- Demonstrate that s/he is a bona fide business traveler with substantial ties to the Philippines that will compel his/her return after a temporary visit to the United States. S/he must be able to explain the purpose of the trip. Articulate why s/he was selected over other employees to attend business meetings and or/training in the U.S. For example, what particular skill makes this applicant a desirable employee.
PIP ACCOUNTABILITY – IMPORTANT REMINDERS
PIP companies have access to expedited visa appointments for their employees as well as a dedicated line of communication for any inquiries or problems. In order to run an efficient program for all our clients, we require that all employees of PIP companies apply using the specially designated PIP appointments. Employees of PIP member companies who have not made appointments through the dedicated PIP channel will be turned away.
Do make sure the guarantee letter notes the company you will be visiting (whether that is company headquarters or a client) as well as the expected length of your employee’s stay in the United States.
Remember, only employees of PIP companies who are going on OFFICIAL COMPANY business are eligible to use the program.
Please make sure the Specimen Signature page on file with the Embassy is up to date.
Companies unable or unwilling to abide by the rules of the PIP program may face suspension or termination. The PIP member company should check the Embassy website periodically for updates to the visa and/or PIP process.
Member companies should update their authorized Specimen Signature page with the Embassy immediately to avoid automatic disqualification of an employee’s visa application due to non-matching authorized signatories. The company’s Specimen Signature must not be in the possession of applicants. The Specimen Signature is a protected document to ensure the integrity of the program.
PIP applicants must not be on personal trips or be a contract worker, i.e., monthly, quarterly, biannual, or annual contract. Company travelers should travel on activities that relate to a particular nonimmigrant visa class. Please visit the U.S. Embassy Visa Information Service website for information on the appropriate visa classification to apply.
For inquiries regarding the Priority Interview Program, please contact the PIP team at PIPManila@state.gov.