Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Disclaimer: This is a post based on a personal experience solely for the purpose of sharing and NOT meant to replace official statements and is NOT in any way representative of the US Embassy or the country of USA.

Hubby asked me to join him this time round for a work trip to the United States of America (US), and having given it a miss last year (2011) when he went alone without me, I jumped at the offer and started planning our trip, etc, etc.. and the inevitable has to be done - the US Visa for Malaysians.

I checked out the website and found that I needed a soft copy of my visa photo (as well as the hard copy), hence I paused filling up the online form and went for my photoshoot, I look horrid in the photo but oh well, it is only the visa, better I look horrid in photo, than beautiful in photo but horrid in person, right? (self-consolation). Please ensure the background is white and it is 2" by 2" (please check for exact measurement of photo).

This website is quite comprehensive, it is their official website so it'd better be! http://malaysia.usembassy.gov/niv.html
Just follow the instructions (there are MANY) and you should be fine.

After the photo (and get the soft copy of the hard copy as well!), upload your photo (it should be resized to the correct dimension) and you shall get another form receipt, two pages to proof you have submitted the DS-160 form, there is NO NEED to print out your entire application form unless for own safekeeping.

That ends the preliminary steps.

Next, let's talk about money. The cheapest visa are the usual tourist/business (including for reporters) which costs RM448 in year 2012, payable only at Standard Chartered Banks (any branch). Get the visa deposit form, fill it up, and REMEMBER your passport number or bring your passport with you as you need to fill up your passport number when you pay. I made the MISTAKE of not taking note of my passport number and needed to visit Standard Chartered twice. Don't repeat my mistake! KEEP THE RECEIPT!!! You need it when you go back online and during the interview, so keep the receipt safe and with you at all times!


Upon payment, there is no set window period, but just don't wait too long ya? I waited till CNY was over before I set my interview (and I submitted my DS-160 form online on Jan 17, my interview was on Feb 21, just because I chose to). One month is okay, I think. Did not read anywhere if there is a time limit to submit - pay - set interview - and finally attend interview.

Go to : www.ustraveldocs.com/my

Log in, set up an account first, of course, it is NOT linked directly to the DS-160 form that you submitted online, I entered my name as Sue Tiong and it was accepted even though it isn't my full name, I guess for interview setting it isn't too important as the application form?

You need to enter the receipt number, you SHOULD NOT include your passport number - the less-than-intelligent bank teller (Standard Chartered Bank) whom I ask said it is all the digits all the way including my passport number - NOT!!! And that effiminate (soft) guy of the bank teller dare to scoff at me as if I should not be asking that question. If you don't know, say so, and don't give wrong information!

Upon inserting the receipt number, you should be able to open the page where you may select your preferred choice from the many slots/dates for interview. In Malaysia, there is only one place for the interview regardless of where you are in Malaysia, you need to travel to Kuala Lumpur at the US EMBASSY at Jalan Tun Razak for the interview and it is only on weekday mornings. I chose a Tuesday, 10am interview as it is the 'latest' time slot available at that time (scared of traffic jam during morning rush hour). Then all you have to do is to wait patiently for your interview day to arrive.

*UPDATE 2013: THANKS TO FAY (refer to comments below), THE CURRENT VISA FEE IS RM512*

*UPDATE 2015: THANKS TO KRISH K (refer to comments below), the CURRENT VISA FEE is RM688*


On the interview day, it goes without saying that you need all the documents ready the night before, and preferably with a good night's sleep, and you should arrive at least 20 minutes before your interview time.

Modes of Transportation to US Embassy? (The interview is at the US Embassy at Jalan Ampang)

Take a taxi straight to the door steps, or if you don't mind 10 minutes of walking, take the Kelana Jaya LRT line up to Ampang Park and exit and walk all the way towards the white PNB building, just walk on the opposite site, you should pass all the car showrooms, Micasa Hotel and Suites and the See Hoy Chan building before you arrive at the Embassy, you cannot miss it, with its grey concrete walls that gives you no view of what transpired inside.

I usually don't opt for public transportation, hence I contributed to the thinning ozone layer by driving and parked some 7-min-walk away from the embassy at RM4 per entry open space parking lot, or we Malaysians say, open-spaced carpark. The nearer you park, the more expensive the parking fees are, but it won't go more than RM10 maximum, depending on where you park. Had to double park and surrender the keys to the Indian guy, and I don't really mind as my car is already 13 years old, and bears many 'battle' scars, hence I paid RM4 and surrendered the keys (with a proper number stub to reclaim the keys later), and off I walked towards the embassy.

I told you my hubby went to the US the year before right? Since it is only a one-off-thing for the next 10 years, he forgot most details about the visa application process despite it being not even exactly a year since it passed. Okay, human memories fail us sometimes. Hence, to NOT repeat the same mistake of forgetting, lest you become not-so-much-of-a-help to future friends or family members who needed to apply for a US visa, I am writing this blog post, so that it will come in handy, if not my personal social circle, if it shows up in a google search for Malaysians who are looking for more info to apply for a US visa, I hope this blogpost will be of some help!

BE PREPARED TO PHYSICALLY WAIT (and go to the toilet before starting your wait)

The rule of thumb is you should arrive 20 minutes earlier, and you should also be prepared to wait in line (with some benches over a 50m or less stretch) for about an hour. My wait time OUTSIDE the gates was about ONE HOUR and 40 minutes. Arrived at about 9.40am in front of the gates, got into the Q, found a seat, by the time I was called inside and got a number, it was 11.32am, embassy clock. My interview was set at 10am. Since at 9.50am, even those whose interview was set at 8.50am hadn't been called in yet, I walked away for some seven minutes to locate a 'safe' toilet. ALWAYS REMEMBER TO visit the washroom before reporting to the front gate of the embassy as you never know how long you need to wait outside (there are washrooms INSIDE in the waiting area but we were stuck outside for so long).


You will need to provide ANOTHER form of photo identification BESIDES YOUR PASSPORT, such as driver's license or your identification card for Malaysians OR a photocopy of your passport if you are non-Malaysian, for you to exchange for a pass to enter the embassy grounds, they will clip your identification with a tag, which you should get back the moment you surrender your visitor pass upon exit.

The first stage of 'reporting' is at the front gate counter (which took about over an hour for me to reach in Q) - where the guy will tick off your name and this is where you show your interview appointment letter, which I forgot to bring, but he asked me what time was my appointment and I told him and he crossed off my name/or was it tick it off, anyway, I was kinda relieved I was on the list as I have nothing to proof my interview time as I didn't print out that piece of DOC!!!


Only two persons (or ONE family with small children) are allowed to be in the security check point at any one time, it was all tinted glass, so no one knows from the outside what is happening inside. Be prepared to surrender your electronic devices (hand phone, iPad/tablets, laptops, camera, thumb/pen drive included) upon entering the security check/scan room. Also be prepared for a bag search. Water bottles are allowed provided you take a sip in front of the security officer and in front of the CCTV. Keys are supposed to be kept at the security together with your mobile phones, and you will be given a tag with a number for you to reclaim your stuff upon exit.
ALWAYS wait for instructions and don't be in haste and the security officers will talk to you nicely, the guy in front of me was too hurried to reclaim his backpack after the scan that he was told off by the guard. The same guard used a softer tone with me, so be patient, stand there and wait and let them do their job.


The building itself reminds me of the US government offices they portray in the movies depicting the US gov. A walk up a flight of steps and you will enter a lobby area with another guard and a reception/enquiries counter. The guard would point a blur person (like me) to the left to press A for tourist/non immigrant visa. Then I was told to wait at the waiting lounge on the right - this is where the restrooms are! Go while you can as you have about 5-10 minutes with about 8 people in front of you (as indicated on the ticket for the number).

There are two screens at the lounge - one had an 8TV show of an exchange students-programme in the US involving Malaysian students which I think was pre-recorded and showed again and again for the visa applicants and the other one was showing a video of US national parks and also instructions of how to take the hand and finger prints and also instructions of visa collection in three languages, English, Chinese and Malay, I tried to read my book and finished about 20 pages.

You will be called by number, electronic display board will display your number, with A and C as the prefix, A for the 'cheaper tourist visa' and C for the more expensive one (you can check the proper names on the website I provided above).

First, your number will be called and you proceed to counter 1 or 2 for the 'registration', where you surrender your print-outs and your passport and your receipt.

1. Passport
2. Interview Appointment Confirmation Letter
3. The confirmation that you have submitted the DS-160 form (two-pages)
4. If you already submitted the soft copy of your photo, then only ONE piece of the required TWO visa photos (then why asked us to bring TWO, I printed FOUR to be safe, lol).

I think that's all.

The Malay lady was quite nice and did not scold me or anything when I failed to produce my interview appointment confirmation letter, I just smiled sheepishly and said "lupa bawak". Then she asked me what time was my appointment and I told her 10am, and she just ticked my name off the list, I got through! I thought my RM448 is gonna go down the drain at the moment! Phew! SO PLEASE bring all the four items above!

After that Counter 1 or 2 'checking', you would have surrenderred your passport and return to the waiting lounge on the right again. This time, you wait for another 5-15 minutes until your number is called again.

Then you proceed to Counters 3/4/5. This is where your hand print (four fingers on each hand) and thumb prints are taken. Then there is no need for you to return to the waiting lounge and just wait at that area - it reminds me of a bank with counters and long waiting chairs, some people prefer to stand while I just took at seat next to a complaining Malay lady and waited. The lady beside me was complaining to another guy that her appointment time was BEFORE 10am, but her friend, a guy, whose time was 10am, had his interview over and done with and she was still waiting. Oh well, must be some delay in the process, I guess.

Less than 5 minutes later, my number was called, don't expect to sit down during the interview as it is just like a over-the-counter-bank transaction (old style), you are standing up the whole time. My interview was over and done with in about three minutes. The guy before me was saying to a lady that he only got THREE questions, I got more though. My interviewer is a dark-haired Caucasian man.

My questions: 1. What is the purpose of your visit to the US?
I replied to follow my husband who is on a conference.

2. Does your husband hold a US Visa?

3. What is the name of the company (of your husband)?
I mentioned the name and he knew the name, obviously judging by the next question.

4. Are you going to California (the HQ)?
No, we are going to Florida, where the conference is going to be held.

5. How long are you going to be in the US?
Two weeks

6. So you are teaching?

7. What are you teaching?
Public Relations

8. Which university are you teaching at?
I answered

Then he returned the receipt to me (he actually returned it before the questions above) and said - there is no problem with processing your visa... thank you.

I said thank you and left the counter with a card with a serial number (to be surrendered upon visa collection), walked out of the building towards the security check point kiosk (no need go in), collected my stuff, returned the tags, turned on my phone and called my hubby and said, "I got the visa".

You can collect the visa yourself at Wisma MCA, or you can opt to have it delivered, if you enter your office address, make sure that the card/stub with the serial number is given to the person who receives parcels/mails. Approved visa can be collected on the next working day at 3pm (check the exact time on their website) and if via delivery, within a few days after interview.

US here I come!!!

p/s- This serves also as a reminder just in case I wish to renew my visa in 2022, 10 years from now. :-)

*UPDATE 2013: THANKS TO FAY (refer to comments below), THE CURRENT VISA FEE IS RM512*

*UPDATE 2015: THANKS TO KRISH K (refer to comments below), the CURRENT VISA FEE is RM688*

Friday, 17 February 2012

February 2012

It's already the second month of the new year and I feel like time flies, maybe that'a a good thing because time seems to drag when it's not a good thing, so I guess good things are happening in my life so far! :D Will find the mojo to post more. Till then, adieu!