The U.S. State Department has reinstated at least two valid B1/B2 visas it cancelled in September and October when these Commonwealth-only worker permit holders were granted CW visas at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. But other CW visa holders in the same predicament have yet to get their tourist visas reinstated.
“I felt relieved, happy, and thankful that they reinstated my U.S. tourist visa, which is still valid until March 2019. They told me it was accidentally cancelled,” Grace Viloria, 41, told Saipan Tribune on her return to Saipan.
Viloria’s 10-year, multiple-entry B1/B2 visa was stamped “canceled without prejudice” on Sept. 25. That was the day of her appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila to apply for a CW visa, which she needed to be able to re-enter the CNMI as a CW-2 permit holder.
Viloria agreed to share her story with Saipan Tribune—initially as an unnamed source, fearing she would have more problems with her papers later. That story was published on Oct. 9.
On Oct. 11, Viloria got a call from a visa assistant at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, asking her to resubmit her old passport bearing her cancelled B1/B2 visa, a 2x2 photo, and a filled out DS 160 form.
“When I got that call, I was hoping they would tell me they will reinstate my tourist visa. The visa assistant told me it was accidentally cancelled,” Viloria said in an interview.
A month after her B1/B2 visa’s cancellation on Sept. 25, Viloria received on Oct. 26 her reinstated B1/B2 visa attached to her new passport bearing the same expiration date of March 2019.
She showed Saipan Tribune her old passport with the “cancelled” B1/B2 visa and her new passport with the reinstated B1/B2 visa.
Viloria’s husband, a CW-1 permit holder, went through the same experience, with his B1/B2 visa also cancelled in mid-October.
“When my husband saw that his B1/B2 was stamped ‘canceled,’ he immediately asked the consul, a female Caucasian, why it was canceled when it’s still valid until 2018. Later on, the consul told him, ‘we will fix it right away.’ Then my husband said, ‘This is also what happened to my wife’s B1/B2.’ And the consul told him, ‘So that’s your wife whose story was published in a Guam newspaper.’ My husband thought the consul meant Saipan newspaper,” Mrs. Viloria added.
Mr. Viloria’s B1/B2 was also reinstated, attached to his new passport.
Mrs. Viloria was not able to question right away the consul that cancelled her B1/B2 visa because she did not check her old passport where that visa was attached, until she reached home.
“When I was still at the Embassy, it didn’t occur to me that my tourist visa would be cancelled because a friend of mine who also applied for a CW visa at the embassy didn’t get her valid B1/B2 visa cancelled,” she added.
She said she learned from her experience and hopes that others would, too.
“The lesson learned here is to check all your documents before you leave the Embassy. And if you see something that bothers you, ask right away. If your B1/B2 visa is still valid, ask right away why it’s being cancelled. Don’t be afraid to ask and speak up,” she added.
When Viloria’s initial story came out, others whose valid B1/B2 visas were also cancelled when their CW visa application was approved also came forward. Unlike the Vilorias, however, the others like Elmer Pineda did not contest the cancellation of their tourist visas while they were still in the Philippines.
The story generated interest because federal agencies earlier assured that valid U.S. tourist visas won’t be cancelled while applying for or upon approval of a CW visa.
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s (Ind-MP) office, however, said those in similar situations may bring their specific issue to their attention and the office might be able to help them.
The U.S. State Department, in response to a Saipan Tribune request for clarification on the reasons for the visa cancellations, said, “CW visa holders may apply for and hold B1/B2 visas. We cannot comment on specific cases as visa records are confidential under U.S. law. Applicants are advised to check our website for more information and refer to questions to the embassy or consulate processing their cases.”
Information about the CW visa application is available at the U.S. Embassy’s website at http://manila.usembassy.gov/cnmi-visas.html.