On March 13, I had the privilege of touring portions of the U.S. Embassy in Manila. It is unfortunate that the embassy grounds are not normally open for tours. The property, built on land reclaimed from Manila Bay in the 1930s, is the site of many historical events.
In addition to the grounds and chancery building, an hour was spent in the new Annex building which houses a variety of consular services, including visa issuance. Opened in 2011, the Annex has over 99 service windows and provides a clean and comfortable waiting area capable of seating over 500 applicants. There is even a children’s play area (designed and supported by embassy staff). Obviously, a great improvement over the old visa complex.
Part of the tour included a simulated walkthrough of the entire visa issuance process, starting with entry into the compound and finishing at the last window where a decision is made. Whenever I have the opportunity to visit an embassy, alone or with a client, I come away with a better understanding of the visa applicant experience.
And on this trip, I also came away with a colorful hat!
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