MANILA – Need your U.S. visa to travel to the United States? Read the advice of the United States Embassy in Manila.

In a statement dated July 16, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines announced it has canceled nonimmigrant B1/B2 (Business/Tourist) visa interview appointments scheduled through August 31, 2021. This is actually a month of extension since its last cancellation up to July 31.

The decision was in response to the continued significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according the US Embassy.

The embassy said applicants for new visas or renewal of their old visas can only reschedule the canceled visa interview once routine visa services resume by contacting the US Embassy call center at (+632) 7792-8988 and (+632) 8548-8223, or through the online appointment system at http://cdn.ustraveldocs.com/ph.

“There is no need to contact us at this time.  Please continue to monitor our website at https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-updates/ for updates regarding the resumption of routine visa services at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines,” the embassy said.

The resumption of routine visa services is on a post-by-post basis, in coordination with the State Department’s framework for safely returning our workforce to Department facilities.

U.S. Embassies and Consulates have continued to provide emergency and mission-critical visa services since March and will continue to do so as they are able.  As post-specific conditions improve, our missions have begun providing additional services, culminating eventually in a complete resumption of routine visa services.

The embassy said there is no fee to change an appointment, and the validity of the visa fee payment (known as the MRV fee) is extended until September 30, 2022 to allow applicants who are unable to schedule a visa appointment because of the suspension of routine consular operations an opportunity to schedule and/or attend a visa interview appointment with the already paid fee.

For questions and case-specific inquiries, applicants can contact the US Embassy’s Consular Communications Group at https://ph.usembassy.gov/visas/contactus/, the embassy said.

Meanwhile, the Philippine government has  received a donation of 420 intensive care unit beds worth P23.9 million from the United States.

US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires (CDA) John Law turned over the beds to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III at the Department of Health compound in Manila where he relayed Washington D.C.’s commitment to continue assisting Manila during this health crisis.

“We are honored to be able to support our Philippine partners with this ICU bed donation, which will directly support medical facilities across the country. The United States will continue to stand with our Filipino allies as we together confront the challenges posed by the Covid-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic,” Law said.

The donation was provided by the US Indo-Pacific Command and aims to augment medical facilities in areas across the country where there are surges in Covid-19 cases.

According to the Embassy, an additional 180 ICU beds will be shipped in coordination with Philippine partners in the coming months to further support the critical care capacity in rural provinces across Mindanao and Luzon.

“These deliveries will support regional, city, and municipal hospitals and medical centers in every region of the Philippines to effectively manage critical Covid-19 patients,” the Embassy said.

Washington, D.C. has already provided more than P1.38 billion (US$27.5 million) to support the country’s response against Covid-19.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), meanwhile, donated over P12 million (US$240,000) worth of distance learning equipment to the Department of Education (DepEd) for its Alternative Learning System (ALS) e-Skwela learning centers, the US Embassy in Manila said.

The agency virtually turned over the assistance on July 14 to DepEd ALS Assistant Secretary G.H. Ambat and Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal.

“The US government, through USAID, is here to support DepEd in reinvigorating education programs. We are working hard so that vulnerable, out-of-school youth who have stopped schooling due to the pandemic are given the opportunity and tools to adapt, grow, and have a better tomorrow,” USAID Acting Mission Director Sean Callahan said.

Included in the donations are desktop units, printers, projectors, wireless routers, and other necessary materials for ALS implementers and learners to execute distance learning programs.

According to the Embassy, e-Skwela centers in the cities of Cagayan de Oro, General Santos, Angeles, Legazpi, and Davao will be among the aid’s beneficiaries.

Through its Opportunity 2.0 program, USAID had been supporting ALS’s continuity amid the pandemic by helping restore access to education for vulnerable out-of-school youth.