August 16th, 2018
(I started writing this when my visa was still on process, thank goodness I’ve got my visa or else this blog is gonna go to waste lol)
It has been my long time dream to go to Europe,
who doesn’t? This was even planned two years back but because I resigned in my previous company, I knew it’d be hard for me to apply for the visa as unemployed. I didn’t want to take the risk. I waited to get a new job and finally, after a year of working in my new company I am now planning my annual leave. I decided to push through my European dream.
As a Philippine passport holder, it is not really easy for us to get visa everywhere. I have to undergo all these visa application, appointment and documents preparation.
Preparing documents without a travel agency guidance is a little stressful. I did a lot of research for the entire year because I want everything to be perfect lol. I have been reading different articles, rules and regulations, requirements of embassy, reviews and even the failure experiences of someone else. I had the option to get an agency, why I didn’t do it? The answer is, I wanted to try if I can do it on my own. I had my US Visa application through an agency before, so for a change I prepared all my documents and did my own research.
What are the documents that I have prepared?
*Schengen Application form - I suggest you fill this up once you have completely decided what will be your itinerary, booked hotels and flights. Go to the website of the nearest Embassy of the Schengen state that you are applying for.
*VFS Visa Application Appointment - Since I am employed in Maldives my nearest embassy is here in Sri Lanka, and when I finished filling up my application form in Embassy of France’s website, it directed me to VFS for appointment.
VISA FEE: 60 EUR
VFS PROCESSING FEE: around 18-20 EUR
“VFS Global is an outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide. The company manages visa and passport issuance-related administrative and non-discretionary tasks for its client governments. Wikipedia”
*Cover Letter - the letter should be addressed to the consulate of the schengen state you are applying for. In the body of the letter you need to state the ff: Your name, passport number, the purpose of stay, countries/cities you’re planning to visit, and the documents you have prepared (in order).
Send me a message if you want to see the sample of my cover letter. It’s FREE! :)
*Photocopy of my current and old passport. (The data page and all the stamped pages, include the last page of your passport to be safe.)
*Recent ID PHOTO- 2 copies of passport photo. I took 2 different photos of me but it was still not accepted by VFS, good thing there’s a small photo studio just next to their office.
Your face should be focused and the contrast should be a little strong.
*Flight bookings- the embassy will not require nor advise you to book an actual ticket that you have to pay for the full price without even knowing if you’ll be issued a visa or not. There are online agencies that offers flight booking packages. I found mine in the site of dreameurotrip(dot)com. I purchased the regular package which takes 18 hrs before they book it, 8 flights and up to 3 corrections. Regular package costs 35 USD or 25.99 EUR. You can check the website flightreservationforvisa(dot)com or you can also email them at email@example.com
Although the flights are valid until 3 weeks, I would suggest to purchase it 2 or 3 days before your visa appointment. Two of my flights were cancelled so the agency had to reactivate it again. Please be advised that the airline itself cancels trip without prior notice and the agency can book any airlines except low cost carriers.
You can also book it on your own by calling directly the airline that you prefer, usually they can hold your reservation up to 48-72 hours. This is with fee as well so if you do it on your own in all airlines you will also end up paying the same amount for the package or maybe even more, plus it’s time consuming. This is why I decided to just get the package than stress myself out calling all the airlines.
*Travel Itinerary - I put all the dates, the country/city I’m going to, flight number and the airline. Next are the places I wanted to visit, I also put my estimated budget per day in that certain place not including my hotel. Please not that different schengen state has different minimum for budget per day. In the last page of my itinerary I put the total money I’ll be spending.
*Hotel bookings - This is quite easy as you know I like to use booking(dot)com ever since. It’s easy to search for places and filter it with your preference of price range and even the hotels that has free cancellation. I chose budget hotel/hostel with free cancellation and close to metro/subway.
Here’s a link to get 10% back of the price of your stay https://booking.com/s/38_6/cd94219e
Other than booking(dot)com, you can also check Air BnB, Agoda, Hotels, Expedia, and etc.
If someone is hosting you, there’s an official letter that the host need to get from their city hall. You need to show that letter together with your documents, a proof that someone will be providing your accommodation.
*Travel Insurance Policy - I found my travel insurance in the website of www.schengenvisainfo.com itself. They recommended Mawista Visum as it covers all the schengen policy required for the visa application and it’s affordable. Their minimum is 8 days but since I will stay 11 days, I purchased their 15 days package for EUR 19. Once your visa is denied you just give them a proof and they will refund your money for the insurance that you have paid for. Once they send you the insurance policy you have to print it out and bring it with you in your appointment.
*Proof of Sufficient funds - I gave my salary slip for the last 6 months (although they only needed the last 3 months), and my bank statement for again, the last 6 months. (Last 3 months are good)
*Proof of employment - Copy of my employment contract, my work visa card, and certificate of employment.
*Proof of Leave/Absence - It didn’t really specify in the list of requirements to provide this, but as much as possible I want my ties to be strong so I have attached my Leave Form signed by my department head and HR. This is for them to know that you are really going for a holiday and coming back to work.
*Birth Certificate - It is not mandatory but VFS asked me if I have it. Mine was even authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs in my home country.
Do I just apply in any schengen embassy?
No. Choosing the embassy depends on your trip. If you plan to stay in 3 different Schengen countries for 5 days each, you have to apply to the embassy of your point of entry.
EXAMPLE: Maldives - France - Spain - Italy - Maldives
> Your point of entry will be France meaning you have to apply in the Embassy of France.
If you will be staying in different schengen countries in different duration, you need to apply your visa to the embassy of the country that you will be staying the most, regardless if it’s your point of entry or not.
EXAMPLE: Maldives - Greece (1 week) - Hungary (3 days) - Switzerland (2 weeks) - Maldives
> Since you will be staying the most of your days in Switzerland, then you need to apply in Switzerland’s embassy.
So once you have all the requirements ready, you are good to go. There are embassies that interviews applicants. I wasn’t interviewed by the consulate. I just went to VFS France Colombo submitted my complete documents and asked me to go to Embassy of France the next day to pick up my passport. At that time, they will not tell you if you passed or not. Once you pick up your passport they will inform you regarding the result.
How long does it take for the visa to be processed?
The average is 3 to 5 working days, if the embassy wanted to ask you for more documents then it will take more than 5 days. My visa was processed in one day, as I am a holder of Maldives Work Visa. I think they prioritize the people who lives in Maldives since we have to fly all the way to Sri Lanka just to process everything, but of course this is still case to case basis.
After all the hassle and struggle (I almost lost all my original documents when I was in Male, i left it in one of the shops.) I am finally going to Europe!
more of my journey in instagram: @rxnrvr
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