I know I've been lacking posts this year. I'll do my best to catch up. This is a backlog posts related to my Europe 2013 adventure.
I am not a visa officer nor a visa agent. This post comes from my own personal experience.
My Philippine passport wants to go to Europe again. Time to brace myself for another visa application. Despite the success of my Korean Visa and Japan Visa application, I still had butterflies when I applied for my second Schengen visa. I worried how my first visa application in the Italian embassy, which was denied, would factor in here. Although I was granted the Schengen visa in my second try, the denied application is still lodged in my records.
For this Europe trip, I will be staying in Spain the longest, so I had to lodge my application in the Spain Embassy. VFS Global handles the visa applications, they charge a fee for that. The website is quite comprehensive. Take some time reading the details in the website.
I lodged my appointment in the website. I had to keep rescheduling my application because of work-related matters and... I took into consideration Mercury Retrograde (hihihi, may horoscope factor din). My flight was in May, so to be safe, I applied during mid-March.
VFS Office Address:
Spain Visa Application Centre,
Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg.,
Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City
I lodged a late morning appointment. It was a short but hot walk from the office to the VFS Office. Left an ID in the G/F guard and he gave me a number, then assisted me going in the VFS room. You cannot take photos and you cannot use your cellphone inside. The guard will ask you to leave your gadgets in the reception – they’ll give you a number. Despite having an appointment, I waited for a good 30 minutes to be served because the applicants ahead of me seems like to be applying for the whole clan.
There’s free water inside, and you can look at some pictures of the Spain cities. After that, you may get quite bored, so bring a book or some magazine to read and calm your nerves while waiting. No gadgets allowed, so you cannot play 4pics 1 word here or Candy Crush.
I used the same photo that I used in my Japan visa kasi kinukuripot ako mag-papicture ulit. The girl who checked my documents was quite thorough, she noticed that I had the same picture in my Japan Visa (naaamaaaaaan). The visa was granted more than 6 months ago. And the website explicitly stated that the picture submitted should not be in only visas. Matigas lang talaga ulo ko no.
She said that I needed to submit a new photo. Also, I missed printing the reservation for my stay in Lisbon. (Whatdaaaa!!!! I double and triple checked everything!!!!). Anyway, I was allowed to submit the missing docs and new photo until 1:30 pm. I dashed to Glorietta then back to the office to retrieve my Lisbon reservation. At precisely 1:30, I was back in the VFS office. Whew.
Visa - Php 3,210.00
VFS Logistics Fee – Php 1,070.00
SMS Alert – Php 100.00
Visa photo – Php 80.00
Prepare exact fees.
I submitted the following documents, along with the checklist I accomplished.
- Duly filled-up application form with 2 photos
- Original passport with photocopy of first and last page
- Photocopy of Schengen visa issued in September to October 2011
- Original bank certificate
- Photocopy of credit cards
- Credit card statements for the past 7-8 months
- Certificate of employment: original
- Photocopy of previously issued visas: Schegen Visa (September 2011), South Korean Visa (April 2012), Japan Visa (October 2012).
- Photocopy of other passport stamps: Hongkong, Macau, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand
- Travel health certification insurance with a coverage of 30,000 euros
- Copy of Income Tax Returns from 2009 to 2012
- Flight Itinerary via KLM: Manila to Prague; Lisbon to Manila
- Itinerary for the duration of the trip
- Confirmed booking of accommodations
- Flight itinerary from Prague (Czech Republic) to Athens (Greece) via Aegean Air
- Roundtrip flight itinerary from Athens to Santorini (Greece) via Aegean Air
- Flight itinerary from Athens (Greece) to Barcelona (Spain) via Vueling
- Payslips for the last 7-8 months
- Statements of accounts for personal savings account and payroll account
- Statement of Account of mutual fund – Philequity Fund Inc.
- Original: Approved leave of absence
- Copy of future local travel bookings with approved leave of absence
Flight Reservations. Embassies just require flight reservations, not paid flight bookings. The flights I submitted were all paid. I know buying the flights is discouraged but I took the risk anyway.
Travel Insurance. I got one from Blue cross. Just because I can do this from my desk. I submitted a scanned copy of the application form then paid online. Just follow-up on the actual copy of the insurance. They didn’t immediately send mine. I had to call and follow-up.
Bank Certificate. BPI’s fee is Php 100. Just just takes them a couple of minutes to do this if there’s not a lot of people. Or you can just come back at a later time to claim it.
I also paid minimal fees for the downpayment for some of my hostels.
Now for that nagging question of "How much money should I have in the bank for the Schengen Visa?", please read this link (http://www.mediavisa.net/schengen-means-of-subsistence.php). Not an expert here, I can only share based on my experience. My bank account contained my remaining budget for the trip less the flights (because my flights were already paid), plus my emergency fund, plus my emergency travel fund. I also presented the Statement of Account of my mutual fund.
For peace of mind, I paid the hefty fee of the SMS alert. I don’t really advice this. They send emails anyway. The SMS message come a few hours after receiving the email.
|Sample VFS email|
Two working days after I submitted my application, I got an SMS from VFS Spain that I had an appointment to personally appear at Spain Embassy after two days. Talk about short notice.
I was in the office as early as 8:00am. I lodged my name under the visitor’s list. Lots of people. I am not sure if all of them have appointments. We were let in the building at 9:30 am. We had to leave the cellphones and gadgets at the ground floor. My name was called at 10:30am. There were just around 5 questions asked during the entire interview, pretty basic. About my job, and then about my tour. The whole interview was less than 5
minutes. That’s it. Waiting time again.
So I spent the holy week praying that my visa will be released. Tuesday after Easter Sunday, I got an email from VFS Global that my application was processed.
Since I did not get the courier service, I dropped by their VFS office again to claim my passport. Yahoooo! The Schengen Visa sticker was stamped in it! I checked the details of my name spelling and validity dates before happily exiting the office.
Overall, the process took less than a week!
Europe, here I come! Again! :)