Friday, March 10, 2017

UK Visa Application in the Philippines

The United Kingdom (UK) may be in Europe but it is not included in the Schengen zone. You need to apply for a separate visa in the UK. I’ve always wanted to see London (because of Mary Poppins) but I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of applying and paying for another visa aside from Schengen. Since this was a family trip, I finally had the opportunity of visiting London.

We had to apply for a UK visa first before applying for a Schengen visa in the French Embassy. The process is a bit similar to the US Visa application wherein you fill-out a long form, pay the visa fee, then schedule your application to submit your documents.

Here’s the basic process:

1.    Create an account and fill-out application forms  here: immigration
2.    Pay for the visa fee - via credit card – USD 110
3.    Schedule the visa appointment in VFS Global UK
4.    Print and gather documents in the checklist
5.    Go to VFS Global UK to submit documents
6.    Wait wait wait for your passport to arrive

The embassy grants a 6-month visit visa for tourists. For other visa types, sorry I can’t help you. We had 4 nights planned in the UK. That’s $110 for 4 nights. Very pricey.

VFS Global handles the UK visa applications in the Philippines.
I suggest you spend time (lots of it) reading the info in their website:

Filling out the application forms, payment, & scheduling your appointment
This had been a tedious process. Prepare to answer these questions:

  • How much do you earn a month?
  • How much do you spend a month?
  • Do you have any dependents?
  • How much are you spending for the trip?
  • How much is your “total assets”? I can’t recall the exact term used but I recall I had to compute for my net worth to answer this questions
  • And prepare to input some of the answers in GBP

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Schengen Visa Application via French Embassy in the Philippines

I am not a Schengen visa expert. I cannot assess your chance of getting a visa. I am only sharing what happened in my experience.

Less than a year after my Europe III trip (which I haven’t blogged about), I found myself applying for my 4th Schengen visa. This was for our two-week family vacation in Europe in Italy, France and UK. Since we were staying at France the longest, we lodged our Schengen visa application with the French embassy.

This time, we applied via the French Embassy. VFS Global handles the visa applications for the French embassy. I hope that before you found this blog, you already read the very informative website of VFS France in the Philippines. Now if you haven’t, I suggest stop reading this blog entry for a while and go and click that link and spend some time reading the information there.

Then go click on these to read about my past Schengen visa applications:
1.    Italy, 2011 (denied-reapplied-approved)
2.    Spain, 2013 (approved)
3.    Germany, 2016 (approved)

The website of VFS Global France is pretty detailed, except that it does not mention this rule: If you are applying for a Schengen visa in the French Embassy and your itinerary starts or ends in the UK, you’ll have to obtain a UK visa first. Since our itinerary ends in UK, we should apply for a UK visa first.

VFS France informed us that should we insist on submitting our application without the UK visa, we risk a denial. We didn’t want that. We somewhat attempted trying our luck to get an appointment for a UK visa that same morning (the VFS UK was just in the same building, in the same floor) but nope, not possible. Ugh. What a wasted morning. We were able to book an appointment for the UK visa application after two weeks. I was thinking we would’ve gotten the Schengen visa by the time we applied for a UK visa but it turned out to be the other way around. Fine, that's the rule. But they should've put that in their website or checklist.

Here’s the updated checklist as of September 23, 2016. Please check if they have an updated version of this (check the website of VFS). I deleted the items which were not applicable in our case.

1.    Signed Schengen visa application form with photo (35mm x 45mm, white background). There’s a digital version where you can type out the answers. Alternatively, if you are applying for a UK visa, you can download a filled-out application form of the Schengen visa at the end – they use your applicable details reflected in your UK visa application (name, passport number, address etc). Cost: photo – Php 75 at Kodak Express in Trinoma.

2.    Valid passport (3 months' validity from the end of intended stay), photocopy of valid and former visas, pages of the passport with Immigration stamps and previous refusal stamps, if any.

I submitted three passports (2 expired, 1 brand new) and photocopies of the pages with stamps.

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