Wednesday, October 19, 2016

How to apply for Schengen Visa [Filipino Citizens]

Ever wonder of a Victorian architectures, medieval buildings and fascinating cultures. One will definitely think of Europe. Europe has been one of the top destination in the world and Filipinos will definitely not gonna miss it. As a Filipino we need a VISA going to Europe and the most perfect one is the Schengen VISA.
To tell you a bit of it, Schengen is a small village in Luxembourg where the agreement was sign(at least near it). The Schengen agreement was about abolishing the borders within it's member states making it a free travel within the area. With this comes a single Visa Policy which is now called the Schengen Visa. If you are wondering what countries covers the Schengen Area or Zone, most of them are part of the EU(European Union). Below are the list of countries which is part of the Schengen zone.

Of all the Visa applications I have been through, this has been the most difficult. You need to prepare and submit all the requirements(a single missing would mean you cannot continue with the process and is advise for rescheduling), be there at the Embassy for the Personal Interview. Despite all of that, one can imagine traveling to these countries with only a single visa at hand that would be epic and fulfilling.

To secure a Schengen Visa you need to apply in any member state. For this article, I will be tackling how to apply for a Schengen Visa at the German Embassy in Manila for the purpose of visiting a family/friend (though I think it is the same as if you applied for the purpose of tourism, not 100% sure, though) Do it Yourself style.

Part I: Requirements

According to German Embassy Website, below are the list of requirements.
  1. Your Identity as a traveler:

      • Your original passport, which must be valid for at least another 3 months upon the conclusion of the travel and must contain two empty pages and one Xerox copy of the passport, and further valid/invalid passports,
      • Two current passport pictures (German Embassy Specifications)
    Note: I Photocopied both the bio page of my old and new passport. For the pictures I just have it taken on a Photoshop stressing that this is for German Visa application.
  2. Your Visa application form:

    • One fully completed application form signed by your own hand (online)
    • Declaration according to § 54 AufenthaltsG, fully completed and signed by your own hand

    Note: Be sure to fill all required parameters and put N/A for that item you don't have or don't know, the idea is not to leave a blank item.
  3. Your purpose of travel:

    • Proof of relationship with the sponsor (e.g. birth- / marriage certificates, which substantiate the kinship, relationship or friendship). Written correspondence between you and your sponsor, proof of telephone connections and other evidence of relationship between you and your sponsor
    • If no formal obligation is submitted: An informal invitation by the host, in which information is given regarding the host's exact address of residence, the purpose of travel and the full duration of travel and stay. and
    • Details regarding the means of travel for the outward - and return journey (details regarding the airline), no flight reservation is needed

    Note: I submitted a photograph with my sponsor, screenshot conversation on Viber, FB and etc. For this application, I did have a Formal Obligation so I did not submit an informal invitation. I also submitted a confirmed booking ticket some sort of reservation which I get from a travel agency which is endorsed by DJ of Dream Euro Trip
  4. Visa fee:

    • Children up to 6 years no fee
    • Children from 6 to 12 years € 35
    • Applicants older than 12 years € 60

    Note: Fees are payable in Philippine Pesos (cash) at the current exchange rate. I brought with me around 3,500 PHP for the visa fee and these are of different bills and coins so it would be easier in case my initial estimate for the price is different from the actual rate.
  5. The financial coverage of the cost of your travel and stay

    • Statements of your account(s) for the previous six months, with a confirmation by the bank or
    • Formal Obligation (original and a Xerox copy) according to §§ 66-68 of the German Residence Law, given by your host at the aliens authority “Ausländerbehörde”) in Germany that is responsible for his / her area of residence.

    Note: Also did not provide any bank statements as I submitted a Formal Obligation which I get from my host in Germany. Formal Obligation can be obtained in the City Hall / Municipality near the host residence that certifies the host that it can support your stay in Germany.
  6. Your travel health insurance:

    • Travel health insurance, which is valid for all Schengen-States and the full duration of stay for which the visa is applied for, with a minimum coverage sum of 30,000 Euros. Philippine insurances must be accredited and given in the original with a Xerox, German insurances are accepted as a Xerox, Fax or scan.

    Note: The insurance that I submitted was from ADAC which is German insurance firm(this was given to me by my host). Also, you can try Care Concept which is also a German Insurance company, they do refund in case your visa is not approved. The most important one is that you need to make sure that all dates visible in your insurance document, flight details and other documents with dates relevant to your application must coincide with each other.
  7. Your rootedness in the Philippines:

    • If you are employed: Proof of your employment, i.e. most recent income tax return, certificate of employment (including your employer’s full name, complete address and telephone number with area code details regarding your position or professional designation, income, duration of the working relationship); letter of approved leave of absence signed by your employer or
    • If you are self-employed: proof of registration and commercial activity of your company in the Philippines, e.g. income tax returns, bank certificates, documents of the company accounts or other. or
    • If you are a pupil/student: School certificate / University certificate; proof of enrollment (for students), if applicable: letter of exemption from studies and
    • If you own real estate property, e.g. original land title, deed of sale

    Note: Since I fall into the employed category, I submitted a COE from my company with all the specification indicated in the requirements and another file for my approve the leave of absence from the company sign by our HR officer, TL, and bosses. This was the difficult requirement that I collected as I need to talk to all my boss for them to allow me to leave for 3 months and it was a lot of talking and convincing that I even came to a point of letting it go but I was very determined and convince them that I Shall return after the trip. In the end they allow me and came up with some terms.
For info visit the german embassy in manila website.

I doubled and even triple check all the requirements and have them photocopied at least 1 copy and make sure all data and entries are correct and updated.

Part II: Appointment

Once your done securing all the requirements, it is now  time to set an appointment. During the time I applied for a visa last year(May 2015), I did set an appointment via the embassy's call center as I think it was the most viable option by that time in setting up an appointment. It was not free and the charge was very expensive for me. I prepare all the requirement first before calling them and pull it out once the agent ask for it, in that way I can save time. All in all, it was around more or less 1000 php for the charges I got the after the phone call. They usually recommend  you the nearest available schedule for the interview but you can always opt out and choose your own schedule and they will check if it is  available.

 As of August 2015, Appointments are now done online. I haven't tried the new option but I think this is more convenient and efficient plus no more additional cost. Here is the link on how to set an appointment online.

Part III: Interview

After setting the appointment, it immediately starts my hunt on a cheap airline fare to Manila. Luckily I was able to purchase a discounted ticket via Cebu Pacific. My interview schedule was around 8 am so I decided to choose a late night flight prior to the day of my interview. I stayed at my friend's apartment( Thanks, Kirt) since he is just near the embassy in Makati and ask him directions about it. 

Fast forward, I wake up early that day and leave the apartment early. Last night I was using google maps to more familiarize the route. I decided to go there by foot(My friend's apartment was near Burgos St.). I arrived at the RCBC Plaza building after 45mins to an hour of walking and after being lost. I was 30  mins ahead of time and they won't allow somebody inside till it is more or less 5 mins of the opening time so I decided to take a quick breakfast and wait.

 After the quick breakfast,  I  went back to the building and they were now accepting applicants. I went straight to the front desk and ask for assistance then he asks me to log into the logged book, ask me to deposit 1 valid ID and advise to leave the big bags there in order to proceed to the floor where the German Embassy was. Inside the Embassy itself, No electronic items are allowed but luckily unlike the US embassy they do have small lockers for it. Went to the left side window and the person behind the window ask me for my requirements and etc, checked it and then he gave me a number.

So after this, I went to the room where the interview is conducted. When I entered inside, all people were in their business attire with their piles of documents while I am still on with my shorts, polo shirt and sneakers but I didn't mind them. From here it is where they collect and check all the requirements. You can hear some of the questions from the interview of the other applicants. So I double check again all my requirements, order them same as how it was ordered in their list, paste my picture on the application form and etc and then suddenly my number was called. I went straight to the window where my number was called(there is also a LED light above the window). The person who interviewed me was a Filipina and by the looks, she is not in the mood.

Here was the interview:
Filipina Interviewee: Good Morning. 
Me: Morning 
FI: Please hand me over your requirements. 
Me: *hands it over* 
FI: Have you been to any country before. 
Me: Yes I have been to HK and Macau for out educational tour and I was also sent to SG by my company, then I also went to Malaysia and Indonesia for vacation. 
FI: How are you related with your sponsor? 
ME: The sponsors are my parents. 
FI: What is your purpose in going to Germany. 
ME: I want to visit my Family, its been quite long since we last met and also to tour Europe. 
FI: Why now? 
ME: Before I was not interested and I don't have work to pay for the ticket but now I am more than interested and able. 
FI: Who will be paying for this trip? 
ME: I am the one who will be paying for the plane ticket since I already have a work, the rest we might split it with my parents. 
FI: For how long will you be staying in Germany. 
ME: I already ask my employer to allow me for 3 months and they did grant me, so might as well make most out of it. 
FI: How long have you been working? 
ME: I am with the company for almost 4 yrs. 
FI: Do you have past jobs? 
ME: No this is my first job. 
FI: After the 3 months holiday, what is your plan next? (this was the tricky part im glad i answer it well) 
ME: After the trip, I would return home and go back to work. 
FI: Ok thats it, Just wait for your Passport after a week. 
ME: thank you.

There were lots of questions and I forgot some, more or less the duration was around 10-15 mins. I can see that some applicants can even go up to 30 mins. I also notice that all the questions thrown at me were answerable by the requirements that I presented. I think this was just a test if I really know what I am into and if I know what I am doing. The German Embassy doesn't really disclose the result of your VISA application after the interview. You will only find out once you get your passport with you either with a VISA in it or with a refusal letter. So the agony of waiting begins.

Note: If you receive a refusal letter you can still file an appeal to reconsider their decision. There is a reason indicated on the refusal letter as to which area they are not convinced with in your application so you need to present further documents to satisfy them. 

Part IV: Delivery

After a week of intense interview and hassles then comes the judgment day. It was after lunch when I came back to my station that I received a skype message from our HR  regarding a parcel from the German Embassy (I did address the parcel to the company address and it took 3 days for it to arrive). So I went directly to the HR office and claim the parcel.  My heart was beating fast while opening the parcel, grab the passport and notice there were no letters(this is a sign hahah) went straight to the centerfold of the passport and tzadanng the visa was there. I was approved for 3months Multiple Entry Schengen Visa.  I was very happy that day and chatted my family that I am coming soon.. wohooo

 My 3 months Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa

Have you tried applying for Schengen visa as well? Share your stories and experience in the comment section below.  If you have any  Questions and query don't hesitate to contact me.


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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. Europe is definetly calling! I recently applied for a France tourist visa. My France visa appointment with the embassy is scheduled for next week & I hope to clear all the pre-requisites. I want to enjoy a much-needed France vacation with my husband & create memories for life.