— April 22,2015, Wednesday, 10:00 pm, General Santos City —
Earlier today, I got my passport back from the Netherlands Embassy with a valid Schengen Visa Sticker. Approved! Grabe! Ilang araw ko din to inanticipate! I was kind of doubtful with my application at first because me and two other companions had difficulty in the personal interview, which I shall be detailing later on.
The waiting time of uncertainty felt somewhat to similar when I was waiting for my board exam result back in 2008. I was not confident at all. Parang natatae ako everytime I think about it. But then it turned out good. This is my first time to get such Visa approved. The application was “D.I.Y., with personal interviews and taxing requirements. Other visas from previous trips were VOAs or coursed through an agency. Sorry if you find this OA, but really, travelling is a big deal for me; And granted the opportunity to visit Europe is a dream come true. So, yeah!
So by the time this will be published, I am probably in Warsaw, Poland already. So, wish me safe and luck guys! Laban! =)
— xoxo —
Moving forward to a more serious and productive note, here is how I got my visa application approved. For those interested, I hope this would help in some ways.
Applying Schengen Visa can be done three months prior to your trip. As a golden rule, it is always good to patch travel requirements early.
Why I applied through the Netherlands Embassy?
When travelling to multiple Schengen States, application for visa should be submitted to the embassy where a person intends to stay the longest. The embassy is keen on this, as they will be examining the itinerary you will be submitting.
The Netherlands Embassy also carries in the Philippines all visa applications for Poland, which in my case, the country where I intend to stay the longest.
In addition, I have been told that it is fairly easier to apply through them as they have been generously granting Visas for tourism the past years, provided with complete requirements. But then this was not in our case since we had difficulty in the personal interview, which I shall be detailing later. However, the Embassy still granted us a visa, so, Hoorayy for that!!!! =)
Booking a Personal Interview
- Netherlands Embassy requires applicants to pay the Visa Fee first through any Union Bank branch in the Ph. Fee is a non-refundable Php 3,700.00. This however includes courier service fee, since they will be sending your passport back to you, with whatever result it brings. A payment form and a photocopy of the passport shall be submitted to the bank. Some branches also require bringing the actual passport for verification.
- Schedule a personal interview; a day after the payment was made. This is where applying through Netherlands Embassy comes easier because you just have to book an appointment online through http://www.vfsglobal.com/Netherlands/Philippines/schedule_an_appointment.html . More information on the website.
2016 UPDATE: To schedule an interview, you pay at Unionbank Php 730.00 nalang, instead of the full amount. Keep the deposit slip, the reference numbers there are important. And if you can’t find the ref number, ask the teller to highlight it on the slip, as you have to encode that on the scheduling website. Usually after One banking day, you can make a schedule na. Remember also that you should complete the interview scheduling asap, as the receipt expires in 30 days.
Meanwhile, the VISA fee, amounting to Php 3,170.00, should be paid na on the day of the scheduled interview at the Embassy (before the interview, to be exact).
Others, such as the Italian embassy, require booking appointment via call center which charges Php 32.00/ minute call.
Apologies for being too wordy on this but I might as well make this post as detailed as possible, based our actual experience.
Below are the items I gathered for this Visa application, solely for purpose of Leisure and Tourism. For other types of visa, please check on the Netherlands website. The same requirements are also asked when applying though other Schengen State Embassies. However, It is advised to make further research for specific countries. Wise and detailed preparation would most likely result to better chances of approval =)
Requirements to submit during interview:
- Formal cover letter addressed to the Dutch Embassy, stating your purpose “For Leisure and Tourism”, a summary of your trip, Date of Fly in and Fly out and number of intended days of stay.
- Duly filled out and signed Schengen visa application form, downloadable from the embassy link given above. (present one original and one photocopy)
- One (1) recently taken passport-sized photo (not used in previous visas). 35mmX45mm White Background. No Nametag. Provide a Serious Face, with mouth closed and face straight to camera. Clip photo with the filled up form. Don’t paste. Bring extra copies.
- Current passport with at least 2 blank pages/ at least 3 months valid upon return
- Bring Previous passports , if there are any.
- Proof of travel:
- Copy of the roundtrip airline reservation. The reservation should prove that the stay in the Schengen area does not exceed 90 days, which is the maximum for tourism. It is recommended not to buy the ticket until the visa is granted. Unless you found a cheap ticket on sale like my case, then that is a risk to take. Sale tickets are usually non-refundable. Ticket Reservation can be booked with KLM Airlines online for around 15 USD (non-refundable). If you have friends in a travel agency, then have them help you with this.
- Detailed itinerary of your stay in Schengen Area from day 1 to exit, ideally showing the following information in table format:
Date – City/Country – Activity/to do – Hotel Address – Hotel Booking Number
Interviewers are very keen on this, as it happened to me. I as was randomly asked what my expected activities are on certain dates. As such, it is better to study this, especially if will be going multiple countries.
- Proof of Travel medical insurance coverage (Eur 30.000 or USD 50.000)
- The insurance must cover the entire period of intended stay, valid for all Schengen States and covering any expenses which may arise in connection with repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical attention, emergency hospital treatment or death during the stay. I got mine with MAPFRE insurance for 2,700 Pesos, covering 45 days. Do check embassy website for other credited insurance companies.
- Proof of accommodation
- Printed Hotel confirmation or hotel voucher to cover all days spent in Schengen Area. The Embassy needs this as your European Address. Ideally you can book this with Booking.com as they do not require downpayment.
- Better chances of getting approved if you have a host or family in Europe. Provided, he/she must send you an Invitation letter from the Municipality + copy passport or residence permit.
- If you are joining a group tour with accommodation, provide printed vouchers.
- Proof of financial means . One or more of the following documents may be submitted:
- Bank certification, indicating Average Daily Balance, date of opening, and purpose as “ Schengen Visa”. Applying as a tourist to Europe, it is recommended that you prove to the embassy that you have sufficient funds to spend for a vacation, to omit the idea that you would be working there without proper papers. Although there is no required savings amount mentioned by the Dutch Embassy, a few travel enthusiasts recommend fund computation as shown below,
(100 USD per Day x # of days stay + Ticket cost) x 2.
Unless you have a host or a sponsor for your trip, then provide an Affidavit of Financial Support as proof. I have a friend who got this support from her mom, and her application was ok.
- Recent personal bank statement or balance over the last three months. This can be requested from the bank or just download it from your online account, which I did. Better chances if your fund is moving, and not a “one time” deposit.
- International Credit Cards with recent Statement.
- Latest Income Tax Return
- Optional : Rental income or Photocopy of Land Titles and Assets under your name , just to prove your worth in your own country, and that you have obvious reasons to return home. I prepared this, it was not asked from me though =)
- Proof of occupation
- Certificate of employment indicating monthly pay, position and date of employment. Provide as well 3 months payslip, if there is. This was asked from me.
- Certificate of leave of absence.
- Company ID and other proof of employment such as work contract. This is again just to prove you will be returning back to the Philippines.
- DTI/SEC registration of business
- Income Tax Return etc.
- If travelling with spouse and/or children : § Marriage contract § Birth certificates of children
- For spouse of EU nationals travelling with or meeting the EU citizen: Visit the Dutch Embassy Website for this.
- Photocopy of passport/s with old and new visa stamps from any countries. Impress the embassy with your previous leisure travels.
Processing time is 15 days from the date of interview. However, we got our passports just 7 days after, which came as a surprise. =)
How the interview went …
To my surprise, the interviewers on the day we were scheduled, were Filipina Staffs on all three counters. And it was not as quick as I thought it would be. My interview lasted for almost 20 minutes, to think that only 10 minutes was supposed to be allotted as per schedule.
As I understood, the interviewer was trying to squeeze out how much I know my documents and my Itinerary. She randomly asked me what activities I am scheduled to do on certain dates, so as to check how well I know my planned Itinerary, since my trip was a “Do it Yourself”, no group tours whatsoever.
These submitted itineraries however, are for visa purposes and may still be changed, provided you just stay in Schengen until the allowable maximum days granted on you; A week, a month, 90 days max, it depends on how well you defend your Itinerary.
I was asked for a company ID. I forgot to bring any. (On cue, heart attack!)
I also lacked a page in my hotel booking, forgot to print. ( another heart attack!)
She also asked me how I earn and save, which she found unimpressive, I guess, given the length of stay I requested, (Hahaha) which got me thinking about the savings formula of “expected spending x 2”. Or provide more if you can, so as to establish your worth and that you have a reason not to over stay there for whatever purpose. After all, this application is for tourism, as such, certain funds are expected.
I was also asked for additional documents from my friend in Poland, who is hosting me. There were lacking documents, which was the cause of another tiny heart attack for me. However, I was allowed to just email them to the embassy, after the interview.
On other days, Dutch citizens do the interview, which some say, are easier to talk to; And would not drag the interview longer than 5 minutes, when provided with complete documents. It is either you are good, or not.
In all honesty, I was not confident the moment I finished the interview. I went home sad. If not for the lacking documents and all, my interview could have been easier.
But despite those, I was granted the Visa still! Its like I won a battle I almost accepted I’d lose. Thank God things turned out well!
So here na ako . Wish me luck =) Hello Europe and Hello World ! =)