One of the things I sometimes wish I have is a First World Passport. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a proud Filipino but let’s be honest, traveling would be so much easier if we didn’t need a visa to our dream destinations. For many Filipinos, these dream destinations require a VISA! Reality hurts – A LOT!
The struggle of getting a visa scares and intimidates many thus, it delays a lot of travel plans. As the only one among my sisters left with a Philippine passport, I made sure this will not discourage me. In fact, I find visa application process now super fun. One of the most sought after visa (if not the most) is the Schengen visawhich allows you to travel to 26 countries in Europe.
On my previous post, I talked about Gothenburg. Before I enjoyed the place, I went through the challenge of getting a Schengen visa. Here’s the thing – I obtained a 3-month visa to Europe although it was good for one entry only (as it was what I really requested for). To be granted a 3-month visa as a tourist is not that common especially if you are applying to a Scandinavian country as they have very high standards of living. If you are planning to apply for a Schengen visa, these are the simple tips that I can give you based on my personal experiences.
As cliché as it may sound, the most important thing before applying for any visa is to do some research but DO NOT over do it, or you will go crazy! In my case, Sweden was my main destination, so I applied for my Schengen visa from the said country’s embassy. Obviously, my research was focused on Sweden’s requirements, but I did check with other countries requirements for comparison. Cebu has a Visa Center so I was able to lodge my application and requirements there which were then forwarded to the Manila office for review and approval. Some will no longer require an interview especially if you have all the needed requirements but because I was requesting for a long period of stay (90 days!), I was called for an interview in Manila. Research the requirements of the country where you want to enter and arrive then take it from there.
Once the research part is over, don’t just go through it – read it! Read it not once or twice but thrice or even more. It pays to know the details of what is being asked of you. Many of us practice the “okay na yan” (It’s okay, or that should be okay) Well, if you want to be 101% sure that you will be granted a visa then carefully go through and review your requirements. Make sure you are familiar with it so in case you will be asked about it randomly, you will know what to answer. I had a friend who was invited by her boyfriend to visit Spain, and when she was called for an interview, questions regarding her boyfriend’s job, salary, etc. were thrown at her, and because she was not able to orient herself on the specific details, she got tensed and failed to answer properly. Visa denied. Don’t be like this!
If it’s your boyfriend who is inviting you, it’s not enough that you just know he’s an engineer. You have to know the details about the job and other vital information of the person inviting you. My sister was the one who invited me, so I made sure I know exactly what her job title is, what the company does, how much she earns, what her schedule is like, etc. Since she is an accountant (Finance Manager) which is not a very common position filled by Filipinos there (especially because Sweden is very particular with the mastery of their language), I was still asked about her job history and academic background. Luckily, I came prepared enough to answer all these. It was like one question after another, so you have to keep a sharp mind when answering the questions. They record and take note of the answers so you can never lie. Just don’t.
So aside from settling with an OK quality of documents, one of the things that will surely deny you of your visa is your refusal or laziness to revise something when you know it’s needed. How many of us are guilty with this? We don’t like to revise or repeat something because it’s a hassle. One of the things I had to revise was my travel insurance dates. They look very closely to this so be sure you have the correct dates and ideally, you should give some allowance.
As mentioned, if you only plan to go for a two-week tour and your documents are already strong then there is a big chance, you will no longer be called for an interview, and your visa will just be granted directly. Sometimes you will be called for an interview. This doesn’t really mean that you have lesser chances of getting a visa, but this can mean that they need to verify some things regarding your application.
If you are called for an interview, remember that in any interview whether it be for a job, a visa, Confidence is key. Well, it’s easier said than done but if you have followed tips 1-3 then the interview should be a piece of cake for you. Two rules: Be honest and do your best to express your thoughts clearly. With my experience, I was interviewed by none other than the Deputy Head of the Visa Section. Lucky me!! Before I was called in, I had a short talk (chika moment) with the security guard. He asked me what country I was applying for and I replied Sweden. He then said “Mam, ang daming umiiyak dito kasi na deny” (Mam, many cry here because their visa application was denied!). Wow manong guard, you are very encouraging!
Obtaining a Schengen Visa is not as complicated as what most people think. It’s actually an easy process. Like your final exam in University that you must pass, it requires hard work and patience plus a sprinkle of luck coupled with a lot of prayers. Think that rejection is not an option. Do not settle with so-so requirements. Do not settle with so-so answers and most of all, do not settle with a MAYBE approved – always push and aim for DEFINITELY approved.
“Always aim high if you want to fly high!”