Applying for a Schengen Visa
(or, 'How can we visit Europe?' for Filipinos)
One thing that we get to ask a lot by our friends is how we got our Schengen visas. (I guess that apart from the US visa, the Schengen visa is one of the most sought by Filipinos, whether in Philippines or abroad.) For those not in the know, a Schengen visa allows the holder [...]
One thing that we get to ask a lot by our friends is how we got our Schengen visas. (I guess that apart from the US visa, the Schengen visa is one of the most sought by Filipinos, whether in Philippines or abroad.) For those not in the know, a Schengen visa allows the holder to travel to 25 countries in Western Europe: those that belong to the Schengen Agreement. Beware though, that Schengen is different from the EU, and that UK is not a member of the Schengen, in which case you have to get a separate UK visa if you want to visit that country. Among the countries that belong to the Schengen area are Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, the Scandinavian countries, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and several countries in Eastern Europe such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. (For a complete list of Schengen member countries, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schengen_Area)
So, how did we get the family’s Schengen visas?
Application for a Schengen visa is straightforward, and the process is the same for all member states. Once you get your visa, it will be valid in all member countries and you can jump from one member country to another without being inconvenienced at borders. Normally for tourists and visitors, the Schengen visa issued is the “short stay” visa, which allows you a maximum 90 day stay (accumulated) within 6 months.
In applying for a Schengen visa, the first thing you have to determine is your major destination. As it is expected that you will be visiting several countries in the Schengen area, your major destination is the country where you’ll stay the longest. You have to lodge your application for a Schengen visa in the embassy/consulate of the country that is your major destination in your area. In case you don’t have a definite plan and you’re not sure where you’ll stay the longest, then you have to apply for a visa in the consulate of the country where you’ll enter the Schengen area. This means that in case you’ll have the same length of stay in countries you’re planning to visit, and you’ll visit say, Germany first, then you have to lodge your Schengen visa application in the German embassy/consulate in your area.
After determining where to lodge your application, you have to prepare several important documents that include:
- Completed and signed “Common Schengen Application Form” (available for download from websites of embassies/consulates of member states)
- Your passport
- 2 passport-size photos
- Proof of funds for the duration of your stay (e.g. bank statements in the last 3 months)
- Travel insurance (this will also serve as your health and accident insurance)
- Your airline reservations and hotel bookings
If you are working/living in an Arab Gulf country, an additional document called the “NOC” or No Objection Certificate will be required by the consulate when you lodge your application. As GCC countries practice the “sponsor system” for workers, the NOC informs the consulates that you have the official approval of the company where you work to leave the country and visit Europe.
You have to pay the corresponding application fees while lodging your application. The visa application fee is the same wherever you lodge your application: 60 Euros for adults and 35 Euros for children. This visa application fee is non-refundable even if your application is denied.
After lodging your application, you have to wait a minimum of 2 weeks before your application can be processed and you get the results. Sometimes, this can be extended for 3 weeks or more. This is a good point to consider when you plan your vacation, so that your schedules will be properly executed.
I’m not sure whether this happens to all, but we noticed when we applied for our Schengen visas that during our first application (I and wifey applied separately the first time), both of us were given single entry visas for 30 days only. When we applied the second time, we got the “usual” multiple entry visas that are valid for 6 months. As mentioned earlier, this “short stay” visa (the multiple entry one) will let you visit the Schengen member states multiple times for a period of 6 months. However, the accumulated number of days of your visits within those 6 months should not exceed 90 days in total. This means that when you finally get that “coveted” Schengen visa, you can plan for several visits to major cities in Western Europe (except UK) in the next 6 months, of course without exceeding the required 90 days accumulated stay.
How about you, do you have any experience applying for a Schengen visa? How did it go? Feel free to send us a comment and we’ll be happy to have a discussion about it here
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Jun & Alice
We are Pinoy OFWs in the Middle East passionate about travel. We are home schooling our three children.