Part of your 2017 bucket list is to visit Europe? If you’re a Filipino passport holder, you need to apply for a visa from any of the 26 European Union countries.
What is a Schengen Visa?
The Schengen Visa allows the holder to visit any of the 26 countries within the Schengen area. It’s sort of your one-for-all pass, allowing you to enter many of the countries in Europe without having to apply for a visa for each individual country. You can apply at any embassy of a member state. These are the countries who are part of the Schengen Zone:
But in my case, I am base in Singapore with my Philippine passport (OFW po ako with itchy lapa lapa), so I decided to apply Schengen Visa in the Embassy of France in Singapore to make it easy and hassle free. More about Schengen Visa application requirements you can check out this link -> Schengen-Visa-Business-Tourism
When to apply at the French Embassy?
You can apply up to 90 days (3 months) in advance. While the French Embassy works relatively fast, it is wise to give some time allowance just in case something doesn’t go as planned (e.g. they ask for additional documents).
How to apply for a Schengen Visa via French Embassy?
The French Embassy has entrusted the receiving, processing, and issuing of most visa applications to VFS Global, which has streamlined the processes. But if you’re applying your Schengen Visa in the Embassy of France in Manila the requirements are as follows for your reference. The requirements are just the same as what I have submitted in the Embassy of France in Singapore.
*The first step -Book an appointment online
Booked an appointment before anything else because you’ll never know when the earliest schedule will be. To get a schedule, you will need to sign up first. Go to this Appointment System page and click on NEW USER. And in my case I go to this link for the appointment online -> Embassy of France in Singapore online appointment page
If you already have an account, simply log in using your access details.
Once you have an appointment, print out the Appointment Confirmation Letter, which you need to bring to the VFS Global Visa Application Center.
Note: however, that you can’t apply just anywhere. You need to apply at the right embassy, which will depend on the purpose of your trip or your overall European itinerary.
- Signed and fully-filled up Schengen Visa Application Form
- Two 45 mm x 35 mm photos
- Valid passport and photocopies of valid and used visas (if any), if there are old passports, please include and photocopy the said pages as well
- Cover letter explaining the purpose of the trip addressed to the French Consul. The details and trip itinerary must be stated in the cover letter (from arrival, to accommodations, attractions to be seen, and departure dates).
- Round trip ticket reservations. There are a number of airline companies that allow reservations without payment. I reserved with QATAR airlines but bear in mind that you should reserve a day before your appointment because the reservations are only valid for 48 hours.
- Accommodation vouchers/reservations. The embassy requires that you have hotel reservations and if you wish to DIY, you can reserve hotels through booking.com with the leisure of paying later / canceling with no additional charge. Be sure to include ALL hotel reservations (all countries included in your itinerary) and that the days match your itinerary).
- Proof of employment, the embassy will have an idea where your finances are coming from and that you have a reason to come back.
- Certificate of employment with monthly salary
- Approved leave of absence
- If self-employed, official business registration
- Proof of income such as ITR, Bank Certification, 3 months Statement of Account of the same bank account, UITF/Investment Certificates (if any). If someone else is paying for the trip, submit said financial documents of the sponsor and have it notarized
- If Single, an NSO Birth Certificate is required.
- If Married, a marriage certificate is required.
- Travel insurance, depends on how long is your stay in Schengen area. I got mine from MSIG, an insurance company in Singapore. And if you’re base in the Philippines you can check some of insurance companies in the Philippines.
- Visa Fee and Service Fee
- Photocopy all your requirements and application form.The embassy will not return your original documents if you submit without photocopies.
Again, make sure you bring along with you the Visa Appointment Letter that you booked online. You will need it to get in as the security will ask for it with some security check.
In the Embassy of France in Manila you will be given a choice on how you want to receive your passport (with a visa, hopefully): pick up or by courier. If you choose the latter, expect to pay an additional PhP 330. Finally, settle the visa fee. Make sure you have the exact amount. But in the Embassy of France in Singapore they will advice the schedule for collection.
That’s it. All you need to do now is wait.
The processing usually takes 5-7 days. However, there have been cases when they got theirs in 3 days. Some unlucky ones got theirs a lot longer. Some will be asked for an interview at the embassy. It really depends on many factors, which probably depend on how strong your case is and how much work load they have. Regardless, it’s out of your hands. Just hope for the best.