SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION EXPERIENCE
December 2, 2019
The Schengen visa can be considered as one of the most sought after visas. It gives you access to 26 European countries, plus more because other countries accept it as a substitute visa as well. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest visas to get, since you need to submit a staggering amount of documents, and some issuing countries are notorious for denying countless applications. However, once you acquire one, you will surely increase your travel credentials, and other country’s visa applications will be a piece of cake. I applied for this visa in four separate countries – Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and France, and in this blog post, I will recount my experience in applying to each one.
SCHENGEN VISA FAQ:
WHAT IS THE SCHENGEN AGREEMENT?
It is an agreement between most European Union countries to abolish internal border checks. This means that travel between different Schengen countries is considered domestic, and you won’t need to pass the immigration, though expect some random checks in some borders.
WHICH COUNTRIES ARE INCLUDED IN THIS AGREEMENT?
The following countries are included in this treaty, and can be visited with a valid Schengen visa:
- Czech Republic
OTHER NON-SCHENGEN COUNTRIES YOU CAN VISIT WITH YOUR VALID SCHENGEN VISA
Please take that you need a double-entry or multiple entry Schengen visa in order to visit these countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Sao Tome and Principe
You can also enter the following microstates with your Schengen visa:
- San Marino
I personally used my ME French Schengen visa to enter Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania. I was also able to apply an E-visa to Turkey using my SE Czech Republic Schengen visa.
WHICH EMBASSY SHOULD YOU SUBMIT YOUR SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION?
It depends. You cannot just choose whichever country when you apply for a Schengen visa. It should fall under the following criteria:
- If you intend to visit only one country, then apply to the embassy of that country
- If you intend to visit multiple countries – determine in which country you will stay the longest, then apply to their embassy. Finally, if you will stay the same number in all intended countries, you then need to apply at the embassy of the country you will enter first.
According to the official Schengen visa website, Filipino applicants will need to apply for an ETIAS – European Travel Information and Authorization System before they can be granted a visa starting January 1, 2021.
Lastly, the following countries do not have an embassy in the Philippines, so you will need to route your Schengen visa application to a different embassy:
ESTONIA – Represented by the Royal Norwegian Embassy
FINLAND – Represented by the Royal Norwegian Embassy
ICELAND – Represented by the Royal Norwegian Embassy
LATVIA – Represented by the Embassy of the Netherlands
LIECHTENSTEIN – Represented by the Embassy of Switzerland
LITHUANIA – Represented by the Embassy of Austria
POLAND – Represented by the Embassy of the Netherlands
PORTUGAL – Represented by the Embassy of Greece
SLOVAKIA – Represented by the Embassy of the Czech Republic
SLOVENIA – Represented by the Embassy of Belgium
SWEDEN – Represented by the Royal Norwegian Embassy
SCHENGEN VISA REQUIREMENTS
Every embassy has different requirements, but the following documents listed below are mandatory for all embassies:
- Hotel reservation – pay the reservation only AFTER your visa is approved.
- Invitation Letter – only needed if someone will sponsor you.
- Confirmed flight ticket – It should indicate an exit flight from the Schengen area. Don’t book yet until you have the visa!
- Confirmed bus/train ticket – this is needed if you will travel to other countries within the Schengen zone.
- Bank Certificate – you should be able to show that you can survive traveling in the Schengen area without going broke. Budget at least 100€ per day of stay.
- Latest ITR
- Certificate of Employment/Business Registration documents.
- Travel Insurance – I always use Malayan Insurance. You can buy it online and the customer service is really helpful.
- Complete Itinerary – You can check my Eurotrip itinerary in this link.
There are also other documents you can submit such as credit card statement, school enrollment form, land documents, car ownership document. These will increase your rootedness here in the country and is a good way to show that you have something to return to.
SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION EXPERIENCE
DATES OF APPLICATION: JUNE 2013 and MARCH 2014
This was my first ever visa application experience. I enrolled in a summer class at the Universidad de Castilla la Mancha and I only had 2 months before the school starts. My profile during the time of application – jobless, only traveled to Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Thailand, and with only 5 digit savings in my bank account. I felt confident that I will be approved because the school sent us the necessary documents. However, they denied the visa in the end because of my status. I regretfully informed the school about the denial and they told me not to worry and that they will talk to the embassy. Lo and behold, after a week, they called me and told me to bring back the passport back to the embassy. After a week, they issued me a single-entry visa good for 31 days.
The second time I applied here was for business purposes. They questioned if I am employed by a Spanish company and why I always go back to Europe. Sadly, they denied my visa even though the trip was company-sponsored and with complete requirements. They also put a denied stamp on my passport.
DATE OF APPLICATION: SEPTEMBER 2013
This trip was company sponsored so it was easier. They provided all the needed documents and I did not pay anything. During that time, the application was at the embassy itself and not thru VFS, which I think was more hassle because of the interview we needed to do. I went to the embassy with my manager and colleagues and the consul interviewed all of us on our travel purpose. They informed us immediately that our visas were approved and we received it a week after. I received a multiple-entry visa valid for 30 days.
CZECH REPUBLIC EMBASSY
DATE OF APPLICATION: JUNE 2016
I planned my Central Europe trip 2 years after I last visited the continent, and I decided to apply for the visa at the Czech Republic embassy because of the high rate of approval based on information online. During that time, they were still processing the application at the embassy itself, and the slot reservation was done by emailing the official embassy e-mail. The consuls here were the nicest, and I did not feel pressured at all during the interview. They released the visa 5 days after and they gave me a single entry with the exact number of days I asked for.
DATE OF APPLICATION: SEPTEMBER 2018
This application was part of the long-term trip I planned, and I chose the French Embassy due to the speed of the processing time. I applied for a UK visa prior to applying here, and after receiving my passport; I immediately reserved a slot for my personal appearance. This time, the process was handled by VFS and there was no interview involved. I just submitted all the requirements, and after 5 days, I received an email saying that the passport was ready for release. They gave me a multiple entry visa with 6 months of validity that I can use for 90 days.
So there you have it! Based on information from other applicants, the Spanish, Italian, and Greek embassies are notorious for denying a lot of applications, so unless you really need to, I would suggest you avoid those embassies. Meanwhile, the Dutch, French, Czech, and German embassies are considered more lenient with visa approval, which I can vouch based on personal experience.
On a side note, make sure to leave at least 2 months of allowance before you apply for a Schengen visa so that you can prepare your documents, and check the VFS or embassy websites for new requirements.
SHARE YOUR SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION EXPERIENCE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!