Schengen Visa Application at the French Embassy, Manila

8:07:00 PM

"If I run an embassy, I would approve all travelers because I hate anything that restricts freedom to travel!" says a friend. I would, too! 

Finally, I’ve had time to sit down and write about how we “triumphed” the Schengen Visa application at the French Embassy. Triumph may be an exaggeration; but the moment I got my visa, it really felt like I won something elusive (as a traveler)! Honestly, my boyfriend and I had more doubts than confidence before we lodged our application, but hey...

A must see in Paris!

Schengen Visa in 2 days? Yay!

First of all, I don't work in the embassy and I don't know anyone there. The information presented are solely based from my experience. Decisions on the approval or refusal of visa applications shall remain within the sole competence of the embassy.

Now, here's how to prepare your Schengen Visa application :-)


1. Create a rough itinerary with the following information

• Date in / out of Europe
• Total number of days in Schengen Area (London and UK not included)
• Countries to visit
• Number of days per country

2. Know the embassy where you should lodge your application

You will need to apply with the embassy of the country that is your main destination (most number of days in your rough itinerary)
If some countries have equal days in your itinerary, you will need to apply with the embassy of the country where you will be entering the Schengen territory.

3. Call the embassy for an appointment at least 90 days before your trip

Warning! Call costs 35php/minute; You can speak in Tagalog! ;-)
Have the following handy:
Passport
Your rough itinerary
You will be asked for the following information:
Countries to visit / number of days (Call center agent will confirm if you applied with the correct embassy)
Traveling alone? (If traveling with someone else, you can lodge their appointment on the same call)
Passport details
Preferred day / time of appointment (choose the earliest date/time possible)
Write down your confirmation number
The call center is open M-F, 7:00am to 4:00pm (+63 2 790 4903 For French Embassy)

4. Prepare your travel documents (1 set of originals and 1 set of photocopies) - no more, no less

1. Application form - printed, duly signed with photo (passport format – recent whole-face / white background)
2. Passport and copy of previous visas
3. Cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip and proposed day-to-day itinerary (here's a copy of our cover letter) - no need to include the places (i.e., museums, castles) that you will visit.
4. Details about the trip
Proof of accommodation - hotel booking (for your entire stay in the Schengen area) - booking.com has many cheap options. Choose those with free cancellation, so you can cancel without spending anything when your application is denied. 
Round trip airline reservation with reservation number (do not purchase your ticket yet) - Make sure the reservation is valid at least 2 weeks after your interview. Reserve with the airline you will likely to fly with, just in case the consul asks you to buy the same ticket.
5. Proof of employment
Certificate of employment with monthly salary
Leave of absence approved by employer
6. Proof of income
Income tax return from previous year
Recent bank certification
Photocopy of the last three months statement of account of the same bank account
More info on Means of substinence ("show money")
7. NSO Birth certificate

8. An international travel insurance (medical expenses and repatriation) covering the entire period of the person’s intended stay and valid for all Schengen states. Minimum coverage should be EUR 30,000. -  Blue Cross was the cheapest (2,300php for 21 days) as of December 2015. They will also refund your purchase if your visa is refused. When I went to their office to buy the premium, they asked me to add +15 days on my premium. Strange! The agent said it's an "embassy-mandate" policy. Since it really didn't make sense to me, I refused to add 15 more days. Truth be told, I did not have problems with the French embassy even though my travel insurance covered only the exact itinerary.
9. Visa fee (prevailing peso equivalent of EUR 60), payable in cash 

Milan! <3

The Interview at the French Embassy

I must admit, I was over-prepared for the interview. I planned my answers should I be asked with questions like, "Why France?", "How can you afford to travel to France?", "What do you do for a living?" I memorized our itinerary, budget and some key places we wanted to see in Paris and Lyon. I was very (mentally) prepared.

To our surprise, we were only asked these 2 basic questions:

Question 1
Consul: You've never been to Europe? Only Asia? (while looking at all passport stamps and visas we have)
Me: Yes, only in Asia. Mostly, South and ASEAN countries
Question 2
Consul: Are you traveling together?
Me: Yes
Consul: Okay, biometrics please!
The consul was emotionless during the entire interview. She scrutinized all our documents, encircled Paris and Lyon in our itinerary, literally checked all passports stamps and visas, and looked at us like she doesn't want any non-sense. After she took our biometrics and photo, she said, "Okay, please get your passport after 2 days."

We couldn't sleep for 2 days! We were like, "I think, we nailed it! Uhm maybe no, we look like we'll overstay pa naman *sigh*..."

Florence, my favorite city in Italy!
Last few advice
We've had a lot of realizations after lodging our visa application. One of them is that you should not be afraid to face the consul if you have pure intentions to travel and go back to the Philippines right after. Another is to know your itinerary by heart, including the documents you have with you. It's no job interview, so no technical questions will be asked. Just to be sure, memorize at least your itinerary. And last, leave everything you cannot control to faith and fate!

That's it!

Hope this entry helps you in preparing for your Schengen Visa application. And if you already have one...

Enjoy Europe! It's soooo beautiful and the experience was darn well worth it!!!

How about you guys? What were the questions asked to you in the interview? Feel free to share them (even your questions) in the comments.

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23 comments

  1. Hi! Just to confirm, you mentioned in your cover letter that you reserved through Cathay? How much did you pay for it and did you cancel it after the interview?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey there!
      Airline reservation was free and valid for 2 weeks (or less?) It will be cancelled automatically in the system if you dont pay/proceed with the transaction. If you can afford Cathay, fly with it! Else, many china-based airlines offer cheaper flights if youre from manila :-)

      Thanks for your comment! appreciate it.

      Delete
  2. How much po show money nyo? Tnx!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello! Prove them that you can afford to travel to EU. Although I cannot disclose how much money I declared with the embassy, my safe estimate is:
      #of days in EU x 4,500php (all-in budget/day) + 20,000 (for emergency) = your "show money" :-)

      I found this link very useful:
      http://www.immihelp.com/visas/schengenvisa/means-of-substinence.html

      For France, it says it should be 57eur/day.

      Hope it helps!

      Delete
  3. Hello! I emailed you with some questions :) Did you change your itinerary after getting your visa?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tala, yes! We slashed off 1 day each from France and Italy to watch the FCB match in Barcelona. As for the length of stay in EU, our application was for a 21-day trip, so we stayed there for 21 days.

      Delete
  4. Hi Brenda! When did you apply for visa? I've read that there are no interviews now and that the submission for the requirements is done at VAC in Makati. I got my first schengen visa from France also and I'm applying again for my trip in August.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there! We applied August last year, and there used to be an interview. I tried to search the info in the official French embassy website and some reliable sites, but so far no clues. Sorry cant be of any help! :( Have you tried calling the embassy yet?

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. http://www.ambafrance-ph.org/Visas-3000
      Hi Brenda! Here is the link. Hope it helps those who would want to apply for a schengen visa in the French embassy. :)

      Delete
    5. http://www.ambafrance-ph.org/Visas-3000
      Hi Brenda! Here is the link. Hope it helps those who would want to apply for a schengen visa in the French embassy. :)

      Delete
    6. Wow! Thanks for taking time to share the link, chonarmand! Really helpful! So, no more interview naaaa? yay! Thanks for dropping by my blog pala :D

      Delete
  5. Hi!just want to ask if they ask you the copy of your booking flight like france to italy? Or just manila amsterdam- manila only they need?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Annie, you only need to show the flight reservation for in/out of Schengen area. For cross-country transpo, no need to show any voucher for that. In the cover letter, you have to mention what flight you are planning to take for France to Italy.

      I have a copy of our cover letter here, in case you need one:
      https://docs.google.com/document/d/15bKXyT2s-KU0vjWtcBMB4modti2WT6Id3IxNPAmmq2w/edit

      Delete
  6. hi, I am travelling with my friends, too and we are under one appointment reference. In your cover letter, did you submit just one cover letter for the group?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Felicity!

      We submitted our cover letters separately coz we were not sure if the same consul will interview us. I indicated in the letter that we're going to EU together.

      Sorry for the late reply, did you get approved?

      Delete
  7. Hi! great day! i would like to know if the itinerary to be passed should be very detailed (down to the intended places/attractions to visit) or just a simple itinerary with just the city and the number of days to stay? thank you for your help! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tami!

      My comment box screwed up, so sorry for the delay.

      To answer your question-
      NO, you don't have to indicate the smallest details. Just outline the cities you'll visit for how many days, and how you intend to go in/out of the cities. Also mention you accommodation.

      You can use my cover letter, there's a link in my post :)

      Hope you get a chance to see Europe, it's really beautiful!

      Delete
  8. Did you use VFS or directly apply to French embassy in Manila?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jojan,

      We applied directly at the French Embassy. My friends who recently applied told me everything goes to VFS now. Must have been a change of rules that I'm not aware as of yet. Hope this post didn't mislead you though, we went in EU before VFS took place. I'll try to update once I got the official info/source.

      Thanks for dropping by!

      Delete

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