DISCLAIMER: I’M IN NO WAY A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ROYAL NORWEGIAN EMBASSY OR VFS GLOBAL. EVERYTHING WRITTEN HERE IS BASE ON PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. VISA APPLICATIONS ARE A CASE-TO-CASE BASIS SO WHAT I WENT THROUGH MIGHT BE DIFFERENT FOR YOU. THIS IS JUST A BASIC GUIDE. Thanks!
The primary reason why I’m making this blog entry in my very virgin blog is because I have literally spent the last 2 days going in and out of google’s search history, digging through blog posts and comments, and trying to assess over and over again how well I prepared for my Schengen Visa Application. It’s nerve-racking, anxiety-inducing, and nothing but utter paranoia for anyone trying out to get a Schengen Visa.
This instructional and informative blog post goes out to all my fellow Filipinas/os with European significant others. I’ll try to give you a step by step guide on how it would be like to lodge in your application and presenting your S/Os as your sponsors.
Just to give a little bit of background, I’m currently 23 years old dating a Norwegian guy for about 4 years now. We’ve met purely online (not in some dating website btw. lol) and have managed to meet for 5 times in the entire course of our relationship. Throughout the years of our relationship, our communication has never died down and up till now, we skype basically everyday. He’s been in Manila thrice, I’ve been to Norway once, and we’ve met halfway in California one Christmas as well.
Visa sponsorship could mean different things, to be honest. It could mean he/she is completely funding your trip — flight, accommodations, food, etc. As for me, I just need it as an additional proof that I’m going to live in their house during the time of my visit. I’m fully funding my own trip, but I’ve always believed that a sponsorship gives the embassy a greater guarantee that you’ll be going back after your trip.
Let’s get on with the process! Along with it, I’ll insert some of my personal experiences of getting a visa through the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila.
Before you even dream about processing your Schengen Visas, I believe these are a few key things you need to have in order for your to have higher chances of getting one.
- PLEASE MEET UP FIRST! Preferably in the Philippines. Meeting each other legitimizes your relationship. We can’t deny the culture has been a little off in terms of dating foreigners (arranged marriages to get visas and mail-order brides, etc.). So to prove that your relationship is more than that and ultimately out of love, please try and meet up first.
- ESTABLISH TIES TO THE COUNTRY. If you’re fortunate enough, having properties and businesses under your name is always a plus. Try to get a job as well as this will help you earn enough for your future Europe trip!
The key to preparing your Schengen Visa is by meticulously going through the VISIT BF/GF Checklist. Here’s the checklist for Norway:
CHECKLISTS FOR OTHER COUNTRIES:
- Cover Letter – This entirely depends on the Embassy, whether or not you have to create it on your own. Here is a helpful blog that would assist you in making your cover letters:
- MY EXPERIENCE: Norway doesn’t require you to make a cover letter, instead you just print out an already formatted letter.
- (1) Passport Photo – TIP! Always go to a trusted photo-printing shop (Kodak, PhotoLine, FujiFilm, etc.) at your local malls. They’re more knowledgeable when it comes to the Schengen Visa Photo Requirements. But overall, this is how it should basically look like:
- Photocopies of Your Passport – make sure they’re clear and readable
- Photocopies of Your Guarantor’s Passport – make sure again they’re readable. This is important so you can show your previous meet ups.
- GUARANTEE FORM – Now this is completely dependent on the country’s embassy and what they would require.
- MY EXPERIENCE: For Norway, they have a Guarantee Form from UDI (their immigration office). You can download it HERE. Basically, you have to tell your S/O to bring their financial documents (last paycheck, tax return forms, bank statements, and IDs) to the police station in their city. The police will look on to these documents and stamp the Guarantee Form. THE GUARANTEE FORM HAS TO BE SENT TO YOU BY SNAIL MAIL. The embassy only accepts the original document, so that means NO scans or pictures or photocopies.
- WHAT IF MY BF/GF ISN’T FINANCIAL CAPABLE, BUT I NEED A GUARANTEE FORM? As for my experience, my BF is still under his parents roof so the best way to still ensure a guarantee form is by asking their immediate family (parents, brothers or sisters) to do it in their behalf instead. This is totally OK, as long as you mention it later in your Invitation Letter.
- Round Trip Ticket – Get a reservation, DON’T BUY THE TICKET YET! There is still no assurance whether or not you will get the visa, so better just get a reservation rather than flushing the travel money down the drain because you didn’t get the visa.
- MY EXPERIENCE: I never consulted any traveling agencies before, and I personally feel like they could be sketchy in our country. I used THIS SERVICE from Dream Euro Trip to avail of a ticket. The service I availed claimed that I will receive the ticket reservation in 2-3 days, but I was surprise I received an email 3 hours later! Definitely recommend them!
- Travel Insurance – CLICK HERE to get the list of accredited medical travel insurance companies here in the Philippines. I’m pretty sure this will also apply for other embassy requirements.
- MY EXPERIENCE: I’ve scouted for the cheapest travel insurance policies and I’ve landed with PNB General Insurer’s being the winner (Only cost around P2000). The application for insurance was generally easy. Just call them at +63 2 526 3638. I talked to their agent and we exchanged emails about the information of my trip. You can basically pay at any PNB branch and in the next day or two, they will mail the policy to you for FREE!
- Photocopy of your old passports – This is especially important if you just renewed yours recently
- INVITATION LETTER FROM INVITING PERSON – This is pretty much where you and your S/O can go into detail about your relationship and establish it more by writing down everything about you guys. Here’s a list of the key information you should provide:
- Statement of Invitation – “I ____ am inviting my bf/gf ___ to go to my country, ____”
- Information about your trip:
- Duration of Stay
- Address of Inviting Party
- Details on accommodation and living expenses
- Who will be the Financial Guarantor
- Information about your relationship
- Information about YOU
- Passport number
- History of your relationship
- Dates and places you have met
- Information about YOU
- Purpose of your visit
- Statement ensuring that you will stay with your guarantor and will leave on specified date
- Contact number and email address of inviting person
- *Optional – You can also add in your pictures together.
- Properties, Cars, and Business – basically bring anything that can document this.
- Others – photocopies of birth certificates of children, marriage contracts, or hotel bookings outside of the country you are visiting.
BASICALLY, FULFILL AND COMPLETE THESE REQUIREMENTS. Don’t try and doctor your way in and make some of the documents fake! That’s a total NO to your application, and will surely give you a harder time.
Once you have gather everything, PHOTOCOPY ANOTHER SET! This is just in case of any emergency, like for example you lost a copy from your original set.
BOOKING AN APPOINTMENT:
After completing all the requirements, it’s time you pay and book your appointment. For Norway, they handle all their payments and bookings online. CLICK HERE for the application portal. Reservations are a breeze and there’s easily an open slot in the next day. As for appointments, HERE’S A TIP: book after 10 am! In the morning from 7 am to 10 am are the walk-in application for seafarers. THERE ARE A LOT OF THEM. What easily would be a 30 minute application process could turn into a 2 hour one when you’re processing it along with the seafarers.
In here, I will give my personal testimonial on how everything went for me in the last 2 times I tried to get a Schengen Visa.
The Norwegian Embassy in Manila has outsource its visa services to VFS Global in Eco Plaza Building, Chino Roces Ave, Makati City. So far, I have to give kudos to VFS for their great service. I’ve never encountered a problem, the customer service lines are always reachable (even through email), and the staff are superb!
WHAT TO WEAR WHEN SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION:
- Just wear something casual and presentable. Something that you would wear in an office probably. Of course, try to avoid wearing something revealing or eye-catching.
- DON’T WEAR COLORED CONTACT LENSES. I had this mistake in the first time and I literally had to take them off on the spot without any casing and I just ended up throwing them away. You’re better off wearing your glasses. 😛
PREPARING YOUR DOCUMENTS:
- Organize all your documents according to the sequence in the checklist. This makes it easier for you and VFS as you submit it.
- DON’T STAPLE ANYTHING! Use a clips instead and keep all your documents in a nice and clean folder/ envelop.
- Double check over and over again that you’ve completed the checklist the night before your appointment.
SUBMITTING YOUR DOCUMENTS:
- As much as possible, don’t bring a big bag. Bring only what you need (wallet, valuables, and documents).
- You can arrive as early as 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Try to be on time (avoid being a Filipino in this situation with the bad time habits xD).
- As you enter, a guard will go through your bags. You have to present to him your passport as well. You are not allowed to use your phone while you process the visa. The guards will advice you to turn them off.
- There will be a lady in the reception who will ask you to show your cover letter. She will also ask you to add your contact number in this cover letter. A VFS feedback form will be given to you where you have to fill out your details. After filling up the form, you can go straight in the processing area.
- There will be a person on the counter who would call out on your name. You will give all your documents to her and she will cross check if it is complete.
- There’s no formal interview, really. The person in the counter might ask a little about your relationship or your trip. Just be truthful and relax. They’re Filipinos anyway, so its fine if you spoke Tagalog to them.
- Once your documents are complete, they will ask to pay for the processing fee (P1233.00) and whether or not you want it to be delivered to you (you pay P370 for this).
- A receipt will be issued to you and at the back of it you will see the REFERENCE NUMBER. Save the reference number because this is what you will use to track your application.
- BIOMETRICS AND PICTURE TIME! This is basically them taking your photo and scanning your fingerprints.
- THEN ITS DONE! You can go home after this and the agony of waiting for the results begin!
There’s nothing else you can really do but wait patiently. Like me, you can go paranoid by reading thousand upon thousands of blog entries and comments to justify why you should get a visa. Here’s what you can look out for while waiting.
- TRACKING YOUR APPLICATION – you can give VFS global a call (+63 2 790 4902) or use their TRACKING SYSTEM ONLINE. The REFERENCE NUMBER can be found at the back of your receipt (make sure to include the slashes (/) in between the numbers!). On the second or third day of your application, this should be what you see on the page.
I’ve always had positive experiences in terms of the duration of the release of my Schengen Visas. The first time took 3 working days, and this time it only took 2! Nothing but credits to VFS and the Royal Norwegian Embassy for a fast, easy and reliable service.
Here’s a sample of what the approval would look like:
Here are more links to blogs about how to get a Schengen Visa!
- Dream Euro Trip
- Two Monkey’s Travel Group
- Solitary Wanderer
- Post Card Pretty
- Kristie Camins
GOOD LUCK TO YOU AND I HOPE YOUR EUROPE DREAMS COME TRUE! Leave a comment below if you want to ask anything, I’ll be willing to help you as much as I can. 🙂