Europe is a dream destination for every traveler. It is alluring, with its vast wealth of sights, art, culture and people. From hiking the Alps to riding the gondola in Italy and seeing the great arts of Michaelangelo to attending the Mass of the Pope, it caters every passion of every traveler.
It was January when I decided to visit Europe for the first time. For Filipinos, we are required to apply for Schengen visa for short stays in the Schengen countries. It is probably the most challenging and demanding part when visiting a country, completing and complying with the requirements. But it wasn’t as difficult as what I have expected. My application for the US tourist visa was more nerve wrecking, having to go through the interview process. In Oman, you don’t have to go through an interview in applying for Schengen Visa.
What is Schengen Visa?
The Schengen Visa is the visa needed if you wish to visit 26 Schengen zone countries like Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Most of the countries in Europe are part of the Schengen area except the UK and countries which are still in the process of becoming part of agreement like Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Cyprus and Ireland.
However, Croatia extended a ruling for holders of Schengen visas. This regulation allows holders of valid dual or multiple entry Schengen visas to enter, stay and transit in or through Croatia without the need for an additional visa (for tourist purposes).
If the visa is approved, you will be allowed to enter the zone up to 90 days within the 180day period in a single or multiple entry visas.
It is noted that Schengen visa should be submitted to the embassy of the country you want to visit. If you are planning to visit multiple countries, apply to your first point of entry or main destination.
I applied for a tourist visa to Switzerland. It was my point of entry. I originally planned to apply for visiting a family visa since my sister is there, but it has more requirements than the tourist visa. So, I applied for Tourist Visa since my whole plan was to visit different countries in Europe. It should be noted each type of Schengen Visa demands different proof and requirements.
I applied to Switzerland via their visa processing office, VFS Global in Oman. VFS Global, the authorized tourist visa application center of the Embassy in Switzerland in Oman but they do not decide for the approval of the visa.
Requirements for Schengen Tourist Visa:
1. Book an appointment online. You will never know when will be the earliest date available, so it is better to book in advance. I applied a month before my planned trip. It was too tight and not the best thing to do. I recommend to apply 90 days in advance, and this is going to be the basis to allow yourself to prepare the needed documents and to fix any problem that may come.
First, you need to sign up and go to the appointment system page. Print the confirmation letter. It is necessary to the VFS Global Visa Application Center located in Level F1, Nawras Campus, Tilal Complex, Muscat Grand Mall, Doha Al Adab Street, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.
2.Gather all the required documents. The requirements are the same in every embassy but may require additional documents. As an advised concentrate on the visa type and the particular embassy, you are applying. Check what is written on the checklist.
1.Download the application form. Make sure to fill out the form correctly, not missing any -questions.
2.A valid passport with three months’ validity from the end of visa duration. Photocopy all valid and former visas if any.Photocopy of the old passport which includes visas and stamps.
3.Two recent photos.
4.Hotel Reservations. You don’t have to pay for the hotel yet. You can book online through booking.com or agoda.com which doesn’t require any reservation fees. And if you decide to change the itinerary, you can easily modify your hotel reservation.
5.Flight reservation. Find a travel agency that can reserve flights for you. Again, you don’t have to pay until your visa is approved.
6.Certificate of Employment (if employed). Make sure the salary with the no objection to travel/ leave of absence approval is on it.
7.Bank Statement. Must show records for the past three months. You must have 100 CHF / 92.34 Euro / 38.6 OMR/ 4993PHP per day for your trip if you are applying for Switzerland. Other embassies have a different monetary requirement.
8.International travel insurance. Make sure it will cover the whole duration of the trip and valid for all Schengen countries.
9.Visa Fee. 26 OMR/ 3365 PHP plus 11.3 OMR/1462 PHP for the VFS service fee. The fee is non-refundable even if the application is unsuccessful.
3.Submit the requirements at the VFS Visa Application Center. It requires a personal appearance on the day of the appointment.
Do not forget to bring the Visa Appointment letter.
Arrive 30 mins. earlier than your scheduled appointment.
Bring a photocopy of each document and arrange it accordingly.
The processing usually takes around 5-7 days, wherein you will be clueless on whether the visa will be approved or denied. You will receive a message from the VFS once the passport is ready for pick-up.
This application is for Filipinos currently based in Oman. But I hope it has given you the directions on how and what are the essential things needed in applying for a tourist visa. For any questions, like Traveling Slippers page and send me a personal message.
Have you applied for Schengen visa? Share your experience in the comments below.