How to Apply for Schengen Visa in the UAE

It has been two months now since hubby and I got back from our week long trip to Central Europe. However, I decided to write our experience in securing the Schengen Visa needed for the trip to be of help to would be travelers to the European Union in some way.

Schengen Visa is a type of document much like a pass if you are hoping to travel to any member states of the European Union. The European Union is an economic and political union of 28 countries mainly located in Europe. The 28 member states consist of the following countries:

Austria                        Italy
Belgium                      Latvia
Bulgaria                      Lithuania
Croatia                        Luxembourg
Cyprus                        Malta
Czech Republic        Netherlands
Denmark                    Poland
Estonia                       Portugal
Finland                       Romania
France                         Slovakia
Germany                    Slovenia
Greece                         Spain
Hungary                     Sweden
Ireland                        United Kingdom (unsure if to include or not after Brexit referendum)

The Schengen Visa is mandatory to non-European Union citizens to be able to visit any of the member states. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), it is easy breezy because of VFS Global, a third party organization authorized to facilitate visa applications. Their website details the steps you have to undergo as well as the option of making an appointment for the submission of said applications. As an applicant, you have the option to choose to which embassies of the countries you wish to apply to. There are two options to choose from which can help you: 1) the country that is the first point of entry, or 2) the country where you will spend the longest time in. We were going to three countries namely Slovakia (our first point of entry), Austria, and the Czech Republic. But will be staying the most days in Austria, thus, we applied to the Austrian Embassy for our Schengen Visa.

Well, friends, we come to the part of our visa application experience. I now warn you that this is a very long entry. Hehe. So, I hope you can bear with me.

31 March 2016:  Our week long trip to Bratislava-Vienna-Prague has finally been booked for the 29th of April! Excited much, of course. Now, the legwork begins. I am incharge of collating all requirements, so it was a busy several days for me.

Accordingly, the requirements for Schengen Visa via Austrian Embassy are the following:

  1. Filled up Application Form (can be downloaded from the VFS Global website
    I highly recommend typing your answers to the application form to avoid confusions or misspellings. When we submitted our visa applications, a lot of applicants submitted handwritten applications.
  1. Visa Fee is Aed 246 for each application (based on current exchange rate)
  2. Original Passport and a copy of the passport (must be valid for 3 months more at the time of travel)
  3. 2 pcs. Passport-sized photo (specifications can be found at VFS Global website)
  4. Letter from sponsor in the UAE specifying qualification, salary, starting date of employment
  5. Personal bank account statement for the last 6 months
    I recommend including credit card statements for the same period. Be ready to defend       account balances during interview, if any. There is no official minimum bank balance required for Austria according to my research and personal experience.
  1. Proof of Travel Insurance for the travel period in question
    In this instance, we used Dnata Travel Insurance. Just make sure that the insurance has a minimum coverage of €30,000.- for medical expenses.
  1. Proof of Flight Booking or Flight Reservation which includes return flights
  2. Proof of Hotel Reservation or other Accommodation during travel period
  3. UAE Residence Visa (must be valid for 3 months more at the time of travel)
  4. Copy of active Emirates National ID Card
  5. Valid Contact Information (can be email or street address)

Note that the Austrian Embassy at any time of the application may require for additional documents to help them make their decision so just be ready and always check your email for any correspondence from them.

10 April 2016:  Collating the required documents was a bit tedious but I was motivated so I did not mind it that much. Today, I set up an appointment online for the submission of our documents at VFS Global Visa Centre in Dubai. You can choose the time amenable for your schedule, of course.

I would also like to stress out that you should not bring any electronic devices inside the Visa Centre. They are quite strict with this policy. To make sure which devices are permitted inside the Visa Centre do refer to the VFS Global on said restrictions policy.

13 April 2016:  Hubby and I were two hours early for our appointment. We didn’t want to be late for any reasons that may jeopardize our getting a Schengen Visa. Talk about over excitement, right? Well, we can’t afford not to go on this trip as everything has been paid for in advance already and leave from work has been filed. Luckily, we were promptly assisted in the Visa Centre that it only took thirty minutes to check our visa applications and accompanying documents.

We opted to have our passports delivered at home to avoid the long travel time since we are staying two hours from Dubai, hence, we paid an additional of Aed 30. Feeling positive that everything was alright, I went shopping after.

14 April 2016:  You know that adage about not counting the chicks before the eggs are hatched? Well, it was spot on for us. The Austrian Embassy in Abu Dhabi after receiving our applications emailed my husband to come for a personal interview in Abu Dhabi and bring credit card statements for the last six months. You see, we only submitted bank statements. That’s why I recommended earlier to include credit card statements as part of your proof of funds.

When hubby received the email, both of us thought it was hilarious that he had to go to Abu Dhabi for a personal appearance. You see, we chose Austria over Slovakia in applying for our Schengen Visa because it has VFS Global in Dubai while Slovakia’s embassy is in Abu Dhabi. Our residence is about 3-4 hours travel time to Abu Dhabi. Anyway, we said there’s nothing more we can do but to appear in person. Although, it was only my husband who was supposed to go to the Austrian Embassy, I opted to accompany him during the long drive to and fro.

17 April 2016:  Armed with the copies of bank statements the Austrian Embassy required, we were ready for the interview. In fact, we were three hours early. They didn’t give any appointment schedule just so we have to be there between 12 noon and 1pm. A very slim window, don’t you think?

Plenty of people were queuing to the two customer service windows. We were not bothered since our papers were with the embassy staff already. When it was my husband’s turn, I seated myself near the window in case he needed to ask me something. What an experience I tell you it turned out to be! They had these pages of questions for which my husband had to answer to. Every minute detail of our trip such as travel dates, flight details, hotel reservations, itineraries, family tree (yes!), bank balances i.e. deposits and withdrawals, employment history in U.A.E., travel plans in future, among others were scrutinized during the interview. Good thing I brought all the papers but the submitted application form. After about 45 minutes into the interview, we were told to wait for their email on what will be the results for us. So we went home slightly dejected and pessimistic that we will get our Schengen Visa. What else is there to do but wait?

On this very same day, though, hubby and I received a correspondence from the Austrian Embassy in Deutsch. What?! Anyway, I used free language translators via Google and was able to get the gist of the letter. Mainly, they cannot issue us a Schengen Visa unless we write back to them in Deutsch (mind you) stating 1) how we can prove that our funds were enough for the trip, and 2) how we can prove that we have all intention of coming back to the U.A.E. after our trip. And we had one week to send our reply.

Talk about anxiety! Ha! Hubby and I were in a quandary as to what we will do. Using Google again, I tried to formulate our letters. But who will proofread them was the big question. Luckily for us, hubby’s immediate boss is Austrian and he could ask him a favor of correcting the letters I prepared. Overcoming geographical hindrances (hubby’s boss was at that time in Saudi Arabia) and slow internet connection, the boss was able to correct my pitiful, winding letter in Deutsch and create a short, succinct one. So, on the 21st of April, we sent out our replies to the Austrian Embassy; crossing our fingers that we will get our visas in time for our scheduled flight on the 29th. At this time, we already sent out our request to our travel agency to cancel our trip thinking if we get our visas later on we can just rebook. At least by cancelling early, we could still get back 80% of what we paid for the trip.

27 April 2016:  Two more days left before our supposed flight. Due to hubby’s insistence, I phoned the Austrian Embassy to inquire on our visa status since in our VFS Global inquiry online said “passport on the way to Visa Centre”, and the Visa Centre cannot confirm whether a visa has been issued or not. Thankfully, I was able to talk to an embassy staff and she confirmed that we have been issued visas for our trip. Because of excitement, after thanking her I just put the phone down and shrieked with joy. Then I phoned my husband to inform him about the good news, but both of us were still skeptical up to this point since we reasoned out that maybe my hearing was impaired. Lol. Good thing, we rescinded our request to cancel our trip with our travel agency a day after we emailed our cancellation request. Hello Europe, we’re coming! Hehe.

28 April 2016:  True to form we received our passports with our Schengen Visa via courier.

Tada!

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What an experience, right? But as they say, the rest is, well, history.

I hope I was able to share some valuable points to you all. Thanks for reading.

Getting Police Clearance Certificate in the UAE

 

dubai police app

I still have several leave days remaining so last Sunday I decided to secure a police clearance certificate here in the U.A.E. I browsed the internet for some basic knowledge on how to go about the process. I have learned that Police Clearance Certificate is also known as Good Conduct Certificate here in the U.A.E. I thought it was going to be a tedious process but lo and behold, it only took exactly five minutes to apply. The travel time and photocopying of my docs took more time than the application itself. Perhaps it helped that hubby and I arrived at a quarter to eight in the morning. 🙂 Or maybe not.

Anyway, their official website is quite understandable. The requirements a person has to bring are the following:

  • Original Passport with copy
  • Visa with copy
  • 2 pcs. 4x6cm-sized coloured photograph (although I was only asked for 1 pc. photo)
  • Valid Emirates ID (no copy required but it would not hurt to bring one with you)
  • Fee: 210 Dirhams (around USD 57) for expats

Once you have all the documents required, just go to the Dubai Police General Headquarters near Al Mulla Plaza. Actually, once you exit Al Qiyadah Metro Station, the police station is very visible. The personnel are helpful and courteous and they have more than ten counters to cater to the general public. Just get your queue number and wait for it to be called then present all your documents plus the fee. A receipt voucher with original signature will be given to you to present during the specified date to claim your clearance certificate. In my case, it only took two days to process.

Just bear in mind that expats must have at least completed six months of their visa and the Good Conduct Certificate is only valid for three (3) months from the date of issue. There is no need for fingerprinting if you have a valid Emirates ID. Dubai Police Headquarters are open from 7:30am until 2:30pm.

Well, I hope this has been informative. Thanks for reading.

[Photo courtesy of Google search engine. It shows a sample of the newest Dubai Police app for Android phones.]

 

Goals

Hi everyone! It’s that time of the year again when almost all are making resolutions to start anew. As for me, I fail whenever I make resolutions at the beginning of the year. Hence from last year I have started to set goals for myself. Achievable ones only, of course. For this year, I have 5 goals written down in black and white in my new planner. Hehe. Two of which were carry overs from last year’s list. The list may grow as the new year progresses but these five goals are my main focus. Hopefully, I achieve all of them by end of the year.

In this note, I would like to share to you my planner for this year. I am determined to cut back on my expenses so I had to forego my favorite planner for this year. It makes me sad to do that but I comfort myself with the thought that the little I was able to save will go a long way to adding to our savings account for this year. Always a silver lining somewhere. 🙂 So, while browsing the net for some free printable planners for this year, I came across The Handmade Home. Naturally, there are a lot of free planners out there but I chose this for its funkiness and simplicity. I’ve printed out January to March to start with. If any are still deciding on the kind of planner you’d like to try, why not head over to The Handmade Home. Perhaps you’ll like it as well.

Here’s my version of the planner… IMG_4957 IMG_4958 IMG_4959 As you can see I have started my Week #2. 🙂 Finally, I hope you all are having a great start for this New Year 2015. Thanks for reading.

Babysitting Lexie

Hello everyone! Hope the holidays are treating you very kindly. 🙂

My days are going by like a blur and I feel kind of panicked because by next week I’ll be back to work. Yeah, right. Sigh. Oh, I wish the days can crawl slowly just for this week for me. Anyway, the highlight of my month is my adorable cutie pie niece, Lexie. When my sister called to say if we (hubby and I) can babysit because she has some work requirements to finish, we jumped on the available taxi to visit with Lexie sweetie. Tiring as it is to babysit a 20-day old baby, Lexie is easy-peasy for me. Hehe. I think she likes my singing voice. Go figure babies. Everybody can’t stand my voice. Lol. Lexie has grown after not seeing her for a week. Her body is sturdier and she can focus her eyes on things now. Thus, hubby got the confidence to carry her and put her to sleep while I got a couple hours of shut eye.

So, here are some snaps of us babysitting Lexie. Can’t wait to see her again tomorrow.

 

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Well, then, have a nice day everyone! Thanks for reading. 🙂

Happy Holidays to Everyone!

Hello there! Happy holidays to all!

I’m sure everybody’s busy nowadays considering it’s that time of the year again. 🙂 As for me, last night was the first time in two weeks that I was able to sleep for eight hours straight. Not that I’m complaining since the reason for my erratic sleeping pattern was my newborn niece. Yes! Another addition to my side of the family. My younger sister, Jocelyn, gave birth on the 6th of December and we have been busy since. It was a difficult delivery for my sister and I was there every step of the way straight from my night shift duty at work. So, you can just imagine how many cups of coffee I consumed that time. Hehe. Thank God she delivered naturally and both she and my niece, Lexie, are doing just great as of this writing. Naturally, I am the designated babysitter because I started my annual leave on the same day Lexie was born. Additionally, I have the professional knowledge of taking care of newborns as it is part of my job description in the hospital. And being a babysitter of a newborn is a bit scary and fraught with sleepless nights. I let my sister and my brother-in-law sleep the minute I took over so I’m so happy I got to bond with our li’l cutie pie which meant aunt Jenny didn’t get enough sleep which was well worth it. Anyway, let me just share you a couple of snaps with Lexie…

wpid-20141206_233359.jpg This was when we finally got her to ourselves. Me with my youngest sister, Jan, on her birthday.

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And this is a selfie of me and Lexie while I was babysitting her. This cutie likes to sleep on my chest every time.

Well, I’ll let you get back to your busy-ness hehe. Thanks for reading. And happy holidays again.

 

 

Time and Time Again

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Has it really been more than three months? I missed everybody. Really. But I had to deal with personal stuff so I had to forego spending time with my blog. You know, that ‘shadow thing’ I talked about in a previous post. Anyway, glad I am back and hopefully this time around I am strong enough to stay even while everything else is happening to me. *wink

So, what has everyone been up to lately?

[Photo courtesy of Google search engine.]