Traveling to Europe has always been a precious dream. Imagining myself being on a train ride embarking such a blissful fast-paced adventure. I know I am not the only one. Most Filipinos I know have the same vivid and passionate “European Dream” like myself. As women, we also have that dreamy “Eiffel Tower Fever”. I couldn’t really say for sure where exactly this came from. But if I need to take a guess, it must be because… living in a huge country yet made up of thousand of islands (7,641 last time I checked lol). We feel sometimes isolated, scattered and couldn’t really do a sense of the classic road trip style “state to state” or “country to country” hopping like it is in the West.
We do have “island hopping” though in the Philippines. So I guess that makes it seem fair lol.
So that fascination of being in a huge continent and just traveling from one beautiful country to another is a whole new level of adventure for us. It would be a worldview shattering, jaw-clenching, eye-opening experience. It’s so different from where we grew up that it gives us so much awe in our heart, respect and appreciation to what our world can offer, the beauty of diversity. Meeting different cultures and traditions, languages, geography, architecture, history, art, food and most of all the beautiful people.
But before I spill the beans…
IF YOU’RE A GREEN CARD HOLDER, A HOUSEWIFE (OR CURRENTLY UNEMPLOYED), LIVING IN THE USA AND PLANNING TO TRAVEL TO EUROPE ESPECIALLY WITH THE HUSBAND THIS IS THE RIGHT POST FOR YOU.
For others, you can still get some information here from my experience. Hoping it can help you in any way.
IMPORTANT: I strongly advice that you visit the OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the Schengen Country Embassy/Consulate which is specific to your individual and unique application case. To access the official list of requirements and general instructions for you. Changes and updates can also be done anytime. So always revisit the official website because it is your best source of information.
NOW, do me a favor: breathe, relax and I’ll tell you my amazing experience with getting my Schengen Visa Approved because yours will be too.
I was honestly very nervous on the day of my interview or appointment date but this is normal. If we really want something, we have that tendency to get tense. It’s human nature but you’ll be fine just like any other obstacles, this is just merely hiccup.
YES sisters and brothers, we may all have came from a country that requires us to get a visa every time we want to travel to a fancy country but this makes our life interesting and exciting. Well, at least let us just look at it this way. We are unbreakable.
Okay, enough with the pep talk lols.
My husband didn’t need to apply for a visa going to Europe. So it is really up to me if we can make this “Major European Travel” happen that we’ve been planning to do for two years now. That involved saving financially for it as well.
So fast forward to the day of interview or officially it is called “Appointment Date” in German Consulate Chicago.
My appointment time is 11:00 AM and I set my alarm at 7:00 that morning so that by 8:00 AM we can go out and have breakfast in the nearest Cafe from our hotel. Yes, I was with my husband. He took a day off from work so he can be with me for this “hiccup”.
Chicago is a walking city although it really makes your feet damn ache. I tell ya this is speaking from experience lols. Always wear good shoes of you can. From the hotel to the building where the Consulate is, we need to walk at least 30 minutes to get there.
I remember we started walking at around 10:00 to get there around 10:30 in the morning. Not too early that’s the goal. Al though I was really itching to be there way early since the Filipina in me is like that. When it comes to Government Offices you just got to be crazy early to get things done that day.
MY EXPERIENCE LAST JULY 10, 2018
Entering the building, you got to log in your name and do it again once you arrived on the floor where the German Consulate is located with the friendly and approachable security guard. I showed my “Confirmation Email” as a proof I have an appointment scheduled that day. I saw him checking or verifying my name on a paper with a list of names of the people scheduled for that day.
Looking at the office, it has a glass walls feature so you can see what’s happening the second you stepped out of the elevator.
At first, we thought my husband couldn’t enter the premises since I’m the only one with the appointment but he was allowed to get in when we asked the guard about it. Must be because there was no one there and it’s just us who will be waiting in the sitting area. The only people you can see inside are the clients being accommodated by the officers.
It had a calming effect in me.
The first thing we did is to go through the screening or security. The guard checked all our bags (backpacks and my purse since we already checked out from the hotel) and the documents. He asked politely if we have phones or any gadgets with us. We gave our phones and my husband’s work laptop for his keeping. He gave us a locker “claim number” for it.
I was also delighted that he gave me a service number although my appointment time is at 11:00 AM.
We arrived around 10:30 AM and I was amused that the office was small. It is the right size though because it wasn’t crowded and it has a relaxed ambiance or feel about it. There were only three “service” windows inside. Two are open at that time we arrived. One of them is serving what seems to me a family of three asking the officer about their daughter maybe asking for a German passport. The other window is serving someone what seems to me wants to get a Schengen Visa for travel.
We waited for my turn like around 10 minutes. When the individual who was asking for a Schengen Visa was done. It was when my number appeared on the screen. I went there and took the seat then greeted the officer “Good Morning!”
She looked serious which is natural for officers because of the job but she has that nice and friendly vibe.
She asked me what my appointment is about.
Officer: What are you applying for?
Me: Schengen Visa
Officer: Tourism or Business
Officer: Give me all of the required documents.
*** This is where I rattled a bit because I organized my documents in different folders so I know where to find them. Good thing, I organized my documents in order exactly how it it on their official website. ***
I gave her the contents of my first folder with the basic documents (application form, passport, green card, proof of address, accuracy of information, their original and 2 photocopies).
She checked them immediately and returned the original IDs and some of the photocopies. She only keeps one photocopy of everything. She then told me to give her ALL OF THE REQUIRED DOCUMENTS like your confirmed (round-trip) plane tickets, travel itinerary, confirmed hotel reservations, bank statements, travel insurance… (everything you got).
So I did… and gave her all of the important documents that I gathered from all of my folders that are based on my knowledge of the official list of requirements that you can find on their website.
She just did her business quietly checking all of my documents, I noticed she is highlighting the important details in every document especially marking my name and the dates like on the plane tickets, hotel reservations. I can see that she is focused on analyzing my full itinerary, evaluating everything that it all makes sense. She also writes little notes on the post-its and attached them to a few documents.
Officer: Holding a document and silently said What is this?
Me: It’s my husband’s working certificate because my husband will be the one paying for all the expenses to our trip to Europe.
She kept reading the document until you can see it a light on her face that she finally get it.
Officer: Do you work?
Looking at the day to day itinerary that I prepared.
Officer: Is there a hotel reservation in Portugal?
Me: The last one will be in Venice. We won’t be going out of the airport in Portugal because it will be just a transit or connecting flight going back to USA.
She found a document with our flight details and you can see her face lit up again that she gets it. After this, she is done with her assessment or evaluation.
She will return to you some of the documents she won’t need like the bank statements of my husband. I guess because I have my own bank account and has our travel fund on it which is proof enough for financial capability for our trip to Europe.
The whole time I was just looking at her checking all of my documents. It honestly didn’t feel I am being interviewed, interrogated or anything. All she asked were just practical questions about our trip. The Schengen Visa feels like it has already been handed to you. Given.
She then told me to do the Biometrics to record for my fingerprints and then asked if I want my passport mailed back since I live from a different state.
I said yes.
She gave me the USPS SASE Mail Form for me to write my name and address. After this, she is quick to give me a printed copy of all my visa details or important information to verify if everything in it is correct, like spelling, dates and etc. This looks like all the details that you can find once your Schengen Visa is printed and attached to your passport page.
It’s in German but it’s fine just check the spelling and dates are correct. These are the details based on your application form or VIDEX you did or typed online which showed up on their system through the bar-code. You signed at the bottom of the paper meaning you have verified that all the information is correct. She made me sign for 3 pages in total I think. She will tell you what pages to sign and where.
She then nicely told me how much I need to pay.
It was 96 USD in total because 25 for the mail and 71 USD (60 Euros) for the Visa fee.
Me: Can you take a Credit Card?
Officer: Master or Visa?
I gave her my card and then she encoded it on her computer system. There was a printer at her right side and I can see that my Schengen Visa has already been printed. I can see my picture and this made me so happy. It was such a breeze. I was relaxed the whole time.
She gave me two individual receipts of my payments.
Even before you start, there is this feeling you’ve already been approved. All it takes is for you to give all the required documents especially the bank statements (proof of financial capability) and that’s it. You are done. You are approved.
If in the Philippines, when you’re applying for a Tourist Visa. The vibe is: You are suspicious until you prove them otherwise.
Here in the USA, as a Green Card holder or at least speaking from my experience, it’s more like: You aren’t suspicious until you prove them otherwise.
Those two experiences are different, being a US Permanent Resident means you are someone to be trusted. We went through so much just getting here and because of the rigorous application process. Getting a Schengen Visa is no doubt a lot easier.
The whole procedure was like only 20 minutes and by 11:00 AM (supposedly my appointment time) I am already happily prancing outside the building in the streets with my husband looking for lunch.
Total time we were there with waiting for my turn was only like 30 minutes. After two days, Thursday noon of July 12, 2018. I have received my Schengen Visa and now it’s in my hands.
Friendly advice: You can organize all of your documents in just one folder and do it in order based on their official website. The officer will only need one photocopy so just do it. When she asked for all of them then this is the way to do it. I can say this method saves a lot of time. The officer was very thorough and the service was just amazing and fast.
My appointment date was July 10, 2018 and only after two days… it came in the mail. Imagine my surprise! I was thinking to receive it after 5 business days or something lols.
The entire process was smooth, very efficient and straight-forward and just went beyond my expectations.
That’s Germany for you. I would gladly do it again with them.
There’s only two weeks left until I say… HELLO EUROPE! HELLO PRETTY CASTLES IN GERMANY! Super excited.