There’s another way for Filipinos to apply schengen visa in the Philippines. This is to apply Schengen Visa at Italian Embassy through VIA Center. Currently Visa Information and Application Center (or VIA) t serve as liaison for the Italian Embassy and as call center for several others. But here I will only focus on how to Apply Schengen Visa at Italian embassy through VIA Center. I stumbled upon this through pure luck.
3- Steps to Apply Schengen Visa at Italian Embassy with VIA Center
Step 1 – Schedule an appointment for submission of application form.
There are 2 ways to schedule: (1) Call the expensive 32pesos per minute hotline or (2) Walk-in to sign up for a schedule. If you apply during the low season (not summer), you may even be able to submit the same moment.
Step 2 – Prepare the Requirements
General Requirements for Schengen Visa Application. Or download this check list
- Valid Passport with no less than 3 months validity over the visa expiration;
- COMPLETELY accomplished application form with one recent picture (2X2) with white background
- Original and photocopy of ALL documents required for each applicant (including passport and previous visas).
- Letter of introduction to the Embassy (SAMPLE LETTER)
- If Employed: Certificate of employment & Approved Leave of Absence
- If Self Employed: Business license/permits, registration and financial statement.
- Declaration of annual income (ITR), and approved Leave of Absence
- For Students: Certificate of enrolment and approved leave of absence
- Proof of economic means: Bank certification for dollar and peso accounts accompanied by their corresponding passbook, statements of account. If available, international credit cards, properties, land titles, etc.
- Birth certificate and Marriage Contract (NSO issued)
- Itinerary (SAMPLE ITINERARY ), confirmed round trip flight booking and hotel vouchers or hotel booking under the name of the traveler.
- A letter of invitation addressed to the Embassy, (format of this letter), in case the traveler will stay in a friend’s or relative’s residence. The invitation may be made by an Italian national or a foreign resident legally staying in Italy. A document of identity or permit of stay should accompany the letter of invitation.
- For ALL minors: NSO birth certificate, affidavit of Support and Consent from BOTH parents. In addition, a DSWD clearance for minors not traveling with parents.
- Travel insurance with a coverage of at least 30,000 euros (with 15 days allowance beyond the travel period) obtained only from Schengen accredited insurance companies in the Philippines.
- If not Filipino citizen the applicant needs to show proof of permanent residency in the Philippines (ACR).
- Visa Processing Fee (P1,400) + Service Fee (P3,688)
Step 3 – Submit the Application Form and Requirement
VIA CENTRE MAKATI
3rd Floor, Allegro Center
2284 Chino Roces Extension
Barangay Magallanes, Makati City 1232
VIA CENTRE CEBU
Unit 1004-B 10th Floor Keppel Center,
Samar Loop corner Cardinal Rosales Ave.,
Cebu Business Park, Cebu City
PROs and CONs with Apply Schengen Visa at Italian Embassy with Via
- You have to pay a service fee of PHP1,400 on top of the Schengen Visa fee of 60 Euro (PHP3,700).
- Your application is not prioritized actually. So it takes longer than if you apply directly at the embassy. It takes about 2 weeks to 1 month.
- You don’t need to wait for 2 months to get a schedule.
- You can call the hotline or just walk in to sign up for appointment.
- You can normally get a schedule for the next day or the day after.
- There’s VIA center in Cebu for those in that area. But there is also a Norwegian Consulate in Cebu if you wanna check that out.
- The VIA Center staff were super nice. There are 9 counters + 1 cashier and everyone were friendly, courteous, and helpful. I was observing! Far cry from many embassy workers who exercise terrorism on applicants to feed their elephant egos.
- When you make a mistake in the application, they don’t send you to another embassy, they help you correct it.
- You don’t have to deal with equally egocentric security guards.
- You can bring your mobile phone.
- There are enough chairs to seat.
Why I did not apply Schengen Visa at the Belgian Embassy
I was going to apply Schengen visa at the Belgian embassy, because the main reason for going to Europe is to attend the Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium. I called up the Belgium embassy hotline (Php32 per minute) on April 7, 2014 to make an appointment and they scheduled me for May 30, 2014. I was super surprised I needed to wait 2 months for an appointment, but thought it’s fine since I don’t plan to leave for Europe until July. Visa only takes 10-15 days per my previous experience.
Who would have thought that my application will not be accepted?
I have been advising people on Schengen Visa for the past 3 years. I thought I’ve hacked the Schengen Visa application for Filipinos! But turns out, there’s one more thing. And that is,
To apply at the embassy of the country you are staying the longest in (most number of days). And if you are visiting several countries and staying equal number of days, you have to apply at the first country of the longest stay.
Because in my mind, the Tomorrowland festival is the main reason for my trip, I decided to apply at the Belgian embassy even if this is the last country of my Eurotrip. I wanted to stay for around 30 days and made an itinerary of 4 weeks in 4 countries staying 7 days on each.
I thought I was going to have quickest appointment record because my documents were complete and arranged according to the checklist sequence. The girl looked over my document for 1 minute and said, ok I’ll go get receipt for your payment. 5 minutes later, she handed me back my whole folder apologizing for not being able to accept my application, and that I should apply at the Italian Embassy instead.
But because Italy was my first stop and my itinerary showed that I am staying the same number of days in Italy as with Belgium. I offered to adjust my itinerary; to put one more day in Belgium and 1 less day in Holland to make Belgium the longest stay. She refused saying because she has already seen it.
Seriously??? Are we in court?
My issue was not that I don’t want to go to the Italian embassy, but my concern was what if there were no slot available until July? Since it was already May 30 and I wanted to fly out on July 1? I scheduled my May 30 appointment on April 7 I told her. She said, sorry I can’t help you.
Why not??? Itineraries are not cast in stone! It’s not like I am missing an important document, fund for travel, or a valid passport. It was just a matter of adjusting 1 more day stay in Belgium to make it the longest stay.
Via to the Rescue
Luckily my trip starts in Italy and VIA center serves Italian embassy. I went to the Italian Embassy first attempting to plead early schedule, but the guard sent me to VIA. I went over to their office in Allegro Center and I was able to get schedule for the 2nd day and my application was accepted. I had actually used an older version of the Schengen Visa application form which I downloaded from the Belgian Embassy website. The women who served me gave me a new application form to fill out there.
is the visa issued by the countries in the Schengen agreement that allows no border controls within the said regions. There are currently 26 countries in this agreement,all are countries in the European continent but not necessarily members of the European Union. Schengen Visa is issued for Tourism purposes only.
Philippine passport holders are required Schengen visa to visit one or more of these Member States. This visa is valid in all Schengen states for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period for a visit, tourism or business. It is not valid for employment.
Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary and Austria.
As of January, 2014, valid Schengen visa (type: double or multiple entry), who have already entered the Schengen area, may travel to the following without additional visa and may stay for period equal to the remainder of the time for which the Schengen visa is valid. The said 2 countries membership to Schengen region are in process.
For INFO on Schenge Visa application directly with an embassy
Go to my previous post Schengen Visa for Filipino passport holders . There are plenty of discussion of applicants various experiences in the comment section.
THIS POST IS NOT PAID BY VIA.PH
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