September 8, 2014 by Crescentine
The embassy has changed their process and requirements again. Since I am no longer in Manila, please see this blog instead for more up-to-date information:
*Update as of 2016: The French Embassy in Manila has partnered with VFS global to outsource the Schengen visa application process. Kindly visit: VFS Global Visa Application for a step-by-step procedure and requirements! It now only takes 2-5 days to get a visa!
Firstly, how much will you inevitable pay for the entire short stay tourist visa application?
- For a short stay of 30 days or less, prepare to pay around Php 7,000 (EUR 127).
- For a stay of 60 days or less, prepare to pay around Php 8,500 (EUR 154)
- *For a stay of 90 days or less, prepare to pay around Php 10,000 (EUR 181)
Yes, the visa is expensive and it just got more expensive with the additional service fees from VFS global!
*Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get the maximum of 90 days for a short stay tourist visa but it can be quite difficult to prove for some as to why they have to stay 3 months but it is possible to be granted given the right circumstances!
Step 1: Schedule your Submission
*This article is specific to short-stay Schengen tourist visa via the French embassy.
“Today marks the day that I have to start preparing for my Schengen visa requirements at the French embassy. No more procrastinating!” I told myself. Having said that, I called up the French Embassy call center. BUT that was two years ago, now I have to go and schedule an online appointment via the VFS global website: click here and sign up for an account! You can even sign up for other applicants that will be applying with you such as family members.
P.S. You can book your appointment at the soonest possible time but within 3 months prior to your intended date of travel. (ex. I intend to fly to France in December 19 then I can schedule the interview within the months of September to December). The short stay Schengen tourist visa takes 2-5 working days of processing so make sure to include that in your computation.
With VFS global coming in, there is no more formal interview during the submission process! The officer at VFS will simply check the completion and validity of your documents.
Step 2: Prepare your Requirements
I’ve made another in-depth post regarding the requirements: Click here to see!
Step 3: Submit your documents
I headed to the French Embassy at 16/F Pacific Star Bldg. Corner Gil Puyat and Makati Ave. Makati City and arrive 30 minutes before my scheduled interview at 8:30 AM. You now have to head to the VFS office at Mezzanine Floor, Ecoplaza Bldg., Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension, Makati City 1231 Philippines. You will not be allowed inside the room more than 15 minutes before your schedule!
Do not bring any gadgets, just bring your documents and passport plus money for the visa fees because the VFS office building is a huge (but convenient) MONEY TRAP. I’ll explain more about the fees you can avoid later. If you have any gadgets or even a bag, they will make you rent a locker for Php 75!
The France visa application center is on the second floor, take the escalator across the food court. Go straight to the entrance guard (do not line up, the line is for those picking up their passports already) and then he will tell you where to go.
The guard at the France visa application center will give you a small piece of paper with your number and a few forms to sign up: one for SMS notification and one for courier service.
She will not tell you though that the SMS notification, which is basically just a text message, will cost you PHP 110 which is not even necessary as you can track your application online via the VFS global website here as well as VFS will send you an email as soon as they receive the passport. The courier service will cost you PHP 330 but if you don’t want the long line (1 hour+) to get your passport, or you live far from the VFS office, I suggest you get this! If you do not want to avail of any of these two, do not fill up the forms.
They also give you the VIP treatment if you pay an additional PHP 2000, you get your own private room, officer, biometrics room and so on, which keeps you away from the “general public”, because every person applying and paying around PHP 10,000 pesos for a visa is defined as part of the “Masa”.
There is also the option for photocopies near the UK visa application center which costs 5p/copy, passport sized photos for 150p/set. However, there is free water in the waiting area.
Once your number is called, just go to the appropriate counter and hand in your complete sets of documents. The officer will check it for completion, validity and if you properly accomplished the forms, they have a checklist which they will make you sign afterwards and then he will hand you a piece of paper to pay at the cashier, wait for your number to be called again, pay the appropriate fees and return it to the officer, voila! you’re done!
All of this took place within 45 minutes.
Step 4: Get your Passport and Visa
Update as of May 2016: Once you receive the email that your passport is available, you may now go back to the VFS global office and line up to get your visa. If you opted for the courier, then good for you!
The line took very long for me, I have back problems so my back hurt after 45 minutes of waiting in which I just had to tell the guard if I could be prioritized as I am not able to stand in line for longer. He let me in and apparently, people who have disabilities, are pregnant or senior citizens can go straight in! Dammit, I should have known.
I waited for a very long time (45 minutes) before I was called to get my passport since there were a lot of agency representatives there getting around 10-20 passports at once. They should really have a separate line for them!
I finally got my passport, ripped the plastic bag open and flipped through the pages….It’s always a suspenseful experience to wait and see if you got your visa approved or not and voila, 90 days approved! Hallelujah! Dancing on the inside groove on
(You can read about how I got my passport from my first visa application experience back in 2013 below)
2-5 working days later, excluding weekends, I returned to the French embassy. The guard did not let us inside until around 12:20 PM. He handed us a small piece of paper in which we had to sign to authorize receipt of the passport. We surrendered our phones again and proceeded into the small white room.
There were a lot of people and not enough chairs. I stood and waited in front of window 5. I had to wait around 15 minutes before she called my name. She handed me the original Attestation d’accueil and paused…the suspense!
“Your visa application has been approved but we are requiring you to return to the French Embassy after your trip, kindly proceed to window 1″ Ecstatic!
I proceeded after her and the girl made me write down my name on a list and gave me instructions regarding the return. If I did not come back to the french embassy within 1 week after my trip to France, I would be blacklisted from the Schengen states. Well, i don’t want that to happen!I rushed to window 1 and waited for the girl before me to finish, she had a French boyfriend also as I saw them together outside. Window 1 was talking to her, “I’m sorry, unfortunately your visa application has been denied” and several papers were handed back to her. I could feel her world being crushed…
At the Immigration in Paris CDG…
For first time Schengen visa tourist holders, the embassy will attach a small piece of paper holding information on what documents to present to the immigration officers at the Paris CDG airport. You may also be required to return to the French embassy in the Philippines after your trip. Please refer to the picture below…
*Update January 2015: I applied for the second time around for my tourist visa last November and it only took me 30 minutes (not inclusive of waiting time at the parking lot and depends on the number you got in the queue). Apparently, if you got it the first time already, there’s almost no problem for the second time unless you lost your job or you had a drastic change of circumstances.