Friday, August 11, 2017

How did I get a one year multiple entry Schengen Visa at French Embassy? Must read for all OFWs who wish to visit France.

A couple of moons back, the wife and I applied for Schengen visa at French Embassy in Manila through VFS Global; we registered on their website and had an appointment for submission of our short stay visa applications.

We submitted all the required documents plus copy of our previous Japan tourist visas to VFS Global lady evaluator/staff. She accepted my wife's application and unfortunately rejected mine upon seeing my valid Chad residence visa; I am presently working in the said country having 4 week jobsite and 4 week vacation rotation. They had the same case before according to her, the French Embassy rejected the OFW's application. After conferring with her supervisor, she advised me to send an email to French visa section; in case the embassy would reply in positive then that would be the time they would accept my application otherwise I have no option but to apply for Schengen visa at French Embassy in Chad, Africa. When I heard this, I felt my BP rose to 200/100. I was helpless, there was no way they'd accept my application at that moment.

Leaving VFS Global office in Makati, I was extremely stressed since I had only 3 weeks remaining on my vacation to process my Schengen visa and we were two months away from our flight. We still have to book our train tickets from Paris to Rome and one of our hotels' free cancellation deadline is fast approaching. I emailed the French visa section in Manila twice and received their reply on the final week of my vacation. Equally stressful was the possibility that my wife's application would be approved while I would be left hanging in the air; this means that a couple of thousand US dollars plane tickets would be wasted including mandatory insurance coverage and all preparations as early as January would go down the drain. Yup, we paid the airlines tickets even without our visa just to avail a 50% promo at Etihad Airlines in January.

wife's Schengen visa

Long story short, the wife received her Schengen visa after 5 working days and was asked by the embassy to report to visa section upon her return while I traveled back to my job in Chad. Her visa is good for 20 days (multiple entry) while the embassy's reply (after 2 weeks) to my email states that they are not competent to process my application since I have not completed six months residents in Philippines.
French Embassy's reply to my emails

I had no option but to ask support from my company. Our HR Manager arranged an appointment at French Embassy in N'djamena City, Chad on Aug 2 for my application and biometric. After two days, I received an email from our HR staff informing me that my passport has been released with Schengen visa for 90 days valid for 12 months with multiple entry.


Wohoo! I shouted and jumped in excitement. My expats colleagues started asking me whether I had another baby or grandchild, lol. Upon hearing the good news, our entire maintenance team was elated. Some of them even gave advice on places to visit and stories about European gypsies.

Soon after, I booked our TGV train tickets from Paris to Rome and Air France ticket in returning back to Paris. All hotels have been confirmed as well. The wife started shopping for her outfits as guided by our daughter who's managing our online shop, Happy Stripes (you may check HS FB and IG accounts) :-).

In addition, upon learning that I have applied for Schengen visa my Algerian colleague told me that our company insurance, which also covers my family by the way, is acceptable for Schengen visa application since our insurer is based in UK, London; aside from that, our medical coverage is higher than the mandatory 30,000 Euro required by French Embassy. He added that he never used other insurance companies in getting and renewing his Schengen visa. Too bad he was on vacation or in night shift whenever I am at work. I could have saved a few thousand pesos worth of Pacific Cross insurance coverage.

Nonetheless, what have happened in Manila was actually a blessing in disguise. Instead of 20 days I got a year with multiple entry anywhere in Schengen area.

So for all OFWs out there who are planning to visit France, as long as you have valid residence visa in your place of work don't waste your time and resources in applying for Schengen visa at French Embassy in Manila. Unless you've been a resident in Philippines for six months they would reject your application; you won't be able to refund the 60 Euro visa fee as well. This is their policy hence the French Embassy in Chad wasn't surprised at all when I applied there instead in Manila; later on I learned that three of my colleagues have applied at French Embassy in Chad too for their Shengen visa using our company provided insurance. Thus, if you have an insurance coverage from your company, confirm with your insurer whether your policy is acceptable for Schengen visa application or not.

Because of this, the wife is now waiting for airlines promo for next year. Yes, she's hell-bent in renewing her Schengen visa or else I'll be back in Europe next year; alone.

Update as of 18 Aug 2017 (9:30pm);

I booked two ticket last Tuesday noontime for Paris Disneyland through "isango!" at "Local Paris Tour" worth 97.50 GBP and received acknowledgement after a few minutes indicating that I would receive my e-voucher after 72 hours. However, until this moment I haven't received anything. Keeping my fingers crossed since this is the first time I booked on the said website. I have sent a couple of emails.

I will keep you posted.

After 15 minutes:

I received two tickets for our Paris Disneyland and a couple of discount vouchers!

I will keep you updated about isango!

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