Our First Schengen Visa Application Experience in Dubai

We're frequent travelers, but we're not big fans of planning so we like going to places that are familiar, totally hassle-free, and do not require much planning from our end. In fact, majority of our overseas travels during the past five years have been booked at the last minute. That's why to be very honest, the Schengen visa application procedure sounded a bit too daunting for us before that we tried to avoid it as much as possible.

But after exploring Asia for years and after an amazingly surreal visit to Morocco back in 2016, we were suddenly left to wonder what else is there for us to discover beyond our comfort zone. For some strange reason, it really felt like a European vacation was a natural progression for us at that point. So last year we decided to finally give it a try. We applied for a Schengen visa for the very first time and after a grueling wait, we fortunately got it. God knows how much research and googling I did before getting that coveted visa, so I would like to share with you how our experience went. Maybe in some ways this post could help someone who's also in the process of applying for a Schengen visa in Dubai.

Just a disclaimer: I am merely sharing my own personal experience and while I do hope that this helps your application, please take everything with a grain of salt as every experience is different and rules could change depending on where you're from and what date you are reading this. It's still best to get in touch with the Embassy directly or contact the authorized application center for proper advice and updated information. This in no way should serve as your sole basis or guide when applying for a Schengen visa. Good luck!

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For our first Schengen visa application, we decided to get it through The Netherlands since our first point of entry is Amsterdam and it's where we will also stay the longest. Two other friends were travelling with us so we lodged a group appointment with VFS Dubai. Just for clarity, we are both Philippine-passport holders who currently hold a Dubai residence visa because of our jobs here in the UAE. 

These were the documents we submitted at that time: 
  • Filled-out application form
  • ID photo with white background
  • Valid passport with UAE residence visa
  • Copy of our Emirates ID
  • Return flight tickets (we found a seat sale in KLM so our tickets cannot be cancelled or re-booked)
  • Hotel accommodation (from a travel agency which offered free cancellation)
  • Schengen travel insurance (from a travel agency)
  • Detailed trip itinerary (which listed what we plan to do in both Amsterdam and Paris)
  • Employment letter (signed and stamped non-objection letter from our company which also mentions our salary)
  • Three months bank statement (stamped by the bank)
  • Copy of our apartment's tenancy contract
  • Copy of our marriage certificate
  • Copy of my husband's car registration and driver's license

This was the timeline of our first ever Schengen Visa Application in Dubai: 
  • August 3, 2017 - Visa application was submitted to VFS Dubai and forwarded to the Kingdom of Netherlands. They also captured our biometrics on site (fingerprints). 
  • August 16, 2017 - Visa application was received by VFS from The Kingdom of Netherlands
  • August 16, 2017 - We're such eager beavers, so we collected our passports from VFS on the same day we received the SMS. Fortunately, our passports were stamped with a multiple-entry visa valid for three months 

The procedure including the waiting period took roughly 13 days (including the weekend). It was exciting and very nerve racking and to be honest, I got so worried that I could barely sleep after we submitted our documents because we had non-refundable tickets. They say that for a first timer, our experience wasn't so bad at all and I couldn't agree more. I was so relieved everything fell into place. :)

UPDATE (November 20018): We recently applied for a Schengen visa again, but this time from the country Czech Republic through VFS Dubai. The documents we submitted were basically similar to what we submitted to The Netherlands last year.

Here's the timeline of our second Schengen Visa Application experience in Dubai:
  • November 7, 2018 - Visa application was submitted to VFS Dubai and forwarded to Czech Republic Embassy. They also captured our biometrics on site (fingerprints). However, the machine was unable to capture clear prints from both of my pinky fingers even after countless attempts. After 45 minutes and four VFS staff struggling to get my fingerprints, they gave up and eventually just wrote a note on my application that fingerprints are impossible to capture. Of course this freaked me out, but they assured me that these cases sometimes happen and it shouldn't be a ground for visa rejection. All I can do at that time was pray and hope for the best.
  • November 8, 2018 - We received a text message that Visa application is under process at the Embassy of Czech Republic in Abu Dhabi.
  • November 19, 2018 - We received a SMS notification that Visa application is ready for collection at VFS Dubai.
  • November 19, 2018 - since I couldn't wait any longer and my anxiety was already getting the best of me, I decided to immediately visit VFS the same day I received the SMS and managed to collect our passports stamped with a multiple-entry visa valid for six months. Hallelujah!

This time around the entire procedure and waiting period lasted for around 12 days. I'm so glad that they've granted us a visa with a longer validity so we can go back without any hassle in case we decide to revisit. We've already been to Amsterdam, Antwerp, and Paris so far and I surely enjoyed and learned a lot during these trips.

Our trip to Europe was definitely one of the most memorable adventures we've ever taken together and I couldn't wait to explore and discover more.

Have you been to Europe or are you planning to go to Europe? Which European city do you admire the most?


Another update:
"Is there a certain amount that I need to keep in my bank account to help in my Schengen visa application?" 

I've been getting this question a lot from all of you and my answer is NO, there's no certain amount required. But I do feel like having enough savings reflected on your bank statement should somehow work to your advantage. To be honest, the bank statements we submitted did not have an exorbitant amount of money since we keep a separate bank account for our savings. So I guess more than your account balance, I think what's important is that you can justify the trip and prove you have a steady stream of income to finance your vacation. One tip I can suggest is to request for a bank statement once your salary is credited so atleast there's good money reflected on your statement when you apply. :)

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