Step 1 and Step 2 were all about making sure that my trip’s super-highlights are taken care of. You read it right. Before I went running around to prepare for obtaining a visa, I made sure I had these in the bag. After all, how can I risk not attending the Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter’s Basilica when I am just a few steps away? How can I pass up a chance to join a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb also in the Basilica?
Now, finally, I can write about my experience preparing for my Schengen visa application.
Being a Philippine-passport holder wanderlust in this part of the world can be a challenge with the limited number of embassies issuing tourist/visit visas to their countries. Thankfully, the European dream of travellers may be realized. Several European embassies here in Kabul issue Schengen visas. They are, as far as I know, Germany, Italy, France and Spain.
Figuring out which embassy to apply a visa at could be a little tricky. Research says that port of entry is not the automatic consideration and that there are two rules: a) Apply in the country’s embassy where you will stay the longest, or b) If your longest stays are in two or more countries, consider what your point of entry is between these countries. In my case, I will be applying at the German Embassy.
The German Embassy here in Kabul has changed its procedure of accepting visa applications. Previously, applicants have to call for an appointment but recently, an online system is in place which allows you to book an appointment 6 weeks in advance. I advise you to carefully choose your appointment date and make sure you can observe it. That could be a bit of a challenge here since security situations can change in an instant and lockdowns may be imposed immediately.
I found out the hard way that though cancellations are permitted, you won’t be able to make a new appointment within 2 weeks from the initial appointment date, which means that if your original appointment is Sept 9, your earliest possible new date is Sept 23… Not a problem if you booked early, but it can be a huge setback to your timeline since slots are “selling like pancakes”.
I have to commend German Embassy Visa Section though, for an excellent customer service. If you have questions, or have committed boo-boos (just like me), don’t hesitate to Contact German Embassy. In my experience, they have responded to my email queries in a timely manner. I do not recommend calling their numbers, though. I tried a few times and nobody was picking up…
I have been searching their website for documentation requirements, but I couldn’t find it until now. They used to have a requirements checklist posted in their site but I can’t find it anymore. I asked friends who applied before and combined it with the usual requirements. These are what I have:
- Photo (unsure about the size, I have 2×2-sized, smiling and serious-looking photos)
- Completed Application Form downloaded from the website
- Complete and Detailed Itinerary which includes opening times and prices, etc. (just in case they ask)
- Confirmed airline tickets
- Hotel Bookings for the duration of your stay
- Verification of Employment
- Certificate of Insurance
- 3 months Bank Statement
- Reservation of Christmas Eve Mass Tickets
- Scavi Tours Confirmation
The last two documents are just to further support my intent of JUST visiting Europe.
Preparing for a Schengen visa application is a lot more tedious and meticulous than preparing for a US visa application. Documents have to be laboriously prepared and hotel and airline arrangements must be confirmed which means a (financial) risk is already being incurred early on. On the other hand, preparing the requirements somewhat forces you to do a full-fledged research to come up with a solid itinerary. The good side is, 3 months into my trip, I already have decided on my activities – the sights, the food, the experience, and how much these will cost me. I have looked at what activities are feasible schedule-wise and budget-wise and I have enough time to let go of the things that have to be moved in the next visit category. I have a final (for the moment) itinerary which is the most efficient so far, borne from gazillion revisions.
I don’t mind going through all I went through. I had fun torturing myself to come up with an itinerary that is maximized to the max. Haha… I am proud of my product and I feel confident facing the Consul when I get interviewed.
I started making steps towards this dream 6 months back, patiently drawing up an efficient plan to spend my 20 days… I just feel relief that in a few days, the ultimate goal is about to be achieved 🙂
German Embassy Kabul
Wazir Akbar Khan, Street 6, Kabul Afghanistan