Flying with Philippine Airlines (Riyadh to SanFrancisco via Manila)

How to fly with Philippine Airlines from Riyadh to SanFrancisco (PR655 Economy Class) via Manila (PR104 Business Class)

https://youtu.be/iT-a3GG3fQI

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Australian visa online for Filipinos in KSA

If you have read my previous blogs, you will notice that I always plan my Eid Holiday trip every year by applying visa to countries of my choice atleast 3 months before i travel. This year 2017 Eid-Al-Fitr holiday will be on 25JUNE. I wanna visit Australia, the first country in the southern hemisphere that I’m going to visit. Here’s how to apply for Australian tourist visa online for Filipinos based in KSA:
Create an account at https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Via-1/600-/Visitor-600-visa-online-applications

Log on to your account and start filling out the online visa application form.

Scan all supporting documents* requested to be downloaded on your online visa application. File should not be more than 4MB PDF or JPEG, up to 60 files can be uploaded.

Pay your visa application fee by credit card (AUD135++).

Check your email, once you receive email from DIBP requesting you to submit your biometrics details (photo & fingerprint), print the Request Letter**

Go to https://www.visaservices.org.in/DIAC-UAE-APPOINTMENT/AppScheduling/ choose your location city, print the appointment letter. You can also walk-in for biometrics if you weren’t able to book schedule at VFS Riyadh

Attend your biometrics appointment schedule and bring original passport and the Request letter from DIBP. Pay the biometrics collection fee by cash SAR291. VFS staff will capture your digital photo and finger print.

Wait for an email from DIBP once the final decision for your application has been made. If approved, “Visa Grant Notice***” containing QR code will be emailed to you as PDF, print it as you need to show it to the airline when you check-in for your flight to Australia.

*Supporting documents I actually uploaded:
1. Evidence of Travel Document: Passport data page with notarized stamp from Philippine Embassy Riyadh (cost SAR100), previous passports showing travel history. I included all pages of my passports containing US UK Schengen Japan visas and stamps from other Asian countries I visited (22 countries) for the past 10 years.
2. Evidence of Birth/Age: Birth Certificate issued from PSO & my SSS ID
3. Evidence of Overseas Work Experience: Certificate of Employment showing position, passport details, contract duration, approved leave, monthly salary, signed and stamped by my employer.
4. Evidence of Visa Status in country of residence: Iqama (Saudi Residence ID) with English translation, Saudi Exit/ReEntry Visa
5. Evidence of personal financial capacity: 6 months bank statement (print screen only from my online banking), 6 months payslip, front page of my credit cards, travel insurance
6. Evidence of Temporary Stay: paid roundtrip ticket Riyadh-Sydney (for Jun2017), paid roundtrip ticket Riyadh-Manila (for Sep2017), paid roundtrip ticket Manila-USA (for Sep2017), cover letter explaining my trip to Sydney.
**All visa-required nationalities applying Australian visa from the Middle East locations are required to submit biometrics, Filipinos applying in the Philippines are not required to submit biometrics.
***Australia does not issue visa sticker on passport, but if you want visa sticker you need to pay extra and you need to send your original passport at VFS Riyadh.
Processing time: 

I submitted my completed online visa application on 27Apr, submitted my biometrics on 1May and received my Visa Grant Notice on 24May. After online submission, you will receive an email confirmation and online Invoice for visa fee you paid and the request letter for biometrics collection. The next email you will receive is the Visa Grant Notice (if approved) or notice of visa refusal (if denied). No email update in between. Visa processing is being done by Australian Embassy in Dubai. VFS Riyadh is the one collecting biometrics from applicants from KSA. They charged me an extra SAR10 for SMS service on top of SAR291 biometric submission fee, but I did not receive a single sms from VFS. I requested single entry but got multiple entry visa valid for 1 year. I already paid my tickets before i applied visa since it was a promo airfare from PAL. Although plane ticket and hotel booking are not required, it helps in establishing an evidence of temporary stay. Since i will be flying to USA on Sep2017 for Eid-al-Adha holiday, i uploaded my paid tickets as additional proof that i will not stay long in Australia.

If you find this blog helpful, please hit the like button, thanks 👍🏼

Posted in Australian visa, Filipino traveler, OFW, riyadh, saudi arabia, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, Uncategorized, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

How to apply Schengen visa for Switzerland at VFS Riyadh

Another Schengen visa application experience, this time I applied at Swiss VFS Riyadh https://www.vfsglobal.ch/switzerland/saudiarabia/

Background prior to my visa application:

– I had been issued previous Schengen visas from Czech Rep (twice) and one from Spain, check out my previous blogs.

– I have an existing valid US and UK visas on my current passport.

– I already visited 10 countries in the Schengen area in the past 2 years.

– I plan to travel to Switzerland this Eid holiday July 2016

Actual documents i submitted:

1. Completed visa application online, printed and signed, attached 1 photo

2. Appointment confirmation letter

3. Original passport + copy of data page and previous Schengen visas

4. Employment letter attested by Chamber of Commerce

5. Exit/reEntry visa copy

6. Iqama copy with official English translation

7. Bank statement for 6months with original stamped by the bank

8. Copies of my credit cards front page

9. Travel insurance original 

10. Flight booking

11. Hotel booking (cancelable from booking.com)

12. Introduction letter (not required but helpful)

Timeline:

20/04/16 – I registered my profile at Swiss VFS Riyadh website, completed Schengen visa online application form and printed it and signed including the complementary page and I pasted 1 photo (size 35x45mm). Then schedule my appointment to be on 02/05/16 and I was automatically assigned at 11:45am slot.

02/05/16 – Monday I submitted my documents at VFS Center Riyadh, paid visa fee total SR363 cash, they collected my biometrics data (digital photo and finger print scan), eventhough my previous biometrics is still valid as per VIS it should be valid for 5 years. Its high season when I applied so it was crowded and i spent 1 hour inside VFS instead of just 15mins. Late afternoon I received an email that my application has been forwarded at Swiss Embassy for assessment.

03/05/16 – Tuesday at Swiss Embassy, my Schengen visa was issued and pasted on my passport, however they did not forwarded it immediately back at VFS center.

05/05/16 – Thursday before lunch time I tracked down my visa status online and glad to know that my passport has been dispatched back at VFS Center, however I only received after 30mins a sms and an email stating that my passport is ready to be collected at VFS center, at 1pm I went to VFS center to collect my passport, visa was issued for 90 days stay valid for 6months multiple entry (i requested 1 year validity on my visa application form and intro letter, thanks anyway!). I noticed that the visa has not been stamped by Swiss Embassy so i sent email to them to confirm if stamp is not required, based from my own google search i found out that Swiss Schengen visa does not contain stamp, unlike other Schengen states which always put stamp or signature or dry seal on top of the visa sticker.

Posted in europe, Filipino traveler, riyadh, saudi arabia, Schengen, Schengen visa, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 147 Comments

UK visa application from Riyadh KSA

  Just wanted to share my experience applying UK visa from VFS Riyadh. Before I start, let me give you the following background:

– I’m a Filipino working in Riyadh

– I had previous UK visa refusal in 2012

– I already visited 10 Schengen countries, USA, Japan, S.Korea, Turkey, Thailand, Singapore, HongKong, UAE in the past 9 years all for tourism, prior to applying UK visa this April 2016.

Documents I submitted:

1. Original passport + copy of data page

2. Printed Online visa application form (they will only take the confirmation page showing the barcode and your photo you pasted on the first page)

3. Employment letter (attested by Chamber of Commerce)

4. Copy of my Iqama (residence permit)

5. Copy of my Exit/reEntry visa

6. Copies of my previous/existing Schengen Japan US visa, as well as my two older passports with its entry/exit stamps from countries I visited 

7. Payslip for 6 months

8. Bank statement for 6 months (stamped by bank)

9. Copy of my Bupa travel insurance

10. Copies of my credit cards

11. Introduction letter stating what I will do in the UK (not required but I submitted)

12. Flight booking

13. Hotel booking (cancelable from booking.com)

14. Photo (pasted on the application)

Timeline:

21/03/16 – I registered at https://www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk and started my 6months General Visitor visa Application.

30/03/16 – I completed my online visa application, paid my visa fee by creditcard $126, scheduled my appointment and took Primetime appointment on Saturday 02/04/16 as I cant go out during my office hours on weekdays, printed my appointment confirmation.

02/04/16 – I submitted my visa application documents at VFS Global Riyadh (check for more info at http://www.vfsglobal.co.uk/saudiarabia). Since i took primetime appointment I paid SAR387 cash + SAR10 for sms notification. They took my biometrics details (finger prints, digital photo). The photo that will appear on your UK visa will be the photo that they took during your biometrics collection. The whole process lasted 15min only. When i reach home I received sms and email notification that my application has been forwarded to UKVI.

03/04/16 – I received email that my visa application is now being prepared for assessment by an Entry Clearance Officer.

13/04/16 – I received email by noontime that the decision has been concluded and my passport will be returned to VFS Riyadh center shortly. Then late afternoon I received sms that my passport is ready for collection. No hint if visa is granted or not.

14/04/16 – I collected my passport at VFS Riyadh. My UK visa has been approved. They also returned some of the original documents I submitted.

Posted in europe, Filipino traveler, OFW, riyadh, saudi arabia, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, Uncategorized, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 309 Comments

IAD (Washington-Dulles International Airport

It was a pleasant start of my US tour last Dec20, 2014. Flying Saudia from Riyadh to Washington DC direct. Our plane landed in Dulles at noon time were no other flights landed made immigration clearance quicker and smoother. CBP officer was nice and welcoming. As a first timer in the states and reading all those negative experiences arriving in the US airports from other blogs, the CBP officer really made me feel I am welcome in the USA. The CBP asked me the following:

– what is the purpose of your visit?

– which city did you came from?

– where are you going to stay and how long?

– do you have family or friends here?

– how much cash are you bringing in today?

 

I even asked him if I need to declare the dates (dried) I brought from KSA as gift for my friends as I’m aware that some food items are not allowed and may cause delay at customs. After the CBP stamped my passport with entry clearance, next is to wait for my luggage. In Riyadh it is mandatory to wrap US-bound baggage (I don’t know the real reason why) and you need to pay SR20 per bag. So claiming your bags from the carrousel when you arrive in the US is quite tricky as every bag looks the same, it is hard to identify your bag instantly. But the whole process took me less than 20mins from deplaning to exiting the airport. I had the best Christmas holiday in the US for 26 days and visited Maryland, DC, Virginia and New York. JFK was my airport of departure.   

Posted in air travel, airlines, Filipino traveler, OFW, philippines, riyadh, saudi arabia, Tourist, Travel, US Visa, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Schengen (Czech) visa for Filipinos in KSA

It’s my second time applying for Schengen visa at Czech Embassy in Riyadh. (Read my first blog about it). This time the staff who processed by application was a Czech national, not the old arab guy before who gave me single entry and 4 days stay only. He is polite and courteous. After assessing my documents, he asked me to prepare SR247 (should be exact amount) which I already prepared. Then the arab lady staff ask me to fill out a form which from what I’ve read it’s a form declaration that I need to provide a valid travel insurance for multiple entry in the Schengen territories so I assumed I will be given a multiple entry visa this time. My current travel insurance is valid until 31/01/2016, my Iqama is valid until 25/12/2015, my exit/reEntry visa is single entry valid for 30days after departure, I tick single entry on my application form. I submitted my documents on 16/08/2015 and they gave me a receipt showing date of release of my passport on 27/08/2015 which is 11 days after submission, same number of days processing like I applied the first time. On 27/08/15 I went to the embassy to collect my passport back and was so happy to know that this time they have given me multiple entry Schengen visa for stays upto 90 days valid for 6 months so now my plan is to go during eid holiday for a few days on september then stay longer by late december during my annual vacation.

Documents required:
1. Application form, filled completely (computerized)
2. Photo, 35x45mm pasted on the application
3. Original passport + copy of data page, previous Schengen visas, US visa, Japan visa
4. Employment letter attested by Chamber of Commerce
5. Copy of Iqama and exit/reEntry visa
6. Travel Insurance, minimum €30000 coverage
7. Copy of credit cards ( front page only)
8. Copy of flight booking, not actual ticket
9. Copy of hotel booking confirmation signed by hotel in Czech Rep sent by fax or PDF attachment or scanned by email, not through internet booking
10. Introduction letter and daily itinerary (not required but helpful)

Procedure:
– call +966 11 4503617 between 12-2pm SUN/TUE/THU to schedule your appointment, provide them your passport details
– submission of visa application SUN/TUE/THU from 9am-12pm/1pm-3pm
– collecting passports SUN/TUE/THU from 3:30-4:30pm

For more info, visit http://www.mzv.cz/riyadh/en/visas_and_consular_information/consular_and_visa_section/index.html

Posted in air travel, Czech Republic Embassy, europe, Filipino traveler, OFW, philippines, riyadh, saudi arabia, Schengen, Schengen visa, Tourist visa application, Travel, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Barcelona, “pickpocketing capital of the world”, indeed!

I didn’t know that Barcelona has a title the “pickpocketing capital of the world”, not until I was victimized. Then I googled it to confirm, indeed it was, lots of articles about it and even youtube videos. During my stay in Barcelona, on 19JUL2015 me and my friend checked out early at 5am from our hotel near Las Ramblas to walk until Placa Catalunya to catch AeroBus to BCN. To go to Las Ramblas we need to pass a small alley where a group of young guys were chatting (in a non-spanish language). Then a guy came up to me to promote their “strip club” and gave me some kind of flyer and demonstrated how the ladies dance on guys lap, while doing the demo and talking to distract me, I didnt noticed that they already took my mobile and my passport in my front pocket. Then we walk few steps and another two guys asking for a lighter and speaking to us in a language we dont understand and pretending maybe I have lighter on my pocket by touching it and then the copy of my plane ticket fell on the ground, thats the time they run away and noticed that my pocket was all empty. My friend who’s with me couldn’t react as he was shocked by what happened, but i kept my cool. Then the guy who first demo on me shouted “don’t worry we will help you find those guys”. People passing by is telling us in spanish which from what I understood it they’r telling me ‘dont worry your stuff will be returned to you soon”. Couple of minutes later this first guy run towards me, playing as a hero, returned back all my stuff (mobile and passport) and told me to take care next time and asking for a reward for the help, he asked me eur50 or 20 as thank you, I told him I only have eur10 and I gave him then we left. Those guys are working in groups. Good thing my money is secured on my back pocket, only bills without bulkiness in my back pocket so they didnt took notice. No police to ask for help during that time. Other blogs I read about this scam is telling that if you report it to police, the police will even laugh at you and ignore you, Spanish law states that if someone caught pickpocketing and the amount is less than eur400, they will just ask for a fine of eur150 and they are free to go and pickpocket again and again and again. Bad experience in Spain, its a shame that those Eastern European thieves are putting Barcelona a bad title. Tip, if you have cash, put your bills on your pocket (even at the back pocket as long as it’s not bulky, not on your bulky wallet inside your front pocket. When someone approach you tell them to move away from you and talk to him few feet away, and dont let them touch you or get near you or your stuff. Make a scene and shout if they insist so they will leave you when attention is on them. Always pay attention to your bags and avoid any kind of distraction.

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