UK Visa Application in Riyadh (Updated July 2018)

Background:

I already visited 25 countries before applying again for UK visa in 2018. You can read my previous blog for UK visa I posted in 2016. I have an existing USA, Canada, New Zealand visas and expired UK, Japan, Australia and Schengen visas. This year 2018 I plan to visit UK again and here’s my experience:

If you check VFSglobal.co.uk/saudiarabia website, it will give you two websites for online visa application. First is www.visa4uk.fco.gov.uk and www.gov.uk . Both you need to register first to start your online application. On my first UK visa in 2016 I’ve used the visa4uk site and in 2018 I’ve used gov.uk site via VFS website. There is some difference between these two sites. However, I find the latter more simplified, omitting some unnecessary questions. I will discuss here the site for www.gov.uk/standard-visitor-visa/apply :

The first part of this application is Travel information. You need to fill in your proposed travel dates and explain your plans in the UK.

Next part is Personal Information. You need to fill in details of your passport, current address, visa status in KSA, parents name, birth date, nationality, address. The only difference is there is a part where you need to put Dependent details, names/address of your dependents. I put my mom’s details since I send her money on monthly basis as she depend on me financially.

Next part is Employment and expenditure details, you need to detail your actual job, salary, employer and how much you spend each month. Be cautious about the currency (GBP or SAR).

Next part is Accommodation details in the UK, I put the hotel address from my reservation at booking.com cancellable and refundable.

Next part is Travel history (UK), I put my 2 previous trips in 2016 and my older UK visa refusal. Skip this part if it’s your first time applying for UK visa.

Next part is Travel History (other). There is this question “how many times have you visited the following places in the past 10 years?” – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, USA, Schengen area. Here you can only specify the details of only 2 countries from the countries listed above. No option to add more. Next to it is you need to list down other countries not mentioned above. So I listed my other travel details to South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, UAE, Turkey, HongKong, and other countries visa refusal (if any) then you need to explain why you were refused.

Next part is the Security and Convictions. Just be honest and answer YES or NO, if yes, give details.

Next part is the Extra information. You can say any information you think is helpful to strengthen your visa application. I stated here that I travel 3 times a year for holiday to any country of my choice and I have not committed any violation to any country, etc.

Last part is Payment and Declaration. You will be redirected to the secure online payment by credit card (USD130). After visa payment, it will redirect you back to VFS website to schedule your appointment. Choose the time and date. I chose the normal visa processing to avoid paying extra.

After scheduling your appointment, it will ask you to print your personal barcoded checklist, showing the summary of your visa application and visa payment confirmation and the list of supporting documents you need to bring to your appointment. You can save and print the full online visa you’ve completed for your reference.

My personal checklist containing list of supporting documents I need to submit (it may be different per person) are as follows:

  1. Passport* (original) and older original passport with my previous UK visa
  2. Copy of Iqama* with official English translation.
  3. Information about your visit: I provided flight booking*
  4. Current employment: I only provided Certificate of Employment* (not attested) and 6 months payslip*.
  5. Money: I provided 6 months bank statement* only, my current balance is low (SR10k+)
  6. Home address**: documents showing where you live. This part is tricky as I was not requested to submit this one from my last UK visa.
  7. Evidence of assets**: documents showing that you own property or land: I don’t have one.
  8. Additional information: evidence of family members remaining in your home country whilst you travel. I submitted copy of my mom’s passport and copies of my last 3 months remittance receipt to show I am supporting her financially in the Philippines.

**For #6 and #7 I submitted a letter explaining that I do not have Tenancy Agreement under my name as it is common practice in KSA to rent a room in a flat under other persons Tenancy agreement without signing a separate Tenancy agreement. Instead, to prove my home address in KSA, I submitted a screenshot of my Registered National Address as required by Saudi government. For evidence of assets, I’ve explain that I do not have any property under my name and justified it should not disqualify me for being approved visa since all my existing and previous visas from western countries including my previous UK visa was approved without submitting evidence of assets.

Other documents I submitted (not required but can support my application):

  1. Copy of Exit/ReEntry visa
  2. Copy of my Travel Insurance
  3. Copy of hotel booking
  4. Copies of my credit cards (front page only)
  5. Copies of all my existing and previous visas and stamps from new and old passports

This personal checklist has to be signed by you on the last page only at the VFS Center during your appointment. Do not sign in advance.

Timeline:

06/27/2018: I created my account and started online visa application, save it if not completed.

06/28/2018: I completed online application, paid visa fee, scheduled my appointment.

07/05/2018: at 0945 I submitted my UK visa application documents at VFS Center in Riyadh, they took my biometric details (digital photo and finger print). The whole process lasted for only 15 minutes. Late afternoon I got sms from VFS saying my application was forwarded to UKVI.

07/12/2018: I got email from UKVI saying that my application is now being prepared for assessment by an Entry Clearance Officer. Unlike my previous UK visa, I got this email 1 day after submitting my application. This time it took them exactly 1 week.

07/17/2018: I got email from UKVI saying that your application has been concluded and will shortly be returned to VFS.

07/18/2018: I got sms from VFS saying that my passport is ready for collection. I was expecting another sms since I opted for courier delivery but nothing.

07/19/2018: I got a call from Aramex telling me they will deliver my passport. Afternoon I received my passport with UK visa. They returned only the passport this time, unlike before they returned other original documents.

UK visa is a visa were every additional value added service have extra cost. Visa fee depends on the length of visa you applied for (6months, 2yrs, 5yrs, 10yrs). If you want your application process faster than others, it will cost you more (15days, 3-5days, 24hours). Mine was processed the normal way, visa issued exactly 2 weeks from submission. If you want to submit your application or collect your passport at much earlier time of day or much later than their normal working hours, there is additional fee. I availed the sms (SR10) and courier delivery service (SR80) at additional cost. If you want to track the status of your application, the only way is to call or email them at an additional cost. There is no local hotline for UK visa at VFS. You can check VFS UK website for more details about this User Pay Services and other important information how to apply UK visa.

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Posted in OFW, riyadh, saudi arabia, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, uk visa, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Visa application for OFW applying in Manila

I would like to share my experience applying Japan visitor visa as an OFW. I am based in Riyadh KSA. I applied my Japan visit visa in Manila during my vacation. 3 weeks prior to my vacation in the Philippines, my Filipina Aunt and my Japanese uncle already prepared the supporting documents required for visa application for me and my mom. I submitted our visa application thru Friendship Tours & Resorts Corporation located at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati. I chose this Agency for its positive reviews and I’ve experience their good customer service myself. It was my second time applying for Japan Visa. My first Japan visa was issued in Riyadh. For my mom it was her very first visa application and first ever trip abroad. A gift for her upcoming birthday.

Supporting documents for Visiting Relatives (Japan Visa w/guarantor):

  1. Completed and signed visa application (put N/A if not applicable, do not leave any blank)
  2. Photo (pasted on the application, not stapled)
  3. Birth Certificate from PSA (to prove family relationship for me, my mom, my Aunt in Japan)
  4. Guarantor’s documents from Japan: Invitation Letter/Reason for Invitation, Guarantee letter, Family Register, Resident Certificate, Income certificate, Daily schedule, copy of Residence ID.
  5. Proof of being an OFW: Certificate of Employment (from my Saudi Employer showing my employment details including vacation leave duration), copy of Iqama + ExitReEntry visa, copy of my return ticket to Riyadh, 6 months bank statement from my Saudi bank account, copy of my OEC Exemption certificate.
  6. Letter of explanation, indicating my personal background and why i need to apply in Manila (not required but helpful)
  7. Guarantee letter for my mom: since I will also guarantee my mom financially during our trip. Also included copies of my remittance receipts to show that I am sending her money on a monthly basis.

I submitted our visa application right after Christmas holiday, no appointment required. Just go to Friendship Tours directly, paid handling fee php2000/person, wait for SMS once passport is ready for collection. I got our passports after 3 days. Visa issued Single Entry valid for 15 days stay. I was actually qualified for Multiple Entry visa. However I did not requested for it and it seems that Japan revised their policy recently. They only give Multiple for those who explicitly request and are qualified for it. During my application, I have an existing valid visas to USA, Canada, Australia, and have traveled to all G7 countries in the past 3 years multiple times.

It was a great 5 days trip with my mom, we celebrated her birthday in Tokyo with our relatives.

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Posted in Filipino traveler, Japan, manila, OFW, philippines, riyadh, saudi arabia, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

New Zealand Visa process ONLINE for PAL Mabuhay Miles Elite

This guide is intended for Filipinos residing in Saudi Arabia, applying for New Zealand Visitor Visa online and currently holding a Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles ELITE membership status.

The government of New Zealand has partnered with Philippine Airlines Mabuhay Miles program, allowing its members with Elite, Premier Elite and Million Milers status to apply on a “Special visa processing arrangements” wherein they will process your visa application with minimal requirements in 3-5 days and not the standard 20 working days processing time as published on their website (that’s what I thought!). I currently have Mabuhay Miles Elite status and an OFW in Riyadh, planning to visit New Zealand for tourism soon.

For more details, visit:

https://www.mabuhaymiles.com/AboutUs/NewsAndUpdates/PALMabuhayMilesINZPartnership

https://www.immigration.govt.nz/new-zealand-visas/apply-for-a-visa/tools-and-information/general-information/special-visa-processing-arrangements/philippines-airlines 

My tip on how to be an ELITE Mabuhay Miles faster is to fly with PAL on long haul flight in business class few times on the same year. Minimum miles to qualify as ELITE is 25000 flight miles from JAN-DEC of each year. I reach Elite level within 3 months in 2017 after flying from Riyadh to San Francisco via Manila and Riyadh to Sydney via Manila in business class.

Documents required for NZ visa for Mabuhay Miles Elite, as per checklist (*indicates required field):

  1. Completed online visa application* (print only the “Thank You” page of this form)
  2. Passport* (data page to be uploaded, original to be couriered at VFS New Zealand in Dubai)
  3. Photo* (to be uploaded online)
  4. Copy of Mabuhay Miles Elite card* (to be uploaded on “Evidence of Tourism Industry Partnership membership” part of online application form)
  5. Completed and signed Credit card authorization form* (they will deduct passport handling fee + courier return passport fee), attached copy of your credit card + passport data page. You can download this form at https://www.vfsglobal.com/newzealand/uae/how_to_apply

On the online application, there is a question “Do you have membership with one of Immigration New Zealand tourism partners?” You should answer “YES” if you are an Elite Mabuhay Miles member.

Eventhough they only asked me to submit minimal requirements, I still uploaded the following documents to support my application:

  1. Identification card – uploaded my SSS ID
  2. Evidence of “bona fide” applicant – uploaded 1 page cover letter stating my personal background, my travel plans in NZ and a summary of my travel history (country + travel dates) to establish that I am a frequent traveler (I travel 3 times per year on holiday).
  3. Evidence of Australian visa – uploaded my Australian Visa Grant Notice since it is still valid
  4. Letter from Employer showing leave approval – uploaded my Certificate of Employment showing period of approved leave and other employment details, printed on company letterhead, signed by HR and stamped
  5. Medical Insurance confirmation – uploaded my Bupa Travel Insurance certificate showing 1 year validity covering all countries (provided by my Employer yearly)
  6. Records of previous travel – uploaded current and previous visas from older passport (currently have valid US, Canada, Australia visa + used 1 UK, 4 Schengen, 2 Japan visas)
  7. Other country immigration status – uploaded copy of my Iqama with official English translation, to prove my legal residence status in KSA.

Notice that I did NOT submitted the following since they did not ask for it:

  1. Flight ticket/booking
  2. Hotel booking
  3. Bank statement/ credit card statement/ other financial evidence

As per website, “you do not need to provide evidence of available funds for maintenance and accommodation” if you are an Elite Mabuhay Miles status member.

Document format: Please note that all supporting documents must be in PDF (except for your Photo in JPG). You need to combine each document type in a single PDF file not more than 10MB size per attachment (e.g. all previous passport/visa stamps to be attached as 1 PDF file).

Payments are in AED (Dirhams) via credit card by providing signed credit card authorization form:

Visa fee: FREE for Filipinos (if you plan to visit 59 days or less)

Passport handling fee: AED 77

Return passport courier fee: AED 126

Total amount to be deducted from your credit card: AED 203

Timeline:

05/03/2018:

I created my RealME account at https://www2.logon.realme.govt.nz and started filling out the online visa application form. Click “save” if you cannot complete the form in one go.

06/03/2018:

I started uploading supporting documents.

07/03/2018:

I completed the whole application including all required supporting documents. It stated on the last part of my online application that it will be assessed by their Mumbai office. Night time I got an automated email from INZ Mumbai requesting me to send my original passport at VFS Dubai. Print that email as it contains your Client Number, while the “Thank You” page contains your application number.

08/03/2018:

Thursday I sent my passport by UPS courier. Fri/Sat weekend, VFS Dubai is close so they received my passport on Sunday 11/03/2018.

12/03/2018:

Received sms from my bank that the amount of AED203 was deducted so it means they got my passport already at VFS and will start processing my visa application.

13/03/2018:

Received email update from VFS, passport status as “under process at INZ Dubai” indicating reference number so I could track it down from their VFS Dubai website.

14/03/2018:

Received email update “processed application is in transit from INZ Dubai to VFS”, followed by “processed application is couriered via **Aramex”. Don’t be deceived, this status is for your passport return delivery only and not your visa application status.

15/03/2018:

Received SMS from Aramex, status “out for delivery”, after 2hrs passport was delivered to me

***From 15-21/03/2018 I tried calling their hotline +6499144100 in New Zealand to follow up my visa application as it is the only way to know the status. Minimum waiting time per call is 2hrs. At one time I was on hold for over 2 hours as I was queued at caller#85 then at #15 my line was cut so I need to dial again. I was caller #97 and waited another 1.5 hours, then at #67 the phone rang and cut. Another time I called early 8AM KSA time then at exactly 10AM I reach as caller #2 then the line was cut. I said to myself, I’m done! Take note, I was calling from Saudi Arabia. I tried another call on 22/03/2018 and was able to speak to INZ staff after getting on hold for 2hrs. She told me that my visa has not even started processing so I told her about the streamline special visa processing for PAL Mabuhay Miles Elite and the lady have no clue about it so she put me on hold again for 5mins to verify. Then she told me that my application will now be processed under streamline processing. All I need to do is wait for update by logging in to my RealMe account or email from INZ. She also provided me the name of a case officer from Mumbai assigned to process my visa.

23/03/2018:

eVisa was emailed to me, it can also be downloaded from your RealMe account (no visa label in passport like my Australian visa).

Result: Visa approved Multiple entry valid for 4 months only (honestly, I was not so pleased as I normally get longer visa validity from other countries)

As you can see, it took 5 working days from receiving passport at VFS Dubai and back to Riyadh, but visa issuance took another 16 days. Processing and visa issuance could be much faster if applying in Manila and visa validity could be longer if applied from Manila. I’ve read a lot of bad comments in TripAdvisor about slow processing being done in INZ Dubai which most of the time processing is being diverted to INZ Mumbai. I think they have to look further into it. In my case as Mabuhay Miles Elite, they have failed to process my visa within 5 working days as per their INZ Tourism Program partnership agreement. My conclusion is this agreement is only applicable if you are applying in Manila. If I didn’t make the calls to follow up, they wouldn’t do a thing for it and INZ staff is not even aware of this streamline processing arrangement if I didn’t inform them.

Immigration New Zealand should improve their system in the future and make it fully online. Sending the original passport at VFS Dubai should not be required for eVisa application (label-less visa like Australian visa). It would be more convenient and risk-free if they hire the service of the local VFS in Riyadh instead of VFS Dubai. Tracking the status of online application should be made easier online. As of this post, the only way to track it is by calling INZ hotline +6499144100 in New Zealand. I emailed also but got automated reply from immigrationonline@mbie.govt.nz saying they will reply after 1 business day but got nothing. I tried emailing INZ Mumbai office since they are assigned to process my visa at nzcg.mumbai@nzte.govt.nz but got no reply. Although in general, applying visa to New Zealand online is pretty easy. However, the recent closure of their overseas offices and lack of staff handling visa application within NZ resulted in huge delays and inconvenience. I regret applying from KSA, I should have just couriered and submitted my passport at VFS NZ Manila instead.

Tip:

**How to track your passport delivery status via Aramex (without having shipping tracking number). Go to https://www.aramex.com/track/shipment and track “By Reference”, select Reference Type “By Consignee reference”, then type the Reference Number given to you by VFS (it should look like DUAC/xxxxxx/xxxx/xx) then type the origin country (United Arab Emirates) then select the date covered by your search, then click “Track”. It will display the exact whereabouts of your passport and it will also display the Aramex tracking number so you can track it next time using the tracking number. OR you can just wait for SMS from Aramex.

If you find this blog helpful, please share, comment and LIKE first before expecting a reply. Thanks!

Posted in Filipino traveler, Mabuhay Miles, manila, new zealand visa, OFW, PAL, philippines, riyadh, saudi arabia, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canada Visa application guide from KSA

 

Note:

This guide is intended for Temporary Residence Visa to Canada for Tourism purpose for Filipino applicants residing in KSA applying online. Please check your eligibility first if your nationality is allowed to apply online, otherwise you need to apply on paper and must appear in person at VFS Riyadh to submit your biometrics details. (online application works better on Internet Explorer)

Canada visa application is the most challenging visa to get as per my experience. It requires longer processing (39 days processing in Saudi Arabia as per this post) and a lot of documents too. When I applied online for Canada Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) for tourism purpose on Aug2016 intended for my Eid Holiday plan on September 2016, I got refused due to the following:

First (immigration status in country of residence), when I applied for Canada visa, my Iqama has 4 months remaining before it expires. Although I also submitted an explanation letter regarding this, that it will be renewed 2 months before it expires, which was really the case, this situation gave the visa officer enough doubt about my immigration status in KSA. Second (purpose of visit), I did not submit an itinerary and my flight booking was just a screenshot of the flight itinerary I took from a website (not an actual flight booking). Again, I stated this on my Explanation Letter that I will take that flight once visa is granted, but they did not consider that explanation. Lastly, (current employment situation), when I applied, I did not submit copy of my ExitReEntry visa. This document is essential in determining the validity of my residence/work permit validity, which during that time, only have 4 months remaining before it expires. Having a clean travel history from European countries, USA, Japan, etc. for the past 5 years didn’t helped much in this application. I received Visa refusal notification after 20 days of submitting my application online.

Where did I go instead when my Canada visa application was refused?

Since my UK and Schengen visas are still valid during that time, I just traveled to Manchester UK and Copenhagen Denmark during Eid Holiday in September 2016.

Reapplication procedures

I applied again for Canada TRV on Nov2017.  I have used the same Profile I created in 2016 for this new visa application in 2017. If this is your first time, you must create a profile and password at https://www.cic.gc.ca/english/  and answer the questions so you can be given a GCKey at the end of the process based on your answers. Be sure to remember all your answers as you will be asked to answer it for security reasons everytime you log in. From the date of creating an account, you have 60 days to complete your online application. If you can’t finish it in one time, just save it and go back to complete it later once you have all the information you need.

Forms & documents you need to complete (as per your personal checklist online):

  1. IMM5257E – Once you logged in, there are several questions you need to confirm until you reach the page showing the list of forms you need to complete (checklist) and what supporting documents you need to upload. This IMM5257E is the actual visa application form, do not open this form, just download it instead and save it on your desktop and start filling it out, put N/A for questions not applicable to you. Once completed, just click “VALIDATE” and save it. No need to print this form or write your signature. This form will create barcodes automatically once validated. Save the form and upload it on this part of your online application.
  2. Proof of Means of Financial Support – Make 1 file for the following (Employment Certificate signed and stamped by your Sponsor and attested by Chamber of Commerce + 6 months payslip + 6 months bank statement) and upload it on this part as 1 whole PDF file not more than 4MB size.
  3. Travel History – Make 1 file for the following (all pages containing visa labels, entry/exit stamps from current or old passports or copy of boarding pass + copy of Iqama with English Translation + ExitReEntry visa) and upload it on this part as 1 whole PDF file not more than 4MB size.
  4. Passport – upload the data page of your current passport including page showing your signature + other pages with stamps (passport validity should not be less than 6 months).
  5. Photo – upload your photo 3.5X4.5cm size white background (file size not more than 4MB)
  6. Purpose of Travel – Make 1 file for the following (daily itinerary + flight booking + hotel booking)
  7. IMM5645E – This is the Family Information form. Don’t open this form, just download it and save it on your desktop. Then complete details of your family members whether or not they are traveling with you. No need to sign it, just save it and upload it on this part.
  8. IMM5257B_1 – This is the Schedule 1 form. Don’t open it, just download it and save it on your desktop. Then complete the security questionnaire and you need to list down all countries you visited in the last 5 years. Once completed, click the “VALIDATE” button and save it and upload it on this part. No need to print or write your actual signature.
  9. Letter of Explanation – you can write additional details about your trip, you can explain further for any information you wish to clarify. No word limit so take advantage of this.

After completing the above forms and uploaded all required supporting documents, they will ask you to sign this whole online application electronically. Then click the next step, payment of your visa application online by credit card (CAD100). You will receive email confirmation after this. Then several email update notifications. Followed by a long waiting game in the hope that your visa will be approved in the end. If refused, they will just send you email explaining why they refused your application. If approved, they will request for your original passport to be submitted at VFS Riyadh. You will also see on your online profile “Final decision: Your visa application is approved”.  You need to print that Request for Passport Submission letter and submit it together with your original passport. VFS staff will ask you to pay by cash the passport transmission fee + Aramex courier fee so that they can just deliver my passport at my address after visa stamping at Canadian Embassy, otherwise I can collect it at VFS by myself or by my representative after processing.

Payment to be collected at VFS (in CASH only):

SAR125 – Passport Transmission fee

SAR6 –  SMS service fee

SAR24 – Aramex courier fee

Timeline

Nov02- I completed my online application and uploaded all supporting documents, paid visa fee. I received 2 emails as confirmation of visa payment and visa submission.

Nov03- I received email update on my application, asking me to login and check it, when I open, there is no update, don’t worry, it’s normal, it seems that you will receive email updates whenever the Visa Officer open your file.

Nov04- I received email update on my application, but it’s the same when I login, no update.

Nov30- I received an update containing a letter requesting to submit my original Passport, I went at VFS Riyadh immediately to submit the Request Letter+ my original Passport+ payment of Passport transmission. Late afternoon I received 2 sms confirming my passport has been forwarded at Canada Visa Office.

Dec05- Morning I received update on my online profile status to “Approved”. Also received an email from VFS that my passport was being couriered by VFS. Afternoon I received my passport from Aramex.

Visa Approved (2017)

5 years Multiple (until my passport validity)

How to compile Travel History in 1 PDF file

Make sure to download Acrobat Reader DC so you can edit, combine, reduce files or you may copy paste all travel history files to Microsoft Word then save it as PDF, as long as the total size is not more than 4MB. Travel history means all pages of your current and previous passports containing visa labels, entry/exit stamps. In case you have Australian Evisa or traveled to Australia, it means your passport will not have visa label nor entry/exit stamps so the only evidence of your travel is copies of your airline boarding pass. Also include your valid Iqama copy with English translation and your Exit-reEntry visa. Make sure that your Iqama is still valid for 1 year otherwise they may take shorter remaining validity as grounds for refusing visa.

How to compile Proof of Means of Financial Support in 1 PDF file

Make sure to download Acrobat Reader DC so you can edit, combine, reduce files or you may copy paste all files to Microsoft Word then save it as PDF, as long as the total size is not more than 4MB. Financial capacity evidence is Certificate of Employment – make sure your name, nationality, passport number, Iqama number and validity date, position, monthly salary, approved leave, purpose of travel, duration of contract is clearly written, this should be signed and stamped by your employer and attested by Chamber of Commerce. 6 months payslip – must show that the salary stated on your CoE are the same amount on your payslip. 6 months bank statement – stamped by your bank on 1st and last page or online statement should show that your employer deposits the same salary mentioned on your CoE on a monthly basis. Your last balance must be more than enough to cover your entire trip (amount of plane ticket+ amount of hotels+ daily expenses). You can also add Creditcard statement if available or shares of stocks, Company Register if you’re a business owner. If you are not funding your own trip you must provide guarantee letter from the person sponsoring you or inviting you in Canada with copies of his/her bank statement, and passport, ID/visa status in Canada.

How to compile Purpose of Travel in 1 PDF file

Make sure to download Acrobat Reader DC so you can edit, combine, reduce files or you may copy paste all files to Microsoft Word then save it as PDF, as long as the total size is not more than 4MB. Evidence of travel purpose is Daily itinerary – make a list of what you plan to do from day1 to last day in Canada. I made an itinerary starting from the day of my flight from Riyadh to Manila to show that I will stay first in Manila before flying to Canada. Flight ticket – I included my already paid roundtrip ticket from Riyadh-Manila and a flight booking issued by travel agency for Manila-Vancouver. I also included my MabuhayMiles Elite membership statement to show that I even have enough miles for a free flight to Canada from Manila. Hotel reservation – I took it from booking.com covering cities I plan to visit (Vancouver & Banff). If you have invitation you must include it here.

Letter of Explanation

You can write whatever additional information about your trip to Canada which you find useful to your visa application. No format to follow and no word limit. On this letter, I actually answered and explained one-by-one the 3 points mentioned on my previous Refusal Letter. Giving them an assurance that I have no intention of overstaying my visa. Among G7 member countries, Canada is the only country I haven’t visited yet.

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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

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

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.

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Posted in Australian visa, Filipino traveler, OFW, riyadh, saudi arabia, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, Uncategorized, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 29 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.

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Posted in europe, Filipino traveler, riyadh, saudi arabia, Schengen, Schengen visa, Tourist, Tourist visa application, Travel, Visa | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 170 Comments