It has been 2 years since my last Schengen visa from Swiss. This year 2018 I applied Schengen visa from France and it was issued in 48 hours eventhough it was high season when I applied French government decided this year 2018 to expedite processing of visa application for certain nationalities, and luckily, Philippines is included on the list. After I got my latest UK visa last July 2018, I decided to apply Schengen visa although I have no concrete plans to travel. First, I check the earliest available appointment from Swiss since I wanted to visit Switzerland again, but the earliest appointment I got was 9 days before my intended travel which is dangerously short period to process my visa. So I decided to check France appointment and the earliest was 10 days before my travel. I booked it and immediately revised my travel plans. France has started centralizing their online visa application in one website (www.france-visas.gouv.fr) and you can find all the information you need from this site.
I created an account at France-visas.gouv.fr and booked my hotel at booking.com as you need to book hotel first in order for you to put hotel name and contact details on the online form. You will receive confirmation email with link to activate your account. The form is straight forward without unnecessary questions. Once the online form is completed, it will generate (in PDF) the completed Schengen visa form and barcoded confirmation of your visa application with list of supporting documents you need to submit during your appointment. Print it both, paste 1 photo on the application form (clip 1 extra photo) and put your signature on the form. Next, click the part “submit your application”, it will redirect you to VFS website where you need to create a separate account so you can schedule your appointment. You need to pay by credit card SR120 service charge so you can choose your appointment date and time at VFS. I took the earliest available appointment which will be on 07AUG18. Don’t forget to print the appointment confirmation letter. My planned travel is on 17-25 AUG during Eid Holiday, that is 10 days away after my appointment. It is advisable to check available appointment 3 months prior to your planned travel specially before Eid holidays.
I went to VFS Centre at 8AM for my 8:30AM appointment. Staff are not yet ready when I arrived. I was their first applicant of the day. VFS staff checked all my documents, took out documents that they didn’t need (they returned copies of my Japan and New Zealand visas + original previous passport). I paid by debit card SR262 for visa fee (or must be exact amount in cash). No extra fees for sms and email updates. Eventhough my biometrics data from Swiss is still valid, they still took my biometrics at VFS. The whole process took me 20mins. While still at the VFS I received sms+email confirming receipt of submission of application at VFS. Late afternoon I received sms+email confirming application forwarded to Embassy of France.
Received sms+email confirming my application has been received at Embassy of France for processing.
Thursday at 4PM I received sms+email confirming processed application is ready for collection at VFS Centre. However, I have no more time to collect it that day and decided to collect my passport on Sunday 12/08/18 instead.
Supporting documents as per my personal checklist:
- Iqama copy with official English translation + Exit/reEntry visa
- Flight booking (not ticket)
- Cover Letter + daily itinerary proposal
- Travel/Health insurance (my Bupa covers worldwide travel)
- Hotel reservation (from booking.com)
- Bank statement for the last 4months (I submitted 6months)
- Certificate of Employment attested by Chamber of Commerce
- Copies of my credit cards + 6 months payslip + copies of valid/expired visas from Schengen, USA, UK, Canada, Australia (they did not take my New Zealand & Japan visas)
I was very satisfied with France 48 hours Schengen visa processing eventhough it’s high season. SMS and email updates are free and up to date, unlike other Embassies which charge extra for it.
- Do not staple together any documents including the 3 pages visa application form. Just place it as per checklist order.
- Bring exact cash for visa fee, otherwise bring your debit card
- Book an appointment 3 months in advance to avoid worries
Update July 2019:
I applied again for Schengen visa at VFS France Riyadh on 29/07/2019 and received my passport with visa on 31/07/2019. This year the process at VFS is much slower but visa processing at France Embassy is much faster. The whole VFS process took me 2 hours because of long waiting time for biometrics, which I don’t understand since they’ve already taken my biometrics last year, as I am aware that biometrics data record for Schengen is valid for 5 years. The lady doing the biometrics even told me that I already had it last year in their system yet she still collected my biometrics again. Also, their system is down during my appointment that they were not able to issue all applicants on that day their individual receipts containing reference number. Also, the sms update is delayed. I got the first sms and email late night, unlike last year I got sms while I’m still Infront of the VFS staff assessing my application. I got another sms the following day at 8AM “passport is received at France Embassy for further processing” and at 4:42PM on the same day I got another sms “passport is ready for collection at VFS”. Tip: if you have previous visas of Schengen UK Canada USA, you have to photocopy it individually (1 visa in 1 A4 paper). Since I had so many previous visas, I submitted copy of 2 visas in 1 paper to save on printing, so they asked me to make separate copies of each visa. Good thing photocopy machine is available at reception area free of charge.
Please click the ☆ to LIKED this blog if you find it helpful. I will answer comments ONLY from readers who click LIKE button. Thank you for understanding.