Whether it’s for pleasure or business, traveling is most often part of a young urban professional’s annual itinerary. The experiences and opportunities gathered from these trips are otherwise not offered if you remain confined in the four corners of your home or office. It could be disappointing to miss an opportunity to travel, especially if the hindrances are as petty as:
- You still don’t have a passport.
- You do have one but you’ve let it expire.
- You don’t have a visa.
You can easily take care of the first two reasons by simply setting an appointment at www.passport.com.ph. Prepare the necessary documents such as your PSA certified Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate (if needed), and other supporting papers. Appear before the DFA branch you set an appointment with and then wait for your passport to be delivered to you.
Getting over the third obstacle though could be quite intimidating. Preparing the necessary documents and appearing before the interviewer are nerve-racking thoughts but are necessary if you are serious about obtaining a visa for a particular country.
Every Pinoy will have to go through this process; and the earlier you are able to complete the requirements and conquer the dreaded interview, the better! So to help you prepare for your visa application process, here are five tips from Rappler (http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/travel/53687-visa-application-tips-travel).
1.File all frequently requested documents in one bag/envelope and label accordingly.
A clear book with sturdy covers can help you organize your documents. Make at least five copies of these documents and make sure that the photocopies are clear so you would not need to photocopy the original while you are at the embassy.
Documents to include in your file are:
- PSA Certified Birth Certificate
- PSA Certified Marriage Certificate (if annulled, you will probably need a copy of your Marriage Certificate annotated by the NSO certifying that the marriage was declared null and void).
- Latest Income Tax Return
- For business owners, include business permits, business license and (audited) financial statements.
- Photocopies of previous visas you have been issued (if there are any).
- ID pictures: Different embassies will have different size requirements, so when you have your picture taken, have the picture reproduced in different size dimensions. You can get one picture taken in the standard 2×2 white background and one in the US visa size and Schengen size. (Note that for all visa requirements, both ears must be shown and women should not be wearing earrings.)
- Proof of income and ownership such as land titles and or car registration documents.
Your old passports with other visa stamps must also be readily available so keep these in your visa application file folder too.
2. Keep a list of the countries you have visited.
Since most embassies require for a list of the countries you have visited, it is best that you keep track of your travels, including the dates. Do not rely on your memory or pictures in your Facebook timeline! Keep a soft copy of your travel journal and update this each time you travel. Print out your most updated list and bring this with you when you go to the embassy.
3. Make a checklist of the visa application requirements.
Every country has a different set of requirements to be presented to the visa processing center. Visit the embassy’s website and collect the list of requirements for the type of visa that you are applying for in that country. Invest time and effort in making sure that you have the correct list and then, that you have the complete set of requirements on hand.
Other things that you need to pay attention to are fees you need to pay, acceptable denominations (US dollars, Euros, Pesos, etc.), and payment modes (cash, manager’s check, etc.). It is wise to bring the exact change as well since some embassies will not offer change.
Lastly, make sure that you have the correct location of the visa processing center as these change from time to time.
4. Have a standard template for letters of introduction to consuls.
Some embassies require applicants to present a letter of introduction, including therein the purpose of your travel. Create a standard template that you can update whenever you need to apply for a visa.
The letter must have the following information:
- Header with your name, contact details and if available, your visa application reference number.
- Reason for travel
- Duration of stay
- Mention of other countries you have visited
- How you will fund your trip
- Day by day travel itinerary as an attachment
5. Befriend your Travel Agent.
If you are a frequent traveler, it is best that you find a travel agent that you can trust. He or she can help you save time and effort in booking tickets and hotels, finding the best plane fare deals, and other travel details you may miss.
Your journey towards acquiring a visa can be less stressful with these tips. These do not guarantee that you will be granted a visa.