And since our family is going on a trip out of the country very, very soon, it was only fitting that I share our experience on how we applied for our Schengen visas this time. Yes, this time because before this one, I had already applied for three Schengen visas to two different countries (Germany in 2005 and 2014 and Switzerland last year).
So, here’s how you can apply for a Schengen visa to Austria from Dubai:
2) Prepare the rest of the required documents:
• 2 photographs
• Return flight ticket or flight reservation
• Confirmation of your accommodation in Austria (i.e. hotel booking)
• Travel or health insurance certificate with a minimum coverage of €30,000
• Original passport with the UAE Residence visa (valid for 3 months after the date of intended departure from the territory of the Schengen States)
• Passport copy
• Emirates ID copy
• Copy of all your previous Schengen visas and entry & exit stamps
• Copy of all your UAE residence visas for the past 10 years
• Certificate from your employer stating your designation, current salary, date hired, and the dates of your leave
• Bank statement for the past 6 months, stamped by the bank
• For minors under the age of 18: (1) NOC from the school they are attending, stating the student’s registration number and current year level, (2) birth certificate copy, and (3) parent's marriage certificate copy
3) Create an account and schedule your appointment here. You will need a debit or credit card to pay for the service fee (Dhs86 for adults, free for children below 12 years old)
4) Show up on the day of your appointment at the VFS Global Office at Wafi City with the print-out of your Appointment Confirmation and complete requirements. Applicants below 12 years old do not need to visit the center, as long as both parents are present to submit his/her application and sign the authorization letter.
5) Approach the counter once it's your turn and submit your documents. Have your fingers scanned on the machine, pay the required amount (Dhs248 for adults, Dhs145 for kids 6-12 years old, and free for those 5 years and below), take the receipt that has your Application Reference number, go home, and hope for the best.
6) It normally takes 7 to 15 working days processing time, but you can track the status of your application online here.
7) If you opted for courier delivery, just wait for your passport to be delivered at the address you provided. Otherwise, once you're sure it's ready, go to the VFS Global Office with the original receipt (the one with the Application Reference number) and your original Emirates ID to claim your passport with the Schengen visa.
Pretty easy and simple, huh? If you're lucky, everything will be smooth and you won't have anything to worry about. But as you can probably guess in our case, something just had to happen. Oh well. At least it allows me to share what you guys should avoid and keep in mind, right?
It started because Hubby had just renewed his visa and he still hadn't received his passport from his company's PRO, so he couldn't submit his documents the same time we did on the 20th of June. I had to book him on the next available date which was the 5th of July.
On the 29th of June, I received an e-mail from the Austrian Embassy saying that they required my personal appearance at their office, and I needed to bring my husband's visa application (as proof that we were really travelling as a family), my bank statement from the past month until the current date (because the one I gave earlier was only until May), and certificate from my company stating my designation, current salary, date hired, the time frame of my leave, plus the expected date when I would resume duties, and confirming that I will continue my employment with them after I return from my trip.
So on the 4th of July, I went all the way to the embassy in Abu Dhabi (I didn't require an appointment; I just showed up between the times they specified), presented my documents when my name was called, and was grilled with questions from the interviewer. At the end, she told me that generally our application was ok, but we should make sure that my husband would submit his documents the next day for them to be able to process his visa on time. They were going to wait for hubby's application and then they would send all our passports together.
Considering the normal processing time is at least 7 working days, there was a tiny bit of doubt that we would get our passports in time for our trip. All we could do was just hope and pray that things would work out.
In the evening of the 6th of July, I received an e-mail message saying that hubby's application was under process at the Austrian Embassy, and a few minutes after that, I received three more messages saying that our (Sophie's, Caila's and my) processed visa applications were in transit to Dubai.
I received our passports on the 10th of the July, and the next day, less than a week after he submitted his documents, Hubby's passport with the Schengen visa was in his hands! Hurray!
I can't wait to sink my teeth on some authentic sachertorte! ☺