My Schengen Visa Experience

How to Get French SCHENGEN VISA in Japan for Filipinos

As of 2019, the Japanese (along with Singaporeans) have the “MOST POWERFUL” passport, making it easy for them to visit Europe. However, Philippine passport holders  STILL NEED A SCHENGEN VISA even though they are expats in a powerful country, like Japan.

But don’t worry Kabayan (comrade), no need to go back to the Philippines to get it, because you can also have it in the Land of the Rising Sun!

What is a Schengen Visa?

Schengen Visa is a type of visa that allows you to travel around countries in Europe that are part of the Schengen Zone. For those planning to work, live, or study in Europe, you need to get a different visa.

Japan vs. in the Philippines

I am an OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) in Japan. Therefore, I applied for my French Schengen Visa there. The requirements are a little different and more challenging (in my opinion), because most of my paperwork is in JAPANESE. In addition, all documents should be in English or French only. The French Embassy highly recommends having your files translated by a professional, but you can do it on your own— given that you are fluent in those languages.

Translating Japanese to English

Why France?

French and Filipina Couple
My husband and I

My French husband (who was my boyfriend at that time) wanted to introduce me to his family, as well as get to know his homeland.

Tons of Paperwork!

Since it was my first time visiting France and I’ll be meeting my husband’s relatives, the purpose of my trip was for tourism and family.

The information that I’m providing is based on my experience. Thus, for more and updated details, please visit the French embassy’s website.

Here are the requirements:

 
  1. Filled out Schengen visa application form
  2. Picture with 5 x 4.5 cm size (full-face view, less than six months-old)
  3. A passport valid for a minimum of 3 months
  4. A fee of 60 € charged in Japanese Yen (cash only and non-refundable)
  5. Resident card ( Zairyu Card; 在留カード)
  6. Certificate of employment ( done by the company you are currently working for)
  7. Letter of Invitation from my husband and his father
  8. Reservation of Japan-France return ticket (I bought one from Air France because I don’t know how to book without paying here in Japan)
  9. An itinerary that shows the entry and departure dates, activities, and number of days spent in the places you are visiting (Free format)
  10. Hotel reservations (I used booking.com for this)
  11. An “Attestation d’accueil” from my husband’s father since we are spending most of our time at their home. This is basically a proof that the household of the “host” can accommodate the “guest” (original only, but it will be given back to you along with your visa)
  12. My Bank Statement, since I’ll be sponsoring myself, for the last 3 months (issued for less than one month) *
  13. Travel Insurance that has a minimum coverage of 30 000 €.
  14. Self-addressed envelope with an 82 yen stamp (which was given back to me, so I don’t know what it is for)
  15. Self-addressed Red Letter Pack 510 yen
 

Aside from the requirements provided by the embassy, I also included some additional files to PROVE that I will come back to Japan.

These are my extra paperwork:

 
  1. My Credit Card Statement for at least 6 months (issued for less than one month) *
  2. My Payslips*
  3. Income Tax Return*
  4. My husband’s Certificate of employment
  5. My husband’s Resident card ( Zairyu Card; 在留カード)
  6. My husband’s Passport (valid for a minimum of 3 months)
  7. My husband’s Reservation of Japan-France return ticket
  8. My father-in-law’s valid ID (since he is the one who provided the Attestation d’accueil)
  9. Pictures of me with my husband to prove that our relationship is authentic
  10. My husband’s and I’s Certificate of Residence (Jūminhyō 住民票) to prove that we live together in Japan*
  11. Cover Letter both in English and French
 

The items that have an asterisk are in Japanese. Hence, we included an English translation done by my husband, his colleague, and me.

On top of that, I also photocopied all of my files.

Which One Should Go First?

For me, asking for a vacation leave and getting my Certificate of Employment was the top priority.

All of your plan will go to WASTE when your employer doesn’t give you your time-off! You will need to re-do most of your paperwork (eg. Update your bank statement, book flights and travel insurance again, etc.)

“Asking for a vacation leave and getting my Certificate of Employment was the top priority”

Moreover, when your holidays are resolved, you can then ask for your CERTIFICATE OF EMPLOYMENT— this is a document that states your salary, job description, and the dates you are expected to be off and GO BACK to work. Not acquiring this piece of paper— especially for those OFW with no relatives in Japan—will be quite challenging to justify that overstaying in Europe is not your agenda.

All in all, having the support of your company is a very strong proof, so just GET YOUR VACATION LEAVE APPROVE FIRST!

After settling that, my husband asked for his father’s letter of invitation, a copy of his valid ID, and Attestation d’accueil. I haven’t met my father-in-law or even talk to him at that time, so I was very grateful that he took the time to provide us the paperwork we asked for.

The last one I prioritized was my bank statement since it’ll be only valid for a month.

Getting an Appointment

I booked my visa appointment at the French Embassy via its website and I scheduled it 3 months before our planned trip.

Interview

Before the day of my interview, I was very nervous, hence I practiced how I’ll answer the possible questions that will be thrown to me. However, my husband was allowed to be with me during the interview, so I felt that being nervous before the “big date” was pointless (LOL).

Plus, I was only asked 4 questions.

 
  • Where is my hometown in the Philippines?
  • When are we going to France?
  • Was it my first time getting a Schengen Visa?
  • Who will pay for my  Visa?
 

The  personnel at the embassy mostly chatted with my husband in French, which  made me think that the staff interviewed HIM and not me (LOL).

After my papers were verified, I was given back my additional documents.

Getting my Visa

I requested to stay in France for 19 days.

The friendly Frenchman at the embassy asked us when do we plan to go to France again. We said we don’t know. Despite that response, he told us that he is going to give me a MULTIPLE ENTRY VISA. That made me very happy, but I was still skeptical because I don’t want to have false expectations.

Then after 3 or 4 days, the French Embassy sent my passport back with a MULTIPLE ENTRY SCHENGEN VISA VALID FOR 1 YEAR!!!! I was like on cloud nine! It was so surreal because I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about getting a Schengen Visa, but (thankfully) I got a MULTIPLE ENTRY VISA in just one try!

First Day in Schengen Area
First Day in Paris

Tips

 
  1. Give yourself at least 3-6 months (or more) for organizing your files.
  2. Read blogs about this topic so you know what to expect
  3. Contact the embassy you are applying for if you have questions
  4. Dress properly during the interview
  5. Make your itinerary REALISTIC
  6. Provide extra documents that will help you prove you’ll not overstay
  7. Make sure that your funds are MORE than enough for your trip
  8. Complete your files and be organized in presenting it
  9. Clearly answer the questions being asked to you. DON’T BE WORDY!
  10. DON’T BE LATE for your interview
  11. Go to the interview with your sponsor if you can, as they can provide great support to your application.
 
Paris, France
Eiffel Tower at Night

Have you tried or planning on getting a Schengen Visa? Feel free to put your questions or advice in the comment section!

Visiting Schengen Country
Champs-Élysées at Night

Good luck!

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