Thursday, September 3, 2015

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa in Abu Dhabi

Every year I set a goal to travel to at least one country. This time, I'll be heading to the city of love and be seduced by its charm. Think of architecture, arts, history, beautiful parks and oh dear... my eternal weakness, my kryptonite - p√Ętisserie! I've been planning a trip to Paris since July for a week long holiday. Everything is settled from hotel accommodation, airport transfers, airfare and tours by Flight Centre UAE. They've been very helpful from the start regarding my demands and concerns about the trip. Now that I have all the bookings, I need one last thing: a Schengen Visa.

What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen Visa is required for certain nationalities who wish to visit all of the participating countries in the Schengen area with no border controls between them. Since I have a Philippine passport, I need to submit a complete application to the Embassy of France at least 15 days before my intended visit.

VFS Global in Abu Dhabi can help you with the process of visa applications. Please note that the Embassy will still be the one to make the assessment and decisions regarding your visa. In case you're visiting more than one Schengen countries, you have to apply at the Embassy of the country (a) where you will spend the longest or (b) the first point of entry if you're staying the same amount of days. For France, visa can be applied 90 days in advance to the travel date.

Steps for applying a Schengen Visa:

  1. Once your itinerary is ready, schedule an appointment online. Take note that VFS Global no longer accept walk-ins. You need to provide your Passport number and choose an appointment date. Service charge (AED 91) for the General Lounge will have to be paid online via VFS Global website. Make sure to print the appointment letter.
  2. Check the visa requirements. Prepare all these documents before going to VFS Global.
    • Fully completed Schengen application form
    • Two passport photographs with the right photo specifications
    • Original Passport (must be valid 6 months from the date of expiry with at least two free pages)
    • 2 copies of personal data pages of the passport
    • 2 copies of UAE residence visa (must be valid at least 90 days from the date of expiry)
    • 2 copies of previous Schengen/UK/US visa, if available
    • Original letter from the local employer stating purpose of travel, position, monthly salary and begin date of employment in the UAE
    • Original bank statement as proof of income for the last three months
    • Copy of itinerary prepared by travel agency for those going on tour
    • Travel insurance (I got mine from Flight Centre UAE)
    • Confirmed flight tickets
    • Confirmed hotel booking
  3. On the appointment day, arrive 15 minutes early. Go to the reception and show your appointment letter. You will be asked if you want to pay extra for the Premium Lounge (AED 250) for a more enhanced service. They will give you a ticket number.
  4. Once your number is called, a VFS officer will double-check all of your documents. Visa fee costs AED 242. You will be given a receipt with the copies of your passport and residence visa once everything is cleared. Keep it with you because you will need that to collect your passport. You will have the option for your passport to be delivered with an extra fee of AED 30. I chose to pick it up myself since I live nearby.
  5. Last part is the Biometrics scan. With a short queue, it took me only an hour to complete my visa application. All that's left is to wait.
You can track the status of your application online. VFS Global also provides a free SMS service with confirmation feedback regarding your visa processing. It normally takes 5-15 working days after being forwarded to the Embassy of France for a decision. After two days, I already received a message that my passport is ready for pick up. That was the fastest visa application I've ever encountered! My total cost for a Schengen Visa with VFS Global is AED 333. Worth it for a really impressive and smooth service.

Bonjour Paris!

Flight Centre UAE
Shop LG-12, Lower Ground Floor
Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi
Telephone No. 02 565 0222
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VFS Global Abu Dhabi
Shining Tower, Level 25
King Khalid Bin Abdel Aziz, 26th Street
Adjacent to Khalidiya Mall
Submission of Applications: 09:00 to 15:00 (Sunday - Thursday)



  1. Did you need your NOC from your employer or COE is enough?
    Thank you! :)

    1. You need NOC from your employer indicating you can travel to Europe on your specific dates. :)

  2. hi..i want to travel to paris for 3 days and italy for 6 days with my wife and my baby,
    my questions: much balance i have to keep in my bank account
    2.can i apply visa from france embassy (through vfs office) due to i want to travel to paris first..
    Thanks before..

    1. 1. There's usually an average daily cost depending which European countries you are visiting. For France, it's about €75 (315 AED)/day. Your bank statement is required to satisfy the "means of subsistence" meaning you need to show the Embassy that you can fund your entire trip. It's always a different case from other people so I really can't tell the exact amount to keep in the bank. It's also best if your bank statement shows evidence that you have a regular income. Being on the safe side in my case, I had at least 10,000 AED in the bank.
      2. You should apply at the Italian Embassy (through VFS Office) since you are staying there longer.

      I hope you'll have a wonderful trip with your family! Good luck with the visa application!

  3. Hi! I wish to have a Schengen visa as well enable to travel from Austria to Italy..but I'm planning to do the cancellation from my current job first before applying..will it be possible?..thanks

    1. Hi! I think it's better to apply for a Schengen Visa first before leaving your current job so you wouldn't have any problems with requirements like a valid UAE residence permit and local sponsor (company you're working for). But, if you can provide a letter from an Austrian or Italian sponsor, that would be helpful especially when you don't work anymore. You can apply 90 days prior to your travel, which gives you plenty of time to quit your job after your Schengen visa has been approved.


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