Why I almost didn’t make it to Sweden

I am here right now at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm waiting for my flight back to the UK. Wow. I’m still trying to absorb the things that happened the past few days and how happy I am that I successfully made it to Sweden.

I thought this trip will never happen.

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Why? Because I was initially refused a tourist visa to a Schengen country. And it broke not only my bank account, but my heart.

I remember compiling all of the requirements stated by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in the Philippines (they’re handling Sweden at the moment) and how disappointed I was when I received the text message that I was rejected a visa and the official ‘rejection’ letter is on the way.


THE STRESSFUL JOURNEY OF COMPILING REQUIREMENTS 

The main reason why I opted to apply for a Schengen visa is the distance of the places I was planning to visit from the UK. TBEX Europe 2016 will be in Stockholm, my aunt is based in Gothenburg and a childhood bestfriend works in Lund. I was hoping to stay for at least 2 weeks in order to explore a country which honestly is not even on my ‘must visit’ place. I wanted to go to Sweden before because of its pop icons and.. I wanted to be a popstar. #MaxMartinWhereAreYou

Apart from that, a friend of mine was convincing me to go to Greece since July is summer season. I am also in contact with a tour guide but a part of me was a bit hesitant mainly because this is my first time to apply for a Schengen visa. I want to make it right. I want to have a good record.

What did I do? Apart from updating my bank account, buying travel insurance, advance booking of accommodation, acquiring letters and payslips from work and asking my childhood friend for support documents, I also requested for a letter of invitation from the TBEX organizers.

I was also granted a UK Tourist Visa for 6 months prior to that.

So you cannot really blame me why I felt bad when I read the refusal letter.

THE REFUSAL LETTER

I will not write the full text from the refusal letter, but their grounds for not giving me a visa:

1.) I am single
2.) I have low income (ouch… truth hurts) and
3.) I am visiting a friend.

After absorbing what I’ve read, I was contemplating whether to fight for it by lodging an appeal letter or just let is pass. With the rejection reasons I received, I filed an appeal that explains in depth my situation.

I decided to fight for my right and lodged an appeal.

WRITING THE APPEAL LETTER

In the letter, I humbly asked them for reconsideration and explained my side about their grounds for refusing me a visa:

SINGLE – Unfortunately for us Philippine passport holders, this can be a factor for visa rejection. Since I am not yet married, they’re given the perception that I’m going abroad to find work illegally and never go back home.

I cannot blame them. Sadly, there are instances wherein some Filipinos tend to work in secret or TNT (Tago-ng-Tago). The fact that I don’t have a husband and children to come back home to in the Philippines is sketchy to them. I also do not have properties (yet) under my name.

BUT I AM EMPLOYED. I have my Income Tax Return for the past two years and a letter of employment from our HR Department. I may not have that ‘grand’ income, but I am a taxpayer and I am still employed, which means I still have the obligation to come back home. I pointed that out in my letter.

I HAVE LOW INCOME – Okay, here’s the thing: I moved back to Dagupan after years of staying in Manila because I love my hometown. It was nice to go back to a place I’m familiar with, hang out with friends, eat a lot of affordable and delicious food (that’s why I gained weight!), disconnect from the traffic and work on a start up hotel. My workplace may not give me the dream compensation, but I am happy and satisfied with the challenge. Things doesn’t only revolve around money. Also, I have other sources of income so I printed copies of my Paypal transactions just to prove that I also earn from blogging.

VISITING A FRIEND. My childhood bestfriend provided all the documents required by the embassy. In the letter, they stated that ‘Visiting a friend’ is not enough. I pointed out that I am also attending TBEX and if only they clarified that they were rejecting everyone who chooses the ‘visiting a friend’ option, I should’ve chosen Tourism.

BADETTE in Calle Crisologo. She didn't come with me to Sweden because she didn't apply for a tourist visa.
BADETTE in Calle Crisologo. She didn’t come with me to Sweden because she didn’t apply for a tourist visa.

After two days of sending my appeal letter, I received a notification via text that my visa is granted! I remember I was in Vigan that time enjoying a Kalesa ride along Calle Crisologo with Badette.



By the time I reached to Manila to get my visa, they required me to bring my passport, booked flight itinerary/plane ticket and travel insurance. I went to the main Royal Norwegian Embassy Office and within five minutes, I was granted a visa valid for 10 days on arrival. Well, I am okay with ten days. That’s enough to attend TBEX and wander around Stockholm!

If I didn’t fight for my right to go to the land of ABBA and awesome Swedish Pop, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy these:

Best dinner in Karlskrona with fellow travel bloggers!
Best dinner in Karlskrona with fellow travel bloggers!

If you’ve been refused a visa, don’t lose hope. You have the right to lodge an appeal and ask for reconsideration. Just as long as you’re genuine that you’re visiting their country for tourism and prove your strong ties in the Philippines, you will be granted a visa. Just don’t do something that will make you look suspicious. Be sincere with your intentions. If you have plans of doing something illegal, don’t risk it.

Ooops… it’s time for boarding. Thank you Sweden, my first ‘EU’ country. There’s so much to blog about! I will be back x


Have you tried applying for a Schengen visa? How was the experience? Share your tips and stories on the comment section! I will try to write a visa application guide soon. Cheers!

17 Comments

  1. Boots cornel said:

    If you want it ,you get it… and you have that very spirit SENYORITA! Thank you very much for the info.

    July 24, 2016
    Reply
  2. Omg! I can’t believe you went through that! Well done on the letter of appeal. I’m booked on the TBEX in Philippines, so I hope to see you there!

    July 24, 2016
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Hi Amy!

      Yes, that’s the challenge of being a Philippine passport holder. See you in Manila! Which fam trip did you apply for?

      August 21, 2016
      Reply
  3. What an ordeal just to get a visa! All I had to do was buy an airplaneticket. By the way, just watched your ABBA clip. WOW!!! You guys were sensational You was that singing with you? He really has it down pat! How can I share that on Facebook-?

    July 24, 2016
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Hi Michael! Thanks for the compliment about our ABBA Performance! By now you already know it’s Ed and just replied late here haha 😀 You’re lucky to have a powerful passport!

      August 21, 2016
      Reply
  4. Thanks for taking the time to share this with everyone, Mica!
    People with “good passports” often take them for granted, because they normally have no idea what other people have to go through to apply for visas and, sometimes, almost prove that they are “worth it” to go somewhere.. that they will not remain there illegally.. and that simply they want to travel to a certain country.

    I really hope that the organizers of TBEX choose Ashray to talk about “passport power” and what to do to “upgrade” your passport in order to make your international travels easier. I can’t think of a better place than the Philippines to talk about this. Hopefully many people could take advantage of some of the things he’s learnt during our travels!

    As for you, congrats on not giving up.. never, ever!! 😉

    July 25, 2016
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Thank you Zara! I really hope to see you and Ashray in Manila this October . I’m sure most of your Filipino readers will demand for a meet-up! 😛

      August 21, 2016
      Reply
  5. I’ve applied for a Schengen visa to Spain this morning, and I already spent P13,000+ without the assurance that I’ll get it. Bo-hoo-hoo Good thing you got yours in the end! 10 days is nothing, but at least it covered TBEX. See you soon here!

    August 3, 2016
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      True! How’s your Schengen visa application? I am quite okay with the 10 days now so I can concentrate more with my family. Will read your new adventures, Aleah!

      August 21, 2016
      Reply
  6. Lakwachera Traductora said:

    Where did you send your Appeal Letter? Did you send it via snail mail or email? Did you just have it in English or did you make a translation?

    August 21, 2016
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      Hello!

      I sent it via email in english 🙂 I will write a separate post about it soon 🙂

      August 21, 2016
      Reply
  7. […] So much positive vibes for an introduction, huh? As a Philippine passport holder, it is a constant guessing game whether a lodged application for a tourist visa in any first world country will be approved or denied. As for me, I was first rejected a visa for Sweden (via Norwegian Embassy), but thanks to the appeal option, I was granted 10 days stay in the Schengen area. […]

    January 18, 2017
    Reply
  8. happyhappy said:

    Hi! How did you pay expenses in Sweden? I’ve read that you could go around cashless and you could just use your card. Is it advisable? If I am to get cash, should I bring EUR or USD and exchange it there? Thanks!

    February 12, 2017
    Reply
    • Senyorita said:

      In most transactions, I used my debit card to pay. There are some establishments that prefer credit/debit card than cash 🙂 I made sure I have some spare cash with me though

      February 12, 2017
      Reply
      • happyhappy said:

        Oh so I need to have mine replaced 🙁 Do you think they’d accept the prepaid visa card? I’m kinda scared using my credit card especially with forex rates which I am not sure of.
        Thanks!

        February 14, 2017
        Reply
        • Senyorita said:

          I think that will be fine 🙂

          February 14, 2017
          Reply
  9. Sakina said:

    I’m from Sri Lanka and my Swedish visa was rejected about 2 weeks ago. I filed an appeal a week ago with extra documents I knew would help my case, but my hopes are minimum. For one, there’s no exact time frame as to how long it will take for an appeal to reach its final verdict, and two, I just got news that my case has been escalated to the UDI in Norway.

    My intentions are simply to go on a visit to see the man I’m dating, and this has been such a spoiler. It’s absolutely heartbreaking, in spite of being a genuine traveller who simply wants to visit for 2 weeks and then come back. I don’t want such problems hindering our relationship and it scares me if it will be this hard in the future too. We’re already doing long-distance and it’s not like we want any more unnecessary problems such as these. So depressing.

    April 4, 2017
    Reply

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