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.
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.
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:
A video posted by Mica Rodriguez (@senyoritamyx) on
A photo posted by Mica Rodriguez (@senyoritamyx) on
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!