Are you a Filipino residing in the vibrant Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, dreaming of exploring the picturesque landscapes and rich culture of the Netherlands? Well, you’re not alone. The Netherlands, with its iconic windmills, tulip fields, and charming cities, has long been a dream destination for travelers. But before you can immerse yourself in the beauty of Dutch life, there’s an essential journey to undertake – obtaining a Schengen visa.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you step by step through the intricacies of securing a Schengen visa to the Netherlands while residing in Saudi Arabia. From understanding the application process to gathering the necessary documents and addressing common concerns, we’re here to simplify your path to the land of canals and tulips.
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.
Navigating the Schengen Visa Process from Saudi Arabia to the Netherlands
In this article, we’ll delve into the personal journey of an OFW vlogger named Joy Calagui as she obtained a Schengen visa for the Netherlands while residing in Saudi Arabia. The vlogger’s Schengen visa application process began in the last week of January 2023, ultimately leading to an exciting European adventure in February. This guide aims to shed light on their experience, offering valuable insights for fellow travelers from Saudi Arabia. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:
1. Embassy Application and VFS Global:
The vlogger initiated their Schengen visa application at the Netherlands Embassy in Saudi Arabia and availed the services of VFS Global in Jeddah. Notably, the timeline for this process is worth highlighting. After submitting the necessary documents, it took approximately two weeks for the visa application to be processed. This duration included around seven business days for document verification, followed by the issuance of the visa within three days through VFS Global.
2. Schengen Visa Checklist:
Before delving into the specifics, the vlogger diligently gathered the required documents to meet the Schengen visa requirements. Below is the checklist that guided them:
- Completed and signed Schengen visa application form
- Valid passport with a minimum of six months validity
- Iqama ID (applicable to residents in Saudi Arabia)
- Exit Re-Entry Permit
- Flight booking confirmation/reservation
- Passport-sized photos
- Hotel booking confirmation/reservation
- Bank statements (covering the last six months)
- Employment letter
- Travel insurance
3. Schengen Visa Application Form:
The vlogger began by completing and signing the Schengen visa application form with accurate information, including their date of birth and passport details. The Schengen visa application form is a standardized form that must be filled out by all applicants for a Schengen visa. The form is available in all official languages of the Schengen Area and can be downloaded from the website of the embassy or consulate of the country to which you are applying for a visa.
The Schengen visa application form is divided into several sections, which collect the following information:
- Personal information: This includes your name, date of birth, nationality, passport number, and contact information.
- Travel information: This includes the dates of your intended travel to the Schengen Area, the purpose of your visit, and the countries you plan to visit.
- Accommodation information: This includes the name and address of the hotel or other accommodation where you will be staying in the Schengen Area.
- Financial information: This includes proof that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the Schengen Area.
- Employment information: This includes the name and address of your employer, your job title, and your salary.
- Invitation information: If you are invited to visit the Schengen Area by a friend or family member, you will need to provide their contact information and a copy of their invitation letter.
- Medical insurance information: You must have valid travel medical insurance that covers you for the entire duration of your stay in the Schengen Area.
In addition to the above information, you will also need to attach a recent passport-style photo and your passport to the application form. Once you have completed the application form and gathered all of the required supporting documents, you can submit your application to the embassy or consulate of the country to which you are applying for a visa.
Note that the specific requirements for a Schengen visa application may vary depending on the country to which you are applying. It is always best to check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting for the most up-to-date information.
4. Passport and Visa Type:
They selected the appropriate visa type based on their travel plans, which included the Netherlands, Iceland, Austria, and Germany. The appropriate visa type for travel plans that include multiple countries within the Schengen Area, such as the Netherlands, Iceland, Austria, and Germany, would typically be a Schengen Multiple-Entry Visa.
A Schengen Multiple-Entry Visa allows the holder to enter and exit the Schengen Area multiple times within the visa’s validity period. This is particularly useful for travelers who plan to visit multiple Schengen countries during their trip, as they can move freely between these countries without the need for separate visas.
With this type of visa, the traveler can explore different Schengen countries within the visa’s duration without the hassle of applying for separate visas for each country they intend to visit. However, it’s important to note that the total duration of stay within the Schengen Area should not exceed the number of days specified on the visa.
Travelers should always confirm the visa type and its specific conditions with the embassy or consulate of the country they are applying to, as requirements may vary slightly between Schengen member states.
5. Number of Entries:
The vlogger specified whether they needed a single-entry, double-entry, or multiple-entry visa. The following differentiates the three types of visas:
Single Entry Visa:
- Allows one entry into the Schengen Area.
- Once you exit the Schengen Area, you cannot re-enter using the same visa.
- Suitable for travelers with a one-time visit or for those not planning to exit and re-enter the Schengen Area during their trip.
- Typically, the visa expires immediately upon exiting the Schengen Area.
Double Entry Visa:
- Allows two entries into the Schengen Area during the visa’s validity period.
- After the first exit from the Schengen Area, you can re-enter for a second time.
- Useful for travelers who may need to briefly leave the Schengen Area and return during their trip.
- Like the single entry visa, it expires upon exiting the Schengen Area for the second time.
Multiple Entry Visa:
- Allows multiple entries into and exits from the Schengen Area within the visa’s validity period.
- Ideal for travelers planning to visit multiple Schengen countries or those who need to enter and exit the Schengen Area several times.
- Provides flexibility for travelers to move freely between Schengen countries without the need for additional visas.
- The visa may have a maximum duration of stay within the Schengen Area per entry, and the cumulative duration of all visits should not exceed the visa’s total validity period.
Understanding these distinctions is crucial when applying for a Schengen visa, as it ensures that travelers choose the right type of visa that aligns with their travel plans and needs. Always consult with the relevant embassy or consulate for accurate and up-to-date information regarding visa types and requirements.
6. Passport Requirements:
Ensuring their passport adhered to the necessary specifications was a crucial step. The passport requirements for a Schengen visa typically include the following:
- Valid Passport: Your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your intended departure date from the Schengen Area. It should also be issued within the last ten years.
- Blank Visa Pages: Your passport should have at least two blank visa pages to accommodate visa stamps.
- Previous Visas: If you have previously been issued Schengen visas, provide copies of those visas and entry/exit stamps from your previous trips, if available.
- Old Passports: If you have old passports, especially if they contain previous Schengen visas, it’s advisable to include them in your application as they can help establish your travel history.
- Photocopy of Passport: Include a photocopy of the main page of your passport that contains your personal information, photo, and passport number.
- Passport Size Photos: You will generally need to provide recent passport-sized photos that meet the Schengen visa photo requirements.
- Passport Validity: Ensure your passport meets the Schengen visa requirements for minimum validity both at the time of application and your intended travel dates.
- Passport Condition: Your passport should be in good condition and not damaged, torn, or altered in any way.
Please note that these requirements can vary slightly from one Schengen country to another, so it’s essential to check with the specific embassy or consulate of the country you intend to visit for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Always make sure your passport is in good condition, has sufficient validity, and complies with the Schengen visa requirements before applying.
7. Iqama ID and Translation:
As a resident in Saudi Arabia, the vlogger included their Iqama ID, noting that translation may be required in some cases.
- Residence Permit: The Iqama ID is a residence permit issued to expatriates living and working in Saudi Arabia. It serves as an official identification document for expatriates in the country.
- Sponsorship System: In Saudi Arabia, the Iqama is closely tied to the sponsorship system, where expatriates require a sponsor (usually their employer) to legally reside and work in the country.
- Renewal Requirement: Expatriates must renew their Iqama annually. Failure to renew it on time can lead to penalties and legal issues, including potential deportation.
- Multiple Functions: The Iqama ID serves various purposes, including granting access to healthcare, education, and other essential services. It also allows expatriates to open bank accounts and conduct various transactions.
- Employment Details: The Iqama typically contains important information, such as the holder’s name, date of birth, nationality, occupation, sponsor’s name, and validity dates.
- Exiting the Country: Expatriates must surrender their Iqama when leaving Saudi Arabia permanently. Failure to do so can result in difficulties when re-entering the country or settling financial matters.
- Color Codes: Iqama cards are color-coded to indicate the holder’s occupation. Different colors represent various employment sectors, such as blue for professionals, red for laborers, and green for private sector employees.
- Digital Iqama: In recent years, Saudi Arabia has introduced a digital version of the Iqama that residents can access through an online portal or mobile app. This digital Iqama provides real-time information about the holder’s status.
- Iqama Fees: Employers typically bear the cost of obtaining and renewing their employees’ Iqama. However, some fees may be deducted from the employee’s salary as per the employment contract.
- Legal Requirement: Possessing a valid Iqama is a legal requirement for all expatriates living in Saudi Arabia. Violating Iqama regulations can result in fines, imprisonment, or deportation.
8. Exit Re-Entry Permit:
To facilitate their travel plans, they obtained an exit re-entry permit. This document is a critical document for expatriates living and working in Saudi Arabia. Here are some details about the Exit Re-Entry Permit:
- Purpose: The Exit Re-Entry Permit is a document that allows expatriates in Saudi Arabia to temporarily leave the country and then re-enter. It is typically required when an expatriate plans to travel outside Saudi Arabia for personal or business reasons but intends to return to the Kingdom.
- Types: There are two main types of Exit Re-Entry Permits: Single Exit Re-Entry Permit and Multiple Exit Re-Entry Permit. The single permit allows one exit and re-entry, while the multiple permits permit multiple exits and re-entries during its validity period.
- Validity: The validity of the Exit Re-Entry Permit varies based on the type. Single permits are typically valid for the duration specified in the permit (e.g., a few weeks or months), while multiple permits can have longer durations, such as one year.
- Application: To obtain an Exit Re-Entry Permit, an expatriate must apply through their sponsor, usually their employer or the individual responsible for their sponsorship. The sponsor initiates the application process on behalf of the expatriate.
- Use: The Exit Re-Entry Permit is used at the immigration checkpoints when departing Saudi Arabia and returning to the country. It is essential to keep the permit safe during travel and present it when required.
- Renewal: If an expatriate needs to extend their stay outside Saudi Arabia beyond the permit’s validity, they must apply for a new Exit Re-Entry Permit or request an extension from the Saudi authorities before the permit expires.
- Penalties: Failure to obtain or renew an Exit Re-Entry Permit can result in penalties, legal issues, and potential difficulties when re-entering Saudi Arabia. Expatriates should always ensure their permits are up-to-date.
The Exit Re-Entry Permit is a vital document that allows expatriates in Saudi Arabia to manage their travel plans while maintaining their legal status in the country. It provides the flexibility to leave temporarily for personal or business reasons and return to continue their work or residence in Saudi Arabia. Expatriates should work closely with their sponsors and adhere to the permit’s regulations to avoid any complications related to their stay in the Kingdom.
9. Flight Booking:
The vlogger considered booking their flight even before securing the visa, a sign of their confidence in the process. Booking a flight before obtaining the visa might seem counterintuitive to some, but it reflects the vlogger’s preparedness and determination. It’s important to note that while booking a flight early demonstrates enthusiasm and commitment to travel plans, there are essential considerations to keep in mind:
- Booking in Advance: Booking a flight before obtaining the visa might seem counterintuitive to some, but it reflects the vlogger’s preparedness and determination.
- Flexibility: When booking a flight in advance of receiving the visa, it’s crucial to opt for flexible booking options. Look for airlines that offer refundable or changeable tickets. This ensures that in case your visa application faces unexpected delays or issues, you can adjust your travel dates without incurring significant costs.
- Visa Processing Times: Research and understand the typical processing times for Schengen visas at the specific embassy or consulate you’re applying to. This knowledge can help you estimate when you’re likely to receive your visa and, consequently, when to book your flight.
- Documentation: Airlines often require certain travel documents, including a valid visa, before allowing passengers to board. Therefore, while booking early shows your commitment, ensure you have all necessary documentation in place before your departure date.
- Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers trip cancellation or interruption. This provides an added layer of protection in case unforeseen circumstances affect your travel plans.
- Communicate with Airlines: It’s advisable to maintain open communication with the airline you’ve booked with. Inform them of your situation, including your pending visa application. Airlines may offer guidance or options for passengers in similar situations.
10. Hotel Reservation:
They made their accommodations reservations through trusted platforms like booking.com. Here’s why this was a good idea:
- Platform Reliability: Opting for established and reputable booking platforms like booking.com is a wise move. These platforms offer a vast selection of hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals across a wide range of budgets and preferences. Additionally, they often come with user reviews and ratings, helping travelers make informed decisions.
- Flexible Booking Options: Just as with flight bookings, flexibility is key when reserving accommodations, especially before securing a visa. Look for hotels that offer free cancellation or modification policies, allowing you to adjust your booking if your travel plans encounter unexpected changes.
- Confirmation Documentation: The vlogger’s choice of a reliable booking platform ensures they receive proper documentation for their hotel reservations. This documentation is often required during the visa application process as proof of planned accommodations in the Schengen Area.
- Detailed Planning: By making hotel reservations early in the process, the vlogger demonstrates a meticulous and proactive approach to travel planning. This level of detail is not only helpful for the visa application but also contributes to a smoother overall travel experience.
- Budget Considerations: Depending on your travel budget and preferences, booking platforms like booking.com offer a range of options. Travelers can filter results by price, location, amenities, and guest ratings, ensuring they find accommodations that align with their financial plans and comfort levels.
11. Bank Statement:
- Financial Stability: The bank statement serves as evidence of financial stability. It demonstrates that the vlogger has sufficient funds to cover their expenses during their stay in the Schengen Area. Schengen visa authorities typically require that applicants show they have the financial means to support themselves without relying on public funds.
- Duration Coverage: The vlogger’s bank statement covers the last six months. This duration is commonly requested by visa authorities, as it provides a comprehensive overview of the applicant’s financial situation over a significant period. It ensures that the funds presented are consistent and maintained throughout the visa processing period.
- Consistency and Transparency: A well-prepared bank statement is characterized by consistent deposits, withdrawals, and balances. Any irregularities or significant fluctuations may raise questions during the visa application process. Transparency is key, and it’s advisable to avoid sudden large transactions that could be viewed as suspicious.
- Currency: The bank statement should be presented in a widely accepted currency, such as euros or US dollars. This makes it easier for visa authorities to assess the financial situation without the need for complex currency conversions.
- Supporting Documentation: Alongside the bank statement, it’s a good practice to include a cover letter explaining the source of funds and how they will be used during the trip. Additional documents, such as pay stubs, tax returns, or investment statements, can further support your financial claims.
12. Employment Letter:
An employment letter from their company was secured. The information within the letter often required verification with the Chamber of Commerce. The employment later may contain the following:
- Company Letterhead: The employment letter should be printed on the official letterhead of your employer, adding credibility to the document.
- Date: Clearly state the issuance date of the letter.
- Employee Information: Include your full name, date of birth, and passport number for identification.
- Job Title: Specify your job title within the company.
- Job Description: Provide a detailed description of your job responsibilities and duties to help visa authorities understand your role within the company.
- Employment Duration: Indicate your employment start date and, if applicable, your planned return date to work after your trip, demonstrating approved leave.
- Salary: Mention your monthly or annual salary to highlight your financial stability and ability to fund your trip.
- Employer’s Information: Include your employer’s name, address, and contact details.
- Confirmation of Employment: The letter should confirm your current employment status with the company.
- No Objection: Express your employer’s consent and support for your travel plans, often referred to as a “no objection” statement.
- Leave Approval: If applicable, state that your leave has been approved by your employer for the specific travel dates.
- Company’s Registration: Include details about the company’s registration, such as its business registration number or license.
- Signature: The letter should be signed by an authorized representative of the company, along with their name, title, and contact information.
Remember to ensure the accuracy and currency of the employment letter. Additionally, consider translations if the letter is not in one of the official languages of the Schengen Area or the language of the embassy/consulate you are applying to. Always check with the specific embassy or consulate for any additional requirements or specific formatting preferences.
Their travel insurance was chosen to provide adequate coverage for the Schengen Zone.
The vlogger applied for a multiple-entry permit, allowing for a six-month duration, by making a payment of 1,100 Saudi Riyals.
Flight Ticket Booking:
They booked flight tickets in advance, demonstrating their confidence in the approval process. The cost amounted to approximately 79 Euros for two people.
Schengen travel insurance from AXA was acquired, a process easily completed online.
Obtaining a Schengen visa from Saudi Arabia to explore the Netherlands, along with neighboring countries like Iceland, Austria, and Germany, is a journey worth embarking upon. From filling out the application form to securing the necessary documents, each step signifies your commitment to experiencing the wonders of Europe.
The Schengen visa process can be both meticulous and rewarding. By meticulously preparing your documents, including the Schengen visa application form, bank statements, and employment letters, you set the stage for a successful application. It’s crucial to remember that adherence to the guidelines and timelines outlined by the Netherlands Embassy, or the respective Schengen country’s consulate, is pivotal.
Additionally, the confidence displayed by our vlogger, who booked their flight before securing the visa, is a testament to the meticulous planning that goes into making such a journey a reality. With well-thought-out accommodation reservations and a comprehensive bank statement covering the last six months, they demonstrated financial stability and a commitment to responsible travel.
While the Schengen visa application process may seem complex, it ultimately opens the door to a world of cultural richness, historical marvels, and unforgettable experiences. From strolling along Amsterdam’s iconic canals to exploring the stunning landscapes of Iceland, the Schengen visa journey offers boundless opportunities for exploration and adventure.
So, as you embark on your own Schengen visa application journey, may this guide serve as a valuable resource, guiding you through the intricacies of the process. With careful preparation and unwavering determination, your dreams of exploring the Netherlands and beyond can become a remarkable reality. Bon voyage and may your Schengen visa journey be a chapter of unforgettable adventures and cherished memories.