Today, I just got my passport back, with a Schengen visa sticker in it. Yay! I was granted a multiple Schengen visa valid for 6 months from the Embassy of France in Abu Dhabi.
As in many other countries, to apply for a Schengen (French) visa in Abu Dhabi, you will need to submit your application through VFS Global. They will be the middleman between you and the embassy.
You can check whether you’ll need a visa or not to enter France and what kind of documents you’ll need to submit based on your situation by following this visa wizard. In my case, I am an Indonesian, holding a UAE residence visa, and living in the UAE under my husband sponsorship.
After running the visa wizard, if you need a visa, likely the steps will be similar to mine, as follows:
- Create an account in France-Visa, then, log in to the system.
- Fill in and complete the application form. You will then need to save and print the PDF version of this form.
- After completing and submitting the application form, you will receive a Registration Receipt generated by France-Visa system.
- Book an appointment with VFS Global. When I booked mine, 2 September, the closest date available for an appointment was on 12 September (10 days later). Please bear this in mind, especially if you have tight time, and book your appointment as early as possible.
- On the day of your appointment, arrive 15 minutes prior to the time you booked. They will not allow you to enter the premises earlier than that to avoid too much crowd inside I guess. Bring all the required documents. After submitting all documents (and have it checked) they will take your biometric data (fingerprints). And you’re done for the day.
- You will receive several notifications updates (via email/SMS) during the visa process. Upon receiving a notification via email/SMS saying that your passport is ready for collection, you can collect it back from VFS. Or, in my case, I choose to have it delivered by courier service for an additional fee of 35 AED.
Make sure that you have all the required documents (original and copy) before you visit VFS. I saw a lot of applicants were running back and forth to the visa counter as they told to add some missing/incorrect documents by the VFS officer, but (thank God) that wasn’t my case because my documents were correct and complete and sufficient from the beginning.
Here is the checklist of the documents I submitted (along with the template if you need it):
- Cover letter (see my sample here)
- Application form dated and signed (from step no 2 above)
- France-Visas receipt (from step no 3 above)
- VFS appointment receipt (from step no 4 above)
- 2 pcs of color photograph (3,5 x 4,5 cm)
- Passport or any other travel document (containing at least two consecutive blank pages)
- Copy of the identity page of the passport (front page of passport)
- Copy of the latest obtained visa (mine was from Japan embassy last February)
- Copy of UAE Residence visa
- Reservation confirmation of an organized trip or any other document describing the planned program. I booked a Paris Disneyland ticket from Viator with free cancelation, just in case the visa is not approved.
- Reservation of a return ticket. I haven’t bought my flight tickets when I apply for my visa, also the Embassy only need a reservation, not necessary a real ticket. To avoid spending money, just in case your visa is rejected, you can book your ticket from a travel agent for a small fee. I used the Schengen Visa Flight Reservation‘s service for USD 15.
- Travel itinerary (see my sample here)
- Travel health insurance with a ceiling of 30,000 (thirty thousand) Euros. I bought mine from AXA.
- Reservation of a hotel. I booked from Agoda. Again, I choose ones with free cancelation.
- Last 3 months payslips
- Employment letter
- Last 3 months bank statement
- Marriage certificate
- Sponsorship letter from my husband (see the sample here)
- No objection letter from my husband (see the sample here)
- Copy of my husband’s passport
- Copy my husband’s UAE residence visa
Seems a lot? Yea, right! It was really detailed, but the result was my application successful in one go ;)
The whole process was surprisingly fast, despite the system hiccup happened on the day I applied. The system went down the whole morning and only went back up around 1.30 in the afternoon. So I suggest you spare enough time when you’re applying, better prepare for a whole day off (if you’re working) in the worst case.
My application was submitted to VFS on Sunday, 15 September then they send it to the Embassy on the same day. By 16 September, I received a notification saying my application is under process in the Embassy. On the 17th morning, the process was completed and my passport being sent back to VFS and then they dispatch it to the courier in the afternoon.
It was a total of 3 working days process until I received my passport back from the courier today, 18 September. Impressive!