Applying for a Schengen visa (Part I)

I had not received my passport back from Japanese Embassy when I finished up my online application for Schengen visa. I just thought that since I expected to receive it on Wednesday, May 9, 2018, I thought I could settle everything and print the required documents for free in campus before the semester finally ended. I had originally planned to go to Los Angeles for my Schengen visa application on May 10, 2018, right? I was hoping I could have the interview on May 11 or maybe the next week was okay. That’s all because I would need to get my passport back before May 28, in which I am scheduled to fly to Philippines.

Thus, I arranged everything, booking hotel for accommodation in France, setting up my daily itinerary in Europe, including buying round-trip tickets from UK to France. And, by the way, I chose to apply in France embassy because I browsed about Schengen application in the embassies of other European countries but they seemed to be more complicated and less convenient. Besides, I read the review on Consulate-General of France in Los Angeles on Yelp and they were mostly positive. I browsed the info about it; I visited their website and read the info there, and I thought, well this was the most convenient for me even though I still had to go all the way to Los Angeles.

Well, for the hotel booking, I chose to book at booking dot com. Free cancelation. That’s all I needed. I guess it’s okay because, well, it’s not as if I intended to be an illegal immigrant there. I mean, I will definitely come back to US for my study and I have saved enough to support myself during my travel so I really don’t see why they shouldn’t grant me a visa. I choose free cancelation because, well, the dates are flexible, I might be in France in other dates than booked or maybe I’d stay in a friend’s place. Apparently, booking a hotel (with free cancelation) is the best option since there’s not much hassle for it. And about my roundtrip ticket from UK-France? Well, I booked it via Expedia, 24-hour free cancellation, that’s the policy here. So right after I got the e-tickets emailed to me, I cancelled the reservation and requested for a refund. I was hoping they wouldn’t check and find out because it might lead to the rejection of my visa application. But, well, why is it so difficult to show that I’m not going to cause any trouble? I just want to travel and spend my money wisely. And the irony is, me, as someone from a third-world country tends to be charged more for this visa thing while others from a richer country (though it’s not a guarantee that they’re “rich” enough to travel. LoL) do not need to spend a penny on this visa thing. The rich spends none, and they take the money from the poor. Well, sometimes life’s unfair. But I understand. They just don’t want us to be a burden. I get it. And pardon, maybe I’m just being bitter here. Sorry. But, well, that’s it. I plan to buy another ticket after I got the visa anyway.

So I finished filling out the form online. I thought at the end of my online submission I was going to be directed to a site where I could make an appointment like how it happened when I was applying for UK Visa online. But, no, I wasn’t. All I got was a confirmation that I had submitted the application online and that I needed to go to Los Angeles to submit the documents in person. I was naturally confused, right? Could I just come during office hours? How do I make the appointment on the date and time? I tried to find it on their application page, but there was none. Thus, I emailed the Visa Department about that. They did not immediately reply. But I needed to settle everything as soon as possible, right? I was really racing with my timeline. With my flights to Philippines, with Ramadhan, etc.

My email to the visa section.

I kept searching about how to make the appointment while waiting for the reply to my email. I browsed Yelp, I searched in their web, visiting their visa application page (again), but none. Then, I should’ve done this earlier, but…well, I used the search tab and type appointment, some links appear, and finally I was there. It was here: https: //france-visas. gouv. fr/en_US/web/us/a-qui-sadresser (I don’t want to link it, but you can copy-paste it to your browser and delete the spaces). I chose Los Angeles, I set up the appointment. There were only two dates available: June 6 and 7. It’s really bad because, well, I’ll return from Philippines to the States on June 5! I didn’t think I could do June 6 because I would be too exhausted, probably jetlagged, etc. And so I chose June 7. Well, they said I could change it in case someone cancels on the earlier dates and they gave me the link to the page where I could change or cancel my appointment. So the next day or so I went back to the page and guess what? There were no dates available! They were definitely filling up quite quickly! I felt so lucky that I booked my appointment date when it was still available, but at the same time I also freaked out; I thought I wouldn’t be able to get it changed anyway. I told myself that at least I was still lucky to get a slot on June 7. And, well, applying on June 7 might not be bad since I’d still have enough time to get my passport returned before my departure to UK. So then I booked a roundtrip Greyhound ticket from Tucson to Los Angeles. I printed everything. I thought that all I needed to do was flying to Philippnes for the conference, going to LA the next day, and waiting for the passport and Schengen visa. Everything sounded good, right?

And, mmm, since I had no idea when I would depart for Europe from UK, and since from what I heard, they were strict with itinerary, i.e. if you indicated a plan to stay in Europe for 10 days, then your visa would only be valid for 10 days; if you indicated a plan to stay for 20 days, that’s the length they would give you the visa for, etc., so I just played it safe. I arranged my itinerary to look like that I’d stay for 30 days and I listed as many countries as possible. Because even though technically Schengen visa could be used to enter most European countries, I was worried that I would be denied an entry to a certain country if I did not list in my Schengen visa application. I am that insecure – and anxious. After all, I think it’s gonna be safer that way. If I stay less than 30 days or visit less countries than listed, then it’s fine. But it might be troublesome if I apply only for two weeks and list only few countries but then end up wanting to stay longer and visit more countries. Taking a precaution is a priority for me.

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