Schengen Visa Suspense! Oh my goodness, have we not had enough of the visa suspense?!
I know, I know… we live abroad and travel internationally 2-3 times a year. You’d think that we were over the suspense involved in applying for visas, but for some reason things are always a little more complicated for little ol’ South African me. The South African passport is certainly not a very favored one. While my husband and son can roam many areas of the world with just a plane ticket in their hands, I am subjected to long lines, much paperwork, and countless headaches. Thankfully God blessed me with an extremely patient and kind husband who basically organized EVERYTHING concerning the application for my Schengen visa.
Yup, we are planning on doing a tour of Europe this summer. Why haven’t we mentioned this?
Well, to be honest, we didn’t want to get too excited before we had the visa in our hands!
If you don’t know – a Schengen Visa allows entry to The Schengen Area, which comprises of 26 countries. That means that without a visa, South Africans can’t visit European countries such as France, Austria, Germany and Italy, to name a few. Justin and Elijah can arrive, with no money and no organized place to stay, but I (my husband) had to provide a detailed summary of every single step of our intended journey this summer. We needed to show flights, hotel confirmations, and all plans for our time in Europe. We also needed to say if we were visiting friends, and then those friends would need to go get certain official documents from a local authority. Those of you that are South Africa, have visited Europe, and are thinking that I’m overly concerned about an easy process. Well, being a housewife and living abroad adds a wide range of steps, procedures, and complications to the normal process.
In order to apply for this visa, Justin had to spend countless hours online. We could only find information in Chinese and since there is no visa application office in Qingdao, we had to take a day off work and travel to another city by train, to submit our application for my visa. Evidently there are too many people in China applying for European visas, so we ended up not going directly to the embassy. We had to use a visa agent – which of course, cost extra! We had submit over 120 pages of documentation. Including proof of residency, Justin’s work contract, rental leases, bank statements, marriage certificate, and a number of other documents to prove that this little African wasn’t going to jump ship and decide to stay in Europe indefinitely! We took our trip to Jinan just over a week ago (I will blog about that day soon – we are quite behind on the updates) and did the agonizing wait to submit all of our documents and get my biometric facial and fingerprint scans done. All this for a visa that only allows SINGLE entrance into Europe. I understood doing all of that for America since they gave me a 10 year multiple entrance visa, but Europe will have me applying all over again if we decided to go back in a year or two.
After getting stuck behind a group of 36 Chinese tourists – because they only travel in mass groups, and therefore have to apply for visas that way – we finally got the the desk and were able to present our documents. Elijah was asleep and that was a blessing! As the officer went through our documents, we ran into a few incidents were what we had brought for submission was not sufficient. Justin had done extensive research and preparation, but living in China makes many seemingly easy tasks almost impossible. We were therefore required to write a letter to the French embassy explaining why were were missing a couple of the essential documents. Until then we were happy and excited, but after that… I was completely bummed!
Yesterday we got an email from the visa agency saying that my passport had been sent back to the agency from the French Embassy. There was no other news, except a big red square around a line that read…
“Some of the documents are missing or not complaint with the Mission’s requirements”
My heart — I can’t handle the suspense! Are we going to Europe, or aren’t we???? We have traveled A LOT through Asia, but a trip to Europe would be a dream come true for Justin and I. This is one of those “someday we will go there” trips! We bought the Europe Lonely Planet, and we have excitedly been reading about where we will go, and what we will see this summer.
But for now… The Lonely Planet remains closed, and we sit and wait!
Tick tock… tick tock.
As luck would have it, this is a long weekend in China.
The suspense lingers!
In case you are wondering, I HAVE been denied visas before, and we have encountered a number of visa issues during our time abroad. Getting a visa is not always as easy you might think, especially if you are from Africa and living in a place other than your native country (oh my gosh – especially China, the land of RED TAPE!). We are sure that we will have fun this summer, no matter where we end up going.
But boy oh boy…
We sure do hope that we end up in Europe!