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Going to Europe? Ace That Dreaded Visa Interview!

Yup, there's an interview for the Schengen visa! Here's how to pass it.

If you carry a Philippine passport, the Schengen visa gives you access to the Schengen Area, which includes European countries like Spain, France, Italy, and Germany. Most people are intimidated not just by the cost of the trip but also by the process you have to go through when getting a Schengen visa—yes, there’s an interview!

But here’s a thought: Visa application can be compared to submitting requirements when you start a new job or open a bank account. As long as you have done your assignment, there is no way you can fail on this one.

Here are some tips to make your appointment or interview a smooth one:

1. Know which embassy you should go to. Going to the wrong embassy is the most common mistake applicants make, and it’s a total waste of time and effort. Prepare an itinerary because it helps you see which embassy you should apply at by looking at the country where you will be staying the longest. “First point of entry” rule applies if you are staying in two or more countries for the same number of days. Use the itinerary as a guide when making room reservations just to make sure that the dates in the itinerary match the dates in the bookings.

2. Read the embassy's visa FAQs. They are there for a reason. Go to the embassy of the country you'll be spending the most time in and apply there. 

3. Have a checklist. Embassies post a list of requirements on their websites. If they have a PDF version, print it.

4. Make sure you bring complete, official documents. Your documents will make or break your European dream, so when they are required, bring them. Have the originals and copies ready. If it is difficult to acquire a copy of, say a land title, you can just give them a photocopy. Keep in mind that only your passport and visa stamp will be returned.

5. Use sticky-notes to label your documents. This will make it easier for the consul to browse through your documents.

6. Turn off your mobile devices. Use of mobile devices is strictly prohibited so turn everything off to avoid getting into trouble. Just read a book or strike a conversation with other applicants.

7. Have an idea of the attractions you will visit. During the interview, you will be asked about the specific places you will go to. Keeping a list or memorizing these places will show the interviewer that you have already done your research and that you really do want to see those spots.

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8. Look presentable. How you look will always create an impression, and impressions affect decisions. Make sure you give a good one.

9. Think of their possible questions and your answers beforehand. The usual questions will be about the documents you have submitted, the trip, your ability to finance it, and proof of having strong ties to the Philippines—employment, business, family, and properties.

10. Smile at the consul and make the interview feel like a light conversation. It’s okay to feel nervous, just don’t let it consume you.

11. Give consistent, truthful, and concise answers. Avoid talking too much and only answer what is being asked.

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