I am no stranger to visa applications. I perfectly know the struggle of applying for visas because I have to do it almost every time I fly out of my home country — it’s one of the many woes of being born in a third-world country with a powerless third-world passport. (Visa Application Tips)

DISCLAIMERI do NOT guarantee that the pointers in this post will get you approved 100% when youre applying for a visa. In fact, NO ONE can give you a 100% guarantee; not even a lawyer, a consultant, a travel agent, or an embassy employee. Anyone who says otherwise is most likely going to be a scammer.

visa applications

Accurate, Complete & Genuine Documents

  • Accomplish the requirements. This is one of the visa application tips that is obviously common knowledge but it seems like some people think that skipping out on a few documents is fine — no, it’s not and it never will be. You can’t expect the embassy officers to say “Oh okay, just come back and submit this and that.” Even if they are as lenient as that, it’s always best to submit ALL the documents at once because most embassies would not even accept your application if it’s incomplete. At the very core, you should avoid wasting your time and effort; besides, do remember that appointments are often hard to get.
    • TIP: Make sure your passport is not expiring anytime soon. In addition, submit all the documents in an organized way. It helps to provide a checklist too in order to give the embassy a quick overview that you have prepared everything that’s needed (at times this is one of the basic requirements).
  • Mind the details. Some embassies would NOT need an interview since they will merely rely on the documents you submit; given this process, they usually put precise instructions, and one of my top visa application tips is for you to remember that it’s vital you take note of their requirements.
    • Examples: they would want you to use only a specific kind of envelope, or that you have to staple your photo to the application form and NOT paste it, or they want you to write in blue ink. These steps might seem ridiculous or tedious but you should do them still; don’t slack off and don’t rebel. Make it a point to read the guidelines very well which should normally be on the embassy’s website.
  • Only submit authentic documents. Don’t even try submitting fake or doctored/edited documents. After all, there is a high chance that you will not only get denied but will also be banned.
  • Provide as much evidence as you can. One proof is fine, but if you can give more, then great! It will give them more assurance about the documents that you are trying to prove authenticity or genuineness. In fact, overdelivering is always a good thing as long as the things that you’re submitting are relevant. And of course, providing originals is always best!
  • Show that you are ‘well-traveled‘. It can be through travel tickets/bookings or your passport stamps. Even if it’s not one of the requirements, it helps to show them this to send them a message that you have traveled before, that you always came back, and that you have never overstayed abroad.

INTERVIEWSYour interview can affect the documents you are submitting; but surely, if you are submitting genuine papers, there’s no need for you to be nervous about this because the questions are always basic: what is your purpose for visiting, how long do you intend to stay, etc. Depending on your answers, the visa officer can be more thorough with the questions but they are mostly just about your background.

One of my top visa application tips? Just be honest and precise. Simply answer what they ask for. Don’t launch into a full-blown storytelling spree. You don’t need to give out information when it’s not asked for! Besides, the officers unfortunately wouldn’t care about your story, no matter how sad or tragic it might be.

Additionally, wear something presentable (no need to be too formal). Arrive early, be confident, and speak in English (or if you’re more comfortable speaking your country’s mother language, then feel free to do so — unless the embassy doesn’t allow it).

“Do I need to purchase and submit travel insurance?”

I highly advise that you get travel insurance for your trip; after all, most embassies would require you to do so. To avail of travel insurance, I highly recommend WorldNomads since they offer the best price and coverage (they cover all countries worldwide too!).

True & Reasonable Purpose of Entry

TRUE PURPOSE: Apply for the appropriate visa. Read about all the information and processes that the embassy has to ensure what kind of visa you should be applying for — in fact, go ahead and call the embassy if you ever need clarifications. This is crucial so that, for instance, you can avoid wasting your time on the requirements for a tourist visa if what you actually should be preparing are the prerequisites for, let’s say, a ‘visit a friend’ visa, which is often a more specific category.

Surely, if you plan to work abroad, don’t try and go for a tourist visa; please DON’T be one of those people who violate visa rules and conditions because that would paint your country’s fellowmen in the same bad light. You’re not helping others, nor are you helping yourself.

STRONG & REASONABLE PURPOSE: If you’re applying for a tourist visa then this shouldn’t be a problem; after all, you really wouldn’t have any other rationale for visiting a country abroad other than for… well, tourism. So supply them with the itinerary that you want to do, the places that you want to see, and the experiences that you want to achieve and you should be fine.

The same applies to work, study, fiancé, or marriage visas because those are already self-explanatory — e.g. to work because you are being sent there by your company, to study because the university in that country is known for its outstanding program, etc.

If, however, you’re applying for a visa to visit a friend or family, embassies commonly need a compelling argument to justify your plans to visit. The first application isn’t typically a problem because seeing a friend or family member for the first time should somehow already be a reasonable purpose; but for the next visits, you or your host must have a stronger cause as to why you want to come back. Such may hold too if you are planning to apply for a 2nd tourist visa to the same country and so on.

Nevertheless, again, this is where dissimilarities can happen: some people can easily get a visa after the first time, but some people cannot. It’s always on a case-to-case basis.

You might be thinking now, “What are examples of strong reasons?” I think it all boils down to having significant or sensible events. For tourism, let’s say you’ve been to Belgium before but currently, you want to come back because you want to see the concert of Tomorrowland; provide them the tickets for that and your motivation for wanting to see them (it happens only once a year anyway). Or maybe you have a blog and you want to experience and promote the country even more, etc. Or you might want to take a gap year before you start working on your career.

As for friends or family visits, if there’s a birthday, wedding, or reunion, make sure you or your host mentions that too. At the same time, don’t forget to prove the relationship you have with your host.

Ultimately, just make sure you have a decent motive or just be true to what your intention is — most of the time, your situation (no matter how simple or complicated it might be) would already be enough of a reason.

TIP: One of my top visa application tips is no NEVER indirectly imply that you have plans of staying longer because that will go against the 4th section below. If you’re going on a student visa, don’t mention either your plans of working in their country after finishing your degree; it’s actually imperative that you have to express your desire to come back to your own country.

Or if you’re going on a tourist visa, don’t carelessly mention that their country has a very good education system that you find fascinating, because that might incidentally hint something to the embassy officer that you might want to study there — this is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get what I’m saying… Then again, I’m pretty sure you won’t say such things if you follow the tips I’ve mentioned in the 1st section: which is to be on point about your answers. Say nothing more, nothing less!

Sufficient Funds or Support

Every embassy wants you to convince them that you have enough money to support yourself because if you don’t, they would be skeptical about how you will be funding your stay and they will even doubt your purpose of visiting their country.

As a general rule for visa application tips, here are ways for you to prove your financial solvency…

  • For employed persons, this becomes very easy since your employment already fulfills the requirement to prove that you are solvent and that you have a job to come back to (thereby verifying the 4th section as well below). Ordinarily, they need you to issue all of the following:
    • Proof of employment (or COE – Certificate of Employment) with company stamp, stating your position, years of service, and monthly salary
    • Most recent payslips (often for the past 3 months)
    • Income Tax Return (ITR or any tax document) for the past year
  • For self-employed persons, it becomes tricky because even if you have your own business, they need to know that it’s established and sable. They also need to know that you have enough cash. So it helps to provide:
    • Copy of Official Business Registration/ Business Permit
    • Taxpaying certificate and/or tax statements
    • Bank Statement or Books of the company and Financial Reports for the last 3 months
    • Copies of personal credit cards, bank certificates, or bank statements in the last 3 months
    • Proof investments or financial assets
  • For retirees take note of the following documents. If you happen to still have your own business after retiring, it helps to give related documents to that (just refer to the self-employed section above).
    • Proof investments or financial assets
    • Evidence of pension payments, such as receipts
    • Certification issued by competent authority stating the period and date of retirement
  • For students or minors, depending if your sponsors are your parents or your school, or even both:
    • Sponsorship letter from parents or legal guardian, with attached documents showing their solvency (as employed, self-employed, unemployed, or retiree persons)
    • Certification from the institution/school confirming your enrollment and leave of absence; this document must specify the amount, term, and expenses that the scholarship includes
  • For unemployed persons, provide as much proof as you can, submit:
    • Proof investments or financial assets
    • Copies of personal credit cards, bank certificates, or bank statements/books in the last 3 months.
    • Sponsorship letter from your sponsor, with attached documents showing their solvency

NOTE: The requirements for employed and self-employed persons apply to freelancers too. Depending on your situation, you might have to provide not only your proof of employment but even the registry of your business. Also, please DON’T rely on this list alone; always double-check with your embassy since there might be some items that they would specifically want from you and which I have failed to mention here. After all, the documents I mentioned above are usually just the standard documents needed.

TIPIf you feel that your financial standing is weak, it will help to add a sponsor to your visa application so that it adds more strength to your case. Usually, sponsors can be immediate family members, relatives, friends, or even your partner. In line with this, you would need to provide enough proof to show your relationship with these sponsors and why they are sponsoring you — and that of course you ACTUALLY have the funds to cover your trip since the immigration officers can check on this before your actual entry into their country (they have the right to ask for proof of cash on hand, credit card, bank statement, etc.)

By the way, this is another area that you can overdeliver on, so feel free to provide as many documents as you can!

“What is the minimum amount of money I need to show in my bank account?”

This is something I can’t answer specifically because every country would have its minimum requirement, depending as well on the period that you are going to stay. Therefore, I suggest that you call the embassy or check their website for any corresponding info about this.

In my experience with Schengen Visa, for example, most of the member countries would need you to show that you have EUR 50 (Php 2,500+) per day of your stay. This is the bare minimum, that’s why I suggest that you add way more money to it. In line with this, be wary of providing bank statements from a bank account that is obviously new and just recently ‘fed’ with money.

There is such a thing called ADB or Average Daily Balance or something equivalent to a balanced history in bank statements or certificates, and that will surely indicate the state of your bank account (which most embassies might assume is not your money and something that you might have just borrowed to prove a false financial standing).

RELATED READ: How to Save Money for Travel

Meanwhile, as an additional way of showing that you can support yourself, embassies would surely need documents that show a hotel booking reservation. To obtain these documents you can (1) reserve directly with the hotel or (2) make a dummy online booking or reservation which can usually be done with Booking.com or through a travel agency.

If however, you are going to stay over at a friend, partner, or family’s house, the embassy would need details of your host like their ID cards, residence documents, and proof of your relationship to them — all of which are easy to prepare.

Proof of Not Overstaying

In my opinion, this is where embassies put the most emphasis — they need you to be bounded to your home country, and that you have strong ties that will compel you to come back at the end of your stay. They definitely don’t want you aiming for ways to stay longer (illegally) or aiming for ways to become an immigrant without going through the necessary procedures in your home country.

What are examples of ‘strong ties’? They vary from country to country: they will consider your circumstances, travel plans, financial resources, and ties that will ensure your departure after the period of visit. Thus, other than the pieces of evidence already mentioned in the above sections, make sure that you’ve issued…

  • For employed persons
    • Leave of absence and/or certificate of employment from your employer
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay
  • For self-employed persons
    • Mention an event that would necessitate your return (it can be a board meeting, company event, etc.)
    • Business registration
    • Proof of possession of real and personal property (real estate, etc.)
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay
  • For retirees
    • Proof of possession of real and personal property (real estate, etc.)
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay
  • For students or minors
    • School enrollment certificate
    • Approved leave of absence
    • A letter from you and your parents or legal guardian(s), stating the reasons why you won’t overstay (explanation of your family situation, your long-term plans in your residence country, etc.)
  • For unemployed persons as available:
    • Proof of possession of real and personal property (real estate, etc.)
    • If applicable, a letter showing a job offer (wherein you’ll start working some time at the end of your trip)
    • If applicable, a letter showing the start of your studies (school enrollment certificate, wherein you’ll start studying some time at the end of your trip)
    • A letter from you, stating any other reasons why you won’t overstay (e.g.: you’re planning to set up a business, etc. but then you’ll also have to back up those statements with pieces of evidence)

NOTE: These are NOT absolute. Chances are, one proof would already be enough; yet as usual, it helps to overdeliver on evidence. You can always ask the embassy for any other kinds of documents they might want from you to prove your situation.

Now, I understand that some procedures for visa applications would require a round-trip ticket to be booked and presented — this would already be another proof that you will NOT overstay, but I advise that you provide more pieces of evidence still since tickets are the most basic affirmation. (But of course, most embassies nowadays do NOT require you to have round-trip tickets to be booked and presented before/during the application. If you need to present tickets, it should be enough to show a flight reservation or itinerary only).

TIP: Your passport stamps also help in justifying that you are not someone who overstays abroad. Photocopy these pages on your passport along with your past visas and present them to the embassy.

By oytq5