Thursday, October 24, 2019

Schengen Visa process for Filipinos in the UK

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area. That includes Paris, Greece, Iceland, Switzerland and a lot more. Basically these are places that we were always dreaming of and couldn't even imagine of travelling to when all we could afford was just to look at photos online. However, if you're a Filipino nurse with a working visa in the UK, the Euro-trip dream is just within reach. All you have to do is to apply for this Schengen Visa. The best country to apply first is France because they usually give 6 months to 1 year of multi-entry visa which means that you can freely travel within Schengen countries until the visa expires.


WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS 

  1. Application form dated and signed. You can get this from the France Visa site -- click here. Create an account and just follow the steps. Fill-up the form and print it.
  2. TLS Appointment. TLS is the French Visa Application Centre in the UK. You will need to go to their site and register (click here). Then you can choose the available date and time for your Visa appearance. Please note that the nearest available appointment date is usually a month after and the processing time is 15 days maximum from your appointment date. These are the things you have to consider when booking the plane tickets. It's best to start the application 2-3 months before your planned trip. You have to print the booking appointment confirmation.
  3. ID photograph. Usually a photobooth is available in every UK mall. You have to choose the passport option and the machine will just guide you there. 
  4. BRP ID. Prepare a photocopy.
  5. Passport. It should be valid for at least 3 months beyond the planned date of return, containing at least two blank ‘visa’ pages. Prepare a photocopy.
  6. Proof of travel. A confirmed return ticket to France. 
  7. Travel health insurance certificate. I've got mine from Coverwise. I applied for an annual multi-trip insurance for only £10. https://www.coverwise.co.uk/
  8. Hotel booking or rental agreement. It should be showing your full name as well as dates and address of stay.
  9. Planned itinerary. Reservation confirmation of an organised trip or any other document describing the planned trip. Mine was just a word doc with the dates and activities or places to visit. 
  10. Last 3 months worth of bank statements (UK current account) showing your full name and address, and proving that you have enough funds for the whole duration of the trip. I suggest you put all your money in your current account before printing your bank statements in your bank. The higher the amount, the longer validity they can give for your visa.
  11. Certificate Of Employment. I just sent an email to our HR for a copy and they sent me the COE via email. Should be less than 3 months old from the date of issue.
  12. 3 months Payslip.


HOW MUCH TO PAY

Application fee is 60 euros (or around £54) plus TLS service fee of 30 euros (£27). I paid a total of  £81.82. Fees can be paid in cash, credit or debit card at the centre.

HOW TO GET TO TLS CONTACT CENTRE

The address is Suite 18, Exhibition House, Ground Floor, Addison Bridge Place,London W14 8XP. Just follow Google Maps and make sure not to be late.


WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE VISA APPEARANCE

Upon arrival to the TLS contact Centre, they will check your booked appointment confirmation and ask you to turn off your phone before you enter. Present your Passport and BRP with the photocopies and your appointment booking receipt to the receptionist. Wait for your turn for an available agent to check on your documents. Pay for the fees in the counter and last step is the picture taking and fingerprinting.


IMPORTANT REMINDERS

  • Children under 12 years old are not allowed in the visa centre 
  • Bringing luggage is not permitted  
  • Please have all your documents organized according to the checklist (the requirements above are in order)
  • After the Embassy processes your visa (usually around 15 working days), your passport will be given back to you in a sealed envelope. You have an option to have this delivered or picked up. You will receive an email notification if it's already available for pick-up.


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My UKRN Q&As - A little guide for aspiring Filipino UKRNs

With the last blog entry I posted, I've got loads of responses in my FB page from aspiring nurses who are interested to work in the UK. It's amazing to know that people are actually reading my blog! So now, I'm making myself more helpful to you guys by giving you more tips! :) Here are some of the questions that I usually get and my answers. Please note that these are just my personal opinion and others may have different experiences.

WHAT IS THE BEST AGENCY?

I think you should not focus with the agency itself but the actual trust or employer that you will be working with here in the UK. I understand the desperation to leave the country for a greener pasture but your employer is the one that you will be dealing with for about 2-3 years away from home. No matter how good the agency is, they don't have control on the turnaround time of your NMC application (maximum of 60 days) and the Certificate of Sponsorship (depends with the employer sometimes maximum of 3 months). It's also best to choose the employer that will give you more benefits such as free accommodation, free OSCE exam, etc. In my case, we were not offered free accommodation but we were given £1k allowance within a week from arrival. Our OSCE exam was also covered by my employer which is a good deal because other trusts don't offer that. You can try the popular agencies like Omanfil, ASC, ABBA and IPAMS but each agency has its own pros and cons. My agency, which is GHR, isn't really popular. Although my entire application took almost 1 year, I'm happy that they guided me all throughout and they paid for almost everything (which I think is different now because that was the cause of some delays before). And with this agency, I've met three lovely ladies who are now my family here in the UK. So basically, to really answer the question, the best agency is the one that He will give you. Just trust in His ways. ;)

WHICH IS BETTER, CENTRAL LONDON OR COUNTRYSIDE?

It really depends with your personality. If you're the outgoing type and single, then I suggest central London. It offers higher pay and lots of fun things to do when you're already very stressed at work. Some are worried about the high cost of living here but actually you will just feel that if you eat out in restaurants most of the time and if you choose to rent a posh room or apartment. You have an option to cook your meals and choose a cheaper room and save more money! On the other hand, if you're more like an introvert or married, the countryside would be better for you because the house rent would be cheaper and it would be easier for you to bring your family once you're settled.

HOW MUCH IS THE SALARY?

It varies from person to person. However, According to PayScale.com, the median salary for a registered nurse (RN) in the UK is £23,000. Just do the math but you have to consider your rent (approx. £500 per month), food (depends how hungry you are, let's say max of £200) and other bills to pay. You'll earn more if you have more night shifts, weekend shifts and overtime (we call it bank shift). I've heard that the pay in other countries like USA and Canada is higher but I think the quality of life here in the UK is higher. We usually have 3-4 days off per week and around 5-6 weeks of vacation leave credits in a year. I might want to talk more about this in another blog post.

IS OSCE DIFFICULT TO PASS?

Yes if you're not practising enough. There were times when I thought I've memorised everything and I thought I will not miss anything anymore but then when I had another round of demo, I missed small important steps and it was just unbelievable. The more you practice and the more mistakes that you do, the more chances of winning! Don't rely on memorising the steps. Make it more like a habit by doing the steps over and over and OVER again because when you're in a nerve-wracking situation, you can just do the steps even without thinking anymore. And honestly, it's hard to think straight when you're doing it in the actual exam!

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO REVIEW FOR MY OSCE?

Once you are booked, the test center will send you emails with links and some review materials. This is the best time to get serious. Just make sure to read these materials because of course it's directly from them and they are the one who will assess you. If you're still waiting for your application, it's best to read the Royal Marsden book, not necessarily for the OSCE but in preparation for your actual work in the hospital.

HOW MUCH MONEY SHOULD I PREPARE?

It depends if your employer is giving you free accommodation. In my case, I brought £1200 because we had to look for our own accommodation and pay for the deposit and advance payment. If your employer is offering free accommodation for your first month, then 500 pounds should be enough. Your agency should also advice you on that a few days before your departure.

WHAT ARE THE IMPORTANT THINGS TO PACK OR PREPARE?

1. Thick coat (at least one) - From the moment you step outside of the airport, you might desperately need this especially during winter. I bought mine in an ukay-ukay store in Baguio for 500 pesos and until now I'm still using it.
2. Tabo - it's very rare to find one here. As a Filipino, you will need it after your poop session.
3. Black shoes - it doesn't matter if it has shoelaces or not. It should be like leather or rubber in material that if fluid spills into your shoes, it will not enter and have a contact with your skin. You can also buy this when you arrive in the UK.
4. Heattech thermals (from Uniqlo) - these are just inner thin clothes that helps retain the warmth in your body especially during winter.
5.  Filipino condiments or seasonings - magic sarap, ginisa mix, sinigang mix, and all the mix that you like. Also 3-in-1 coffee for coffee lovers like Nescafe creamy white or Kopiko brown.
6. Cough and cold meds - I brought Bioflu with me and it has been amazing. You can also bring vicks, whiteflower or maybe salompas.
7. Cash - should be Pounds (GBP) or if you can't find one in the Philippines, just convert it to USD. When you arrive here, it's easier to convert from USD to GBP.
8. Laptop - if you have one, better bring it. NHS trusts usually have these e-learning and quizzes online that you will have to comply.
9. All your documents. You will present some of it during your OSCE.

IS IT DIFFICULT TO WORK AS A NURSE IN THE UK?

It depends with the area. There are chill areas, there are some busy wards and there are those toxic wards. Most (not all) of the managers are kind and understanding. Just hope and pray that you'll be assigned in a not-so-toxic ward. And just prepare yourself in cleaning people's bum. It's a bit messy sometimes. It could be difficult at first when you're still adjusting but you'll eventually get used to it.

HOW IS IT DEALING WITH BRITISH PEOPLE?

British people are generally kind and polite. They tend to be more understanding and appreciative than the others. But of course there are good days and bad days too. There could be some language barrier especially with small talks and some humour because we are used to the American English and not the British English. Please take note that the word 'pants' here means underwear. If you mean like the American pants, they call it trousers. Elevator is lift, comfort room is toilet or loo, like is fancy, fries is chips and you'll eventually learn more words as you go along.

HOW DO I GET STARTED? WHAT'S THE PROCESS?

First, take the IELTS (Passing IELTS - self-review). Once you hit the target score, look for an agency. The agency will arrange the employer's interview which could either be face-to-face or via Skype. Once you get a job offer, prepare for CBT (computer-based test). If you pass CBT, you can register for the NMC (which is like PRC in the Philippines). You will have to wait for your decision letter from the NMC (max of 60 days) then after that, another waiting time for the COS (certificate of sponsorship) from your employer (1-3 months), last step is the Visa application. You can read more about this from my other blog post --> UKRN JOURNEY.


So that's it! These are just the most common questions that I usually get but if you have further questions, comment down below or message me in my FB page. I remember a year ago I was heartbroken, jobless, broke, depressed and desperate. Although I still have a fair share of life's challenges here, I am more happy and fulfilled this time. So my message to you aspiring filipino UKRNs, if you're feeling depressed now for whatever reason, that too shall pass and you'll be happy. Tiwala lang.🙌


(November 2018) Literally my second day in the UK and with my 500-peso ukay winter coat

(September 2019) 10 months after, ready na for mature roles😂 






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Schengen Visa process for Filipinos in the UK

A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area. That includes Paris, Greece, Icela...