For most, getting a visa is the single most STRESSFUL part of traveling. Moreso, as a Filipino, I am required to get a visa in most destinations. But really, there is no use sweating it. Its just gonna be one of those things you put off but need to deal with anyway.
So why not make yourself VISA-READY instead?
Most requirements in any embassy is simply there to establish your identity, financial capability to sustain your holiday and assurance that you will come back. Although there are no guarantees, it does not hurt to be equipped with these documents for whatever reason.
1. PASSPORT. In most cases, your passport is enough to establish your identity as applying for one already has their safeguard. Hence, it is wise to always keep your passport in a safe place so as to keep its integrity (it does not look tampered because of juice/ coffee marks or torn pages) and accessibility. It is also wise to remember that passports are only valid up to six months before its expiry date. It is therefore recommended to renew your passport at least a year before expiry. OLD PASSPORTS are also good sources of information. They tell the consul where you have been, what other countries you have been granted visa to and if you have used them correctly. Do not make the mistake of throwing old passports away just because they are no longer valid.
2. I.D. picture. Of all requirements, this you can do last minute because they should be "recent". Be mindful of size, background, and special requirements which are mostly stated in application forms anyway.
3. Application forms. Most application forms for embassies can be downloaded from embassy websites.
4. NBI Clearance. So far, Chinese embassy is the only embassy I know that still requires this. They only require it from first time applicants only. You can now apply for your NBI clearance online.However, it only gives you a form that you will present, pay and complete in an NBI center. Click here for a list of NBI centers. Having a ready NBI for travel purpose may come in handy one day, who knows?
5. Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate. NSO copy of Birth Certificates and Marriage Certificates can be requested here. This is a must have anyway, so do order 2-3 copies for emergency use.
B. Financial Capabilities.
1. Bank Records. Passbooks, bank certificates, certificate of time deposit, 3-6 months latest bank statements, credit card billings, and of course, a good record/standing in all of these forms. It is prudent to keep a record of these for easy access when needed.
2. Business Records. DTI, SEC, Business permits and tax forms are also required especially from businessmen.
3. Be kind to your boss and HR department. :) Although they may have the obligation to give you a certificate (or a leave should you have credits) it is always "easier" and "faster" when you have good relations with them. Proof of income, employment certificate, proof of leave of absence are just some of the things you would need from their end. It is also important to note that you only get a good name from your HR department if they see that you use your leave wisely and that your applications are way ahead displaying foresight and time management on your part. More importantly, keep yourself employed (or with OCCUPATION). There are countries with no work, no visa policy. You should either be a student, employed or engaged in business. If you are waiting to resign from your job to finally have the time to visit Europe, you might have to make advance planning or you may end up stuck at home :).
4. Properties. Although this is always a requirement, it is not as vital as bank records.
C. Reason to come back.
This is the most subjective of all requirement check in embassies. All the other documents are just support to this. However, your success in proving this is key. Assuring the consul that you will return to your home country could be due to your work, business or relations. They may also ask you of your day to day itinerary in your destination so as to assure you only stay as needed and that your trip is well planned. If you are joining group packages, this will already be taken cared of.
These are just some of the things that you may want to keep in mind to keep yourself Visa-ready at anytime. Although you may not be 100% ready all the time, you are more likely to be ready if you are aware of them.