Another day, another drama, another chapter in my love/hate relationship with my Philippine passport. What started out as a great deal from the US to Ireland is giving me more of a headache than I could have ever imagined, and made me wish in part that I wasn’t going to Ireland (or other visa countries) and used this time to travel somewhere else that’s visa free for my passport, like Ecuador or Peru. So let me recount to you my experience with the Ireland Visa Application.
Ireland Visa Application for Philippine Passports
To start off, I hold a green card to the United States, but I’m still a Philippine passport holder. I currently live in North Florida, so there are not many embassies here, except for a few in Miami (where I went to get my German and French-issued Schengen visas, as well as a Jamaican visa). The thing is, Miami is a 5 1/2 hour drive from my house, so getting visas there can be a pain. So, when this deal came up to Ireland ($380 in cash round trip), and a quick research said I can just mail my application without physically going to New York or Washington DC or wherever the embassy may be on the East Coast, why not right? What could possibly be so hard, and surely it won’t take that long, right?
Note that this is based on my experience of applying for the visa and my case may be different from yours, as we all have our own personal circumstances that differentiate us.
First off – let’s talk about the requirements. As a Philippine passport holder, the Irish embassy asked me for the following:
- 2 Passport Photos
- A filled out application form
- Copies of your old passports + your current passport (I mailed in both originals just in case)
- 6 months of bank statements
- A letter of employment from your employer stating your vacation days, how much you’re earning and blah blah blah
- Copy of a house deed (I just got it from our county website as we didn’t have a physical copy of it yet from our lawyer)
- A signed letter saying you are not to be a burden to their country and that you are coming back to the country you came from
- A copy of your visa or green card, or proof of residency
- If married, a copy of your marriage certificate
- Fee (by money order) of $81 for a single entry and $13 for courier (seeing as you know, I live in Florida!)
- Hotel/AirBnB confirmation
- Airline confirmation
- Travel Insurance (another $20!)
Note: if you have any visa denied before, you may need to provide additional information/documentation. I don’t have a denied visa application in any of the passports I’ve sent over (nor have I personally experienced a denial) so I’m not sure exactly what they’re looking for there.
There is no need to physically be there at the embassy to process the visa! No need for fingerprints and a photo in there, so that saves us a bit of money. Also, it does save us a bit of money by just mailing in our application instead of flying to New York or DC, booking a hotel, and going to the embassy. That’s transportation, accommodation, food, and other incidentals that we have to pay for!
There is no set turnaround time! The website just says that your documents will be reviewed within 8 weeks. Ugh. For those of you reading who are not familiar with visa processes, 8 weeks to get a visa is a long, long time. Eight weeks is roughly the amount of time it took for me to renew my passport in the USA – mainly because they had to send my passport to the DC office, wait for new passports to be printed in the Philippines, have them shipped out to America, and have the embassy review the documents before sending it back to me.
Eight weeks is a long time – that’s two months of not being able to travel abroad, and if you are just on a US Visa, technically you can’t even fly even domestic because your driver’s license would not suffice as a valid ID given the TEMPORARY status stamped on it. It’s annoying but it is what it is.
They don’t support you with updates, and there is no website to check (if you applied directly in Ireland, then they have this fancy website that gives you a turnaround time and also a status on all the applications). Every consulate here in the US is the same, except maybe for the San Francisco one that has a rough turnaround on how many days it can take before you get your passport back.
Did I mention they won’t update you? You’ll have to call a number that charges you $2.90 per minute just to call just to get an update on your visa process. Ka-Ching! They make money on your visa application and courier fees, and they also make you pay up to get customer service.
What if I’m traveling a month or so after I’ve sent my documents?
From personal experience, if you have allotted enough time from when you initially submitted the documents to your next international trip, you can write them a letter stating that you’re traveling internationally (include the country), and need the passport back in time.
We didn’t write the letter that time so we had to call them up twice. I was lucky enough that when I called the embassy and pleaded my case, the consul was friendly enough to hear my case and sent my passport and visa approval on the day that I called. I waited 6 weeks from when I initially sent my passport for the visa. I called on a Tuesday, but was flying to Cuba on Friday. The consulate sent my passport overnight and I got my package by Wednesday – perfect timing for our trip! OK, I won’t lie – everyday waiting for the passport was stressful, with tear filled nights thinking I wouldn’t be able to go to Cuba. However, my husband (Peter) was correct, think positive and it will all work out in the end!
As this post goes live, its been a few weeks since we have visited Ireland. It was a beautiful 7 days in total, and we will definitely be back. Our future posts about Ireland will be a sample itinerary and details of where we went, our infamous travel budget breakdown, and additional thoughts about our trip. This trip mostly focused on the east side of the country; on our next trip we might go do the Southeast and venture over to the Southwest part of the country. On our third trip, we might concentrate on the northwest and the Aran Islands.
There’s definitely plenty to see and do in Ireland, so we’ll definitely be back. It’s only a matter of when, and thanks to travel hacking and airfare sales, not a question of how anymore. Thank you for visiting our site, and if you do see us wandering about while on our travels, feel free to say hello!