Frankfurt Airport – The German Experience

FrankfurtAirport

It seems the most difficult Schengen Visa to get is from the German one, all the others were more routine and less difficult with the paper work. I can understand if they wanted to clarify paperwork, but they out right refuse any bookings from a local travel agency, the whole process was annoying and if you just want to make a one or two week stop they just give you a one month or two month visa. Previously they used to give 3 to 5 year visas without an issue. If you get it from Italy or Spain they still do that and 3 years from the French Embassy and the French used to take the longest. At least the British have a normal two week process or a 45 KD VIP process which takes 3 to 5 days.

I have my Visa and took off with a one day trip to Frankfurt and the rest of the week in Amsterdam. Unluckily for us there were probably two planes that landed from China because the lines were insanely long and these people do not know how to que. A new line opened up which one lady went to who wasn’t European and so I tried my luck and so did a friend. The lady immigrations officer was thinking of letting us pass on the European line since there were no Europeans but the guy next to her told her to send him back and he sent me back to the insanely long line. We understand rules but there was no one there and the lines for Europe remained empty.

We got back in line and waited, the Chinese were getting stamped without any questions and I would say at least 80% of them didn’t speak a word of English. They didn’t even bother looking at their paper work. We thought at least the line will move quickly.

When it came to our turn, instead of taking 2 mins it took 20 mins. The guy wanted my confirmation booking in Frankfurt and in Amsterdam, and he wanted to see my ticket back to Kuwait. I told him I have the printed booking from Lufthansa that I already gave to him and my confirmations are on my phone. He looked at my phone and then shrugged, he asked me why I didn’t have a ticket with me, I told him no airline issues a ticket one week before the flight. He went through my passport twice and kept typing on the computer, I was done to his annoyance and my friend was still going through questioning. The Chinese guy behind me walked out 30 seconds after me.

That was a very strange experience, and I’m surprised that Germany is turning into this, since when I spoke to people about it they told me it isn’t an isolated incident.

Now as for when we were leaving my cousin wanted to do the tax refund as he had one item from Frankfurt and one item from Amsterdam. In Amsterdam the Customs people told us he would have to exit the European Union to get the customs stamp so in his case he would get it done in Germany. When we went to Germany they stamped all the things of the Chinese guy in line in front of us without asking a question or asking to see the items.

When my cousin step up he just had to invoices with the details filled out but he refuse to stamp the one from Amsterdam and we explained to him what we were told and he simply said it wasn’t his problem. Then he refused to stamp the other invoice and said he would get it done after immigrations, but then when we went inside they told us it was only Jewelery at the inside customs not a Tumi bag.

This was the strangest experience I have had at Frankfurt Airport, it seems they are getting a bit aggressive with arabs from what I can tell. In Frankfurt itself it was easy and an enjoyable trip for me even though I was just there for 24 hrs but this treatment at the airport was not expected.

Illegal Visa Trader in Kuwait

KuwaitCity

Recently there have been some changes in Kuwait’s Visa process and they want to clamp down on the number of Expats in the country. I don’t think thats a good policy since most of the Expats are here because of a need, most government jobs are completed by Expats and in most private companies the Expats range from 60% to 99%, its just the truth of the matter and there is no going around it.

There is a reason that is the case, a majority of Kuwaitis want a high paying job and very little amount of work. I have met some amazing people in the private sector and entrepreneurs, but these people are not even 3% of the Kuwaiti population, the majority are in government the ones with brains face obstacles and the ones that don’t want to work are happy not going to work and getting a pay check.

Now they want to get rid of the expats so they are applying any law they see fit and they want to get to the Visa Traders (Tijaar Iqaamaat). After all these years this is what they want to do to solve the Visa trading business. You can’t report them, you can do anything with them, and the victims who are the people trying to work end up getting deported when nothing happens to the Visa Traders.

As of this week they have started picking up random expats from around Kuwait City and taking them to Jail if they have Visa Type 20 which is the house staff Visa. With the new Wakeel in the Ministry of Interior he wants to prove that he is the big man in town and so he picked on the weakest in this aspect. They take the Expat to jail and if nobody trys looking for him then they deport them within two weeks, and they contact the sponsor to pay for the ticket.

So instead of putting the Visa traders in jail and giving these guys an opportunity to make a living, they deporting the expats no matter what the circumstance is. Also be careful during this period regarding the traffic laws, it seems he wants to apply those as well, any major traffic violation and it will result in a deportation. Right now I think that these rules are basically bonkers, and extremely unfair.

Schengen Visa – Getting Difficult

Schengenzone

I just renewed my passport last year and I still had a valid US Visa for a few more years but my Schengen ran out, and my UK Visa ran out with my passport. The UK visa was straight forward, I submit the required documents and since I scanned the finger prints five years ago I don’t need to do it again.

I’m traveling and going through Germany so I submitted to get the Visa from the German Embassy with my original bookings at the time. I went to Al Qabas Visa processing in Sanabil Tower or Al Babtain Tower as it used to be remembered. Went through the process, it was smooth, they asked for my insurance, and the preliminary bookings. It was several weeks before my travel date which worked out fine.

I get notified after a week that my Schengen Visa was refused because I didn’t have a confirmed hotel booking and for 10 days I don’t have a hotel booking in Germany. I mentioned that Germany was not my end destination and they didn’t even pay attention to that. I was confused and pissed, there is even a stamp on my passport stating that my passport was reject by the German Embassy, on a new passport so that pissed me off.

I go back to them this time with the bookings stating that Germany is not my final destination, and the visa for the final destination is attached from when I originally submitted and if there were questions why didn’t anyone ask me, my cell phone number is on the form. The person at the counter didn’t type that up so they thought I was going to stay in Germany for 10 days without a hotel booking. Great, back to square one but this time instead of 5 days it took 3 days, and I got it after the weekend.

The surprising part was the Visa, the validity of it starts at the date of travel not when it is issued, usually the validity starts when the Visa is issued. And I only got 4 months when my previous one was three years, something is odd, but I will take it for now since I’m traveling soon. Still it was very odd that they are doing this and its not like I have had multiple Schengens before. so its surprising that they gave me such a short Visa validity. It seems they are getting more Anal or they want people to pay more for the Visas, I’m not sure what changed but its very annoying.

Visa to Canada

Canada

A little over a month ago I went to Canada and before that I had to apply for a Visa and to my surprise it takes a little while to get the Visa because you have to send it out of town. And they are very particular about all the details to make sure your Visa goes smoothly, and if there are any mistakes your back to square one and the timer resets back to zero.

Details:

  • New Passport Pictures (They will check if its like your passport pics and if its more then 6 months old they will ask you to take new ones and send them, so take new ones when you want to apply)
  • Give 3 weeks or 21 working days for you to get the Visa
  • You pay a bank fee to process the Visa and send that form as well
  • They ask for your 3 month Bank Statement
  • The Visa processing center is in Abu Dhabi not in Kuwait

On another note they were very nice upon arrival, pretty much everyone in Canada was very nice during our visit and helpful. I got a lot of pictures I will be posting up at a later time, and when we were there it was during some Hockey games and they are intense about their Hockey.

Schengen Issues

A lot of people travel to Europe for vacation or business, there is a lot to see and do, so I was surprised to here this happened to a colleague of mine. He is Kuwaiti and applied for a Schengen Visa, he wanted to travel to Germany for a medical check up and a short vacation. He had a schengen visa and his reservations ready to go. As soon as he landed in Frankfurt they pulled him aside at the passport counter, they told him his Schengen Visa is a forgery and he can not enter Germany, they will bring him a translator.

A Sudanese translator came, and he explained to him clearly that he understood and that is clearly wrong. They asked if he applied for his Visa himself at the German Embassy, he said no, the travel agency applied for him and they got the Schengen Visa from Spanish Embassy. They kept claiming it was a forgery, so he contacted the Kuwaiti Embassy, and they tried from their end but the counselor said that no matter what they did they were still claiming its a forgery and refused him entry. So he had no choice but to fly back to Kuwait, luckily the Lufthansa flight lands at 5 am and leaves at 4 pm to Kuwait, so he was arguing for hours but with no luck.

When he got back to Kuwait, he contacted the Ministry of Exterior to file a complaint and contacted the counselor as well. After jumping through a few hoops, he got the explanation that it isn’t a forgery but they have seemed to apply a new law in Europe that if someone travels to a Schengen country that he must get a Schengen which originates from that country to travel to it first then to other European countries, so in his case he should have went to Spain then to Germany. I don’t know if this is completely true because I just went to Italy on a Schengen from the German Embassy, so it doesn’t make sense. Also to get a Schengen from the Spanish Embassy takes one day, and to take it from the French or German Embassy takes about 2 to 3 weeks, the Italian Embassy takes about a week to ten days, so you can understand why large quantities of people apply for it through the Spanish Embassy. Also another explanation that was presented was that the other Embassies were complaining about the Spanish Embassy so they complained that they were taking a lot of income away. So it seems this is the action the German Immigration took, so how do you prove that it isn’t fake.

American Express Centurion vs. Visa Black Card

American Express came up with an excellent concept for a credit card for those heavy spenders and Visa wanted to copy it, but I think they failed miserably. American Express USA has the best service of any credit card company I have seen, I have usual credit card and they have been great so I don’t even have a clue about what they would do for the Centurion customers but here is a small and funny comparison.

Spending:
AMEX Centurion: In order to keep the card you have to spend at least $250,000 a year. Basically buying a car a year, and you have to pay it within the agreed period

Visa Black Card: Credit history sets your limit, so if your not a Billionare it will probably be $5000.

Exclusivity:
AMEX Centurion: You must be a current American Express card holder with great credit history. And going over the limit is never an issue in your spending.

Visa Black Card: Barclays bank mentioned only 1% of the population will be able to get this card. I doubt it.

Concierge Service:
AMEX Centurion: You command and they serve, I don’t think I have ever heard AMEX refuse a customer request. If you go shopping they arrange for a personal shopper at high end boutique. I wonder what would happen if you asked for a bunch of penguins to be delivered to your house. “No” is not a word they would utter.

Visa Black Card: It seems they have gotten on board with a 24 concierge service to do everything you want. Vacation bookings, Game Tickets, Shows, Information on the “In” places in different cities, restaurant reservations and more.

Extras:
AMEX Centurion: Your a member of Sony’s Cierge service, meaning you get access to all of Sony’s products before they his the market. You can get car extentions for you kids or family and in any color you want.

Visa Black Card: The card is made out of Carbon so it doesn’t wear. Also members get 1% back on purchases that can by used for travel or airline cost.

Cool Points:
AMEX Centurion: The Centurion by far carries the biggest amount of cool points, every body from Puff Daddy to Donald Trump have this card.

Visa Black Card: Nobody really knows about it yet, but I doubt they can reach the same level as AMEX anytime soon.

Link: Complex