I am married to a Serbian and I now live with him and our daughter in Serbia. But before this, I had to go through hoops and loops before getting a visa to Serbia. I was denied a tourist visa three times before we decided that he come to the Philippines, live with me, marry me, and then try our luck again.
Back in 2015, I already had my life planned. I wanted to leave my teaching job in the Philippines and try my luck in the UAE. So, I applied to work in several schools, found luck and was hired by a school in Ajman. I already got my work visa, when I met the love of my life. We decided to meet in the Philippines three months before I’m scheduled to fly to Dubai. It was two lovely weeks of bliss… which resulted in a baby. haha!
I didn’t want to lose my newfound job before I even start to work, but I didn’t want to lose my baby. I’ve always prayed that I’d be given one before I’m thirty anyway. Actually, I prayed for both. And both were given to me. I know how strict it is in the UAE, so I didn’t want to go there as an unmarried pregnant woman. It was like the Higher Power is making me choose. But I didn’t want to let go of either.
I know how hard it is for a citizen of a third world country, like the Philippines, to acquire a visa to anywhere. People have a tendency to assume that we’re just trying to run off to some first world country to escape our plight in the Philippines. But I was confident. Why?
I was employed when I decided to apply. I had savings enough to last me a year. And I have a job waiting for me in another country (with a contract and visa to prove it). Also, I knew that there are not a lot of jobs in Serbia (even for its own people). So, it’s not like I’m going to do some hiding there. The plan was to go there, marry my boyfriend (so I don’t get jailed in UAE for being an unmarried mom), then fly to Dubai.
I had everything, including the invitation letter from my then-boyfriend. Instead of a booked ticket back to the Philippines, I showed a ticket reservation going to the UAE, including my work visa. I acquired a bank certificate as proof of funds. We paid the visa fee (61EUR+2EUR for sticker+30EUR for returning of documents).
We didn’t mention anything about getting married. It was just purely for tourism purposes.
I emailed my application to the Serbian Embassy in Jakarta (we don’t have a Serbian Embassy in the Philippines) and waited for the result. After 15 days, they emailed and told me that my application was rejected. This was in July. I was supposed to report for work on the first week of September in the UAE. I was already getting nervous.
We could not figure out why I was rejected. I asked how his interview went (When you apply for a Serbian visa, you don’t get interviewed but the person who invited you), and he said it went fine. He tried to go to different offices to inquire if we missed a step, what we could do, etc. But no one would give him an answer to why I was rejected.
Though we were getting frustrated, we tried again. This time, we mentioned that I was pregnant and that we were planning to get married before I travel to the UAE. We passed the same things, including a copy of my doctor’s note (proof of pregnancy), paid again, go through another interview session, and waited… 15 days after, rejected again.
I was getting closer and closer to my report date. It was already in the middle of August, so if we try again, it might be too late. We won’t have time to arrange for a wedding then immediately leave for UAE. So, I had to inform my employers that I couldn’t make it. I actually did inform them as soon as I found out that I was pregnant and they were nice enough to offer to change my contract to provide a higher salary but suggested that I get married because they can’t be above the law (I might be jailed and/whipped for being an unmarried mother)…
I really had to make a choice… and I said goodbye to the UAE employment.
We thought that there could be something about his background (maybe they think his salary can’t support me?) that is a ground for rejection. So, we tried again. This time it was his parents who invited me. They were the ones who went for an interview… and I still got rejected.
I actually had abandoned the plans of going to Serbia and was getting depressed (pregnancy hormones!). I was unemployed and no employment waiting for me. Fortunately, I found a rewarding career online. (One door closes, a better door opens!)
He decided to come to the Philippines, marry me, and live there until I give birth to our baby.
After living in the Philippines for some time, we processed our papers. We got our marriage certificate and baby’s birth certificate, had it authenticated at the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila, and by the Embassy of Serbia in Jakarta, then tried to apply again. I didn’t even have to buy travel insurance, nor present any proof of financial capacity. It was approved instantly! (PLEASE NOTE that we may not have the same experience.)
A few months after moving to Serbia, we invited my mom to visit us and followed the steps outlined on the website: Invitation letter, bank certificates, travel insurance, etc. and she did get approved. I’m still not sure how they decide on who to approve or not. Haha!