Appointments at the embassy can be set by phone in the past. However, the entire process of setting an appointment changed on 01 August 2015. All appointments henceforth can only be set through the online appointment system. To secure an appointment is free of charge and simply requires an internet connection.
The online appointment system covers all types of visa appointments: Schengen visa, seafarer’s visa, national visa for family reunion and marriage, visa for qualified nurses, and visa for other purposes such as employment (other than nurses), studies, au-pair, language courses and others.
From my experience, it can be quite tricky to get a marriage visa appointment as there was usually no time available to book. I even had Greg participate in the process where we took shifts in trying to secure a slot.
Just when I thought that it would be an improbable endeavor, we booked an appointment late March for an end of May visa appointment.
We had a rough time getting through the online booking system and had tried calling the embassy phone lines for clarification on why this was so. When I finally got hold of an embassy officer, I was informed that the demand for a slot is higher than what is available. Hence, I was advised to just keep on trying until we can secure one.
How the system works is unidentified. We can only guess that the system may run a certain task at a certain time and resets freed appointments or may refresh at real-time.
With a grossly overbooked system, we decided to try booking at separate times: when I am awake, and when he is. It was a long shot but we were determined to try.
Maybe by luck or persistence or both, we finally got an appointment for a close to three months later at the German Embassy at around the German midnight. The freed up appointments quickly disappeared with each time that I refresh my browser early morning the next day (PH time).
Helpful Links: Online Visa Appointment for German Visa in Manila
Having said that, I believe that there is no hack; only diligence and taking advantage of different time-zones to divide the workload.
For those currently going through this, these tips might help you:
1. Organize an appointment-watch shifting.
If you have a friend in Germany (or a country in a similar time zone), it might help if you strategize the timings of checking and make sure it doesn’t overlap. Hourly checks at 12-hour waking intervals should find you a slot.
2. Be prepared to wait.
A lot. Remember that you are queuing along with a few hundred (maybe a thousand) other applicants and that the system only has a few slots at a time. Taking that into account makes for a grossly overbooked system that will only have limited availability due to high demand.
Booking for an appointment is just the tip of the iceberg. What is to come is also mostly waiting. Consider this a warm-up for your endurance.
3. If at first you fail, keep trying. And try smarter.
Test out time intervals in booking appointments. Shift your strategy if after a few days it doesn’t work. Complain about it all you want but keep trying. Booking a visa appointment with the new system offers no guarantees. Cajole yourself that it is after all a free service.
Now that you’re all set, let the booking games begin!
Image from Pixabay