A Kenyan student was recently visiting Germany from Kenya, and he wrote this piece for us. Enjoy….
Getting a visa to Germany is getting harder by the day, and having obtained it does not necessarily guarantee one a smooth sail into Europe. The borders are tight, and your very first destination into Europe (could be Paris, Amsterdam or any other city in Europe) might just be your worst nightmare. Common protocol indicates that once an individual obtains a visa, all that is required during the journey is the flight ticket and a passport containing the visa with the appropriate travel dates. Yeah right. Remember the Obligation letter? How much is on your credit card? Do you have a copy of your hotel reservation?
Once you are at your first destination in Europe (in the case of connecting flights), the immigration police check your passport in order to verify that your visit/ stay in Europe will be legal. However, depending on your intended means of financing the stay, one might be asked to produce more documents or give evidence of financing the stay, especially if it is your first travel into Europe. Here is the nightmare; in Paris, for instance, the immigration officials prefer not to converse in English, since the slightest misunderstanding (I assume) might land them in trouble. So save your shaky “je m’apelle”, that won’t help much as you try to explain your situation. What to do now?
If the stay is financed by a resident of Europe, one has to produce the Obligation Letter (Auf Deutsch: Verpflichtungserklarüng; In French: Déclaration de prise en charge) at the embassy prior to obtaining a Visa. However, make sure to have it within reach, alongside your passport and ticket, as you travel into Europe. Confusingly, the immigration officials refer to the document as an invitation letter. All they mean, however, is the Obligation letter. Failure to produce it might land you into police custody, subsequently taken to court and probably (or not) getting deported back to Kenya. Keep in mind that that the immigration officials might not be English speakers (in the case of Paris), and until they bring in a translator, your supposed connection flight would have left ages ago.
To be on the safe side, make sure that official documents are packed in your hand luggage and not in the main suitcase that gets stored in the airplane’s trunk. Any legal implications in the course of your travel might occur, and that is when you wish you had read this article in advance.