Schengen Visa

Updated: Feb 13

I get asked a lot for best tips and processes on applying for Schengen visa. Based on my experience of applying for the schengen visa twice here's how it needs to be done. Everything mentioned in the article will be for tourist visa only.


Basic info


Schengen area is a zone of countries which have abolished their internal borders for movement between them.The area consists of countries which are part of the European Union + some non-members countries (Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein)


Countries currently in Schengen area


Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland


Countries which can be visited with a valid Schengen visa


This is some good news. Right? Yes, there are approx 34 non-schengen countries you can visit with your valid Schengen visa. Have categorized them in zones.


Alert: Please check in detail the visa rules for each country against your country's passport before making any plans


- Europe Zone

Turkey, Albania, Andorra, Bosnia And Herzegovina,Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, San Marino, Macedonia


- Asia Zone

Taiwan, Philippines


- Africa Zone

Sao Tome, Principe


- UK Zone

Gibraltar


- North America Zone

Mexico


- South America Zone

Peru, Argentina, Colombia


- Central America Zone

Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua


- Caribbean Zone

Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Curaçao, Haiti, Jamaica, Sint Maarten


Now having said that you can visit so many countries with having a valid Schengen visa, the question arises do you get long term visa or how's it? Let's understand the visa types


Types of Schengen Visa


Uniform Schengen Visa


Most of the travellers get this visa.This type of visa is categorized in two divisions


A - Airport Transit Visa

C - Short term visa which allows the visitor to be in the Schengen area till the validity of the visa.


This is again categorized into sub categories

- Single entry visa

Enter the Schengen area and exit. You can roam around in all Schengen countries

- Double entry visa

Enter the Schengen area, exit and come back again once. You can roam around in all Schengen countries

- Multiple entry visa

Enter and exit Schengen area any number of times


If you're a frequent traveller to Schengen area, based on your travel history you can also apply for longer duration visa

1/3/5 years multiple entry Schengen visa


Alert: With these longer duration visa also you cannot remain longer than 90 days within a 180 day period within the Schengen Area


Here's a handy online calculator to help you calculate days spend, how many days you can stay for, when can your re-enter etc


http://www.schengen-calculator.com/visits


Understanding basic rules/processes


Passport


Check for the below


- 10 years validity (Not from the date of travel but overall)

- 3 months validity left for passport expiry from the date of departure

- Should not be a hand written passport

- 2 complete blank pages


Don't have a passport yet but you are reading this to make holiday plans. Don't worry, check my blog on applying for a new passport and taking your first international trip https://www.outofofficedaku.com/post/firsttrip


Travel plans


You should have your detailed travel itinerary ready before you set out to apply for a visa. This will be critical step in the whole process. Once you're ready, jot down the below pointers

  • Total number of days in each country

  • Total number of days in all Schengen countries

  • Entry/exit country

  • Visiting any non-schengen country during your stay

Keep it ready and read ahead


In case travelling multiple countries which countries visa to be applied


The thumb rule is you need to apply with the country where your stay is maximum number of days during your entire stay. If the stay is same for the country of entry and some of the other country/countries then need to apply with country of entry.


Figuring out visa type:


Transit visa

Tourist visa (Covered in this blog)

Visiting family & friends

Business visa

Visa for Culture and Sport activities

Visa for Official Visits

Study visa

Visa for Medical Reasons


Location to apply for visa


Based on the country which you need to apply check on internet if the same can be applied at

- Embassy

- Consulate

- Visa process outsourced to some agency. For India its VFS


If need to apply via VFS check link and select which country you need to apply and it redirects you to the respective website https://www.vfsglobal.com/en/individuals/index.html


Tip: Have patience as the website tends to load slowly sometimes


"Paisa kitna lagega" - Visa fees


Adult - 80 €

Child between 6-12 years of age - 40 €

Child younger than 6 years of age - FREE

+

VFS Global Service Charge - 20 € (Approx)

(In INR)

1411 INR per application for Delhi & Mumbai Centers

1660 INR per application for Chandigarh, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune , Hyderabad, Goa, Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram, Puducherry, Jalandhar and Gurgaon Centers


Fee revision from 2nd Feb 2020


When to apply


You can submit your application max 3 months prior to your trip date. You can register on VFS country specific website and see the next slots available.


Tip: When making plans make sure you go and check if the slots are available for the country visa submission at your location to avoid last minute panic attacks. Also keep adequate time from submission to your travel dates in case you need to re-apply etc.


Visa application


Now that you know the basics let's get to business. There are set of mandatory documents which needs to be submitted based on your profile ( Salaried/self employed/Business) and the country you are applying the visa.


For a salaried adult:

  1. Application form fully filled and signed Format is same but download the one for your specific country. It has the country logo sometimes. Click here to see a filled up application form for your reference

  2. Original passport Also the older cancelled ones if you have any. Helps your probability to get a visa if you have stamps from your previous travels

  3. Two sets xerox copies of your current passport

  4. 2 photographs as per specification 45mm X 35mm, white/light background, 80% face, matte finish

  5. Covering letter + day-wise itinerary The most important part of your application. You will be mentioning below details which the visa officer will read and then check your documents which would help him make his decision on giving you the visa - Basic details and background of yourself - Purpose of visiting Schengen area - Details regarding your trip Click here for sample covering letter + day wise itinerary formats

  6. Leave / NOC letter from your employer

  7. Financial status - 3 months bank statement with adequate balance.Need to get it stamped from bank. Online statements are not accepted Balance kitna rakhu? (How much balance should I maintain?) If your stay and internal transportation is prepaid from India then take basic calculation of 70€ per day X the number of days you're in schengen area. This is taken on a higher side. Check with country specific when applying. - Last 3 years Income Tax Returns - 6 months salary slips - Any other financial document such as fixed deposit statement, demat account statement etc - Credit card statement for the past 3 months

  8. Return flight tickets. This can be fully booked tickets or reservations done by the travel agents

  9. Proof of accommodation for your entire stay Tip: Hotel bookings can be done without paying anything from www.booking.com or hostels from www.hostelworld.com Don't forget to book refundable fares only. Just in case of any changes or visa rejection. In case of staying at friends/family place below docs need to be submitted - Invitation letter - Passport copy or resident permit of your friend/relative - Complete name and address

  10. Travel insurance with minimum sum assured for 30000€ / 50000$ Tip: A very important part of your journey irrespective if the country makes it mandatory to submit always buy one whenever you travel. Click here to get list of approved travel insurance companies for schengen visa. (List as of 2017. If your have a updated list please share)

  11. Internal travel bookings (Bus, cruise, flights, rent a car) Pre-paid internal transportation adds up points that your application is genuine

In case of minors below documents will need to be additionally submitted

  1. Birth certificate

  2. Signature of both parents on the application form

  3. Copies of both parents passports


If you're into business or are a freelancer add these documents to increase your chances to get a visa

  1. Proof of legal entity of the company

  2. Company bank statements

  3. Company's ITR

Student

  1. No-objection certificate from school/college


Steps to plan your visa process


  1. Make travel plans with countries planned to visit

  2. Calculate the number of days to identify which country to apply visa

  3. Check on VFS website for the availability of slots

  4. Return flight bookings

  5. Hostel/Hotel bookings

  6. Internal travel bookings


Visa processing with VFS


  1. Visit country specific website of VFS

  2. Register on the website

  3. Get appointment for document submission

  4. Print appointment letter

  5. Visit VFS centre as per schedule

  6. Take token

  7. Submit documents on counter

  8. Get biometrics done

  9. Take receipt of document submission which will have your file no. Same is used to track your application Post submission of passport you have option for the passport to be delivered at your address or pick up from the VFS center. Delivery of passport at your address will be charged extra.


Tip: Carry enough cash to pay for the visa fees. VFS accepts payment in only cash at the centers


Some useful links to help you plan your Europe trip


Visa statistics for consulates

Click here for excel file. (Data for the year 2018)


Website to search for flight tickets

www.skyscanner.com

www.momondo.in


Websites for hostel/hotel booking

www.booking.com

www.hostelworld.com

www.airbnb.com


Update as on 2nd Feb 2020


You can get longer duration visa if the below criteria is fulfilled


“…multiple-entry visas with a long validity shall be issued for the following validity periods, unless the validity of the visa would exceed that of the travel document:


(a) for a validity period of one year, provided that the applicant has obtained and lawfully used three visas within the previous two years;


(b) for a validity period of two years, provided that the applicant has obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for one year within the previous two years;


(c) for a validity period of five years, provided that the applicant has obtained and lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for two years within the previous three years,” the updated Visa Code explains.


Source: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/news/eu-defines-rules-for-getting-5-year-multiple-entry-visa-to-schengen-area/


Hope this article was useful if you're planning to apply for the Schengen visa. Happy Travels :)

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