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Everything you need to know about the Schengen Visa

Posted on August 7, 2019
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Individuals planning a trip to Europe for a vacation or to visit family and friends usually opt for a Schengen visa. Since Europe is made up of multiple countries, tourists found it cumbersome to apply for visas to every country they wanted to visit.

To solve this problem certain European countries came together and agreed to eliminate all the internal borders within most of Europe and devised the Schengen visa that will allow the holder of this visa to travel to the countries covered under it.

The countries are 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. They signed the agreement in 1985.

The visa got its name because it was signed in the Schengen town of Luxembourg. Holders of this visa can move freely between these countries. However, Bulgaria, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom are not a party to this agreement and one needs separate visas to visit these countries.

Schengen Visa

Categories of Schengen visa:

  1. Short stay visa: This visa allows for single or multiple entries and you can stay in the Schengen territory up to 90 days in the validity period of six months.
  2. Long stay visa: This is issued for a period exceeding 90 days and is issued by the countries. The national legislation rules apply here.
  3. Airport transit visa: This is required for people belonging to certain countries.

If you are planning to visit Europe, then you must get the Schengen visa. What can you do with this visa?

  • If you belong to a non-European country, you can travel to the countries covered under the Schengen visa in a span of 90 days within the six- month validity of the visa.
  • You need not go through the process of applying for a visa for every country covered under the Schengen
  • You can apply for this visa three months before your planned travel
  • You get free transit in the international transit areas of airports in countries covered under the visa

Did you know?

India submitted more than 900,000 applications for Schengen visas in 2017, according to recent statistics. The number is expected to go up to 50 million in 2020.

Important regulation:

You are not free to apply for the Schengen visa for any country, you must apply in the mission or embassy of the country where you are planning to stay for the longest duration. If it is difficult to determine this, especially if you are taking a cruise or a bus tour, you can apply for the visa for the country which is the first point of entry. This is provided you are spending an equal number of days in all the countries.

Getting the visa:

Did you know that the Schengen visa has a trying application and interview process and obtaining a visa can be difficult?

The rejection rate is high for this visa and in recent years many applicants have failed to get the visa.

According to the International Migration and Affairs of the European Commission, the rejection rate for this visa was 8.15% in 2017.

Pro-tip:

To get over this obstacle, a strategic move would be to apply for the visa from that country which has a track record of issuing the maximum number of visas. And since the application process is the same for all countries you need not worry about any additional eligibility requirements. Iceland tops the list of easiest countries to get the visa.

Eligibility requirements for Schengen visa:

  • You must have a valid passport that is not more than ten years old
  • Filled Schengen visa application form
  • Full travel itinerary with details of countries you plan to visit and the accommodation and flight details
  • Evidence to prove you are financially self-sufficient- provide bank statements for a certain number of months that indicate your financial status
  • Proof of employment status to prove you will not be staying on in the country
  • Proof of adequate health insurance

 Biometric requirements:

From November 2015, applicants must submit their biometric data for the Schengen visa. You must provide your fingerprints and digital photographs with the application. As a first-time applicant, you must personally submit these details. Your biometric data and the information in your application form will be stored in the Visa Information System (VIS).

This requirement is designed to improve the application procedure and provide security. This will protect visa applicants against identity thefts and false identification which can lead rejection of visas. It will help to check the applicant’s use of previous visas and his travel history.

Checklist for the interview:

  • A cover letter that gives details of your itinerary and the purpose of your travel.
  • If you are employed, carry an introduction letter from your company stating your position in the company and your duration of employment. The letter should contain a ‘no objection clause from your employer and the dates and purpose of your trip.
  • If employed, you should submit the payslips of at least three months of bank statements for this period. You need to submit Income tax documents for at least the last 2 years.
  • Travel insurance that covers a value of at least 30,000 Euros.
  • Ticket from India to the respective Schengen member states and the return tickets. You will need to have the accommodation details, train tickets or car rentals for travel between the Schengen states.
  • If you are self-employed, you must submit your business registration certificate, partnership deed, or any other proof of ownership. You must submit statements of your business bank account for at least 3 months.
  • You must submit your income tax statement for the last two years.

At the interview:

Apart from questions on the documents you submitted, be prepared to answer some personal questions as well.

Hire an immigration consultant:

The Schengen visa application process can be a complicated process, an immigration consultant can help you with completing your application, the essential documents and preparing for the interview. They can even follow up with the consulate and send you the updates so that your visa application is successful.

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