For anyone planning a trip to Europe will definitely come across the term ‘Schengen visa’ while researching on visa procedures and would be wondering what exactly it is if they are not familiar with it. So what is a Schengen visa? In layman terms, Schengen visa eliminates your need to acquire a visa for each of the European countries you have decided to visit in your European holiday. One European country visa is all you need to enter into other European nations. But there are certain limitations as not all European countries can be visited with Schengen visa. A European country can provide Schengen visa only if it is a part of the Schengen Agreement. At present, 26 European countries are part of the Schengen Agreement; collectively these countries are called the Schengen Area. While travelling to the Schengen countries, the Schengen visa applied must be for the country of your main visit where you will be spending maximum stays during your European journey. In the case of equal stays in Schengen countries, the visa application should be for the country which will be your first port of entry into Schengen area.
Which European countries are eligible for Schengen visa?
Currently, 26 European countries come under the Schengen area after entering the pact of Schengen Agreement by which these countries have agreed to abolish visa and border controls and function as one single country for travel purpose. The Schengen countries are as listed below:
The European micro states of Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City are not members of the Schengen Area but still maintain open borders with the Schengen countries.
Types of Schengen Visas
Citizens of countries included in the Schengen Area do not need separate visas to enter other Schengen countries and can travel freely in and out of these countries. However, other travellers whose nationality is not of Schengen countries have a mandatory requirement of acquiring a valid Schengen visa.
The basic requirements for Schengen visa application are similar to any visa requirements as stated below:
The visa processing time varies from country to country. Usually, it takes about 15 to 20 working days for Schengen visa processing excluding public holidays and weekends. Hence it is advisable to apply for a visa at least one month prior to tour departure. Also any visa application submitted more than 3 months ahead of the intended travel will be rejected.
Any individual is allowed to apply for Schengen visa as long as all the required documentations are in order and has adequate financial means to cover the entire stay expenses in Schengen Zone. It is also necessary to note that the applicant should have a moral ground, avoid providing any misleading information and purpose of the visit should be clearly mentioned as admission into the Schengen country can be rejected on these grounds even after acquiring a valid visa.
United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus are the countries that are not recognized as Schengen countries and hence require a separate visa to enter their borders.
A single entry visa permits an individual to enter the Schengen area only once for certain period of time and expires immediately as soon as the visa holder exits the Schengen area even if the visa time period is still valid. With a multiple entry visa, one can travel in and out of the Schengen area until the visa expires.
Yes, the main purpose of Schengen visa is free travel without border controls and visas. Once a Schengen visa for a country is issued, the visa lets the holder visit as many countries that fall within the Schengen area.
In case the applicant is planning to visit multiple Schengen countries, it is recommended to choose the Schengen country where e or she will be staying for more number of days as the main destination for Schengen visa. In case the duration of stay is equal among all Schengen countries included in the travel, then the first port of entry into the Schengen zone should be considered as the main destination while applying for Schengen visa.
A valid visa does not guarantee an entry into any country as the final authority for deciding whether an individual should be granted entry into the country lies solely with the immigration check officer of that particular country. Hence, in case any doubt or discrepancy is noted by the immigration officer or if the individual poses a threat to public security or is considered as a health hazard, he or she can be denied entry and deported back to home country.
Acquiring of a Schengen visa does not mean that entry into Schengen area is definite. At the immigration check, apart from showing a valid visa, a traveller may have to produce documents requested by the immigration officers that justify and convince them of the purpose of travel, means of survival and that the person is lawfully competent to enter the Schengen zone.
No. The visa fee is a non-refundable administration fee.
In the case of a visa application for minors, the following additional documents will be required:
Yes. For those who are applying from a country where they are not residents, a justification stating the reason why the application is made from that country will be sufficient.
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