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Schengen Visa

Schengen Visa Information

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:

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 Switzerland

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.

  • A short stay Schengen visa permits travellers to enter into Schengen Area for up to 90 days for six month period from the date of arrival into the country.
  • A Schengen tourist visa is usually what travellers prefer for tourism purpose. It allows a Non-European traveller to stay up to 90 days within 6 months from the date of issuance of a visa.
  • A business Schengen visa is issued for business travels associated with professional commitments, conferences and meeting to name a few.
  • A visa can be a single entry visa or multiple entry visa depending on traveller’s nature of the visit. With a multiple entry visa, a traveller can enter in and out of the Schengen Area numerous times on the same visa till the validity of visa expires.
  • Airport Transit Visa is required for those traveling from one non-Schengen country to another through a Schengen country airport.
  • Transit Visa that is required when individuals are travelling through many Schengen countries to a non-Schengen country by car, coach, or plane, as long as the travel lasts not more than 5 days.

Schengen Visa Requirements

The basic requirements for Schengen visa application are similar to any visa requirements as stated below:

  • A valid passport with six months validity from the date of departure with at least two blank pages. The passport should be machine readable; handwritten passports will be rejected.
  • A Schengen visa application form duly filled and signed without any errors and omissions. Any information filled incorrectly can cause refusal of a visa.
  • Two recent colour photographs not older than 6 months taken in white background. The quality should be good and there should not be any damage or markings on the photograph.
  • A travel and medical insurance that covers any emergency arising during the entire period of the stay during the trip to Schengen countries. The minimum amount of the insurance indemnity is 30,000 Euros and it must be valid in the whole of Schengen area or worldwide. The travel medical insurance must be attained from an insurance company approved by the Schengen countries.
  • A letter from the applicant stating the duration and purpose of travel along with details of travel, countries included in the trip and personal contact details.
  • Proof of financial stability such as current bank statements, travellers cheque to ensure that the applicant can bear the expenses and the daily cost of living required during the entire duration of stay in the Schengen countries.
  • In the case a sponsor (relative/friend) residing in a Schengen country will be bearing the applicant’s expenses during the stay, a formal invitation by the sponsor and a letter stating that expenses will be covered by them should be submitted.
  • A valid and confirmed return flight tickets, hotel confirmations and travel itinerary to convince that the applicant will exit the Schengen Area at the end of the stay.
  • In the case of business travel, a reference letter from the employer or company stating the purpose, nature, duration of travel and also stating that applicant’s travel expenses during the stay in the Schengen Zone will be covered by the company.
  • Other additional documents required by the embassy/consulate as per the nature of travel.
  • Visa Fees of EUR 60 per person, EUR 35 for children under 12 to 6 years. Schengen Visa application is free of cost for children under 6 years of age.
  • Applicant may need to appear personally before the embassy/consulate for biometric information and the appointment for the same should be taken prior.
  • A visa application can be delayed or rejected by the embassy if the application made has the following shortcomings:
    • Incomplete application forms
    • Error, deceptive or omission of information
    • Missing or ambiguity of valid supporting documents
    • Non-booking of airline tickets
  • The visa fees or any additional expenses incurred by the applicant due to above mentioned shortcomings has to be borne by the applicant and will not be refunded. Unless specified as a requisite by a consulate/embassy, it is advised to book confirmed airline tickets and hotel accommodation upon the approval of visa.
  • During processing of visa application, ensure that passport and all other relevant documents are sent within the specified timescale for smooth visa processing. Before departing for your travel, diligently go through all the documents required by the issuing authority to gain smooth entry to the destination and ensure all documents are in order and in your possession.
  • Any amendment in vital documents or changes in travel plan should be done prior to visa formalities. Any changes or amendments after the visa is approved may result in invalidation of the visa.
Processing Time

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.

  • Who can apply for a Schengen visa?
  • 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.

  • Presently which countries cannot be visited with a Schengen 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.

  • What is the difference between a single entry and a multiple entry Schengen visa?
  • 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.

  • Can one travel to more than one Schengen country on the same Schengen visa?
  • 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.

  • How should one decide which Schengen country visa should be acquired if travelling to more than one Schengen country?
  • 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.

  • Does a valid Schengen Visa guarantee entry into Schengen Area?
  • 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.

  • What documents should be carried while travelling on Schengen visa?
  • 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.

  • In case Schengen visa application is denied, will the applicant get the money back?
  • No. The visa fee is a non-refundable administration fee.

  • In the case of a visa application for minor, what are the documents required to be submitted?
  • In the case of a visa application for minors, the following additional documents will be required:

    • Birth certificate
    • Application form duly signed by both the parents
    • In a situation where one parent has the child’s custody, a family court order has to be attached
    • If the minor is travelling alone, a notarized parental authorisation has to be signed either by the parents or the legal guardians

  • Can an individual apply for a Schengen visa in a country where he or she is not a resident?
  • 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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