Saturday, 7 July 2018

INDIA: Acquiring A Schengen Visa With An Indian Passport

A lot of Bollywood movies have created a soft spot for countries like Switzerland and France in the hearts of Indians everywhere.

It’s no wonder that you’re interested in traveling to the Schengen nations. Europe, the land of wonders, is one of the most visited continents in the world.

If you wish to visit Europe, you need to hold a Schengen visa. Learn more about how to apply for a Schengen Visa from India, Schengen Visa Application Requirements, Fees and Guidelines for Indian Passport Holders and Indian Citizens.

Of all the Schengen countries, Switzerland is the most visited by Indians, followed by France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Today, India is the fourth highest applicant for Schengen visas with 920,699 applicants in 2017. Out of these, 837,109 applicants were granted the Schengen visa, 57% of which were multiple entries visas.

The Schengen visa is a visa that is provided by the Schengen Area member countries to travelers who wish to visit any of the member states. An Indian national who holds the Schengen visa can visit any of the Schengen countries freely, without having to take additional visas.

If you wish to apply for a Schengen visa in India, you can visit one of the VFS centers in the national capital Delhi or state capitals like Bengaluru.

Before you apply for the Schengen visa from India, you must check which type of visa you need to apply for.

There are three primary visas you can apply for:

Uniform Schengen Visas – They allow the holder to visit any Schengen state for up to 90 days within 6 months of issue. The visa can be a single entry, double entry or multiple entries.

Limited Territorial Validity Visas – They allow the holder to visit particular countries only and bar the holders from entering any other Schengen country during the visit.

National Visas – They are provided to students and working professionals who have to reside in the Schengen country for study or work. This can be either single or multiple entry visas.

The first thing applicants must do to start the visa application process is to schedule an appointment with the embassy.

The appointment for the embassy can be taken online on the VFS websites or by visiting the VFS centres in person.

The visa fees will be waived for:

- Holders of diplomatic passports

- Participants of international education, sporting and research competitions who are under the age of 25

- Children below the age of 6

Indian applicants are allowed to apply for their visas at one of two embassies:

- The embassy of the country which is the point of entry, that is, the first Schengen country you will be entering and starting your tour in

- The embassy of the country where you will spend the maximum duration of your trip in

The Schengen visa process takes up to 2 weeks to complete and the embassy may take a further 10 days to contact you.

It is advisable that you apply for the visa at least 1 month before your planned trip.

Schengen Consulates In India

- Austria

- Finland

- Latvia

- Romania

- Belgium

- France

- Lithuania

- Slovakia

- Bulgaria

- Germany

- Luxembourg

- Slovenia

- Cyprus

- Greece

- Malta

- Spain

- Czech Republic

- Hungary

- Netherlands

- Sweden

- Denmark

- Ireland

- Poland

- Estonia

- Italy

- Portugal

Fill in the application form and submit the required documents

Once you’ve scheduled the appointment, you need to visit the embassy’s website or office to collect the application form.

Submit the following documents during the application process:

- Two passport size photographs of 32-36 mm height in a plain background. 70-80% of the photograph must show the full frontal image of the applicant’s head. Photos must not contain red-eyes, reflections, and shadows.

- Passport with at least 2 blank pages and copies of old visas

- Travel insurance of a minimum coverage value of €30,000

- Cover letter/sponsorship letter stating the reason for visit, the intention of stay and duration of travel

- Comprehensive flight itinerary with details about dates of travel, copies of tickets for accommodation, travel and tourist spots

- Marriage certificate, birth certificate and national identity documents like Voters ID as proof of civil status

- If employed at an organization- the employment contract, the income statement for the past 6 months, leave request and travel consent form from the employer, a copy of previous IT returns

- If self-employed- a copy of the business license and registration certificate, P&L statement for the past 6 months, a copy of IT returns and other proof of financial sufficiency

- If a student no objection certificate from school/college, proof of enrolment

- If retired, a copy of pension documents for the past 6 months

- All documents must be personally handed over to the concerned person at the embassy.

Once the embassy verifies the authenticity and validity of your documents, a face-to-face interview will be scheduled.

During the interview, the embassy official will ask you questions regarding your reason for visit, the duration of visit, places on the itinerary and so on.

He/she will also check the financing you have for the travel and will check all of your documents to see if the answers tally with the information you’ve provided during the interview.

This interview is crucial to your visa application acceptance.

You need to convince the embassy official that you intend to abide by all the laws of the host country, that you intend to return to your life in India and that you have made arrangements for everything you need at the countries you plan to visit.

Once the visa interview is over, the embassy official will take your biometrics. This biometrics will be tagged to your documentation and they act as records of identification during your travel.

About 10-15 days after the visa application process, the embassy will send your visa by post if your application has been accepted.

However, if the visa application has been rejected, the letter will contain information about the reason for rejection.

Reasons why your Schengen Visa application may be rejected

- Insufficient or wrong information on the application form

- Providing incorrect personal or professional information or withholding information in the application form may result in your visa application being rejected.

- History of criminal activity

- If you have had any criminal activity recorded against your name in public records, you may be disqualified from applying for the Schengen visa. This criminal activity can represent anything from non-payment of parking fines to large-scale financial fraud.

- False or incorrect travel documentation

- If you do not furnish the flight tickets or travel insurance to the visa office in time, it may result in rejection of the visa application.

- Lack of sponsorship letter

- A sponsorship letter is essential for anyone whose travel to a Schengen country is being sponsored by a resident or citizen of that Schengen country. The absence of the sponsorship letter may disqualify you in the eyes of the embassy.

- Non-availability of travel itinerary

- Not furnishing the detailed travel itinerary for the entire trip or providing only a half-planned itinerary can result in your application being disqualified.

- Short validity period or expiry of passport

- As per the Consular, Passport & Visa Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, a passport that is due to expire within 3 years must be renewed or the passport holder may be subject to the risk of visa application rejection.

- Lack of travel financing

All passport holders must furnish proof of steady income to the embassy when applying for the Schengen application. Failure to do so may result in your visa application being denied.

Additionally, any income that the embassy feels may not support the expenses of the Schengen country may be subject to visa application rejection.

- Forged or wrong professional and personal documentation

- Non-submission of education certificates, marriage certificates, employment certificates and proof of national identity or submission of forged documents may make the applicant vulnerable to visa application rejection.

- Inappropriate travel insurance or lack of coverage

Schengen visa applicants are required to get travel insurance of a minimum of $50,000 or €30,000 per head for their visit.

Travel insurance of lesser value or one which does not satisfy the terms and conditions of the Schengen countries the applicant is visiting may be subject to visa denial.

- No evidence of accommodation and activities

Whether it’s an Airbnb home or a hotel or a sponsored accommodation, applicants need to specify where they intend to stay during their visit and the dates of arrival and exit.

Additionally, a copy of the tickets to tourist spots must also be attached. If a sponsor is taking care of accommodation and entertainment, he/she must send across the relevant documentation and details to the embassy.

- Damage to passport

If the passport has a missing page or a tear on one of the pages or contains a mark that is not allowed to be on the passport by the Indian visa consular and the embassy, the visa application is denied on the grounds of tampering with the passport.

Tampering with the passport is a punishable offense and many countries blacklist visitors whose passports have been tampered with in any way.

Willful or involuntary non-compliance with the visa procedure requirements

Any applicant who has either by mistake or incomplete consciousness of his/her actions, disobeyed with any of the requirements of the visa application procedure will be denied the Schengen visa.

How to ensure your application for Schengen visa is accepted?

- Make sure you provide complete information about yourself, your education, your place of employment

- Make your intention to visit the Schengen country clear in the application

- Provide all the necessary documents either in original or copy, as requested

- Do not forge signatures or provide wrongful information

- Get the right travel insurance well-in-advance

- Make sure your passport is in good quality and is valid during the time of application

- Provide the sponsorship letter, when necessary

- Follow all the visa application procedures to-the-tee


Tourism Observer
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