How To Apply For Schengen VISA Application ( Full Details)
What is Schengen?
Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries. It’s the largest free travel area in the world.
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any member country of the Schengen zone to stay up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.
However, if you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you must apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen Visa.
Who Needs a Visa to Enter Europe?
All nationals of third countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Philippines, etc, which have yet not reached a visa-liberalization agreement with the Schengen member states, need to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Europe.
Schengen Visa Types for Short-Term visits
You need to apply for a Schengen Visa if you intend to visit one or more European countries of this area for the following reasons:
Visiting friends and family.
Tourism and holidays.
Cultural and sports events.
Airport transit and transit for seafarers.
Short-term study and research purposes.
Depending on your reasons for visiting the Schengen countries and the frequency of your visits, the Schengen consulate can issue you a single-entry visa, double-entry visa, or a multiple-entry visa.
The validity of your single-entry visa depends on the number of days you stated on your visa application form and the actual decision of the consulate that issues you the Schengen visa.
If you are a frequent traveler you may apply to obtain an EU visa valid for up to 5 years, but you have to keep in mind that you cannot stay beyond 90 days in a 180-day period of time in the Schengen zone even when you hold a multiple-entry visa for Europe valid for up to 5 years.
HOW TO APPLY FOR SCHENGEN VISA
1. Figure out which Schengen visa type you need: This depends on your purpose of travel to the Schengen Area, Schengen visa types are listed above.
2. Find out where you need to apply: This is dependent on how your intended country of visit in Schengen has regulated visa submission in your country of residence, you will have to file your Schengen visa application at one of the following:
One of their consulates within your country of residence.
A visa center to which the embassy of your intended country of the visit has outsourced visa submission.
The embassy/consulate of another EU member country to which the embassy of your intended country of visit has outsourced visa submission.
3. Find the most suitable time to apply: Due to the time that the Schengen embassies/consulates worldwide need to process a Schengen visa, you have an appointed period within which you can file your visa application.
The allowed period to apply for a Schengen visa is as follows:
The earliest you can file a visa application: six months before you start your planned trip.
The latest you can file a visa application: at most 15 working days before you intend to travel.
The recommended time to file a visa application: one month before your trip.
4. Book an appointment: You have to book a Schengen visa appointment in order to proceed with your application.
Most of the countries give the chance to book an appointment online. On the other hand, in others, you will need to book the appointment in person, at the embassy or consulate of your intended country of visit.
5. Fill out the visa application form: Download the application form and fill it correctly and honestly.
The Schengen visa application form has the same format no matter which country’s visa it is that you are applying for.
You will have to give the following information on your Schengen visa application form:
Your personal information,
Information on your background,
Your purpose of wishing to enter the Schengen Area,
Other details regarding your trip.
In order to complete and submit the form correctly, pay attention to the following tips:
Download the latest form of the application since that is the only form accepted.
Make sure you fill out every required gap.
Do not leave any columns blank. If you feel that, there are columns that do not correspond to your case, fill them with NA (No Answer).
Remember to print the form twice. Sign both of the copies at the end.
If you are a minor, your parents have to submit a written consent and sign in the corresponding column of the application form.
6. Gather the required documents: The required documents are a crucial part of your visa application. Usually, these documents are categorized into two groups.
The first group is of the standard required documents, which include:
The visa application form.
Two identical photos.
Travel insurance policy. You can easily purchase it online from Europ Assistance.
Round trip reservation or flight itinerary with dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from the Schengen area.
Proof of accommodation.
Proof of financial means, etc.
The other group is of the visa specific requirements. These documents and their specifications differ from one visa type to the other. In addition, some of the Schengen member states have their own extra requirements for visa applicants.
7. Attend the visa interview: On the day of your appointment, show up on time at the facility where you will be interviewed. There you will meet a visa consular to whom you need to hand the collected documents as required.
During the interview, you will be asked personal questions about your whereabouts, the intended trip, and other travel details. Make sure your answers are firm and correct, and that they comply with the information in the application form and the other documents. The interview may last around 10-15 minutes.
8. Pay the visa fee: You will need to pay a non-refundable administration fee when applying for a Schengen visa, for your visa application to be processed.
The member countries have synchronized the visa fees; therefore, they are static and unchangeable until decided otherwise by the Schengen states.
Currently, a Schengen visa fee is €80 per person. Children and some other specific categories will have to pay either reduced fees or no fees at all, depending on their situation.
9. Wait for an answer on your application: Wait until you get a response on your visa application. Although in most cases it takes no more than 15 days for processing a visa, there are times when this process takes much longer. That period can be extended from 15 up to 45 days in some countries concerning some citizens.
REQUIREMENTS FOR SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATIONS
Visa application form: Fully completed and signed.
Two recently taken photos must be attached: Both photos must be taken within the last three months, according to the photograph guidelines.
A valid passport: Not older than 10 years and with the validity of at least three months beyond the date you plan to leave the Schengen area. Older passports with visas on them preferably.
Round trip reservation or itinerary: It must include dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from the Schengen area.
Travel insurance policy: A document that proves you have travel health insurance for the whole Schengen territory, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 euros in case of any medical emergency as illnesses, accidents and even repatriation in case of death.
Proof of accommodation: A document that shows where you intend to stay during your visit to the Schengen area. This can be one of the following:
A hotel/hostel booking.
A rental agreement.
A letter of invitation from a host at whose house you will be staying.
. Proof of financial means: Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself financially throughout your stay in the Schengen. This can be one of the following:
Bank account statement – that shows you have enough money in your account for the trip. The statement shall be no older than 3 months.
Sponsorship Letter – by another person that confirms they will be financially supporting your trip to the Schengen. In order for this letter to be valid, it must be accompanied by a bank statement of the sponsor, no older than three months.
A combination of your bank account statement and a letter of sponsorship.
Proof of paid visa fee: €80 for adults and €45 for children from 6 to 12 years old.
According to the Applicant’s Employment Status
Specific required documents, based on the visa applicant’s employment status are as following:
Current bank statement of the last six (6) months.
Leave permission from the employer.
Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary.
For the self-employed:
A copy of your business license.
Company bank statement of the last six (6) months.
Income Tax Return (ITR).
Proof of enrolment.
No objection letter from School or University.
Pension statement of the last six (6) months.
If unemployed and married to an EU citizen:
Confirmation of Employment letter, no older than three months, from their spouse’s employer stating the position held within the company as well as the starting date.
Spouse’s valid passport.
An official marriage certificate.
Schengen Visa Fees
When applying for a Schengen visa there is a non-refundable mandatory visa fee every applicant must pay.
The Schengen visa costs are dependent on the type of visa and age of the applicant as well as some other exceptions as stated below. The Schengen visa fee can be paid in the designated consulate/embassy via cash, debit or credit card. However, some consulates may not allow you to pay by credit cards.
Schengen Visa Category
Fee in EUR
Fee in USD*
Child between 6-12 years of age
Child younger than 6 years of age
Holders of diplomatic, official or service passports traveling for official purposes
A family member of an EU/EEA national
Pupils, students and accompanying teachers during a school trip
Researchers traveling to perform scientific research
* The applicable visa fee in USD (US Dollar) is as per the current exchange rate. It is subject to change without notice.
Again, in case the visa is denied there is no refund of the visa fee paid.
Some of the questions you might be asked during the Interview
Which countries in the Schengen, are you planning to visit?
Do you have any family members or friends living in Europe?
What is the purpose of your visit?
Who will pay for your visit?
Are you married? If yes, what does your spouse do? For how long have you been married?
Do you have any children? If yes, how old are they, what do they do?
How long are you going to stay in Europe?
Where are you going to stay?
What is your educational qualification?
Which company do you work for?
If your Schengen visa is approved
If you get your visa, make sure to understand carefully the labels attached to the visa sticker, including the period you are permitted to remain in Europe, otherwise, overstaying in the Schengen Area might have consequences.
Have a nice trip to Europe!
If your Schengen visa gets rejected
If your visa application gets denied, read the reason why you were denied a visa and try to fulfil it the next time you apply or if you think that your application was correct, and the decision on its refusal was a mistake, you can always appeal the visa rejection.
Need to stay more than 90 days in Europe?
If you need to remain longer in Europe, you have to apply for a National Visa at the embassy of the country you are visiting. A National Visa permits you to remain in Europe for a maximum of 12 months.
I hope you find this helpful as you plan your European trips and visa applications especially to the Schengen States which over time have caused most prospective travelers nightmares.