Friday, September 1, 2017

How to apply for Schengen Tourist Visa from India and prevent visa rejection!

“Investment in travel is an investment in yourself.”  - Matthew Karsten

Are you planning to visit  Schengen countries in Europe? Do you fear that your tourist visa may be rejected? This post will help you reduce chances of visa rejection and save application fee.

Step 0 : Check the validity of Passport

You should have a valid passport for greater than 6 months at the time of application or greater than 3 months after the scheduled return.

Step 1 : When to apply for visa? 

You can apply for a visa prior to 90 days from the date of travel.

Step 2 : From which country within Schengen area should you apply for visa?

Important step in visa application is to identify from which country within Schengen area should you apply for visa? For this you need to have a tentative itinerary ready. Below is the criteria to be used:

  • An applicant has to apply from the country where s/he will be residing for more number of days.
  • If there is equal duration of stay to multiple countries then the Schengen rule states that applicant has to apply from the first port of entry.

Step 3 : Book Flights from home country to Schengen country

You would need to provide 'Proof of means of Transport' and for this you need to book flights prior to applying for visa. It's a good idea to book refundable tickets to mitigate risk of visa rejection.

Step 4 : Book Hotels or  arrange for Host Invitation Letter

In case you are going to stay in Hotels/BnBs, you should book them before applying for visa. You should book refundable hotels to mitigate risk of visa rejection.

In case you are visiting friends/family, you need Host Invitation Letter from their end stating that they would take care of your stay during the visit.

Example of Host Invitation Letter:

Step 5 : Get the visa photo done

You need 2 recent photographs with white background not older than 6 months. Most of the good photo studios keep the visa photo specifications handy and would help you with the right photo.

While you should always check Photo specs of the specific Schengen country, in general, the photograph must measure 35 mm in width by 45 mm in length. The length of face must be 32 to 36 mm from bottom of chin to the top of the skull (Besides hair), that is, the face coverage has to be 70-80 % of the photo.

Step 6 : Find out the VFS/Embassy website, figure out which visa to apply for and fill the visa application form

Once you have figured out the Schengen country from which you would apply for the visa, find out the VFS/Embassy website, figure out which visa is applicable for your visit, fill the visa application form and book the appointment nearest to your location.

Step 7 : Prepare a covering letter

You need to provide a covering letter which outlines the purpose of visit and tentative itinerary.

Example of a covering letter:

Step 8 : Prepare 'Proof of financial means' (Very Important)

You have to provide proof of financial means as under :
  • Copy of last 3 years' personal Income Tax Returns/Form 16 
  • Copy of last 3 months' personal bank statement 
  • If you are Employed
    • Copy of last 3 months' Salary slips
    • Letter from employer with details of employment and leave sanction on the company letterhead
  • If you are Self-Employed
    • Copy of Company Registration Proof (i.e. Incorporation Certificate/Sales Tax Document) OR Partnership Deed OR Gumasta License OR Shop Establishment License
    • For Doctors, Lawyers, Architects: Copy of the Degree Certificates
    • For Farmers: Copy of Land Paper. 
    • Note: All Documents should be in English. If not then the document has to be translated to English or French on a Stamp paper and Notarized 
  • If you are Sponsored 
    • Sponsorship letter
    • Copy of Sponsors' Government Photo ID
    • Financial Documents of the Sponsor
      • Last 3  months' personal bank statements
      • Last 3 months' Salary slips
      • Last 3 years' IT Returns
  • If you are Retired
    • Copy of last 3 months' personal bank statement
    • Any other financial documents 

Smart Travel Tip : Ensure you have sufficient funds in your bank account else your visa might be rejected. As a general rule, try to pre-book everything in advance and then apply for visa.
Else, show sufficient funds (atleast No of days * INR 20,000) in your bank account.

Step 9: Travel Insurance

You need to provide a copy of overseas medical insurance policy + repatriation, evacuation cover (equivalent to 30,000 euros).The policy has to clearly specify the period of validity and has to cover the entire duration of the trip including the date of arrival and date of departure.

Step 10 : Minor Travelers

In case you are applying for visa for minors and the minor is not travelling with both parents, you need to submit the below documents.

  • Minors, if traveling with None of the parents: 
    • Original notarized NOC are required from both parents in the form of an affidavit on a stamp paper and a copy of their government photo ID.
  • Minors, if traveling with one parent:
    • Original notarized NOC is required from the other parent in the form of an affidavit on a stamp paper and a copy of their government photo ID 

Step 11 : Miscellaneous documents

Apart from the above documents, you will need to submit the below docs if applicable:
  • Copy of refusal letter in case of any previous refusals from any country.
  • Copy of marriage certificate wherever necessary for e.g. If wife's passport is in maiden name.
  • Students must submit a school certificate / identity card.
  • Applicants going for honeymoon purpose need to submit a copy of their wedding card.
  • Spouse of an EU Citizen has to submit a photo copy of the marriage certificate and a photo copy of the spouse’s passport. 

Step 12 : Download/ Prepare the checklist and arrange the documents as under :

Checklist to arrange documents:
  1. Original Passports (Current + Previous)
  2. Photocopy of First Page and Last Page of the Current Passport
  3. Two Photographs
  4. Completed and Signed Visa Application Form
  5. Covering Letter
  6. Proof of Transport (Flight Tickets)
  7. Proof of Accommodation
  8. Proof of Financial Means
  9. Minor Travellers related docs
  10. Travel Insurance
  11. Miscellaneous Docs

Step 13 : Carry original documents at the time of visa appointment/interview.

Do carry original documents at the time of visa appointment for verification. On a case to case basis, you may be called for a personal interview by the Embassy. Please carry original documents there as well.

If you follow the above guidelines, you will have minimal chance of visa rejection.

Happy Travelling!