The Schengen Visa is a European short stay visa that allows its holder to travel throughout the Schengen Area. This type of visa is issued by one of the Schengen States and allows you to visit any of the Schengen countries for a duration of up to 90 days in total within a period of 180 days.
There are 26 countries in the Schengen Area. These countries have agreed to abolish all internal borders and have a common visa policy, although there may be slight differences with respect to procedures and required documentation.
Every citizen of each country that is not part of the Schengen Area and whose country doesn’t have a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU needs a Schengen visa in order to enter any of the member countries. Those who are under the visa-free regime will be eligible for ETIAS starting from January 2022.
What Countries Can I Visit With a Schengen Visa?
With a Schengen visa you can visit all Schengen member countries:
However, there is also a list of non-Schengen countries that allow you to enter with a valid Schengen visa, such as:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
- Sao Tome and Principe
What Are The Types of Schengen Visas?
You can get a Schengen Visa if you are travelling to Europe for the following purpose:
- To transit through the airport of a country in the Schengen zone in order to take the plane to your Schengen destination country.
- Tourism visits and sightseeing.
- Business visits
- Visiting family members and friends
- Travel as part of cultural exchange program, sports or research
- Medical visits
- Short term study courses.
- Official visits
The Airport transit visa is a Category A visa, but all visas that are issued for different purposes fall into the C category.
Depending on the number of entries and the number of countries you can visit, you could be issued a Uniform Schengen visa or a Limited Territorial Validity visa.
Uniform Schengen Visas (USV)
The Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) allows its holder to travel and stay in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days every six month period. There are three types of Uniform Schengen visas:
- Single-entry visa. With a Single entry visa, you can enter a Schengen country only once and stay until the expiration of visa validity. If you leave before the expiration, you are not allowed to enter the country again, since the visa is considered to have expired once you leave the country.
- Double-entry visa. With Double entry visa, you can enter a Schengen country twice within the time of visa validity. If you enter the country twice, and the second time you leave before the expiration, you are not allowed to enter the country again, since the visa is considered to have expired once you leave the country for the second time.
- Multiple-entry visa. The Multiple entry visa allows you to enter and leave the Schengen Zone as many times as you please as long as your visa is valid.
Limited territorial validity visas (LTV)
The Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visa allows its holder to travel only in the Schengen member country that has issued the visa. If i.e. France has issued you the visa, then you are permitted to stay only in France. You are not even allowed to transit from one country to another with the LTV visa. This visa is considered as an exception to a Uniform Visa and is only issued for international obligations or humanitarian reasons in general.
How to Apply for a Schengen Visa?
To have a successful Schengen visa application, you must go through these simple steps:
- Fill the Schengen Visa Application form.
- Make an appointment.
- Complete the documents file.
- Show up at the appointment.
- Provide biometrics.
- Verify the documents.
- Pay the visa fees.
Fill the Schengen Visa Application form
Complete the application form online carefully and correctly, print it twice and sign it at the end. The form contains questions for basic information such as your name, date of birth, country of birth, passport number and nationality. You will also have to answer questions regarding your trip, such as how long are you planning to stay in each country, where you’re staying, etc.
Make an appointment
Appoint an interview through the website of the consulate or embassy of the country you are planning to visit, in your country of residence.
Complete the documents file
Make sure you have all the necessary documents for a Schengen visa as required, all of them in two copies. Organize them so on the appointment day you will not have a mess in your hands. You will need to leave your passport at the consulate of the Schengen country where you apply for a visa. If you withdraw your passport while your application is being processed, your Schengen visa application will be canceled.
Show up at the appointment
Show up at the appointment center on time. Remember that if you are late even for a few minutes, then they will probably cancel your appointment. The submission process takes around 10 minutes to complete.
You will also have to get your fingerprints scanned at the consulate’s office if you have never before applied for a visa to Europe. If you have, then you don’t have to do it again since the consulate should be able to look it up.
Verify the details
After the verification of your application, your information will be entered into the online system and you will receive a printed copy of your application, which process usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. After you get the printed form, please make sure to verify all the details are correct and sign the form.
Underage applicants must be accompanied by their mother/father/legal guardian.
Pay the fees
The cost of a Schengen visa application for adults is 80€. Whereas the visa fee for children from the age of 6 years to the age of 12 years is 45€.
After you pay the fees, you will be issued a receipt which you have to keep in order to collect your processed application. In the case of visa application rejection, the fee will not get reimbursed. If you apply again for a visa, you will have to pay the fees again.
What Does a Schengen Visa Look Like?
If the authorities decide to grant you a Schengen visa, they will attach it in form of a sticker to the blank pages of your passport. It looks like this:
Where Should You Submit Your Application for a Schengen Visa?
You should apply for a Schengen Visa at the embassy or consulate of the Schengen country you are planning to visit.
If you are planning to visit more than one country during the same trip, then you have to apply at the embassy of the country where you plan to spend more time. If you are planning to spend equal time in two or more countries, i.e. five days in France and five days in Germany, then you have to apply at the embassy of the country where you are planning to land first.
When Should I Apply for a Schengen Visa?
You have to apply and make an appointment at least 15 days before the intended journey, and the earliest six months before.
Citizens Entitled to Accelerated Schengen Visa Procedure Free of Charge
If the applicant meets the following criteria, then he or she is entitled to an accelerated visa procedure free of charge:
- The applicant is a family member of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen and the EU/EEA citizen is traveling to or is residing in a member state other than that of which he/she is a citizen.
- The applicant is accompanying the EU/EEA citizen or planning to join him/her in the Schengen State of destination.
What Additional Documents Do I Need to Present at the Schengen Port of Entry?
You will need to present some additional documents at the Schengen port of entry, aside from your passport with the visa sticker on it. You will also have to provide:
In some countries, you will be asked to present all three of them, in others only one or two. It differs from one to another Schengen country.
How Long Can I Stay In Europe With a Schengen Visa?
You can stay within the whole Schengen territory for 90 days at most, within a period of 6 months. Sometimes, authorities issue you a visa for the amount of time you have sought, and sometimes for a longer or shorter period, depending on how they see it reasonable. The embassy not only appoints the number of days you can stay in Schengen, but also the earliest date you can enter and the last date when you can leave, which sometimes is confusing for many people.
If You Need to Stay for More Than 90 Days
The European National Visas are granted to individuals coming to one of the Schengen member countries for stays longer than 90 days, like working or studying. In order to be eligible to apply for the D visas for Europe you should be in one of the following categories:
- An international student in a program that grants Schengen visas.
- International student about to start full-time studies in Europe.
- Teacher at a higher education institution or research center in Europe.
- Professional traveling to Europe with the purpose of sharing expertise.
- Traveler in the Schengen Area who is experiencing an emergency, as a medical condition, that prevents departure at the end of your National Visa.
Can I Convert My Schengen Multiple Entry Visa Into a National Visa?
No, you cannot convert a C multiple entry visa into type D national visa. You can’t either apply for a residence permit in a Schengen country which you entered with a Schengen visa. To get a D visa, you will need to apply from the country of your residence.
Can I Get My Schengen Visa Extended?
In order to get your visa extended, you must have a very strong reason behind it as:
- Force majeure.
- Humanitarian reasons.
- Serious personal reasons.
You must show strong proof that you cannot leave the country before the expiration of your visa. If you have stayed in the Schengen area for more than 90 days within six months, then your chances to get your visa extended are almost zero. You have to apply for the visa extension before the expiration of your visa.
What Happens if I Overstay in Europe?
If you overstay your Schengen visa you will risk of being issued with a Schengen visa ever again. You will first be deported to your country, and can also be fined with a particular amount of money.
Why Would a Schengen Visa Application Be Denied?
Some of the most common reasons why Schengen visa applications are rejected are as follows:
- Absence of one or more required documents.
- One or more required documents do not meet the criteria set by the embassy.
- Invalid Travel Insurance.
- Insufficient proof of the purpose of the trip.
- Past or present criminal actions.
- Damaged passport, passport with not enough pages or validity.
What Can I do In Case of Schengen Visa Rejection?
If the embassy or consulate of the destination country you have applied to refuses your Schengen visa you can always appeal against the decision. On the day you go to receive your answer regarding your application, if rejected, you will receive a paper that indicates the reasons behind the visa denial. There you will also have included the procedures and deadlines for submitting an appeal.
However, this does not mean that you cannot apply for it anymore. The embassies advise the applicants to take notes on the reasons why their application was denied at first, and make amendments where necessary. You will have to pay the fees again, which cover the cost of the examination of the Schengen visa application.