Who needs a Schengen Visa?
Whether you need to be in possession of a visa to enter the Schengen Zone, it all depends on your nationality. The European Union member states have a common list of the countries, the nationals of which need a visa in order to enter the Schengen territory. The EU decides on visa exemptions case by case. In general, citizens most of the non-Schengen member countries have to obtain a Schengen visa first in order to be permitted to cross the external borders of this territory.
How to apply for a Schengen Visa?
All of the member states of the Schengen Area have agreed on common rules and criteria regarding Schengen Visa. Follow the guide below that clearly explains the steps one has to take in order to apply.
Choose the right embassy
The first thing you have to do is to choose the embassy where you need to apply in order to obtain a visa. If you plan to visit only one of the Schengen Area countries, then it is simple, since you have to apply at the embassy of that country (i.e. If you are planning to visit France, apply at the Embassy or consulate of France in your country).
But if you are planning to visit more than one country you have to figure out at which embassy to apply. It all depends how much time you will spend at your destination countries. If you are planning to spend 10 days in the Schengen Zone, three in France and seven in Germany then you will have to apply at the Embassy of the country where you plan to spend more time, in this case in Germany.
On the other hand, if you are planning to spend the same amount of time in both countries, i.e five days in France and five days in Germany, then apply at the embassy or consulate of the country where you will be landing fist. The same applies if you are visiting more countries.
Decide what type of visa you need
Secondly, decide what type of visa you need in order to enter your destination country. Depending on the purpose of your visit you can apply for a tourist visa, business visa, working visa, student visa or a transit visa. Depending on the number of countries you plan to visit, or the times you need to enter the Schengen territory you can apply for a single-entry, double-entry or a multiple-entry visa.
Gather the required documents
After that, it is time to require the list of the documents you will have to provide together with your application. Usually you can find a list of the required documents online at the website of the embassy of your destination country. After you find the list take care to gather all of the required documents for Schengen visa application. Each document has a description about the criteria it needs to fulfill.
Usually the main required documents are:
- A valid passport with at least two empty pages, issued within the last ten years, and valid for another three months beyond the intended stay in the Schengen Area.
- A visa application form, completely filled online, downloaded in two copies and signed at the end.
- A recent Schengen visa photography, no more than 6-months old
- A Schengen travel medical insurance covering emergency medical, hospitalization and in case of death, repatriation, valid for your entire duration of stay in the whole territory of the Schengen Area.
- Schengen visa application fee – which costs EUR 60 for adults and EUR 35 for minors.
There are also other various documents related to the purpose of visit or proof of financial means to support you during your stay.
- Evidence of sufficient funds for the visit
- Previous visas (if applicable)
- Evidence of student status (if applicable) Evidence of employment/self-employment (if applicable)
- Round-trip Travel Itinerary
Schengen Visa Application Procedure
Complete the application form online carefully and correctly, print it twice and sign it at the end. The application 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. You can appoint an interview three months before the earliest and two weeks before the latest.
Collect the required documents
Make sure you have all the necessary documents as required, all of them in two copies. Organize them so on the appointment day you will not have a mess in your hands.
On the day of appointment
Show up at the appointment center on time (embassy of consulate). Remember that if you are late even for a few minutes, then they will probably cancel your appointment. In general the submission process takes around 10 minutes to complete. Please make sure that: The official person at the application center will check and verify all of your documents.
You will also have to get your fingerprints scanned at the consulate’s office, if you have never before applied for a Schengen Visa. If you have, then you don’t have to do it again, since the consulate should be able to look it up.
After the verification of your application, the application form information will be entered into the online system of the consulate or embassy 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 Visa Fees
All of the Schengen Member countries have agreed on the cost of a visa application. The Visa Fee is EUR 60 for adults, and must be paid when you submit the visa application. Whereas the visa fee for children from the age of six years and below the age of 12 years is EUR 35.
After you pay the visa fee, you will be issued a receipt which you have to keep in order to collect your processed application.
In case of visa application rejection, the fee will not get reimbursed. If you apply again for a visa, you will have to pay the visa fee again.
Application Processing Time
As a general rule, each consulate or embassy has to take a decision whether to grant the applicant with a visa or not within 15 days. However, in some exceptional cases, this process might take up to 30 days, or even up to 60 if more additional documents are required to be submitted by the applicant.
You are recommended to apply approximately six weeks prior to your travel.
For more information, read Schengen Visa Application Processing Time.
Schengen Visa Validity
The validity of your Schengen visa depends on the type of visa you obtain. If you have a multiple entry visa, then you can stay within the Schengen territory for 90 days at most, within a period of 180 days.
Whereas, if you have a single or double entry visa the embassy or consulate you have applied at decides on its validity after processing all your documentations and deciding to issue you a visa. Sometimes they issue you a visa for the amount of time you have sought for, and sometimes for a longer or shorter period, depending how they see it reasonable.
The embassy not only appoints the number of days you can stay in the Schengen territory, but also the earliest date you can enter and the last date when you can leave.
This is all indicated on the visa sticker in your passport. The phrase “DURATION OF STAY….DAYS” indicates the number of days you are allowed to stay within the Schengen Area. The first date you enter a Schengen state is counted as ‘day 1’ and the day you leave as the last day. Whereas the field “FROM…UNTIL” indicates the days within which period you are allowed to enter and leave the Schengen country. This is always a bigger number than that of “DURATION OF STAY” because the embassy wants to give you flexibility.
The United Kingdom Case
The EU has proposed visa free travel for Britons after BREXIT. This means that UK citizens will fall under the ETIAS scheme. Whether this system will be applied to the UK or not, will be known after it definitely leaves Europe, or about that time.
For now, UK residents that hold a citizenship of a country that does not have a visa liberalization agreement with EU are required to apply for a Schengen visa while in the UK.
The United States Case
US legal residents who hold a citizenship of a country that does not have a visa facilitation agreement with the Schengen countries are required to apply for a Schengen visa from the US.
Starting from January 1, 2021, US citizens will have to apply for ETIAS to be able to travel to Europe for short stays. However, this may not hold to US residents, depending on their country of citizenship.