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Guidelines on How to Apply for a Schengen Visa

Every person wishing to enter the Schengen Area, under whatever purpose, may be a subject to visa regime, depending on his or her nationality.

If you have never been to Europe before, the first thing you have to do is ask yourself “Do I need a visa to Schengen Area?” Currently, more than 60 countries around the world can enter Europe visa free zone without the need to obtain a visa first, and remain there for 90 days within a six-month period.

The application process to obtain a European visa is mandatory for your freedom of movement in this area. Therefore, you should be very careful when lodging your Schengen visa application.

If you need to apply for a visa to Europe, proceed reading this article which is the ultimate guideline of a Schengen visa application process.

1. Figure out which Schengen visa type you need

Depending on the purpose under which you need to enter the Schengen Area, you can apply for one of the following Schengen visa types:

2. Find out where you need to apply

Depending on how your destination country 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:

  • Their embassy
  • One of their consulates
  • A visa center to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission
  • The embassy / consulate of another Schengen state to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission

By your “destination country”, we mean the country where you need to lodge your application, according to the Schengen rules.

These rules are as follows:

  • If you are going to visit only one Schengen country, file your application at the embassy / consulate / visa center of that country
  • If you are going to visit more than two Schengen countries, file your application:
    • At the embassy / consulate / visa center of the country where you will spend most days, if you will be spending unequal amount of days in each
    • At the embassy / consulate / visa center of the country where you will step first, if you will be spending an equal amount of days in each

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 following:

  • The earliest you can file a visa application: three 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: at least three weeks before your trip.

4. Book an appointment

Book a Schengen visa appointment in order to proceed with your application.

Most of the countries give you 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 destination country.

5. Fill out the visa application form

Download the application form and fill it in correctly and honestly.

The Schengen visa application form has the same format no matter which country’s visa it is that the applicant is 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. Here you can find some clear instructions on how to fill-in the visa application form.
  • 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 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.

Check our list of documents required for Schengen visa application, which includes the standard requirements, as well as the visa-specific requirements for each visa type.

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.

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 member 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?

Read also Top 60 Most Asked Questions during a Visa Interview

8. Pay the visa fee

You will need to pay a non-refundable administration fee when applying for a Schengen visa, in order 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 €60 per person. Children and some other specific categories will have to pay either reduced fees or no fees at all, depending on their situation. Check the list of Schengen visa fees, their reductions and exemptions to see if you belong to any of those categories!

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 quite much longer. That period can be extended from 15 up to 30 days in some countries concerning some citizens.

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 it permits you to remain in Europe, otherwise, overstaying in the Schengen Area might have consequences.

The articles How to find low-cost flights to Europe and What do you need to pack when traveling to Europe will help you not just to save money but also to have a more pleasant journey to Europe. Have a nice trip to Europe!

If your Schengen visa gets rejected

If your visa application gets denied, read the reason why didn’t they grant you a visa and try to fulfill 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 day in Europe?

If you need to remain longer in Europe, you need to apply for a National Visa at the embassy of the adequate country. A National Visa permits you to remain in Europe for a maximum of 12 months.

FAQ about applying for a Schengen visa

What happens if there is no embassy/consulate of the certain Schengen country in the applicant’s place of residence?

In some third world countries, there might not be an embassy/consulate of the particular Schengen country you need the visa issued from. Nevertheless, that doesn’t pose any problems since these cases there are embassy/consulate representatives of the country that represents the interests of the country in the matter as well as their own which are responsible for issuing the applicant the required visa.

In case the applicant is denied the visa due to inability to provide the necessary documentation or proof that he/she meets the standards to be travelling in a Schengen zone there is a possibility to apply again at the embassy/consulate of their desired destination in a neighboring country.

Can I apply for a Schengen visa in a country where I am not a resident?

Yes. If you must apply for a Schengen visa in a country where you are not a resident, the justification why you are applying from that country will suffice.

The applicant must attend the designated meeting in person when handing the application form and the attached documentation. At the consulate, the applicant shall not be accompanied unless he/she is a minor, of sensitive health or not able to perform any locomotive activity. In case the applicant is not able to speak English or the language of the Schengen country whose consulate he/she is applying in a company is recommended.

If you fail to attend the embassy/consulate appointment without a prior notice of 48 hours the request will be cancelled and you will have to undergo the procedure once again.

Learn how to apply for a Schengen visa in different countries

What do I do if I urge to extend the Schengen visa?

In a case of any trustworthy reasons, personal, occupational, medical or otherwise, the applicant has to turn to the corresponding institutions in the Schengen country of residence and apply for an extension of the Schengen visa. The extended Schengen visa will give the applicant the right to visit the same Schengen territory as the original visa issued. A visa extension may not result in the duration of stay exceeding 90 days.

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