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Schengen Visitor Visa – Traveling to Europe for the Purpose of Visiting Family Members, Friends or Relatives

Third-country nationals wishing to visit family members, friends or relatives living in the Schengen Zone may be a subject to the Schengen visa regime.

You need to apply for a Schengen Visitor Visa (Visa for the Purpose of Visiting Family, Friends or Relatives) if your nationality is on the list of countries whose nationals need a Schengen short-stay visa.

What Documents are Required When Applying for a Schengen Visitor Visa?

The required documents for a Schengen Visa for Visiting Family, Friends or Relatives are as following:

  • Schengen visa application form. Filled with all the required information.
  • Two identical photos. Taken within the last three months, according to the requirements for Schengen visa photo.
  • Valid passport. Which has at least two blank pages, and a validity of three more months from the date you plan to leave Schengen. Passports older than ten years or extended passports will not be accepted.
  • Letter of Invitation. By the relative/friend residing in a Schengen country, attached with a copy of their passport. In case that the friend/relative is not a citizen of the Schengen country, the copy of the residency permit will also be required.
  • Roundtrip reservation or itinerary. This document should include the dates and flight numbers specifying entry and exit from the Schengen area. You can use visa consultation services like this one to get it.
  • Schengen Travel Insurance. A confirmation letter from your health insurance stating coverage for emergency medical treatment with a minimum of €30,000, including repatriation in case of death.
  • Travel Itinerary. A detailed description of your trip, the purpose of travelling, the time you will be spending there and all your personal data.
  • Means of Subsistence. You will need to prove that you have enough money to financially support yourself during your stay in the Schengen Zone. This could be any of the following:
    • Bank account statements.
    • Sponsorship Letter. A letter written by another person who is willing to pay all your expenses in the Schengen zone. In order for this letter to be valid it must be accompanied by their bank statements to prove they have the means to do so.
    • A combination of both.
  • Proof of accommodation. This could be any of the following:
    • House/Flat of your family member, relative or your friend who is inviting you.
    • Hotel / hostel booking. With the name of the place, its complete address and other contact details as phone and e-mail. It should also include the dates you will be staying there.
    • Rent contract. If you have rented a room / apartment / house in the country where you will stay.
  • Proof of family relationship (for relatives).
  • Evidence of employment status.
    • If employed:
      • Employment contract,
      • Leave permission from the employer
      • Income Tax Return
    • If self-employed:
      • A copy of your business license,
      • Company’s bank statement of the latest 6 months
      • Income Tax Return (ITR)
    • If a student:
  • Minor travelers:
    • Birth certificate
    • A minor accompanied by one parent should provide an original notarized NOC by the other parent, plus copies of parents passports or ID
    • A minor travelling alone shall provide an original notarized NOC by both parents / legal guardians, plus copies of parents passports or ID

Where to Submit a Schengen Visitor Visa Application?

If you want to visit your friends or family members residing in one of the Schengen states, you will need to apply from your home country. The number of countries you plan to visit determines where you should apply.

If you are going to visit only one Schengen country, then apply at its competent authorities in your country of residence, which may be:

  • Their embassy
  • Their consulate
  • A visa center to which this country has outsourced visa submission
  • The embassy / consulate of another country to which the country you are visiting has outsourced visa submission

On the other hand, if you will be visiting more than one Schengen member, then submit your application at the competent authority of the country where:

  • You will be staying more days
  • You will step in first, since you plan on spending the same amount of days in each country

How to Apply for a Schengen Visa for Visiting Family, Friends or Relatives?

To complete your Schengen Visa application for Visiting Family, Friends or Relatives, follow these steps:

  1. Check if you qualify for a Schengen Visitor Visa.
  2. Figure out where you should apply.
  3. Find out what is the best time to file your visa application.
  4. Fulfill the Schengen Visa application form.
  5. Gather the required documents for Schengen Visa for visiting Family or Friends.
  6. Make a visa interview appointment.
  7. Attend your visa interview.
  8. Pay the visa fee.
  9. Wait for the embassy to process your visa application.

When to Apply for a Schengen Visa for Visiting Family, Friends or Relatives?

You should file your application for a Schengen Visa for Visiting Family or Friends no less than 15 calendar days before your planned trip to EU.

The Schengen states have a fixed policy on when you should file your application the earliest and the latest. While two weeks is the latest, the earliest you can submit your application for a Schengen Visa for Visiting Family or Friends is three months before your trip.

The best time to apply for an EU visa for the purpose of visiting Family members, Friends or Relatives is four weeks before your trip to Europe.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Schengen Visitor Visa?

You will have to wait at least 15 calendar days to get a response on your Schengen visa application for Visiting Family or Friends. The Schengen visa processing time around the world is approximately two weeks.

Still, depending on your case, your application may take longer to be processed. In specific cases, the embassies take 30 days to process a visa, whereas in extraordinary cases you will have to wait for 60 calendar days.

* During the June–August holiday period, the processing time could be longer.

How Long is the Schengen Visitor Visa Valid for?

The validity of your Schengen visa for Visiting Family or Friends in Europe depends on the embassy/consulate that issued you a visa. You can get a Schengen Visiting Relatives visa with the maximum validity of 90 days per 6 months.

However, the number of days that you are allowed to stay in the Schengen Area is specified on the Schengen visa sticker that is glued into your passport. If you encounter difficulties reading your visa sticker check How to read a Schengen visa sticker.

If you plan to stay in Europe for more than 90 days, then you should apply for a visitors’ residence permit.

Can I Extend a Schengen Visitor Visa?

You will be able to extend your Schengen Visa for Visiting Family, Friends or Relatives while being in Europe in very rare and specific occasions.

If you are applying to extend your Schengen visa in Europe, you must base your application on Humanitarian Reasons, Force Majeure, Important Personal Reasons or late entry into the Schengen Zone. In addition, you must fulfill extra requirements, as having the necessary financial means to remain in that country for the period you are applying for.

If Your Schengen Visitor Visa Application gets Rejected?

If your application for a Schengen visa for visiting Friends or Family in Europe is rejected, you can still apply again. This time try to avoid the previous mistakes.

However, if you believe that your visa has been rejected by mistake, then you can appeal the decision. You can do so by writing an Appeal Letter for EU Visa Refusal.

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