There is always this dream of traveling to Europe and what holds most of us back is the process and the paperwork involved. This blog is exclusively for those people who are not clear about the Schengen visa process and contains the essential tips in making the process easier and less painful. Already applied for a Schengen visa? or Planning to apply for one? Read along to know more about the Schengen visa tips and pass it on, if you find the points helpful.
If you are an Indian and looking for a Schengen visa, check out how and where to apply for a Schengen visa from India
before reading this on, to get a clear understanding of which country you should be addressing your visas to and an overall view of Schengen visa.
Understand the Process
Schengen visa process is no rocket science or any other visa process for that matter. We are uncertain everything that we try on for the first time, it's natural. It is essential that you understand the process fully! Research about the basic process and grab the knowledge of what Schengen visa is all about. If you have gone through the above-mentioned blog, you will have a clear understanding of what the process is all about. The basic process goes something like this,
- Looking for the embassy of the country in your locality and downloading the Schengen visa application either online or getting it from the consultancy.
- Filling up the Schengen visa application, preparing the documents as mentioned by the respective embassy, and handing it over at the embassy or couriering the same.
- Scheduling the interview, getting called up for the biometrics and the personal interview.
- Receiving the Schengen visa.
Although the documents required and the demands of the embassies vary, the process is more or less the same. The more you know about the process, the more you get accustomed to it. Schengen visa info
will keep you informed more on that. Also, apply for a Schengen visa 30-45 days before your travel date
and make sure your passports have at least 2 empty pages left in them and ensure it will stay active for the next three months.
Preparing your Documents
This is one of the most important steps that you should concentrate on while applying for a Schengen visa. Ask the concerned embassy about the list of documents that you need to submit during the visa process and prepare a checklist to help you with it. This way you can stay informed about the documents all the time and avoid missing out on any of them. And never come to a conclusion that you can get away without submitting a document that is mentioned. If you have doubts, it is better that you clarify them by asking the embassy and please don't come to conclusions without even discussing it. And don't even think about forging a fake document. It is never going to work.
Arranging the documents
List your documents in the order that you find it on the embassy site. Get 2-3 file holders, one for all the original documents, second for keeping the copies of the originals (keep 2 copies of each here) and the third for the extra copies. It is best to take at least five copies of the originals. Apart from this, keep a scanned copy of all the originals in an online drive so that you can access it anytime you want and needn't carry it all the time. I personally save all the scanned originals in the Gmail drafts.
Work in advance
The moment you come to know about the documents that are required to support your Schengen visa application, start working on it right away. Make sure you have all the documents sorted out before even applying for the visa. This way you extend your time in preparing for the correct documents as mentioned and fasten up the visa process without any delay in the documents.
Preparing the cover letter
This is something every traveler who has applied for a Schengen visa must submit. Essentially the cover letter must contain the purpose of your visit along with the travel plans which again should be split into micro plans, explaining your routine in detail. Start your letter by addressing the embassy you are applying to, write a clear subject, and mention the places of the visit with exact dates followed by listing out all the documents that you are going to present to support your cause. Follow the order given below to make an effective cover letter.
- Reference number of your Schengen visa application with the date.
- Name and the address of the embassy you are addressing to.
- A clear subject.
- Body stating the purpose of travel and why you need the visa.
- Pointers of your travel itinerary, broken into smaller pieces with utmost detail to dates.
- Mention clearly about who is going to fund the travel (attach suitable documents) and provide the details of your flight and hotel bookings.
- Finally, list all the documents that you are going to attach along with the cover letter and end your letter with your name, contact details, and signature.
And remember, what you have mentioned in the cover letter is what you are going to present it in person if asked about the purpose of the visit, so prepare a cover letter that best represents your travel and be fool proof.
Establish a strong claim
Let me clear a point to you. Realize the fact that no country is willing to take in extra citizens permanently. Yes, they do encourage you to visit them which of course increases their tourism sector and GDP but no one is willing to shelter you permanently and it is ideal for you to clear their doubts. Make a strong claim to support the fact that you will be returning back to your home country after the travel. Some of the documents that you would be needing to strengthen your claim are as follows.
If you are an employee: A proof of employment that includes the date of joining, years of service, salary details, and a statement of assurance that you will be joining the firm back on a specific date after the travel. All stamped and signed by the employer.
If you are self-employed/a proprietor: Present the details of your business registration and mention a business affair that requires you to return back and also attach the proof of a property.
If you are a student: A letter from your parents/guardian assuring the officials that you won't overstay along with an approved letter from a school or a college that mentions your leave of absence or the rejoining date.
If you are unemployed: Offer letter from an employer or a letter of acceptance from a university. If you don't have any of the two, attach any other letter that establishes your claim to return and the proof of a property.
If you are a retiree: Proof of a property and a letter explaining the strong ties that you have with the home place.
Basically, anything that makes them believe that you will be returning back is perfect for you to showcase while sending your visa application. If you have many stamps on your passport marking your visits to different countries then it gives a good impression that you are a well-informed traveler and that you will return back.
Booking and Planning your itineraries
The biggest pain in applying for your Schengen visa is providing a proof of your hotel and flight bookings to your officials. But I have a tip that you could try. What if your visa gets delayed or canceled (not trying to be negative)? In that case, all your bookings will go in vain, you will have to cancel them and wait for a refund. I suggest you to book your hotels through booking.com
that allows you to book hotels without any fee and provides you an option to cancel it till the last minute. And regarding the flights, just provide the name of the flight that you are planning to take with their timings, along with the itinerary. Use TripHobo to create your travel itinerary
within minutes without bashing your head.
Dealing with the big day
Interviewing for Schengen visa is a mere formality if your paperwork is very strong. But if you're a little sloppy in your paperwork then you will have to be extra cautious during your visa interview. Follow these interview tips to come out in flying colors.
Dress for the occasion and present yourselves properly to the authorities. While answering your questions be confident and say it with a smile. Prepare the answers for the basic questions that would be asked during the interview and make sure your answers align with the documents that you have submitted.
Don't get too excited and go on narrating your story forgetting what the interview is all about. Answer the questions promptly but at the same time don't be stiff and cut your answers mid-way. Humor is always loved but you should know when to stop.
Have empathy for the interviewer. Understand what the interviewer wants when he asks a particular question and assess what he expects out of the answer and base your answers on that. I am not asking you to step from the truth because the truth is always there. Just frame your answers in the right way that it impresses your interviewer.
Be passionate about why you want to visit the place that you're applying to. Don't be so overwhelming that the interviewer thinks you might want to settle down there. Avoid putting such thoughts in his mind. Again, there is a thin line you should maintain while being passionate about the visit.
Explain how much you want to return back. This is one of the important things that the interviewer would be expecting from you. Let the interviewer know about the bond you have with your country. If you have not developed the passion for your home place then this is the time to do that. Put forward your reasons and convince the interviewer that you'll be returning back for sure.
At the end of the day, just be yourself while interviewing. Don't complicate things by being someone else. Take a deep breath, erase all the thoughts that are running wild in your mind and just go for out. If there's one way that you would get you the visa, it is by being yourself.
Keep a backup plan
Although I wish that you get the visa without any trouble and on time, there is also a possibility that the country you have applied your visa to might take time and there is also a chance for your visa to get denied. In that case always keep a backup plan to cover you up. It is not wise to completely ignore the possibility of you not getting the visa. If anything goes wrong, just pull yourselves back, and keep going. There is always a second chance!
Did we miss out any of the tips? Please let us know and if you have any tips to share please comment below. It will be really helpful to fellow travelers.