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What is Schengen?
Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries. It is the world’s largest free travel zone. Schengen Area, signifies a zone where 26 European countries, abolished their bilateral borders, for the unrestricted and free movement of people, in agreement with common rules for controlling external borders and fighting criminality by strengthening the common judicial system. The area mostly functions as a single jurisdiction with common visa policy for international travel purpose.
What is Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area for stay upto 90 days in the period of 180 days.
Schengen Visa permits its holder to travel freely within and leave Schengen zone from any of the Schengen states. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.
Who needs a Visa to enter Schengen?
All third countries citizens, who are not under visa liberalization agreement with the Schengen states, needs to obtain a Visa to Schengen Area prior to their arrival in the Schengen zone.
Which Europe countries issue Schengen Visas?
The Schengen area consists of 26 countries that have signed the Schengen Agreement.
Schengen Area covers most of the countries in European Union (EU) except United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, and countries are soon to be part of i.e. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. Although, countries like Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are not members of EU are also part of Schengen zone.
List of Schengen area 26 countries are as listed below:
Key points regarding Schengen
- 22 members fully implement Schengen policy. Rest of the 4 European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries i.e. ICELAND, LIECHTENSTIEN, NORWAY AND SWITZERLAND implement Schengen policy as per the specific terms of the Schengen Agreement.
- Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City have open borders with Schengen area but are not members of visa-free zone.
- The Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands are special members of the EU and part of the Schengen Zone even they are located outside Europe.
- There are six more EU members that have not joined Schengen zone: Ireland and United Kingdom – that still maintain opt-outs and Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus – that are required to and are seeking to join soon.
- There are 18 other countries that are not part of Schengen zone, yet they allow foreigners of non-Schengen countries to enter and stay in their area, only if they possess valid multiple-entry Schengen Visa.
List of Non-EU Countries where you can travel with a Schengen Visa:
|Sao Tome and Principe||Serbia||Turkey||Belarus||Bulgaria||Colombia|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Cyprus||Georgia||Gibraltar||Kosovo||Macedonia|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Mexico||Montenegro||Romania||Albania||Croatia|
WHO CAN APPLY
You need to apply for a Schengen Visa if you intend to visit one or more European countries of this area for the following reasons:
- Visiting family and friends
- Business Meetings/Conferences
- Cultural and Sports Events
- Official Visits
- Medical Reasons
- Transit/Airport Transit
- Short-term study and Research Purpose (< 3 months)
Depending upon the reason for visiting Schengen area and the number of visits, the Embassy/Consulate can issue a single-entry visa or a multiple-entry visa.
SCHENGEN VISA BIO-METRIC REQUIREMENTS
- With effect from 02nd Nov 2015, all applicants applying for Schengen Visa must submit bio-metric data and a photo.
- All applicants are required to book an appointment for VISA Application submission and bio-metric enrolment at the authorized Visa Application Centre (VAC).
- Biometrics is requested only every 59 months. During the time period of 15 months the applicant can apply for a new visa application without fingerprints renewal.
Exemptions from Bio-metric:
- Children under the age of 12 years are exempted from providing bio metric data.
- If applicants have previously given the Bio-metric (after 02.11.2015) and VISA got approved at that time, Bio-metric not required for applying again (within time period of 59 months from date of Bio-metric given).
- If Bio-metric given after 02.11.2015, however VISA got refused, Bio-metric need to be given for new VISA application.
- If Bio-metric given after 02.11.2015 and VISA approved that time, but got refused in 2nd time application, Bio-metric need to be given again for new VISA application.
HOW TO APPLY SCHENGEN VISA
To apply for a Schengen Visa to travel to Schengen Zone, you first need to figure out whether you need one or not depending on the nationality and purpose of travel. If you do, then you have to summarize your travel plan in the form of:
- How many days you plan to be in Schengen?
- Which countries you are going to visit? (if more than one)
- The country where you are going to enter, and the country where you’re going to exit.
Once figured out, then you need to review all the Schengen Visa Application requirements to be fulfilled and initiate the process of scheduling appointment at one of the Visa Application Centre (VAC) authorized by the Embassy/Consulate.
1. Which country I should apply for Schengen visa?
If the applicant is planning to visit two or more Schengen countries, the VISA application need to be applied as per following rule:
- Visiting One Country: The VISA application must be submitted to that Country`s Embassy/ Consulate only.
- Visiting more than One Country (Unequal Stay days):The VISA application to be submitted to Embassy/ Consulate of country where maximum stay (no. of days) is being planned.
- Visiting more than One Country (Equal Stay days):They VISA application to be submitted to Embassy/ Consulate of country where you will enter First.
- Stay more than 90 Days: It shall be D-Type VISA and rules/ regulation shall be as prescribed by Specific Country. Moreover, it shall not be a Schengen VISA. It shall be a country specific VISA only.
SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
When applying for a Schengen Visa, you have to submit documents as a part of the Schengen Visa Application Process. Depending upon the purpose of your visit, the Schengen states have drafted a list of documents required which are approximately same in each of them.
The following list of documents is required for any Short-term (C-type) “Schengen Visa” Application:
- Visa Application Form fully completed and duly signed.
- Two recent colored photos, not older than 3 months. The photograph specification are as follows:
- Photo size shall be 35mm by 45mm without borders.
- 70-80% of facial coverage.
- Background shall be white.
- Avoid uniforms of colors matching the background.
- A valid Passport; it should valid for at least three more months beyond the date you plan to leave Schengen area. Older passports also need to be submitted with the Visa Application.
- Round trip Air tickets Itinerary.
- Proof of Accommodation includes hotel booking.
- Proof of Financial means: You have to provide evidence that you have enough money to support yourself financially throughout the stay at Schengen. It includes:
- Bank Account Statement- You have to provide your last 3 months bank statement showing sufficient funds to support your trip.
- Sponsorship Letter: If the trip is sponsored by any other person, a sponsor letter along with the sponsor’s bank statement shall be provided with the VISA Application.
- Other financial documents such as Term Deposits, PF Statements, PPF statements etc.
- Travel Medical Insurance (Link) A document that proves you have travel health insurance for the whole Schengen territory, with a minimum coverage of 30,000 Euros in case of any medical emergency as illnesses, accidents and even repatriation in case of death.
SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION PROCESS
The process of Schengen VISA application is as follows:
- Decide your trip Itinerary (including number of countries and for how many days per country).
- Based on applicable country (based on Itinerary xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx), take the appointment.
- Prepare all the documents (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx) as per Schengen VISA guidelines.
- Appear for Bio-metric on the date and time of appointment.
- Pay the Embassy fee (xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx)
- Submit the VISA application.
- Applicant can keep a track on the status by tracking code mentioned over the Submission receipt.
- Once the VISA application processed by respective Embassy/ consulate, collect the passport back from centre where you had submitted it. To understand the complete process, please refer the link xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
SCHENGEN VISA FEE
The Schengen VISA Fee is 60 Euro for Adults and 35 For Children between 6 years to 12 years of age. Schengen VISA fee is NIL for Children under 6 years of age. However, few Schengen countries exempt the Fee up to age of 12 years. To read the details about Schengen VISA Fee applicable, click here.
Table of Schengen VISA fee Click Here
Is there any interview why applying for Schengen VISA?
If you are applying for the short term Schengen tourist visa, you do not need to give an interview during the submission of your VISA application. Submission is either to BLS/VFS or any other collection centre which are mostly having administrative type of job. However, once documents being received by Embassy, to verify the credentials,Embassy under its own discretion may call the applicant for an Interview.
SCHENGEN VISA PROCESSING TIME
- In general, Schengen VISA processing take 15- 20 calendar days (Total). However, based on country to which VISA application has been lodged, it varies from 5 days to 25 days.
- In exceptional Cases, it can take up to 30 days and up to 60 days.
- An applicant can track the status of their application using VAC track tool from Tracking ID mentioned on submission slip.
How to read Schengen VISA and How Schengen VISA looks like?
As per Schengen VISA documents guidelines, a travel Overseas Travel Insurance valid for all Schengen-countries is a must requirement. The insurance has to cover the applicant for at least 30,000 Euros or 50,000 USD, for all risks e.g. accident, illness, medical emergency evacuation etc. The policy has to clearly specify the period of validity and has to cover the entire duration of the trip including the date of arrival & departure.
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