SCHENGEN VISA

Schengen Visa

The best thing to happen to Indian passport-holders aspiring to visit Europe, is the Schengen visa, which is an agreement between 26 countries to allow tourists visit these countries with a single common visa called Schengen Visa.

These countries are listed below, in alphabetical order:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. A Schengen visa is all you need to travel to any of these countries. It is accorded by the consulates of the above countries.

What you must remember is that the countries that we were taught in school to be a part of Europe, but do not form a part of the Schengen area are the United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania, Serbia, Bosnia &Herzgovina, Belarus, Macedonia, Moldova, Ukraine and Russia.

You will need to apply for separate visas if you want to enter or even pass through these countries via trains, buses or cars. There have been recent changes where some of the East European countries like Bulgaria, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Croatia, Kosovo, Georgia and Serbia would permit Indian Nationals to enter their countries if you have a valid multiple entry Schengen visa. These rules do change from time to time and it is always prudent to check with their consulates or websites before embarking on your Europe trip. Some of these countries also allow entry into their territory if you have a valid United States of America visa.

How to apply for a Schengen visa.


To Which Country to Apply for a Schengen visa?

The Member State competent for examining and deciding on an application for a uniform visa shall be: (a) the Member State whose territory constitutes the sole destination of the visit(s). (b) if the visit includes more than one destination, the Member State whose territory constitutes the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length or purpose of stay. (c) if no main destination can be determined, the Member State whose external border the applicant intends to cross first in order to enter the territory of the Member States.

Applying for visa

1. You will need to make an application online and make an appointment with the visa facilitator – In India, it is VFS Global and its visa offices for respective countries.
2. On the day of appointment take your documents and arrive no later than 15 minutes before your appointment time. – Check list given below.
3. You will need to provide your biometrics at the facilitation office.
4. You will need to choose whether you will collect the Passport in person or your agent will collect it.
5. Pay the relevant fees in cash.
6. You will get a token. Hold on to it as it is required for you to collect the Passport from the visa office or show it to the courier to receive the Passport.

The applicant has to submit in person the visa application at the respective Consulate or its Visa Collection Centre. Your presence is required at the Visa Collection Centre or Consulate to provide your biometric details.

Biometrics

As part of the worldwide introduction of the Visa Information System (VIS), the Schengen States has launched the VIS in India on 2 November 2015. All Schengen consulates worldwide will be connected to VIS by the end of November 2015. The purpose of this global VIS introduction process is to better protect applicants against identity theft and to prevent document fraud and so-called “visa shopping”. As from 2 November 2015, Indian citizens requesting a Schengen visa will have to appear in person in order to provide biometric data (fingerprints and digital photography). This concerns the applications for the short-term Schengen visas (max. 90 days in 180 days) – a section under which all tourist visa falls.

For subsequent applications made within the next 5 years, the biometric data will be copied from the previous visa application.
Note: For people traveling in a group, VFS has initiated a facility for Biometric capture and visa submission at your place for a fee. Please check with your local VFS country specific office for more details.

Documentation Required

  • A passport or other recognized travel document valid for at least three months from the expiry date of the visa applied for. This document must have at least two fresh pages. Please attach previous and cancelled passports, if any.
  • Short-stay visa application form duly filled and signed by the applicant.
  • Two recent photographs of the applicant. The photos must measure 3.5 cms x 4.5 cms and should have a clear white background.
  • Signed Self Introductory letter stating purpose of visit.
  • Copy of travel medical insurance policy of not less than 30,000 Euros. The policy must cover medical and hospitalization expenses for the entire period of valid stay on Schengen territory as well as repatriation costs.
  • Copy of confirmed round trip air tickets.
  • Accommodation proof (confirmed hotel reservation or rent agreement clearly stating your name, rental period dates, and accommodation address).
  • Supporting documents of personal income: copy of bank statements of the last six months and copy of Income Tax Department Return for the previous three years.
  • If salaried, the last three salary slips needed. Would also be better to provide copy of appointment letter and original leave sanction letter from your company if you are visiting Schengen Area for the first time.

    If the applicant is the proprietor of a company, they must attach: copy of bank statements of the last three months, copy of Income Tax Department Return + ITR-V acknowledgement of past three years, copy of company registration certificate (Form B, Certificate of Registration, rule 5(1), or Form ST3, rule 11, certificate of registration) and copy of the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the company (Companies Act, 1956).

  • Attach a detailed itinerary of all places that you wish to visit in the Schengen Area.
  • Travel Insurance for the period of stay in Schengen Area.
  • The above mentioned document checklist is only a guideline and the requirements may vary from time to time and from country to country.

UK Visa

For traveling to the United Kingdom for tourism purposes, one has to apply for a UK visitor visa. The process and documents are almost the same as for a Schengen visa.

1. You will need to make an application online and make an appointment with the visa facilitator – VFS Global in India.
2. Passport validity should be at least 6 months (for Schengen visa it is only 3 months)
3. On the day of appointment take your documents (same checklist as for Schengen Visa).
4. You will need to provide your biometrics at the facilitation office.
5. You will need to choose whether you will collect the Passport in person or want it couriered.
6. Pay the relevant fees. Cash accepted.
7. You will get a token. Hold on to it as it is required for you to collect the Passport from the visa office or show it to the courier to receive the Passport.

Please visit the VFS Global website to know more about applying for a UK visa.

Visit Ireland with UK visa and vice versa

From December 15, 2015, you can visit Ireland if you have a valid UK visa or if you have a valid Irish visa, you could travel to UK on the same visa.

This facility is currently extended only to nationals of India and China.

For more details, please visit UK Visas and Immigration website.

For more information about customized itineraries to Europe, SMS Europe to 53456