Schengen Visitor Visa – Eligibility, Requirements, Fees and Application
The Schengen Visitor Visa Application Guide is a must-have for visitors who wish to travel to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area (22 European Union states and 4 members of the European Free Trade Association).
The Schengen Agreement stipulates that a visitor to Schengen member countries can stay for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day cycle. Additionally, a visitor to the Schengen area has the opportunity to visit a second time after 180 days of the first visit. If you intend to travel to Schengen on a Visitor Visa, this article is for you.
What is a Schengen Visitor Visa?
A Schengen Visitor Visa is an authorization given to a person intending to visit family or friends who live in any of the Schengen member states. However, this visa is called a short-stay permit because the visitor is not permitted to stay in the Schengen for more than 90 days.
What Does The Schengen Visitor Visa Look Like?
The Schengen Visitor Visa is in the form of a sticker affixed to the blank page of the visitor’s passport. He presents this to the guard at the external border of the Schengen Zone. The border guard decides whether the visitor should enter the Schengen Zone or not.
Are You Eligible For A Schengen Visitor Visa?
If you are a member of the 105 non-Schengen countries, then you must procure a Schengen Visa in order to visit the visa-free zone.
However, apart from the 26 member countries, there are other countries that can travel through the Schengen zone without a visa.
Schengen Visitor Visa Checklist – Requirements
The 26 member countries of the Schengen Zone have agreed on a list of general requirements that a visitor to any member country has to submit, in order to be eligible for a Schengen Visitor Visa.
However, confirm whether your host country will require more documents.
a. The Visa Application Form. The Visa Application Form is a uniform application for a visa into any of the Schengen countries and under any category. What this means is that if you are going to a Schengen country for Business, Study, Tourism, Transit, Medical reasons, Culture, or Sports, you will fill out the same application form as a Visitor. This is why it is a Uniform Visa Application Form. You can download the Schengen Visa application form here.
b. Valid Passport. Your passport should not be older than 10 months. Also, the passport should have at least 2 blank pages where the Schengen visa sticker will be affixed.
c. Two Identical Photos. Your identical photos should not be more than 6 months old. The photo size should be 35x45mm. In addition, they should be in color, not black and white.
d. Travel Health Insurance Policy. You will purchase health insurance that is a minimum of €30,000.
e. Flight Reservation. Of course, you should make a round-trip reservation. Your flight dates should fall within the 90 days of your visit.
f. Proof of Accommodation. You must show evidence of where you will stay during your 90 days in Schengen. This could be a hotel reservation or an invitation from a host. It could also be a pre-paid tour. Whichever one it is, you should have proof of accommodation.
g. Proof of Finance. You must prove that you will not be a burden to anyone while on your visit. To prove your financial ability, you may present any or all of the following: Your bank statement for the past 3 months; Payslips; Proof of employment, etc.
h. Travel Itinerary. Here, you will list your reason for traveling, the places you intend to visit, the duration of your stay, and other personal information.
i. Letter of Invitation (Family or Friends)
The letter of invitation is a confirmation by your host, that he is responsible for you during your visit. Most times, your host will include his bank statement to show that he is financially capable of caring for you.
What Is The Application Fee For A Schengen Visitor Visa?
Your Schengen Visa fee is a non-refundable fee that you pay at the time of application for the visa. You can pay online or with cash, at the embassy or its representative. Currently, the Schengen visa fee is the equivalent of €80 in your country’s currency.
However, children between 6 to 12 years of age, pay a visa fee of €40. Citizens of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan pay a slightly lower fee of €35.
9 Steps To Apply For A Schengen Visitor Visa
Now that you have decided to visit your family or friends in the Schengen Zone, the next thing to do is to apply for a Schengen Visitor Visa. Pay attention to these important steps to take.
Step 1. Identify your Schengen Country of Entry. The fun of visiting a Schengen Zone is that you can visit more than one country within the time allocated to you. If you wish to do this, it is necessary that you decide which country would be your point of entry into the Schengen Zone.
Tip: Your point of entry should also be your exit point when you are leaving the Schengen Zone. Ensure that your point of entry is the country where you intend to spend the most number of days during your visit.
Step 2. Fill out a Schengen Visitor Visa Application Form. You can download the form from the website. Remember that the Visa Application Form is the same, no matter the Schengen country you intend to visit. Basically, you will give information such as your personal details, your purpose for traveling to Schengen, and other details as required.
Tip: Ensure that you give correct and honest information so that you do not go through this process more than once.
Step 3. Apply at the right time. If you intend to be in the Schengen Zone any time in the next 3 months, the time to apply is now. This is because Schengen embassies require ample time to process your application. Remember that there are lots of documents to study and verify, and there is a window period of 6 months during which your visa would be valid.
Tip: It is advisable to apply no later than 1 month before your travel date.
Step 4. Book an appointment with the embassy. This is important especially if you are visiting for the first time. You will have the interview in person at the embassy whose country will be your point of entry into the Schengen Zone.
Step 5. Gather the required documents. Here are some of the documents you require: Your itinerary giving details of your trip; your visa application form; your return ticket; hotel bookings; an invitation letter from the family or friends you intend to visit; your bank statement for 6 months among others.
Tip: If possible, take a copy of the front side of your credit card. It will help you score points with the embassy.
Step 6. Attend the Interview. Not to worry, it is not as hard as it sounds. Basically, you can do this in about 20 minutes. Just make sure you have all the required documents, and that you answer all questions honestly and correctly.
Tip: Do not overdress. Wear neutral colors. Dress responsibly.
Step 7. Provide your Biometrics. This is a common rule especially if you’re traveling to the Schengen Area for the first time. You will submit your fingerprints and facial image for record purposes. This may be the only time you will have to do this but some embassies would ask for your biometrics every time you apply for a visit.
Step 8. Pay the Visa Fee. A visa fee is not refundable. Also, it does not guarantee that your application will be accepted. The Schengen Visa fee is €80 for adults, and €40 for children between 6 and 12 years. Citizens of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan pay €35.
Tip: Pay the exact amount. Do not expect the Consular to give you any change if you overpay.
Step 9. Wait for your visa to be approved. If you have gotten to this point, it can only be a success all the way. It takes about 2 to 5 weeks to get a response from the embassy. Congratulations! Now, go ahead and plan your trip, but ensure that you have the right clothes for the trip ahead, as well as adequate money to spend.
Frequently Asked Questions
What questions will I find on a Visa Application Form?
Your Visa Application Form contains about 32 questions, and each of them requires an answer. Mostly, you will answer questions about your reason for traveling and personal and financial details. In all, honesty is key.
What should I do if my Schengen Visitor Visa Application is rejected?
Find out why your application was rejected, and when you decide to reapply, apply to the same embassy that rejected your application. This will be good for your record.
Why was my Schengen Visitor Visa Application rejected?
There are various reasons why your visitor visa application could be rejected. One is incorrect or omitted information. Another is a lack of sufficient funds.
How will I know if my Schengen Visitor Visa is approved?
You will receive an email from the embassy, confirming that your visa has been approved. If your visa is approved, you will get it within one week, for instance. But, generally, if the visa officer does not return your passport immediately, your visa is probably approved.
How will I get my Schengen Visitor Visa if approved?
You can request your visa by courier if approved. And of course, you will pay for courier services. Or you can pick it up in person, at the embassy.
Make no mistake, the Schengen Visitor Visa is one of the most popular ways to visit your family and friends in the Schengen Area. But you must pay attention to the small details when filling out the application form. Bear in mind that honesty is a skill you require, in answering the over 32 questions on the application form.