With over 740 million people, Europe is the third most populated continent in the world. And quite inevitably, a lot of people will have family or friends living in Europe. If you are planning to visit your relatives or friends living in a Schengen country, the Schengen visit visa is the right category.
Not everyone requires the Schengen visa. In fact, a lot of nationals are free to enter Europe without a visa. However, since India is not among them, you will require a Schengen visit visa from India.
What is Schengen Visit Visa?
The Schengen visit visa is an endorsement that lets individuals travel to any of the Schengen countries to meet their friends or family living there. The permit is issued for a duration of up to 90 days in a 180-day period and can be granted as single, double, or even multiple entry types. The visa also lets you take part in tourism and other activities allowed under the ‘C’ category.
Note that if you wish to stay with your family for more than 90 days, you must apply for a National visa for ‘Family Reunification’.
How to apply for Schengen Visit Visa?
The method of applying for a visit permit is the same as applying for other categories. In fact, they all use the same application form. Now, before you start your Schengen visit visa application, you must ensure that you are eligible to travel to the country as a visitor. The general steps in an application for the visit permit, also known as the Schengen family visa is explained as the following -
- The first step is to choose where you have to lodge your application. Depending on the country you are applying from and your destination country, you may be able to submit the application directly at one of the embassy/consulates situated in your home nation or at one of the visa application centres (VAC).
- You must then proceed to make your application. You should apply at least 15 days before your intended travel date, but you cannot make the application more than 3 months before the expected date of travel.
- Fill in the Schengen application form. In the form, you will have to mention that the reason for your visit is ‘visiting family/friends’. However, certain countries may also provide facilities for online applications.
- You must then proceed to book an appointment for the document and biometric submission. The appointment must be at an embassy/consulate or a VAC depending upon the specific requirements of the respective diplomatic mission. You may be able to do this using the online facilities provided by the embassy/consulate/VAC or by contacting them directly.
- Attend the visa appointment along with the documents for the visitor category and the fees. You must submit an application and pay the fees here. In some cases, you may be able to pay your fees online while filling out the application form. As a mandatory requirement, all applicants for the Schengen visa will also have to submit their biometrics at the respective appointment centre.
Note that, in certain cases, you may also be required to attend an interview with the consular officer at the application centre/embassy/consulate.
Who should Apply or Eligibility for Schengen Visit Visa?
In order to be able to apply for a visitor permit, you must meet the following eligibility criteria -
- You must be living in the country you are lodging the application. If you are residing on a residence permit in a foreign nation, you may apply it to the corresponding visa issuing authority in that country.
- You must possess a valid passport that meets all the embassy requirements.
- The main purpose of your visit must be to visit your friends or family living in the country.
- You must possess sufficient funds to cover all your expenses during the entire stay period in the country.
- You must apply to the embassy/consulate of a country only if -
- The country is your only travel destination, or
- The country is one of your multiple Schengen destinations, in which case you will be spending the majority of the time there, or,
- The specific country is your port of entry into the Schengen region.
Documents required for Schengen Visit Visa
As per the Schengen visit visa requirements for Indians citizens, all individuals travelling on the visa will have to submit the following general documents. However, based on the individual country you are applying for, there may be additional documents. You must also ensure that you submit only the original documents. Providing fake documents can lead to a Schengen visa rejection.
- A valid passport according to the regulations.
- 2 photos as per specification.
- A covering letter addressed to the embassy stating the details of the visit.
- Flight reservation for the round trip.
- Detailed travel itinerary.
- Invitation letter from your family/friends living in the Schengen nation stating the entire details of the travel.
- Residence proof of your family/friend - Residence permit, copy of visa, etc.
- Proof of sponsorship (if any).
- Proof of relationship (if relative).
- Proof of accommodation - hotel bookings/invitation to stay/residence bookings, etc.
- Medical travel insurance coverage up to at least 30000 Euros.
- Proof of occupation/study such as employment letter, enrollment letter, etc.
- Financial documents such as bank statements, passbook copy, etc.
Photo Specification of Schengen Visit Visa
While submitting the photos, you must ensure that they are according to the specifications as mentioned below -
- Dimensions: 35mm X 45mm
- Colour: Coloured
- Head must occupy the central position
- Must be captured within the last 3 months
- Background: Solid, plain white or grey
- 80% face coverage
- Neutral expression
- Glasses: Non-thick framed and prescription glasses
- Headgears - only for religious reasons
- Facial hair - permitted
Schengen Visit Visa Fees
The fees for the Schengen family visa mainly depends on the foreign exchange rates and the age of the applicant. The embassy also has the authority to update the fees without any prior notice. Normally, the application fees for an adult is 60 Euros. However, since the fee has to be paid in the currency of the home country, it can vary based on the currency rates. Apart from the application fee, there may be biometric charges, express processing charges (if any), as well as any additional services charges. As a result, you must check the exact amount before starting the application.
After you apply for Schengen Visit Visa
Once you have submitted the application, it is then sent to the consular section of the embassy or consulate for processing. If you have submitted the application at a VAC, they will then be forwarded to the respective embassy/consulate for processing as per the jurisdiction. Note that the VAC has no influence over the processing of the application. They are in charge of only the administrative part of the application.
Once your visa has been approved, you can collect it directly from the respective VAC or embassy/consulate, or you can have the VAC deliver it to you for an additional charge.
Processing time of Schengen Visit Visa
The processing time for the visit visa depends on the volume of applications at the respective embassy, the number of entries, the validity, and your previous travel history. Normally, your application will be processed within 15 working days. However, this can take longer up to 30 or even 90 days in certain extreme cases. As a result, you must apply for a visa well in advance. However, you cannot apply more than 3 months before your intended travel date.
How to check Schengen Visit Visa status?
Usually, there will be multiple ways in which you can check the status of a Schengen visit visa. The Schengen visa status tracking options depends on the country where you are lodging the application as well as on the embassy/consulate of the destination country. If you have applied at one of VACs, you will be able to track the status using their online portal by using the application reference number and your date of birth. Certain embassies provide similar facilities as well. You can also contact a travel agency you have applied through to have them track it for you.
When You have This Visa
Upon successfully receiving your visa, you must keep in mind the following key points to ensure that you do not face unnecessary difficulties during your trip -
Before travelling -
Before you travel to the Schengen country, you must note the following -
- You must carry all your travel documents. These include the passport, visa, invitation letter, and the copy of the documents you have submitted during your visa application.
- You must travel to the country within 6 months or as mentioned in the visa sticker.
- Note the expiry date, validity, and the number of entries mentioned on your visa sticker.
At the border -
Once you are at the border control at the Schengen port of entry, you must keep in mind the following -
- You may have to show your travel documents to the officers at the port of entry.
- You will be stamped with the date of entry in your passport. Your stay duration cannot be more than 90 days from this date.
In the Schengen country -
Once you have entered the Schengen nation, you will have to keep in mind the following points -
- You must not extend your stay beyond the 90/180 rule.
- While you are on a visit permit, you cannot take part in paid work or be employed on the payroll of a Schengen company.
- You are free to take part in tourism or other related activities. You may also do unpaid volunteer or charity work.
- Ensure that you carry a copy of your travel documents while you are travelling within the country.
- You are free to visit any other Schengen countries as well unless you have been issued with the Limited Territory Visa (LTV).
- You must strictly abide by the immigration laws of the country as well as respect their customs and culture.