Ultimate Guide for Schengen Visa – Europe

If you are planning a visit to European countries, the chances are high that you may have come across the team “Schengen visa.” It is a short-stay visa allowing travelers to move freely between the Schengen (27 European countries). This system was adopted to create common entry and exit policies for non-European citizens. Naturally, you may have many questions if you are trying to apply for a Schengen visa. To answer all your questions, here is an ultimate guide for a Schengen visa and other important information.

What is a Schengen visa?

A Schengen visa system was adopted under the 1985 Schengen Agreement. A Schengen visa holder can travel to 27 European countries(Schengen states) without requiring additional visas. Moreover, it’s a short-term stay visa that allows Non-European states to travel up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

With this valid document, you can freely explore the states without border controls between member states (There can be some exceptions). This makes your travel very convenient and saves time.

Note: This visa is exclusively for short-term stays for travel, business, medical assistance, etc. Also, it’s valid for 90 days in your 180 days of travel.

 

Which Countries Are Valid for a Schengen Visa?

Presently, 27 countries are valid for Schengen visas. They are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Different Types of Schengen Visas?

The Schengen Agreement was formed on 14 June 1985. It aimed to create European Schengen areas. In these countries, the national border checks have mostly been canceled for individuals with Schengen visas.

To regulate safe travel and the issue of visas, this borderless travel has various validity and period limitations. Therefore, different types of Schengen visas justify the nature of traveling and other relevant circumstances.

To apply for this visa, you must know all the types and their eligibility. Here are some popular types of Schengen visa and their information.

i) Uniform Schengen Visas (USV)

The Uniform Schengen Visas (USV) permits one to stay and travel between Schengen areas for up to 90 days out of six months.

You can travel to these countries with Uniform Schengen Visas (USV):

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

According to the purpose of the travel, the Uniform Schengen Visa is divided into two categories, “A” and “C.”

The “A” category is exclusively for the airport transit visa. It means the visa holder in this category can travel between an international zone of the Schengen country airport without entering the Schengen Area.

Also, it’s important for individuals moving from a non-Schengen state to another non-Schengen with a change of flights in Schengen country airports.

According to the visa validity, the “C” category visa is for a short-term stay in the Schengen area. This category is further divided into three types:

ii) Single-entry visa: A single-entry Schengen visa lets you enter the Schengen area only once. You can stay for the valid days or leave before the expiration of the days. But you can’t enter the area once you leave, even if you have valid days.

iii) Double-entry visa:  This visa lets you enter the Schengen area twice. You can complete the valid number of days in both visits. But, once you exit the second time, you can’t enter even if you have valid days to stay.

iv) Multiple-entry visa: This visa lets you enter and exit the Schengen areas as often as you’d like. But it’s possible as long as your visa is valid.

The multiple-enter visa is further divided into three types depending on the nature and purpose of your travel:

1-year multiple-entry Schengen visa

You can get a 1-year multiple-entry Schengen visa if you have lawfully used three visas within the previous two years. Also, you must present the previous visa and all the information about travel to the Schengen zone.

After obtaining this visa, you can enter or exit the area as often as you want in one year. But, the total duration must be 90 days within this period.

3-year multiple-entry Schengen visa

You can obtain this visa if you have lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for one year within the last two years. This allows you to visit and exit the Schengen area as many times as you want for three years. However, the stay must not exceed 90 days within 180 days.

5-year multiple-entry Schengen visa

A 5-year multiple-entry Schengen visa can be obtained by individuals who have lawfully used a previous multiple-entry visa valid for at least two years within the last three years.

Also, this visa allows you to enter and travel to Schengen areas as often as you want for five years, but you should respect the 90/180 days rule.

Important Note: Many Schengen visa holders confuse the single, double, and multiple entries as the number of countries you can visit in the Schengen area. To clear the confusion, you must refer to “Valid for” to know the legal countries. In comparison, the duration of the stay is mentioned in the “Number of entries” tag

Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV)

This special type of visa allows the individual to travel only to the Schengen member country that has issued the visa. For example, if Germany is an issuing country, then you are permitted to stay only in Germany.

Under this visa, you are not even allowed to travel to any other country, which may or may not be a Schengen country. It’s a visa generally issued for international obligations or humanitarian reasons.

National Visas (D category Visa)

The national visa is a D-category visa. It’s also a special category visa given to individuals studying, working, or permanently living in one of the Schengen countries. For example, a student who enrolls in a program in Schengen country.

You can have a single entry national visa according to the travel and purpose. It allows you to enter the Schengen area once. If the purpose of travel is complete ( for example, a course), you have to return to your country permanently.

However, you can also get a multi-entry national visa. It can be given to you in various circumstances like:

  • You are an international student enrolling in the Schengen country for a course. You can extend it after one year.
  • If you have pedagogical work at a higher institution or research center.
  • If you are a person who is a sportsman, an artist, or any other professional. They can travel between the Schengen countries with this visa.
  • A medical emergency where you are not aware of the time frame.

Schengen Visa Types According to the Purpose of Travel

You can get the above-mentioned Schengen visa only when you know the purpose of your visit. To get the right visa and know your eligibility, you must mention the purpose of the visit. Also, you have to fill in the purpose in the Schengen Visa application form.

So, here are Schengen Visa Types According to the Purpose of Travel:

Airport transit: You may need a Schengen visa if you travel through the international zone of a Schengen Country Airport without going to the Schengen country. This visa depends on your nationality. Some countries have to acquire the visa, while others can skip it.

Transit: This is similar to airport transit but for seafarers or other individuals. This lets you stop at seaports briefly to go to different locations.

Tourism: This purpose is the most popular for getting a Schengen visa. Travelers can explore various beautiful Schengen areas without any border restrictions. You must fulfill the eligibility and validity rules.

Visiting close ones: If you have family and friends in Schengen areas, you can visit them with a Schengen visa. But you have to specify the details and reasons for visiting.

Business: It is the second most popular reason to apply for a Schengen visa. You can apply for this visa if you have important business that can be completed in a valid duration. Also, it’s a quick way of getting a visa.

Medical assistance: If you want to visit Schengen countries for medical assistance, you can list the purpose on the application. It also allows you to stay for three months out of six months in the Schengen areas.

Students: If you’re taking a course that lasts three months in a Schengen country, you can get a visa. Of course, you have to present documents for validation.

Some other purposes of the visit can be:

  • Journalists and reporters visit for their work.
  • Any official visit to the Schengen area.
  • If you have Cultural, Sports, and Film Crews

You have to specify the reasons and documents to prove your visits. This will help you with the quick issue of the visa.

How to Apply for Schengen Visa

To apply for the Schengen visa, you must know if you can apply for the visa. There are some special rules and conditions for various countries.

Therefore, you must look for your eligibility. You must fulfill the reason, purpose, and documents and follow the duration guidelines.

Here are the steps to apply for the Schengen visa:

STEP 1: Find the Right Category and Purpose of the Visit

Before applying for the Schengen visa, you must know the purpose of the visit. This will help you apply for the right visa type and provide valid documents. Moreover, it will minimize the chances of visa rejection.

According to the nature and purpose of the visit, you can apply for the following:

  • Transit Visa
  • Tourism Visa
  • Visa for Visiting Family or Friends
  • Business Visa
  • Visa for Journalists
  • Visa for Culture and Sports activities
  • Visa for Official Visits
  • Study Visa
  • Visa for Medical Reasons

STEP 2: You Should Know Where you can Apply for a Schengen Visa

The destination Schengen country may have set up a body for regulating visa formalities in your country. You can find it online or ask the concerned individuals.

There can be various bodies of the Schengen country like:

  • Their embassy
  • One of their consulates
  • A visa base to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission
  • The embassy/consulate of another Schengen state to which the embassy of your destination country has outsourced visa submission

Note: The destination country means the Schengen country where you want to apply for your visa

 

IMPORTANT:

If you’re visiting a single Schengen country, apply at the visa regulating body of that country. If you are visiting multiple Schengen countries, you can apply for a visa to the country where you will arrive first or stay at maximum. And then you can travel to other Schengen areas.

STEP 3: Apply to the Application on Time

You must apply for the Schengen visa at suitable times. What is the suitable time to apply for a Schengen visa? Being an international process, it takes time to issue the visa.

So, you can apply at different time frames like:

  • You can apply for a Schengen visa six months before your visit.
  • Also, if urgent, you can file it 15 days before the visit.

However, the most suitable time to apply for a Schengen visa is three weeks before the trip.

STEP 4: Appointment

To process your application, you have to book a Schengen visa appointment. You can book an appointment online or visit the visa-regulating bodies mentioned in Step 2.

STEP 5: Fill out the Visa Application Form

You can download the Visa application form. The application form for all the Schengen countries is the same. Take out two copies and fill them out correctly.

You have to mention detail like:

  • Your personal information,
  • Background details,
  • Your purpose for visiting Schengen Area,
  • Other information regarding your trip.

Here are some tips to follow regarding the application form:

  • Download the latest form.
  • Ensure that you fill in every asked detail.
  • If some question is irrelevant to your case, you can mention NA(No Answer).
  • Print two copies and sign them.
  • If you are a minor, your parents must submit written consent.

STEP 6: Get the Documents

This is one of the crucial steps. Must present all the original supporting documents for smooth acceptance. You have to submit valid documents with your applications as evidence.

You can categorize the document into two parts.

The first one includes:

  • The visa application form.
  • Valid passport.
  • Two identical photos.
  • Travel insurance policy.
  • Round trip booking or flying itinerary with dates and flight numbers pinpointing entry and exit from the Schengen area.
  • Proof of stay.
  • Proof of finances etc.

The other types of document requirements are according to the types of visas. Also, some countries have requested additional documents. You can check out the documents required for the Schengen visa application according to visa type and country.

STEP 7: Attend the Interview

You will get a date for the interview. You must come to the facility on time with all the requested documents. The official verifies biometrics and all the details. After verifying the application and documents, you will be asked a few questions.

STEP 8: Submit the Fees

To initiate your visa application, you have to pay a nonrefundable fee. It is €80 per person. But, there is a reduction in fees for children and other special categories. Therefore, you must ask the visa office or check the website for all the information.

You can wait for some time after successfully submitting the form, fee, and documents and attending the interview. Generally, the process takes 15, 20, to 45 days, depending on the country.

What Questions will be asked in a Visa interview for a signed visa?

Here is the tops list of questions you may get:

  • Which nations in the Schengen do you intend to visit?
  • Do you have any family members or friends living in Europe?
  • What is the objective of your visit?
  • Who will pay for your visit?
  • Are you married? If yes, what does your partner do? For how long have you been married?
  • Do you have any kids? If yes, how old are they, and what do they do?
  • How long are you going to visit in Europe?
  • Where are you going to stay?
  • What is your educational capability?
  • Which organization do you work for?

Scenarios After Applying for the Schengen Visa

Here are some scenarios you may face after the application process:

Visa is Accepted

If your visa is accepted, you can safely travel to the Schengen country. Make sure you read your visa sticker. Also, it would be best to go through the “Valid for” and “Number of entries” tags to follow the rules.

Schengen Visa Gets Rejected

If your Schengen visa is rejected, you must read the reason and fulfill it the next time. However, you can appeal the visa rejection if all details and formalities are correct.

You Need to Stay More Than 90 Days

If you want to stay in a Schengen country for over 90 days, you should apply for a National visa. This is the best choice if you are unsure how long you will stay.

It allows you to stay in Schengen countries for 12 months. Of course, you should have valid reasons and documents to support your stay.

Parting Words

It was your complete guide to the Schengen visa. The Schengen countries have made this agreement to simplify travel a lot. Well, with a single visa and various types of visas, you can freely travel to these Schengen areas.

Make sure to go through all the rules, visa types, eligibility, and application procedures. Also, follow the rules and make the best of your visit to the Schengen countries.

FAQs

What is the difference between a single-entry and a multiple-entry Schengen visa?

A single-entry visa lets you enter the Schengen area once. If you leave the area, you can enter it again. But in a multiple-entry Schengen visa, you can enter or exit the areas as much as you need within 90 days of stay.

Who needs a visa to enter Europe?

All the citizens of third countries without a visa-liberalization agreement with the Schengen countries need a visa.

Can I apply for a multiple-entry Schengen visa for the first time?

No, you can’t do that. It can be a very rare possibility under very special circumstances.

What is the minimum bank balance for a Schengen visa?

You should show your bank balance to sustain your visits for the three months in Schengen countries. It depends on the purpose of your visits.

How many days does it take to process the Schengen visa?

Processing the visa takes around 15, 20, to 45 days.

What to do if a Schengen visa is delayed?

You can contact the visa offices and request them. You can ask about the delaying reasons, expected date and further procedure to speed it up. Also, applying for a visa early is beneficial.

Why is my Schengen visa taking so long?

Your Schengen visa may take longer to issue due to over traffic. There can be a surge in international travel. So you can get the right information from the concerned visa officials.

Can I convert my Schengen Multiple Entry Visa into a National Visa?

You can’t convert the type “C” visa to a “D” visa. You have to fulfill the requirements of the existing visa. Then, you can apply for a National or type D visa from your own country.

Can I get my Schengen visa extended?

No, you can’t get your Schengen visa extended. However, it can be extended to special reasons like force majeure, humanitarian, or serious personal reasons.

What happens if I overstay in Europe?

If you overstay in Europe, you will be deported to your country. Also, you may receive a fine and never get a Schengen visa.

Do I need insurance to apply for a Schengen visa?

As a traveler, you need travel insurance whether you are visiting for business, tourism, studying, holidays, or other reasons. It justifies all your expenses for the trip. Also, you may be required to have medical insurance if something happens.

 

 

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