Today, Europe stands as a premier dream destination for Indians to visit, hence in the recent years, the demand for Schengen Visa for Indian passport holders has risen at a rapid scale. As per the statistics from the Internal Migration and Affairs of the European Commission, more than 700,000 applications for Schengen visas were submitted by Indians in 2015.

For the uninitiated, a Schengen Visa is the document issued to any individual looking to visit any region within the Schengen states. The Schengen area is comprised of 26 countries that have agreed to allow free movement of their citizens within this area as a single country. Of the 26 countries bound by the Schengen agreement, 22 are part of the European Union (EU) and the other 4 are part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

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

A Schengen visa is an authorisation issued for:

-Transit through or an intended stay in the territory of the Schengen states for a duration of no more than 90 days in 180 days period (short stay visa).
– Transit through the international transit areas of airports of the Schengen states (Airport transit visa).

TYPES:

There are three types of Schengen visas available to the travelers across the globe-
– Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) 
– National Visas 
– Limited Territorial Validity Visas (LTV) 

Schengen travel visa is issued to those who want to travel for leisure, work, business, education, or to visit a relative or friend residing in the Schengen region. This kind of travel visa is usually issued with a validity of 3 months (90 days only).

There are 19 countries that are not a part of the EU, or of the Schengen Area, but they allow foreign citizens of other non-Schengen countries to enter and stay in their territories, only by showing a valid Schengen Visa. Such visiting foreigners do not need a national visa issued from these countries to enter transit and stay in their territory temporarily.

There are a few points that travellers must keep in mind while applying for a Schengen visa.

Book an appointment at least 15 working days prior to your departure since that is the approximate time an Embassy/Consulate needs to complete the visa issuing procedure. You can even apply up to 12 weeks before the date of travel.

Always fill up the travel visa application form cautiously because the visa interviewer has distinguished nature of questions for the interviewee. Making an appointment online and collection of imperative documents is the most important pre-requisite after filling the form.

List of documents that are required for the application process:

1. A photo reflecting full face and neck, and should be clicked in a light background.
2. Photocopies of the visas previously used for travelling. A valid passport that has been issued no longer than ten years ago and has a period of six months until its expiration date.
3. A medical insurance with a minimum cover of €30,000.
4. Flight tickets and hotel reservation.
5. Original bank statement of the applicant for last three months, with the original stamp and signature of authorized signatory of the bank.
6. Proof of accommodation for stay in the Schengen countries.
7. Personal covering letter explaining the purpose of the visit (leisure, work, business, education or to visit a relative/friend).

Additional prerequisite for business travel:

* The invitation letter from the partner company in the Schengen zone.

Additional prerequisites for educational travel:

* The letter of acceptance in a Schengen country University/college/school.
* Proof that one can reside and financially maintain him/herself during their stay in the Schengen zone.
* Fees receipt from the institution.

Additional prerequisite for work (employment) travel:

* The employment contract between the applicant and the future employer residing in the Schengen territory.

If you are looking to permanently reside in a Schengen country due to a spouse living in that region, you should submit the original certified copy of the marital certificate along with a copy of the spouse’s passport.

For a minor, there are a few additional documents which are:

* Birth certificate.
* An application form signed by both the parents.
* In cases where one parent has full custody over the child, the family court order must be attached.
* Certified copies of ID/ passport of both the parents.
* The notarized parental authorization signed by both parents or guardians is attached if the minor is travelling alone.

Additional documents for first time travellers:

* Income tax returns for the last three years.

* Appointment letter.
* Proof of legal entity of the company.

The next step involves preparing for the visa interview. The interview could be brief or could be elaborate based on your application. You should keep the original documents handy during this time. Confidence and proper dress-code are essential for the interview.

During the interview, the candidate does not get questioned solely about the information provided in the visa application form and its supporting documents. There are other questions, sometimes personal, that the diplomatic official may pose to get a sense of answer-ability, frankness and accuracy of the candidate.

As long as your paper work is in order and confidence in place, you can get packing!

Happy travelling!


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