I have a travel coming up to Europe. I thought why not put down a step by step guide on how to apply for a Schengen Visa (Type C) which is a short stay tourist visa. Hope this benefits anyone looking for info on the same.
I’m applying from UAE (Dubai) but the procedure should be same. Most probably the documents are going to be same as well.
The amount of man-hours I put in for research was high for a short duration visit that I planned. I would have at least 20 tabs open looking at places, checking out tripadvisor, checking out reviews. By the end, when I come back to tab 1 that I had opened…I would have forgotten what I read there. It was time consuming but again, no complaints.
How to …..
First of all, eligibility….
An expat who has a resident visa stamped in their passport and has a valid national (Emirates) identity card can apply for Schengen Visa from UAE. You can apply the visa only 90 days prior to your travel.
Applications for Schengen visa goes through an agency called VFS global. They collect the documents and passport, verify it and then send it across to the consulate for visa processing. There is no visa interview if you are applying for a tourist visa. You drop your documents off and hope that you get a visa.
How I approached the whole process…
The documents you need to get things rolling are
- Appointment letter.
- A completely filled Application form
- Two passport size photographs (taken with in the last 6 months)
- Travel insurance
- Reference letter from your company/sponsor
- Copy of reserved flight tickets/accommodation
- 6 months Bank statement
- 3 months Salary slip
- Travel itinerary
The first thing you need to do is schedule an appointment for submitting your documents. I would always suggest to get an appointment first then start with the documents. Here is a link for the German visa appointment. You need a credit card to pay the agency fees which is a 100 aed (done online) and tentative dates of your travel. Once you get your appointment, print the payment receipt as this is your first document.
I would suggest online over hand written forms. Online forms are given priority.
You can check out this link for filling up the form. If you plan to stay in a hotel and don’t know the Surname and Name of the person in the hotel you were in contact with… just put unknown. I had seen this in one of form filling guidelines which I can’t find now. (I found it…check it out here) Apart from that everything is pretty easy.
Two passport size photographs
Don’t be mistaken and don’t take any passport sized photograph of yours. Here are the guidelines for the photographs. This can be a reason for them to reject your visa. If you are going to a studio, definitely let them know that it’s for Schengen visa. Tell them to look the dimensions up online.
There are special travel insurances for Schengen visa. 30,000 euros emergency and personal protection plan. I got something which has $1,000,000 as personal protection and also includes a lot of other options which are not mandatory. I got them since the price difference was not much. I chose to go with RSA but I’m sure there are a lot of them in the market.
This is from your employer, sponsor or educational institution. It should have the word no-objection and it should mention you are permitted by them to avail leave for that particular period. Also make sure you have your joining date and annual salary in it.
Carry the original letter with you and not a photocopy.
Hope this link helps.
Copy of reservations
You need to show a proof of your travel documents namely flight tickets and hotel (accommodation). Then there is always a possibility of visa application getting rejected. I chose to book for flights and hotels having refund policy. You can even choose to book it and not pay until later if you can find such a deal. They want to make sure that you are going to come back and that’s it.
I must also mention that I had asked them (VFS customer service) if it should be a hotel or it could be a self hosted place like Couch surfing, Airbnb or hostels. They replied telling as long as there is a printed paper with hosts name, contact details with phone number (email id preferred), your name and your booking details like check in and check out times….it shouldn’t matter.
If you are being invited by another person or travelling for job, then I’m not sure. I have not researched into it and you can look it up online. I’m pretty sure that the requirements are different.
6 months bank statement
To show that you have a steady cash flow and you can actually afford the vacation. Though they usually ask for 3 months statement, I chose to take 6 months bank statement and I took statements of multiple accounts to show all the transactions.
3 months Salary slip
Travel Itinerary (optional)
I have read in a couple of forums that this is required. As simple as opening a MS Word and typing down the date and what you plan to do. It can be tentative of course.
Supporting Documents that I carried along:
- Credit card statement for a month.
- Copy of bookings of any tours / activities. (If you have pre-booked any)
- Copy of my electricity bill and tenancy contract to prove my residence address.
- Copy of my company identity card
- Copy of my resident id card.
- Copy of my passport (information pages) and visa page.
Out of these, only the copy of passport and visa page and copy of my resident id were asked for. I had the copies which I gave them. Usually there is a Xerox machine at VFS where you can pay and get the copies done, but I chose to carry them with me.
Finally don’t forget to take your Passport. 😀
What happens at VFS
Once you get the appointment date, you must present yourself at VFS only 15 mins prior. Don’t waste your time going any earlier than that. They won’t let you in before that. You will be told to give all your belongings at the counter and will receive a token for that. You will be allowed to carry only your wallet, mobile phone, car keys and all the documents.
Go to the reception and show them your appointment letter. They will ask you if you want to be upgraded to premium category, which means there will be not much waiting time and you can finish all of the formalities much sooner. I’m not sure how fast they are cos I chose the regular service.
I was given a token and I waited for them to call my number. Once that happened, I was asked to handover the documents. The person who checked my documents was helpful. She collected my documents, filled up my application form for me again cos it had some error.
After sometime I was called to get my Biometrics done (finger prints only).
And that was it…
For convenience they have services like
Application form filling – where they fill the application forms for you.
SMS service – where they will send SMS updates for your application.
Courier service – where they will courier your passport to you, rather than you going there and collecting it by yourself.
The charges are in website. I utilized SMS and Courier service (35 AED in total if I remember correctly) cos I found them very useful.
Visa fees – 250 Aed or 60 Euros.
They said 15 days but I got it done in 4 days. The visa stamping was done in one day. This is as fast as it can get.
In case of any errors in visa, do call VFS customer service and they will guide you to what is to be done. Apparently that is also an easy process involving you going to the consulate. Yes, I have been through that as well.
I hope this helps anyone trying to apply for a Schengen visa in UAE. Good luck!
Links that might help:
Do feel free to drop any questions you might have, I’ll help you with whatever little info I have