Applying for a visa is one of the most time consuming processes for Indians visiting most of the foreign nations. You are really lucky in this regard if you are a US, UK, Australian or Canadian citizen since you have a lot of options of visiting visa free countries. However, for most others, a VISA is required to make a visit to foreign lands.
When it comes to applying VISA, although there are agents available to help with every step of the process. Still there are lots of documents to be arranged and timelines to be followed. This can get overwhelming. The same happened with us when we applied for our Schengen visa in India on our recent trip to Europe. So, here we put the one on ones about how to apply for Schengen visa in India. Although the content here is specific to our context. But the process will be the same no matter from where in India you apply for it and which Schengen country you apply for. The window for applying for visa opens 3 months prior to your date of departure to Schengen.
1. Decide through which country you will apply Schengen Visa in India
There are multiple countries which are part of Schengen. And out of these, there will be one through which you will be applying for your Schengen visa in India. It is determined based on a simple rule – the country where you are spending the major portion of your time during your stay in Schengen region is the one. Through the embassy of this country , you are supposed to apply for Schengen visa in India. In our case, we started our Schengen trip by spending 6 days in Italy. As we spent major chunk of our time here. So, we applied for our Schengen visa in India via the Consulate of Italy. And we applied via VFS Italy.
2. Find your center to apply for the Schengen Visa in India
There are multiple embassies of most of the Schengen countries in India. Most of them are in the major metro cities – Delhi, Mumbai , Chennai and Kolkata. Accordingly, the nearby states of India are grouped so that their applicants fall under the jurisdiction of one of these embassies. Some of the embassies do have offices beyond the four major metros defined above. We live in Karnataka. And that comes under the Mumbai office. So, we applied for our visa via Mumbai center of Italy Consulate.
3. Arrange the documents to apply for the Schengen Visa in India
Well, whether we like it or not, a huge plethora of documents is required even if you are applying for a tourist visa for Schengen. And for some of these documents, you will have to go and reach out to your employer (assuming you have a job), bank and several other places. So, here goes the checklist of documents required for applying Schengen Visa in India.
- A cover letter from your end stating your date of departure to and from Schengen region, countries that you will be visiting, with whom all you are going, who will be bearing the expenses during the travel and that you have made the arrangements for your travel as well as stay during this period.
- A letter declaring the details of your travel insurance.
- In case you have booked through a tour agency, a cover letter from their end in the same format as your own cover letter stating about your travel plans, with their sign and stamp.
Documents for employees
- Last 3 months salary slips.
- Past 3 years IT return copies.
- Last 3 months bank account statement of the account in which you get salary. Highlight the salary credit line in the statement. And ensure to take the stamp and seal of the bank.
- Leave sanction letter from the employer, on their letter head, clearly stating that you are on leave during the travel and you will resume your job post the leave. Most of the companies follow standard template using which they will issue you the letter. For this, you first apply for the leave in your organization and then head to your HR or respective department for the letter.
Travel specific documents
- Copy of confirmed flight reservations for both your departure and arrival.
- Hotel booking vouchers for all places of stay during your travel.
- A travel insurance (Minimum coverage requirement for Schengen is 30000 Euros at the time of this writing. And the insurance you can get from pretty much any of the standard Insurance providers in India)
PS: You only require to book a “flight reservation” and not a “confirmed ticket” for your Visa processing. You might not want to put in a lot of money into purchasing confirmed flight tickets when you are not sure if your VISA is going to be granted in the first place. Head here for details : how to reserve your flight for Schengen VISA requirements You can as well check their available packages for making a flight reservation.
- The duly filled visa application form per applicant. It is available on respective VFS websites.
- A proof of identity. The checklist with the visa application form states what is accepted.
- In case your passport is issued from a different state of India and you are applying for visa from a different state then a proof of current address is required. The checklist with the visa application form states what is accepted as a proof of address.
- Your photograph. However the specification of the size, color and finish of photograph is specific. So check on their website regarding the requirements.
PS: These documents list is as per our experience when we applied for Schengen Visa in India via Italy Consulate. The requirements might vary slightly for others, but they are pretty much standard. And the list that we put here is assuming that you are holding a full time job with an employer. In case you are self employed or in any other occupation, some of the document requirements will vary for you.
4. Find where to submit your application to apply for the Schengen Visa in India
Although the consulate office are only located in a few cities. But to make the application processing faster, VFS offices are setup across most of the metros and major cities in almost all the states in India. So, most probably, you can check for the nearest VFS center to your address. And then you can take an appointment there online for your visa application submission. There are slots of 15 minutes assigned to everyone beforehand. Once you apply online and obtain the slot, head there with all your documents for submitting the application. We found that the process was quiet smooth.
Along with submitting your application, you can pay the Schengen visa fee at the VFS center. Either through cash or demand draft drawn in favor of the respective Consulate. We paid in cash. After the fee payment and application submission, you will get a receipt. It will have your application number and other details. Keep it preserved with you. As, you will need to show it later on to collect your visa.
5.Track your application
After applying, you can track the status of your application at the VFS website. The VFS will transfer your application to the consulate. And if everything is fine, they will grant the visa within next one week. In case any additional document is required, they will intimate it in the status message. You will also get an email intimation. In our case, after the first round of application submission, some more documents were asked. And we got an email stating exactly what was required. Then we arranged the documents and just walked in the VFS office to submit them, along with a copy of the mail received. You don’t need to take an appointment for additional document submission.
Finally, after the application is processed, the visa will be sent to VFS and status will be updated. Then you can collect the visa from the VFS office within the next few working days. And you are all set for your travel! PS: In case the consulate is not satisfied with your documents, or any other such reason, you might be called for a personal interview at the consulate. But that happens rarely.
Insider tips for quick processing of Schengen visa application
Be documents prepared
- The accuracy of your documents submitted is directly proportional to the speed at which your visa will be processed. So make sure to keep all the documents ready in the form required. One of us thought that a certain document will do as address proof even when it was not mentioned in the checklist, and we almost ended up visiting the VFS office twice.
- If there are additional documents required, submit them as soon as possible.
- Keep your documents arranged in order of the visa application form checklist. Because the member at VFS desk will ask it in that order only. And keeping them in order will save you shuffling through them.
Know your VFS
- VFS provides an option to skip the queues and submit your visa application faster. It is called Lounge service. However, it is not present in all the VFS centers. And it comes at an additional cost. So, you can take your call accordingly to go or not go for it.
- VFS also provides option to courier your processed visa to your doorstep. In case you don’t have time to collect it from the office, you can opt for this facility at a slight additional fee.
- All the members applying for visa should visit the VFS office at the time of application submission, including minors. Later, to submit additional documents, one person can visit and submit on behalf of everyone else. But he has to carry a letter of authorization from the rest of the applicants along with their identity proof.
- Try to take the morning slot so that your application can be submitted before the rush starts.
- Arrive at the VFS office at time and be ready with all your documents there. Carry an identity proof when visiting.
- Normally, for security reasons, you can’t carry anything with you inside the VFS office except for your documents. So, avoid carrying valuables or anything much apart from your documents when you visit their office.