The Schengen Area comprises of 26 European nations that have officially abolished separate passports and all other kinds of border control at their mutual borders. The area consists of 22 European Union member states and four non-members, who are members of the European Free Trade Association.
The visa policy for this area is decided by the European Union. If someone other than a European Union, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen wishes to enter the Schengen Area, they must have a visa or be a national of a visa-exempt country, according to an article on Wikipedia.
Also read: Everything about Schengen Visas.
What Will the Schengen Visa Allow You to Do?
A Schengen Visa authorizes you for:
- Intended stay or transit through the states in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days and within 180 days of the visa being issued (Short Stay Visa).
- Transit through the international transit areas of Schengen Area airports (Airport Transit Visa).
Who is Qualified to Apply for a Schengen Visa in India?
All Indian citizens who are residing in India, as well as citizens of other countries currently residing in India, can apply for a Schengen Visa from India. In case you are an NRI but applying for the visa on Indian soil, you will have to be legally present in the country and give valid justification as to why you are applying in India, rather than your country of residence. This visa is granted to people who want to travel to the Schengen area for business, leisure or family visits.
Which Member States Require Schengen Visa?
The visa is granted by the embassy or consulate of the member state you want to visit. Some points you should keep in mind are:
- In case you have a single destination, apply to the embassy of that member state in India.
- In case you have multiple destinations, apply to the embassy of the state where you will spend the maximum number of days.
- In case you do not have any specific plan, apply to the state whose border you will cross first during your trip.
Out of these 26 countries, France is the most favored destination, attracting 81,411,000 foreign visitors each year, followed by Spain, with 56,694,000 visitors, Italy, with 46,119,000 visitors, Germany, with 28,374,000, and Austria, with 23,012,000 foreign visitors each year, according to an article on The Economic Times.
What Documents are Required for Schengen Visa Application?
The application form can be downloaded, and filled manually or electronically. A hard copy of the filled application is required, along with:
- Passport Sized Photos (at least 3); a bright capture against a light background.
- A valid passport with at least 2 blank pages, along with copies of previous visas (if any), valid for 3 months beyond your return date.
- Travel Insurance of a minimum of €30,000 is required to cover your entire trip. There are approximately 14 Indian insurance companies that are approved to provide Schengen travel insurance, according to this list of companies.
- Flight Itinerary; including all the dates and flight numbers during travel. Entry and exit dates for all the states you plan to visit. Return tickets should be booked too.
- Proof of accommodation; all hotel reservation vouchers, addresses of family and friends you intend to stay with, and company address in case of a business tour. Family and friends could also send letters or cards for invitation.
- Proof that you have sufficient funds to sponsor your trip through bank account statements (online not allowed). For pensioners, a pension statement of the last 6 months will suffice. You also have to submit TDS certificates and IT return documents.
- For minors; birth certificates, certified copies of ID or passport of both parents, signed application form by both parents. In case your child is travelling alone, a parental authorization is required.
- For students; proof of enrollment and NOC from respective school or university is required.
What is the Procedure and Time Taken?
You should start the procedure at least 15 days prior to your planned departure date, but not more than 3 months before the trip. After you have filled the application form, attach the requisite documents and submit to the embassy or consulate of the member state in your country. It takes anywhere between 15 to 60 days for the processing of your visa, although it takes 60 days only in rare cases. The visa fee is currently €60 (₹4,372) for adults and €35 (₹2,551) for children between ages of 6 and 12 years.
Things You Should Know
- Check if an appointment is required at the specific embassy before delivering your application.
- Visa application rules are more or less the same for all member states, though there might be minor differences. Check them.
- Ireland and the UK do not grant Schengen Visas, they have totally different visa codes.
- A passenger who transits through a single airport in the Schengen Area while remaining inside airport for less than one day will not require a visa.
- Under provisions of Article 35 of the Schengen Visa Code, a visa may be issued at a border in some situations, such as the diversion of a flight, causing air passengers in transit to pass through two or more airports instead of one, according to an article on Wikipedia.