VISAs
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Schengen Visa For Indians: How To Apply And Get It Yourself

I know that Indians are the vulnerable bunch, because of their weak Indian passport. They are required to submit hundreds of documents, prove their existence and go through a process so mentally tormenting, that getting a new birth certificate might apparently feel easier than applying a tourist visa. And when it comes to a Schengen visa, for Indians, things become even more complicated.

Perhaps that’s the reason why a majority of tourists contact a travel agency and pay more money. They do it out of helplessness. For a quick rescue.

They opt for travel packages and pre-paid itineraries – even if that meant bleeding unnecessary money, and exploring silly places abroad.

To tell you the truth, I also considered that option before going through the process myself. But as I pondered upon the idea and calculated the prospects, I realised that it will be a lost deal, especially because I was on a limited budget. I mean we anyway pay over 1500 Rupees to Vfs that is nothing more than a cheap middleman, so why pay more to another travel agency, right?

So if you’re planning to apply a Schengen visa by yourself, and are firm to save some money during the process, this guide will help you. Right from what documents you need for a Schengen visa to how good your chances are for a successful application, I will answer all your answers, right here.

Understand Your Position

Before I say anything, let me give you a picture of how grim my application looked, when I applied for my short term, single entry Schengen tourist visa (in March 2017).

I was self-employed for the past 2 years, with almost no regular source of income. Though I filed income tax, every year, my income was less than taxable. I had no employer recommendation letter to provide with my application either. And on top of that I chose a 2 month travel period – which, more or less, raised doubts about my original intention.

“How can a person with no financial support can travel countries in Europe for months,” I’m sure the Visa officer might have asked the question himself.

But as I submitted the application, there were no questions asked. I was never invited for an interview. And my visa was delivered on my doorsteps in under 8 days from the date of submission. A beautiful stamp on my passport now says ‘valid for SCHENGENER STAATEN’! I like how German sometimes sound!

Takeaway:

  • If you’re already working and have a decent regular income, there’s no need to be scared. Because if a person with no job since years can get it, why can’t you!

The First Step

My original plan was to backpack across 8 countries for a period of 58 days. Though I was starting from Switzerland, I was spending most of my time in Germany (over 15 days), and this made me eligible to apply my Schengen Visa at either at Switzerland’s or Germany’s embassy in India.

[I hope you know the rule, which says: you are eligible to apply the Schengen Visa at the respective country’s embassy where you will be 1) arriving first, or 2) spending most the days, during your travel in Europe]

Now, the reason I chose Germany and not Switzerland is because Swiss embassy has a bad reputation, as compared to that of Germany’s. Though German embassy is not so generous either, but definitely better than that of Switzerland’s. Click here to know which country is the safest to apply for a Schengen Visa.

Takeaway:

  • Apply your visa from a country with a better acceptance rate.
  • Apply from less popular counties like Hungary or Slovenia, than France, or Switzerland.

Start Your Application

Once you’ve made the decision about which embassy you’re going to approach, comes the most important stage – completing your application and submitting relevant the documents.

Though different countries might slightly vary in the rules, the supporting travel documents they require are more of less the same. And they are: your bank statements, a return flight ticket, confirmed hotel booking, all inside-Europe travel booking, and a travel insurance during your time of travel in Europe (with a minimum coverage of 300,00 euros).

Filling your visa application is simple, and takes no more than a couple of hours. If you’ve any doubts, you can also always contact the vfs office but as I said, they’re a cheap middleman and know nothing more than the guidelines already mentioned on a respective country’s website. And I’m saying that out of my personal experience.

So if you have a major doubt about your visa application, it’s advised to directly write to the country’s embassy in India than contacting vfs.

Takeaway:

  • Avoid contacting Vfs, they know nothing more than you do.

The Next Step: Convince The Visa Officer

Convincing the Visa officer that your sole intention is to travel, and travel only is crucial. And this is done by showing more than enough funds in your bank account (explained later in the article how!) and providing other travel documents, including: a return flight ticket, all confirmed hotel booking, all inside-Europe travel booking, and the travel insurance.

In my case, I provided proof of enough funds in my account; a 100 percent refundable, but confirmed flight ticket (so that I can later cancel it, if the need be, without losing any money); all pre-booked hotels (with no reservation charges and free cancellation, using booking.com); and the mandatory travel insurance (from Reliance General Insurance, which comes with free cancellation, if the visa is rejected)!

The only required document(s) I didn’t provide were my pre-booked transportation inside Europe – and for that I clearly mentioned in my STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND TRAVEL ITINERARY that I didn’t do because I might be hitchhiking and booking last minute bus/flight tickets to save costs, and it worked just right!

Statement Of Purpose: Make It Convincing, And Clear

For those who don’t know, a Statement of Purpose (with your entire travel itinerary) is a personal covering letter, addressed to the visa officer, which talks about your original intention to travel, places you are going to travel, and for how long.

There’s no harm in going subjective with your thoughts, and I think it only helps you better if you do. Provide as much details as you can, and convince the visa office. I wrote a 3 page long cover letter!

It is moreover a good idea to provide a route-map with all your locations and dates of travel. And I think it’s because of detailed, and a very personal statement of purpose, that the officer felt assured that my sole intention is travelling.

Remember whether you travel cheaper (as was the case with me) or take expensive tours, if your application looks genuine to the Visa officer you will be granted the permission!

Takeaway:

  • Provide a very personal and clearly detailed itinerary.
  • Book hotels from Booking.com, with no reservation charges and a free cancellations.
  • Always book a refundable flight ticket.

Proof Of Funds: Perhaps Most Significant

Unlike hotel reservation and a pre-booked transportation, which can be smartly escaped from, here you don’t get much flexibility. You have to have the minimum required money stocked up in your favourite bank, so the visa officer feels confident about your financial situation.

Though different countries have a different requirement, the difference isn’t very significant. For Germany, it was somewhere around 65 Euros a day. This means that those applying the Schengen visa from a German embassy, and for a travel period of 10 days must at least have over 650 Euros in their bank account – unused for the last few months or weeks. This can be your current/savings account as well as fixed deposits.

I moreover think that there isn’t a minimum time duration, since you are required to have the money in your account. In my case I had the maintained balance for less than 3 weeks, and it worked just right.


I personally feel that applying a visa by yourself is simple, easier and gives you much flexibility to create an itinerary the way you wanted. I paid just a little over 6000 Rupees including my visa fee, vfs charges and for the passport courier service.

The accommodation I’ve booked and the flight tickets I’ve purchased – were also cheaper, at least cheaper than what any travel agent would have possibly provided me with!

Further Reading: Reasons For Schengen Visa Rejection | Tips For Australian Tourist Visa | Australian Tourist Visa ProcessThailand Visa On Arrival | Cambodia Visa On Arrival

Filed under: VISAs

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Shortly after my first real nine-to-five job, I left that lifestyle behind, and with it, everything that didn't fit in my backpack. I've learned that this world is too big (and too interesting!) to stay in one place. I believe that with a little courage and inspiration, everyone has the power to follow their dreams. Just as I've followed mine!

20 Comments

  1. ADHIMAN says

    I applied for schengen visa from France embassy and it got rejected saying purpose and reason for intended not reliable. however I am doing job paying taxes, attached all documents and going on solo trip.

    now not able to understand what to do I applied first time.

  2. Robert says

    Having an Hungarian invitation letter for visit from the Hungary immigration from a friend for me to visit with other supporting documents from her like a bank statment company papers her house pappers and her Hungarian citizenship card,and I am student here in Malaysia do you have any idea of the possibilities of the visa granted.

  3. Thank you so much for your time and care in laying out the steps and preparation to secure the Schengen visa. I agree with so many of the commentors here, that Indians have it particularly hard. You are a wonderful help resource, sir!

  4. Bhanu says

    Hi bro I just received my Belgium visa rejected yesterday after all pain of VFS and called again for interview and it took 60 days to know that they refused my application though I have shown 2.5lakhs of funds and all itenrri and all pain plzz send send me your itinery so I can prepare for Germany now my leave got waisted you will do a great help by helping me my friend bhanusimma0303 @gmail.com

  5. It would help some if you could comment on the unstated “visa fee”. How many Rupees and does every Schengen country charge the same amount? Can one apply to the one with the lowest fee but travel to any Schengen country?

    (Not asking for myself, having AU and NZ passports)

    • Yes, as far as I know all member states charge the same fee, however I’ve applied it through Germany only, twice. And it was 4600 Rupees (for Germany) when I applied recently in September 2017, but had to pay another 1300 Rupees to VFS (the company authorised to take VISA applications) for processing. If you want a courier or other services, you pay extra.

  6. Now that is a lovely guide, coz Visa services always get people scratching their heads. Your step by step instructions will make it so much more easier. I think that Schengen Visa was always easier than getting a UK visa. The documentation for the latter is far more 🙁 . But once you get it, renewing it or getting it the next time is never a challenge.

    • I agree. And there’s a hierarchy in Visas, eg if you have UK visa, then your chances for Schengen is more. haha. Crazy. I think my UK visa did some work here. 😛

      • I have been wondering how you were able to get the Schengen Visa without much money in your bank statement. Now I just understood. It was the UK visa on your P that did the work, otherwise, I can bet it you’ll not have gotten it.
        I am from Nigeria, and we both have similar problem when it comes to getting these visas. No other reason but for our weak passports. Anyway, it’s not the Schengen embassies’ fault, but our governments. Bad leadership gives bad impression.

        • So true man. Also, I had an invitation letter from Stuttgart and Berlin Tourism Department, and I think that mattered as well.

  7. Thank you for this clear and detailed post. Getting a schengen visa sounds like such a pain but you have done a really nice thing to share your knowledge with others.

  8. Though this isn’t particularly applicable to me, I appreciate the thorough way in which you approached the topic. I’m going to take a little time and explore the rest of your blog based on this. Thanks!

  9. Oh I hate it! Although I am a lucky holder of an EU passport, it angers me that just because of the place of birth, you already have to face all those stupid limitations. It is so unfair… Anyway, I also know the pain because some of the countries that I wished to visit were making it as difficult as possible to obtain a visa. For example, I was turned away from boarding a plane to Minks in Vilnius Airport just because they had conflicting information about visas. I lost the flight and accommodation in Minsk. I tried to apply for a refund but it was so complicated that I finally gave up.

    • Really? That’s sad. Visas and immigration always make things tough for frequent travellers.

  10. Haha! I can totally understand the pain… My Schengen Visa was rejected twice!! Its a pain. Its pure pain… And finally when I was backpacking in Europe, I so envied the US citizens who could easily travel to all these places without any such trouble at all!!!

  11. As Philippines passport holder, obtaining Schengen visa in the Philippines is quite a hassle. However in my case applying here in KSA is a lot easier.

  12. Sharing these posts is great so people are prepared. Thanks for taking the time to put it together!

  13. We never knew it was so complicated for Indians. This must be giving more business to businesses into tradition traditional tourism. If getting visa is tough then I believe people cannot travel freely.

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