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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After my couple of years of corporate career, I left that lifestyle behind, and with it, everything that didn't fit in a backpack. I've learned that this world is too big (and too interesting!) to spend your life working at one place, and that's what inspires me to remain footloose and fancy-free for the rest of my life!

52 Comments

  1. Thanks for providing great and informative post. This article of yours has been very helpful to me and everyone.

  2. ANKITA says

    Hi Dev! My Netherlands visa has also been rejected today with the reason that my purpose of visit has not been clearly stated, whereas I very clearly mentioned that it is a visit to my family to attend a particular function. Also, i had sponsorship letter from her side, and I also attached documents of my employment with my salary slips as well as an NOC letter from my organization informing that I am an employed person who has been granted leave of 1 month to travel abroad without objection. My papers/documents were all complete, then what exactly could be the reason ? I am 25yrs old, unmarried. Please help me out on this, I really some assistance.

    • Purbita Goswami says

      This happened to me last year when I had applied in Hungarian embassy, though they didnot reject my visa but they kept me on hold. Upon enquiring they (hungarian embassy amd not VFS) finally told me they had doubt regarding my signatures (which apparently looked different) and I just told them over the phone only that its my signature only. I dont know what happened, thry said ok we are issuing your visa and the next day I actually got it. So try contacting your embassy and re-apply. Probably a ‘solo’ female traveller which was my case too raises doubts. Assure them by showing more funds in terms of FDs or insurance policies. Best of luck.

  3. BAKUL D THUMMAR says

    hi devesh joshi,
    i read your blog about guidend for schengen visa, which is much helpful for every one. i need your help, and guidence for perticular my case.
    i BAKUL THUMMAR (surat) have applied on 14-02-18 for schengen visa in netherland, for 17 days europe trip 9 may to 25 may (paris-amstardam-prague-switzerland-paris) for my family 2 adult, 2 child, . i am doing business of dimond and property sell/purchase in my personal name, not having any gov. licence for that. submited dimond association membership ID card , not having overseas travell history, showing income in ITR 7 lakh, in visa form stated as freelancer business, bank balance 14 lakh,also submit property certificate 8 crore, return air ticket book by me, confermed hotel booking voucher by my local travell agent,. enough insurance.
    After submission, got phone call from netherland embassy, delhi. Asking about hotel name and address various question, i am not able to give proper ans. due to i am on the way, driving car at that time, could not understand visa officer’s pronounce, and i cant speak fluently in english. After that got refusal latter with point no. 2 justification for the purpose and intended stay was not provided. and point no. 9 your intend to leve territory of member stated not be ascertained.
    a week later i reapplied in czech replubic with changed itinerary, in cover latter not diclosed about above first refusal , my agent said its not necessery, no phone call this time and get refusal with same reason .
    my agent assumed reason that, i have weak business proof, no travell history . i assume stating as freelancer and no goverment proof of buisness is main reason, After 2nd time refusal recently i have make buisness registration, with new name SHIV ENTERPRISE and got gumasta licence( shop establishment licence). and make propritor ship firm for my business, and open new bank account for this propritorship name “SHIV ENTERPRISE” and strated doing buisness with this . After twice refusal i am disappointed , now i postponed trip to may-2019, now going for singapor malasiya tour. but need your guidence for next year europe trip,
    1. should i reapply in france/switzerland , or repply in netherland
    which is batter (above refusal will affect this or not)after one year
    2. should i disclose(after one year) in cover latter about twice refusal. if yes what to write.
    3. shoud i join group tour for this problem. like makemy trip/thomas cook. ( i extreme wish to go on my way) due to visa problem, agent said joining famous tour agent’s group tour can able to get visa easily.
    4 i am also having agriculture land , which is not shown in this application. should i submit crop bill for supporting document.
    please please give me guidence for above point.

  4. Priyanka says

    As per the current guidelines on the VFS sites, for first-time applicants of Schengen visa, hotel reservations through sites like http://www.booking.com and others will not be accepted. You must book directly with a hotel and if you are booking apartments, you must provide emails from the owners confirming the booking and the payments along with other details such as your travel dates. Just Airbnb receipt won’t work.

  5. Priyanka says

    As per the current guidelines on the VFS sites, for first-time applicants of Schengen visa, hotel reservations through sites like http://www.booking.com and others will not be accepted. You must book directly with a hotel and if you are booking apartments, you must provide emails from the owners confirming the booking and the payments along with other details such as your travel dates. Just Airbnb receipt won’t work.

    • Geetika Jindal says

      Hey Priyanka. Can you please provide source of this information.

  6. Aujwalya Jyotizit says

    Hi, Is it alright to present Form 16 for 2 years and mention the reason in the covering letter, which is, my total work experience is 2.8 years and no prior work experience to that.

    Thanks,
    Aujwalya

  7. Arun says

    In the comments you have revealed that you had a visa from the UK and a letter of invitation from a tourism agency. These details make it clear your application was much stronger than the initial article describes it to be. Their omission from the article misleads readers and gives a false hope to aspirants who perhaps forget to read the comments.

    Take myself for example: I read your article and was overjoyed. I fit many of the parameters you described yourself as and I was previously unsure whether I would get a visa. Reading your article gave me hope. Now that I’ve read the comments, all my doubts have resurfaced: your application has many more supportive circumstances than mine.

    Since you wrote the article with yourself/your application as the example, could you perhaps give us the full picture? How else did you bolster your application? Did you present ownership of property as a tie to India?

    Lastly, this may be blunt but it needs to be asked: how much funds did you show the embassy for your trip? You cited the basic minimum requirement in your article, but many applicants (on other forums) believe they must go above and beyond the base requirements and show as much as they can.

    • Robin says

      i was applied with my aadthar udyog and income tax v with travel insurence hotel booking and air tickets visiting to 2 days in france and 2 days in italy

      • Robin says

        and also they stamped another one person visa cancelled in my pass port what can i do

  8. Robin says

    Hello Mr Dev I was applying my Schengen visa my it refused by pondichery embassy they told me by letter purpose of visit is not reliable what is the meaning of this word please explain me then how to Change this refusal

  9. Harmeen anand says

    Hi Dev. I am an Indian passport holder. My husband and I are planing a trip to France Belgium and Amsterdam for purely tourism purpose. We hired an agent and applied for the visa in the France consulate through VFS and it got rejected. Actually my husband is dealing in car buying n selling on commission basis. Though he is self employed he does not has a firm in his name. We just provided his CA letter stating he does this business in commission basis however our visas were rejected stating that we might not have sufficient funds to return to our and country and we might stay there. We are planning to reapply. I want to know ehat exactly can we show as a proof if his employment apart from bank statements and IT returns. Please help us iur bookings are done already.

    • Arun says

      Insufficient funds… how much funds did you show in the bank balance you submitted as part of your application?

  10. Most of agents provide reservation of flight instead of refundable ticket etc. Do we need to buy refundable ticket in advance? Hotel reservations are OK with Booking com etc but i do not find any site which gives 100% refund for flight reservation. Please suggest which site should i refer for flight reservation.

  11. Parveen says

    Hi iam parveen kumar . Iam indian paasport holder , iam advocate .im doing law practice in court last 10 year i have personal office . I hve travel history , like as Thailand, 3 time moscow as bussiness visiter visa, , i hve applied last year in August 2017 for france , but that was rejected, , but now i want to do apply with my family with my wife and my loving girl she is only 3 year, my wife is doing a govt job as a Senior accountant, she is working last 8 year, we are planning for swizerland on spouse visa . , can i get visa easily?

  12. Shwetha says

    Hi dev!

    This article of yours has been very helpful to me. My only question is how and through which website did you book your 100% refundable flight tickets? I have everything else sorted except for this.

    • hi there !
      you can book your refundable tickets with any agency or airline at the time of booking. They give u the option to book a refundable or non-refundable ticket while booking. Generally refundable tickets are little bit costlier but not much though. And its not 100% refundable. A slight moner is charged for refunding.

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