I know that we are a vulnerable bunch because of our weak Indian passports, but it’s not impossible to get a Schengen visa for Indians.
Though it’s true that we are required to submit dozens of documents to prove our intention of travel and go through a process so mentally exhausting that getting a new birth certificate might apparently feel easier than applying for a tourist visa, I repeat, it’s not impossible to get a Schengen Visa for Indians.
I know a majority of Indian tourists hire travel agents to apply for a visa, but the truth is, it is not really necessary.
If you will follow the steps mentioned in this blog, you can apply for a Schengen Visa India yourself and easily get it.
Also Read: How To Plan A Europe Trip From India
Schengen Visa for Indians
To tell you the truth, I also considered applying for my visa from an agency before going through the process of applying for a Schengen visa myself. But as I pondered upon the idea and calculated the prospects, I realized 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 who is nothing more than a cheap middleman, so why pay more to another travel agency on top, right?
So if you’re planning to apply for a Schengen visa in India, and by yourself, this guide will help you.
Right from what the documents for a Schengen visa to how good your chances are for a successful application, I will answer all your answers in this blog.
Also, check these Schengen visa rejection reasons before you continue reading.
Now, before I say anything, let me give you a picture of how grim my application looked, when I applied for my first ever short-term, single-entry Schengen tourist visa in India in March 2017…
I was self-employed for the past 2 years, with almost no source of income. Though I filed income tax, every year, my income was always less than taxable. I had no employer recommendation letter to provide with my application either. On top of all that, I chose a 2-month travel period – which, more or less, raised doubts about my original intention of travelling.
“How can a person with no financial support travel across Europe for months,” I’m sure the Visa officer might have asked the question himself.
But as I submitted my Schengen visa in India, there were no questions asked. I was never invited to an interview. And my passport was delivered to me 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 sounds!
- 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 for 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 for my Schengen Visa for Indians at either Switzerland’s or Germany’s embassy in India.
[I hope you know the rule, which says: you are eligible to apply for 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 that the Swiss embassy has a bad reputation, as compared to that of Germany. Though the German embassy is not generous either, it was better than that of Switzerland. You can Google for the list of countries that have more visa rejection rates.
- Google and find out which countries have more visa rejection rates.
- Apply for your visa from a country with a better acceptance rate.
Start Your Application
Once you’ve made the decision about which embassy you’re going to apply it from – whether it is a France visa for Indians or a German tourist Visa – the next step is completing your application and submitting relevant documents.
Though different countries slightly vary in the rules, the supporting travel documents for the visa application remain more or less the same. And they are… your bank statements, a return flight ticket for visa, confirmed hotel booking, all inside-Europe travel bookings, and travel insurance with a minimum coverage of 300,00 euros (check this travel Insurance for Indians blog for suggestions where I have compared different insurances).
Filling your visa Schengen visa in India 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 major doubts about your Schengen visa for Indians application, it’s advised to directly write to the country’s embassy in India than contacting the vfs.
- 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 WHY and HOW!) and providing other travel documents, including a return flight ticket, all confirmed hotel bookings, all inside-Europe travel bookings, 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 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 was my pre-booked transportation inside Europe – and for that, I clearly mentioned in my STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND TRAVEL ITINERARY that I didn’t provide those 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 cover letter, addressed to the visa officer, which talks about your original intention to travel, the places you are going to travel, and how long. You need to provide a statement of purpose or a cover letter, for almost all visas you apply for – whether a US visa or a Japan visa or an Australia tourist visa.
There’s no harm in going subjective with your thoughts, and I think it only helps you better if you do. Provide as many 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 the detailed, and very personal statement of purpose, that the officer felt assured that my sole intention is traveling.
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 permission. Visa officers really appreciated clean applications for Schengen visas for Indians.
- Provide a very personal and clearly detailed itinerary.
- Never lie about anything in your cover letter. Honesty does work in your favour.
- Book hotels from Booking.com, with no reservation charges and free cancellations.
- Always book a refundable flight ticket.
Proof Of Funds: Perhaps Most Significant
Unlike hotel reservations and 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 favorite bank, so the visa officer feels confident about your financial situation.
Though different countries have different requirements, the difference isn’t very significant. For Germany, it was somewhere around 65 Euros a day. This means that those applying for 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 for a Schengen visa in India by yourself is simple, and 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 the passport courier service.
The accommodation I booked and the flight tickets I purchased – were also cheaper, at least cheaper than what any travel agent would have possibly provided me with!