Schengen Visa: Requirements & Application

In this article

There are 26 countries in Europe that mutually abolished all passports and all other types of border control within their borders. They are called the Schengen area. Citizens within Schengen can travel between the countries without applying for a fully-fledged visa.

What is a Schengen Visa?

Non-Europeans who want to gain access to any of the 26 states of Schengen need to have a Schengen Visa. It is a document that allows non-Europeans to travel within Schengen. A Schengen Visa permits you to stay in one or more of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days within 6 months.
The Schengen visa is usually for business or tourism purposes. If you need to study, work or live within the Schengen zone, you need to apply for a fully-fledged visa from your intended country.
When applying for a Schengen Visa, the requirements may differ for citizens of various countries. Some countries require an airport transit visa; others do not. It is important to know what the requirements for your country are and fulfill them.

What is the difference between a Schengen Visa and the ETIAS?

ETIAS is an Electronic Travel Information and Authorization system that will be fully effective by the beginning of 2023. It is designed for travelers who have a visa-free entry into ETIAS countries. On the other hand, the Schengen visa is designed for non-European travelers who cannot enter into any of the European countries without a visa. By 2023, you must either have ETIAS or a Schengen visa before you will be granted access as a visitor to any European country.
You should also note that the Schengen visa only allows travel to any of the 26 Schengen countries, while the ETIAS allows travel to any country within Europe. Also, the Schengen visa only allows travel to the specific country applied for and might not be valid for other Schengen countries.
When it comes to the ETIAS application process, it can be done online in fifteen minutes or less. All you need to do is fill in some basic information. On the other hand, the Schengen visa application has to be done in person at the consulate or embassy of the destination country. The process can take up to six weeks.

Guidelines on how to apply for a Schengen visa

Like every process, there are requirements and guidelines for making the most of the process and achieving what you need. Your purpose of entry and visa application type determines the requirements for your entry. Here are the guidelines to apply for a Schengen visa:

Identify your Visa Need

There are different types of Schengen visas, all depending on your need. The different types of Schengen visas are:
  • Transit visa: This visa is only applicable to those who have to changetheir mode of transport within the Schengen zone. It could be an Airport Transit Schengen Visa or a Transit Schengen Visa for Seafarers.
  • Tourist Schengen Visa: It is also known as a short-stay visa. It permitstourists to stay in the Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days within a period of 6 months.
  • Business visa: This visa is best for those whose sole purpose in Europeis business. It is pretty similar to the tourist visa in duration.
  • Schengen Medical Visa: The medical visa is given to those who need medicalattention within the Schengen zone. However, it is only applicable if the medical services would not exceed 90 days. If treatment and medical procedures would last longer, the applicant is advised to get a National Visa for Medical Treatment for the respective country instead.
  • Student Schengen Visa: Students can apply for short stay visas if theduration required for their program is less than 90 days. If it lasts longer, you are advised to apply for a Long-Stay Study Visa at the respective country's embassy.

Locate where to Apply

There are various options when considering where to apply for a Schengen Visa. Some of the possible locations to apply for a Schengen Visa include the embassy, a designated visa center, or consulates.
If your visit is to only one Schengen country, you can apply at the country's embassy or consulate. The case is slightly different if you plan to visit two countries. If you plan on staying an equal amount of time in both countries, you will apply at the embassy of the country you'd step into first. If it is a case of unequal duration, you will apply at the embassy of the country where you would have a longer duration of stay.

The Time Limit for Application

There is an acceptable window required for the application for a Schengen visa to allow for processing the visa. The recommended time for visa application is four weeks before the intended trip. The latest time for visa application is 15 working days before the intended journey. The earliest time to file for a visa application is 6 months before the trip.

Fill the Application Form

The visa application form can be accessed online and downloaded. When filling the form, your personal data, the information about your background, your reason for visiting Schengen, among other information, would be required of you. It is crucial to ensure there are no spaces left on your form. It would help your application get approved faster. For spaces that are not applicable, you can easily fill it with N/A.

Go for an Appointment

As part of the application process, you would be required to go for an appointment with the consulate or embassy. Depending on the embassy or consulate, this process can be carried out online or in person.

Pay for the Visa

The visa fee is non-refundable for the administration you pay for processing your visa application. The visa fee is usually €80 for an adult. Children between 6-12 years pay only €45. Specific categories are exempted from paying for the visa, such as children younger than the age of 6, holders of diplomatic, official, or service passports traveling for official purposes, pupils, students, and accompanying teachers during a school trip, among others.

Get the Required Documents Ready

For any of the short-stay Schengen Visas, here are the required documents:
  • The filled and signed visa application form.
  • Two recently taken passport photographs, not older than 3 months.
  • Trip reservation or flight itinerary that shows the date of entry and exit from theSchengen zone, as well as the flight numbers.
  • A valid passport is needed.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Proof of accommodation that shows where you would be residing in the Schengen zone,such as a hotel reservation, a letter of agreement, or an invitation from your host.
  • Proof of financial means to show that you have enough money to support yourselfthroughout your stay in the Schengen zone. It could be a bank statement, not more than 3 months old, or a sponsorship letter.
  • Lastly, you would need proof of payment for your visa. Children between 6-12 yearsusually pay €45, while adults pay €80.

Attend the Visa Interview

At the interview facility, you would meet with the visa consular. You will be required to hand over your documents to them for inspection. You must arrive early for the interview. The interview typically lasts between 10 and 15 minutes, during which you are expected to give correct answers that are in sync with the documents you have handed over. Examples of questions being asked at the interview are:
  • What is the purpose of your visit?
  • Who will pay for your visit?
  • What is your educational qualification?
  • Which company do you work for?
  • Which countries in the Schengen zone are you planning to visit?
  • What is the duration of your stay in Europe?
  • Where are you going to stay?
  • Are you married? How long have you been married? What does your spouse do?
  • Do you have any children? If yes, what are their ages? What do they do?

Await a Response on your Application

In an ideal situation, not more than 15 days are needed to get a response for your visa application. Due to regulatory reasons, it may be extended, hence the need to apply earlier than your proposed travel date.
Written by: Fikayomi Abisola
Abisola is an ETIAS Travel and Immigration writer with several years of writing experience in the industry. Abisola has a unique enthusiasm for travels, tours, and tourism and loves to educate travellers about the criteria involved in international travelling.

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