A Detailed Guide to Schengen Visa and How to Apply for it
The Schengen Area is a region comprising 26 countries in the European continent that subscribe to a common visa policy across their borders. The countries constituting the Schengen Area include Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, among others. If you are planning to visit one of the countries in the Schengen Area, you would require a Schengen Visa.
In this article, we will explain what a Schengen Visa constitutes, the different Schengen Visa types and how you can apply for a Schengen Visa.
What is a Schengen Visa?
A Schengen Visa is a type of visa that allows you to enter, travel within, and exit the 26 countries in the Schengen Area through any of the member countries. The Schengen Visa agreement is named after the Schengen Area that it covers which, in turn, has its genesis in the Schengen Agreement signed in Luxembourg, Europe, in the year 1985.
Since there are no internal border restrictions within the Schengen Area, it is convenient for tourists, in particular, to travel across Europe with ease.
Who needs a Schengen Visa?
The citizens of the countries who are not constituents of the Schengen countries are required to have a Schengen Visa to enter the Schengen region. You can apply for a Schengen Visa through a Schengen Area embassy. Some Schengen countries offer the facility of online applications for Schengen Visas. It is mandatory to buy travel insurance along with your Schengen Visa.
Schengen Visa Types
There are multiple types of Schengen Visa based on the nature, duration and purpose of your visit. Let us see the different types below:
The Uniform Schengen Visa The Uniform Schengen Visa is a type of visa that allows you to travel to and live in a country in the Schengen Area for a maximum period of 90 days. The aforementioned 90 days limit gets exhausted six months after the point of initial entry into a Schengen Area nation.
Here are the subtypes of a Uniform Schengen Visa.
- Category A or Type A Schengen Visa:
A Type A Schengen Visa is an 'Airport Transit Visa' that is mandatory for anyone passing through the international zone of a Schengen Area nation. Therefore, even if you are merely passing through an airport in, say, Germany, to board your connecting flight to the United States of America, you shall be required to have a valid Type A Schengen Visa. Therefore, all non-Schengen area nationals need to have a Type A Schengen Visa to traverse any airports in a Schengen Area state.
- Category C or Type C Schengen Visa:
A Type C Schengen Visa is a short-term visa that enables an individual who is not a citizen of any of the countries in the Schengen Area to travel to and reside in the area for a stipulated period. If you are wondering how to get a Schengen Visa in your category, it depends upon the purpose of your visit to the area.
There are three main variants of a Type C Schengen Visa, also referred to as a Schengen tourist visa:
Single-entry Type C Schengen Visa: A single-entry type C visa enables the visa holder to enter a Schengen Area nation once during the validity of the visa. The aforementioned visa specifies the maximum duration of stay allowed for the traveller. However, if the visa holder exits the Schengen Area, they cannot reenter the area with the same visa.
During the course of your stay in the Schengen Area with a single-entry visa, you can visit the nations that are listed in the 'valid for' section of your visa.
Double-entry Type C Schengen Visa: For all intents and purposes, a double-entry type C Schengen Visa functions in a manner similar to a single-entry type C visa. However, in a double-entry visa, the visa holder can enter the Schengen Area twice during the validity of the visa. It is important to remember not to stay in the Schengen Area beyond the period mentioned in your visa.
Once an individual with a double-entry type C visa exits the Schengen Area for a second time, they are not allowed to reenter the area on the same visa.
Multiple-entry Type C Schengen Visa: A multiple-entry type C visa allows the visa holder to enter the Schengen Area as many times as required during the validity of the visa as long as the 90/180 rule does not get violated. In this context, the 90/180 rule states that a multiple-entry type C visa holder cannot stay in the Schengen Area for a period exceeding 90 days within the 180-day validity period of the said visa.
Visa holders can use the Schengen calculator to ascertain the number of days they can stay in the Schengen Area on their existing visas. Depending upon the frequency of your travels to the Schengen Area, you are eligible to apply for the following durations of multiple-entry type C visas.
a. 1-year multiple-entry type C Schengen Visa
b. 3-year multiple-entry type C Schengen Visa
c. 5-year multiple-entry type C Schengen Visa
- The National Schengen Visa or Type D
The National Schengen Visa, or Type D Schengen Visa, is issued to individuals who intend to travel to and live in a country in the Schengen Area for an extended period of time because of reasons including work, study, or permanent immigration. There are two main types of the aforementioned visa which have been discussed below.
Single-entry National Visa: This subcategory of a Type D Schengen Visa is issued to individuals who intend to live in the Schengen Area for a predetermined period for a specific reason, following which they shall exit the area. For instance, a student enrolled at a university in France shall be eligible to apply for this visa for France.
Multiple-entry National Visa: A multiple-entry type D Schengen Visa is granted to individuals who wish to travel across the Schengen Area sans the requirement of specific visas for each visit and entering each Schengen Area nation. For an individual to be eligible for the aforementioned category of National Visa, they should fulfil the criteria mentioned below.
- A student in an international student programme (visa validity not exceeding one year)
- A student about to embark on a full academic course in a Schengen Area nation (visa validity subject to a maximum period of one year with future extensions being made permissible)
- An individual engaged in pedagogical work at an institution or research centre in the Schengen Area
- Professionals travelling to the Schengen Area, including artists, sportspeople, or any professional with expertise in their respective field
- An individual stuck in any Schengen Area nation beyond the validity period of their visa due to medical emergencies or associated reasons
Amongst all Schengen Area Nations, Lithuania ranks the highest in terms of approving a majority of its visa applications, closely followed by Estonia and Finland.
- The Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) Visa for the Schengen Area
A Limited Territorial Validity Visa (LTV) for the Schengen Area allows the visa holder to visit the Schengen Area nation that has issued the visa. In some cases, the aforementioned visa includes a group of nations mentioned at the time of the visa application.
This type of visa is issued under specific and rare circumstances, including humanitarian reasons and allows the visa holder to enter and exit the Schengen Area only through the specified Schengen Area nation.
How to Apply for a Schengen Visa from India?
All Indian nationals who want to apply for a Schengen Visa need to follow the steps mentioned below.
- Determine the type of Schengen Visa you need, namely type A, C, or D.
- Ascertain the embassy or consulate where you need to apply for the selected type of visa.
- Ensure that you apply for a Schengen Visa not later than 15 days and not earlier than 3 months before your intended visit to a Schengen Area nation
- Ensure that you have all the required documents for your Schengen Visa application
- Schedule an appointment with the relevant embassy or consulate for your Schengen Visa application interview. Some countries in the Schengen Area allow online applications for visas.
- Attend your visa appointment and carry all the necessary documents.
- Make the payment of your Schengen Visa fees and await the results of your visa interview. It usually takes 15 days for the result of the visa application to be revealed.
Documents required for Indian nationals applying for a Schengen Visa
Indian nationals applying for a Schengen Visa need the following documents.
- A printed copy of the duly filled visa application form
- Two recent passport-sized photographs with a light background
- An Indian passport valid for at least 3 months from your intended travel date to Europe and not older than 10 years
- Travel insurance for Schengen Visa in India with medical coverage of at least €30,000 and covering medical evacuation and repatriation
- Proof of accommodation during your stay in the Schengen Area
- Flight itinerary to and from the Schengen Area
- A cover letter stating the reason for your visit to the Schengen Area
- Proof of your civil status, including but not limited to your marriage certificate, birth certificate of children, and Ration Card.
- Proof of your capacity to finance your stay in the Schengen Area
If you wish to apply for a Schengen Visa, you shall be required to list your purpose of visiting the Schengen Area from the following options.
- Airport Transit
- Visiting family or friends
- Medical reasons
- Official visits
- Cultural, sports, and film crews
- Other reasons
To sum it up
It is important to determine which Schengen Visa you need to apply for and complete the application in time so as to ensure hassle-free travel to and from the Schengen Area. In order to financially secure your trip to the aforementioned region, you must buy a Tata AIG international travel insurance plan that provides extensive coverage at affordable rates. You can check out our travel insurance plans for the Schengen Area here.