How difficult is it to get Schengen Visa for the first time?
Almost every day I receive calls from people across all over India asking me out on the fears and possibilities of applying Schengen visa for the first time. Most of the questions I get:
- I have never been outside India before; do I have chances to get it?
- I have only been to Asia countries like Thailand, Dubai etc., do I have chances to get it?
- I only have ITR for current year but don’t have ITR for previous years, will that be problem?
- My official financial are less, but I can still afford, can I get the visa?
- My family members can sponsor my trip, will that support my visa case?
- I am self-employed but don’t have business registrations, can I build visa case?
I can keep on going and the questions can be literally endless. Thousands of people apply for Schengen visa from India ever month and its popularity are just increasing day by day.
At the same time, you will also come across many heart-broken people when they receive visa refusal decisions and their dreams of visiting Europe are shattered in a single blow. It feels so bad knowing that even you can afford, knowing that all you wanted was to just travel your dream destination and come back to you home country to share the experiences back with family and friends and even though you were simply not allowed.
Its true its feel sad, but one has to also understand that there are literally thousands of other fake cases which are applied from India just on the pretext of going there and overstaying and that why the consulate officials are very particular about checking your documentation in the strictest yet efficient manner.
But again, in order to be efficient, one first need to understand the concept of Schengen visa.
The Schengen Visa allows you to travel 26 countries. It is now widely known to most of the people in India. The steps are pretty much straight forward, you collect all your documents as per their document’s checklist, fill your application, assemble all your documents and submit them in VFS Global center closest your city.
In addition, there are two different way to prepare your case:
- One way is to do actual prepaid bookings (Actual flight, hotel etc.) and submit with your other financial and employment documents.
- Second is do only do temporary hold bookings, in which the money saving is pretty solid.
The second way is acceptable in most of Schengen embassies within 26 countries but few countries may expect you give completely secured bookings. (This is something you need to double check before you apply).
Moreover, there are two different way to prepare your itinerary:
- If your plan being actual planned already, you can pick that Itinerary.
- Or pick an indicative itinerary based on selecting the right best fit embassy for you.
The second step I usually recommend to most of the people. Since your travel plans within Schengen can change even after getting your visa, so its not a problem explaining the same to immigration officer and he also understand that very well.
Now as you have understood the basic concept, lets point out on how first timers can get their visa approval chances almost close to 100%.
- Get your financials in place. Your ITR’s and bank statements plays a very important role in this. Your ITR’s gross income easily defines whether you can afford your trip or not. If you have ITR filed below 5-6 lacs, only plan 5 days trip. If you have 10 lacs, then a week trip. Likewise, the more you have the more no. of days you can plan. But If you are sponsoring your family trip, then you need to have more income filed in your ITR to fund their trip as well. If you are parents/family members are sponsoring, then financial should easily justify your trip.
- You bank statement should not show sudden big cash transactions. It won’t work and would add negative to your case. Your cash flows in your bank statement should be justifiable as per your professional background.
- You can also support your financials by adding your credit cards statements & audited balance sheets showing your immovable assets (if you are self-employed).
- The next part is your employment documents. For people employed they should properly arrange their NOC (No Objection certificate) & last 3-6 months’ pay slips and keep in mind that all the documents should have necessary information about your position in current organization, joining dates, your entitled leaves of vacations and when will you be resuming back again. You can also attach your first and large page of your work contracts as it may also help.
- For Self-employed, they company registration (GST certificates, if not then Shop and establishment registration or other government associations like chamber of commerce etc.) You need to also show your current bank statements as well. For Independent consultants, their contracts with the companies they are working or any other documents showing that you have professional ties back to your home country.
- Your social ties are another important thing. If you are traveling with family then your relationship proofs, if you are visiting friends then their invitations letters along proof of your friendship such as photographs of event you have attended together etc.
- Next comes is your documents related to travel. Your temporary flight ticket should have verifiable PNR number, your hotel vouchers should be genuine, if you can show your pre-paid vouchers of local travel plans, it will be an added benefit. You should also show a nicely designed day-by-day Itinerary which will support your vouchers and plans and will give confidence of your knowledge and Genuity to the visa officer.
- Last but not the least, write your covering letters properly. Every visa officer reads your covering letter but at the same time they are very short on time checking every single application, so you have to make it short and precise summarizing all important points about your travel. In addition, you should also show your inter-Schengen destinations and their schedule.
If you are confident enough in preparing all the above documents in right professional manner then you should do the entire documentation yourself and you will definitely get your visa. But even then, I still always advise to hire a professional. The reason I say this always because when I started traveling myself, I did many such mistakes and learned from them eventually. Even though I had a keen passion of learning and understanding everything in details, I then lacked the experience in beginning which later came with time. So, if you can afford, hire a professional but find the right one who knows and have the understanding of preparing your case properly.
For professional support, we also provide Schengen visa assistance service.
Everything is achievable even for the first timers if one has right understanding and knowledge to do it. Europe is full of amazing destinations and I share my best wishes for all those who are planning their trip soon to Europe. Don’t discuss much with other people, just follow the right logical mindset and go with it!
If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to leave your comments and I will be happy to respond them as soon as possible!