Practice Pointers when applying for visas for Germany, France and The Netherlands

The Schengen area which comprises of 26 states, facilitates borderless travel for tourist and business activities for non-EU nationals. The visa holder can freely enter, travel and exit the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries.

Countries within the Schengen Zone include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Consular Services in India for Germany, France and The Netherlands.

Indian citizens applying for a German, French or Dutch visa must file their visa application with the visa section of the Embassy/Consular Posts or with the respective VFS centers across India. Before applying for a visa, the applicant must first determine the purpose and duration of his or her visit. The visit can either be for a duration lesser than 90 days or for a period exceeding 90 days.

Short-Stay Visa

An applicant who wishes to travel to the Schengen area for study, medical reasons, tourism, business, visiting family or friends, official visit, etc. for a period lesser than or equal to 90 days must apply for a Short-Stay Visa.

In order to apply for a short-stay “C” visa, the applicant must complete the required visa application form, collate all the required documents which includes passport, photographs, documents evidencing his or her socio-economic ties to the home country and financial capability to bear the expense of the trip and proof of travel arrangements. The applicant is required to submit photocopies of these documents. However, the first-time visitors are always granted a single-entry visa even though multiple is requested.

An appointment needs to be scheduled with the nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC). If the applicant intends to visit only one Schengen country, then he or she must submit the application at the respective country’s VAC. If he or she intends to visit multiple countries within the Schengen zone and wishes to spend same duration everywhere, then the application must be submitted at the VAC of the member state where he or she intends to arrive first. If the applicant intends to visit more than one Schengen country, the application must be submitted at the VAC of that member state in which the applicant wishes to spend the longest duration.

On the day of the appointment, he or she must submit the application, pay the visa fee in cash or demand draft, debit or credit card and have the biometrics data taken (i.e. photo and fingerprints).

The VAC officer upon receiving the application packet, forwards the documents with the applicant’s passport to the Consulate or the Embassy for further processing. It is important to note that the visa application may be refused if any requested document is not included. While the visa application is under processing, the applicant is provided with information updates about his or her application from the VAC. However, the VAC is not allowed to inform the applicant whether the application is accepted or rejected. Upon adjudication of the application, the applicant is asked to collect the passport from the nearest VAC, or it is couriered to the applicant if he or she opted for courier facility provided by the VAC.

With respect to short-stay visa processing, the application must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the planned visit; and cannot be submitted more than three months prior to the planned visit. The overall processing time taken to issue a Short-Stay “C” Visa is 15 working days.

Applicants must note that they are allowed to stay a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period in the Schengen area on a short stay Schengen visa.

Long-Stay Visa

An applicant who wishes to stay in the Schengen area for a period exceeding 90 days must apply for a Long-Stay “D” Visa. The duration of a Long-Stay Visa can be between three months to a year.

Most Long-Stay “D” visa applications require the applicant to submit a copy of the temporary residence permit or authorization received from the Immigration Authorities in the particular Schengen country. The consular process remains more or less the same as the short stay visa. The applicant upon collating the required documents based on the applicant’s circumstances, must schedule an appointment with the nearest VAC. For the appointment, the applicant must carry all the necessary documents and should pay the required visa fees by cash, demand draft, debit or credit card.

If the applicant has submitted a copy of the required approval, authorisation or temporary residence permit along with the application, the visa will most probably be granted within 15 working days. If a copy of the pre-approval was not submitted with the application, then the visa issuance can take anywhere between one and three months.

By Pradnya Sawant

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