Disclaimer : Information contained in this post is updated as of 30th April, 2014. Please check with embassy for latest updates.
So, you have an Indian passport and have been enjoying smooth Visa process for countries like Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore . Try your hand at Schengen Visa and you will realize how much pain Indians have to go through to visit a country just as a tourist for few days. You will need to do more preparation than you would have done for a job interview.
Schengen Visa: It is a common visa that allows visitors, entry to multiple countries in Europe which have signed Schengen agreement. You can find complete details here. If you are planning to visit one or more countries out of these, then you need to apply for Schengen Visa. Also remember that if you want to visit any other European country not listed below, then a separate Visa is required from respective country.
- Czech Republic
Following is the list of documents that need to be submitted:
- Passport valid at least three months beyond the stay in the Schengan area, with available pages for visa sticker and of “standard” quality (not damaged, torn, faded etc). Your previous passport (mandatory). Passport issued for 20 years are not accepted.
- Visa application forms duly filled & signed by Passenger.
- Two Latest passport size Photographs, white back ground w/o Border, 45 X 35 mm, 80% face should be Cover on Photo.
- A covering letter drafted on the passenger’s Letter Heads or normal paper (personal/official) to the respective consulate. (Mention purpose, duration of visit, who will bear the Expenses & complete itinerary ). The letter should be signed by applicant.
- Confirm Hotel Booking/Accommodation
- Confirmed Return Air Ticket
- Bookings for internal travel like bus or train booking between cities.
- Travel insurance: Overseas medical insurance with minimum coverage of Euro 30,000 – for emergency hospital and repatriation expenses (Photocopy)
- NOC from company stating that you will join office back on a particular date.
- Address proof in case your passport is not issued from your current city.
- Last six months salary slips If salaried
- Last Three Years Income Tax Returns (Personal)
- Last Six Months Original Bank Statement (Personal) with Name & Address to be mentioned on it.
- If you have been refused a visa by an Embassy or High Commission in the last 3 years: Written explanation about the reason for trip and refusal and the copy of refusal from the concerned Embassy or High Commission.
- Wedding cards from both the sides, engagement/Roka Photographs (at least 10) along with the NOC from the parents of groom & bride both (Applicable when applying as a couple together)
- Credit card copy
- Copy of Passport first & last page
Documents can not be submitted by post. You will need to submit either in person or apply via a travel agent.
Some general tips about documents:
1. Make sure you maintain a good balance (1 Lac or above) consistently over a period of last few months in your bank account. If you transfer a big amount just few days before application date then that may raise eyebrows. Also a current balance of 2 lac would be a good number to show that you can bear the expenses in Europe yourself.
2. It would be better if you have visited some other countries earlier and thus do not have a blank passport. As per my understanding blank passports have higher chances of rejection.
3. You can submit your fixed deposit copies as an additional proof of funds.
4. Embassy wants to make sure you would return to your home country hence NOC letter becomes important indicating you have to return to your job.
5. Take every document very seriously as you never know one document may cause a problem.
6. Though application procedure is same for all countries in Schengen region, still it would be a good idea to visit embassy web site of specific country you want to visit. Some countries may require additional documents.
If you are thinking that I am mentioning whole process with unnecessary seriousness 🙂 , then it would be good to know that my tourist visa to Spain has been denied in past and I was not told the reason. Embassies do not require you to give a reason for rejection. My rejection letter only has a statement ” Your application has been rejected”. Hence I have reason to inform others so that probability of rejection is less.
When you are visiting multiple countries then embassy to which the application should be made is decided based on following rules :
(a) the Member State whose territory constitutes the sole destination of the visit(s).
(b) if the visit includes more than one destination, the Member State whose territory constitutes
the main destination of the visit(s) in terms of the length or purpose of stay.
(c) if no main destination can be determined, the Member State whose external border the
applicant intends to cross first in order to enter the territory of the Member States.
Please go through Common Information Sheet to understand various rules and regulations.
Visa Fees: 5600/- (per person).Visa Fee is subject to change
Time Taken: Min 15 working days or more depends upon Embassy discretion
Once the application is received at embassy following are the possible outcomes :
1. Visa is granted.
2. Embassy can ask for any additional documents.
3. Embassy can call for personal interview.
4. Application is rejected.
I had applied to embassy for Czech Republic as I was going to spend maximum number of days there. I was called for a personal interview to New Delhi . I got a phone call from embassy, so make sure you enter your contact information correctly in application form.
Personal Interview Process:
You will be asked to reach embassy around 10 AM in the morning though actual process starts around 11 AM. You are first given a token number and then candidates are called for interview as per token numbers given. Once I entered it looked like an interrogation room 🙂 where the interviewer was sitting behind a glass window and I was asked to sit on chair with a mike in front of me. Interviewer was an old man with full-grown beard and big spectacles. All this added more to my nervousness. Yes, like an ordinary human being, I do get nervous at interviews – and that means any interview :). Here is how the whole interview went :
1. What is your name ?
Ans. (Thinking in my head : Can’t you see it on the form ? 🙂 ). I answered with a big smile but there was a rude reaction and thus immediately made the smile disappear :).
2. Why was your visa denied earlier ?
Ans. I was not given any reason. I was just informed that your application has been rejected.
3. But there must be something they must have told you ?
Ans. (Thinking in my head : Why don’t you understand in first time ?). No, as I said refusal letter didn’t have any explanation.
4. So why don’t you again visit Spain ? Why do you want to come to our small country Czech Republic ?
Ans. The Spain trip was planned with my friends which I couldn’t visit. I have visited several countries after that visa denial (I purposefully mentioned it). This time I will be traveling solo to Czech Republic as it sounds interesting to me. Moreover I want to visit a country which has not been visited by lot of Indians.
5. How did you come to know about Czech Republic ?
Ans. I have read about it on various travel bloggers pages. There is also a Hindi movie which featured beautiful places in Prague.
Interviewer uttered in a frustrated tone – Rockstar. It looks like everyone before me mentioned that movie :). I control my laughter somehow :).
6. Where will you go in Czech Republic ?
Ans. I plan to visit Brno and Prague .
7. So what all places you plan to visit in Brno and Prague ?
Ans. I wasn’t much prepared for this question. I had just gone through details about some sites in each city but didn’t remember any name. In depth research about city was a task that I thought I would finish once I get the Visa. This was the first question which I couldn’t answer instantly and started thinking is it the show stopper ? I mentioned about castle and cathedral as I knew every city in Europe would have it :).
8. Are you visiting any other country in addition to Czech Republic ?
Ans. (Thinking in my Head : Didn’t you go through the itinerary I provided along with application ?). I plan to visit Hungary and Austria and explained them entire plan again.
9. What other countries you have visited in past ?
Ans. I mentioned all the countries which I had visited in past. Then he asked me to name places I visited in each country. This was too much of drilling but I guess he wanted to make sure I visited all countries for tourist purpose.
10. What do you do professionally ? Where are you employed currently ?
Ans. I answered these questions maintaining eye contact with him.
Finally he looked at me one more time for 5 seconds and then asked me to leave.
I came out of the interview room thinking how do I classify this interview as good or bad ? I had no answer so waiting for the result was the only thing I could do. This story had a happy ending. 7 days later I got my visa 🙂
Once You are A Schengen Visa Holder:
1. You can stay in Schengen area for 90 days within next 6 months.
2. You can enter and exit Schengen area only once if you have a single entry visa.
3. You can cross borders of countries without any immigration stamp but your passport would be checked every time.
Final Note : My first country of Entry was Austria and immigration process at Vienna airport was very smooth. There were enough counters and I didn’t have to wait for a minute. My passport was stamped immediately and I was ready to explore the country.