I was too proud about my travel stories and flaunted my passport with numerous VISA stamps. South America to North America, entire India, popular Asian tourist destinations, you know I have been travelling since I received my passport at the age of 22. Then came the prouder Europeans who pulled me down direct to the ground. Bang!! I dreamt to sail away with the love my life on the Seine while the romantic Eiffel dazzled on us with its famous 20000 light bulbs. I dreamt of cutting our first anniversary cake in one of the angelic quaint cities of Switzerland. This was my first Euro trip. We were excited about celebrating our first wedding anniversary and my husband’s 29th Birthday in the dreamy cities of Europe. Then came our passports with the heart breaking message printed on top of them. “We’re sorry to inform you that your visa has been denied due to insufficient documents…..……!”
Luckily for us it was “all’s well that ends well”. I didn’t give up and re-applied with stronger documents and finally we had a romantic anniversary celebration in the city of love.
Below are the important points to be noted during VISA application process to avoid rejections.
Just before I start the pointers, a little details about our travel itinerary. Our plan was for two weeks. Entry and exit point was Paris, France. Maximum number of stay was also in France. Thus, we applied through France consulate. Apart from Paris, we visited, Rome, Amsterdam and Switzerland. We also had Bruges and Brussels included in our itinerary. But couldn’t visit due to time crunch. My husband had a stable decent paying job while I had quit my Job a few months before our travel to start my own venture. Thus, it was natural for me to apply as my husband as my sponsor since my business bank account was very new and not a very strong one.
1. Choose the Country of application wisely. If possible try to suit your itinerary according to the ease of application process.
Malta, Portugal, Belgium, France and Netherlands are the countries with highest number of VISA rejections, while, Iceland holds the record of lowest VISA rejection. When the comparison is done between countries, France is tougher compared to Switzerland and Germany in case of rejection.
Given below are the procedure that states which consulate to apply according to the entry, exit point and the number of stays.
• In the case of single country visit, application should to done at the diplomatic representation of the respective consulate you will be visiting, located in your country.
• In case of multiple country visit, the rule is as follows. In case of equal number of days in each country then the application should be done through the entry point’s consulate. In case of unequal number of days in different countries, the application should be done through the diplomatic representation of the respective consulate where you will be spending more time.
2. Passport validity
The passport should not bear an expiry date of less than six months during the time of application. Make sure to have more than two blank pages for VISA stamping. Any other travel document how much ever strong it is, does not suffice the passport whatsoever. Passport should not be older than 10 years and should not have any kind of physical damage.
3. Documentation process
Documentation process is the most critical process during the submission of application. You cannot escape even if they find the minutest flaw in the documentation. Following are the important documents:
• Very strong cover letter stating the purpose of visit
• Travel insurance
• Bank statement for the last 3-6 months, duly stamped by the bank with good record and sufficient amount for the trip.
• In case you are a working professional, certificate of employment, duly stamped and signed by the employer. Leave application approval letter from the employer (Very important to establish your return)
• In case of business owner, copy of business registration certificate, company bank statement for the latest six months and ITR
• In case of student, School ID card and NOC from the school authority.
• For retirees, pension slips and certificate of employment or retirement
• In case of sponsorship, valid proof of relationship.
My husband was my sponsor but we didn’t realise it was necessary and hadn’t submitted our marriage certificate. To make it worse, I still had my maiden name in the passport with the status as single.
In case of parents it is easier since your parents name will be in your identity cards.
• Minimum 2 years IT returns in case you are employed or own business.
Even though we had work experience of more than 4 years, I and my husband were doing MBA two years back. And thus, our latest IT return was of only one year. We had submitted the same during our first application process. During the re-application process, we submitted our degree certificate to establish that we were student and didn’t have IT return for that time period.
• Apart from bank statement with sufficient fund, payslips are also necessary to prove your financial stability.
• Travel tickets
• Hotel booking receipts
• In case if you have plan to stay with a relative or friend, an invitation letter along with the passport copy of the inviter.
4. Clear purpose of stay and return
The cover letter should be very strong with clear explanation of the purpose of stay.
Make sure to maintain the consistency about the purpose of travel. In addition to that it is very important to submit a proof which will ensure your return. In case if you are employed then the letter of leave of absence and joining back date from the employer. And in case you are a student then identity card or letter from the school authority about your leave.
5. Proof of accommodation
Whether it is a hotel or a relative’s place, make sure to have proof of accommodation. In case of hotel, you will need to provide hotel booking documents and in case of friends or relatives place you will have to provide invitation letter along with passport copy of the inviter.
6. Travel itinerary
It is very important to make logical and reliable travel itinerary. The itinerary should be backed with accommodation bookings. Travel tickets both to and fro should be provided.
Sufficient funds for the entire trip should be shown to prove that you can afford the trip. Submit the recent bank statement with enough fund, credit card statement with sufficient available limit. It is also very important to submit the salary slips to prove your financial stability. In case of sponsorship, you need to submit strong financial statement of the sponsor.
8. Once you have Schengen VISA stamped, avoid Schengen issues to avoid rejection the next time you apply
Schengen VISA rules are strictly to be followed. E.g. Do not stay longer than the assigned timeline during your visit. Do not deviate from the travel itinerary e.g. you applied through France consulate since your stay was supposed to be longer in France according to the itinerary and instead you ended up staying longer in Netherlands.