How to Apply for a Schengen Visa from USA

More than 140,000 applications were received for a Schengen visa from the United States in 2017 alone, according to data provided by the European Commission. The number might seem small at first, but it is important to remember that US residents generally do not require a visa to travel to the Schengen territory.

Who Needs a Schengen Visa?

According to the Schengen agreement, holders of a US passport are exempt from requiring a visa to enter the Schengen zone. However, this is not true for all US residents. United States passport holders who have previously been refused entry by a European nation are required to apply for a Schengen visa.

Apart from that, individuals living in the US but are citizens of a third country that is not part of the visa-free program, are required to obtain a visa to travel to the Schengen zone. You will also require a visa if you are living in the US and are a citizen of a country with visa-free regime with the EU but have been denied a visa previously.

It is also important to remember that if you wish to visit one of the Schengen nations, but are on a visit visa in the US, you will need to apply for a visa at the appropriate embassy in your home country. Embassies of the Schengen nations in the US only process visa applications of US nationals or foreign citizens living in America on a permanent or temporary residency.

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What are Schengen Visa Requirements for US Permanent Residents and Green Card Holders?

To apply for a Schengen visa, you require the following documents:

You need to submit the completely filled and signed visa application form. It is important to remember that all the information filled in this form should be accurate to the best of your knowledge. Any mistakes or discrepancies can lead to a delay in the processing of your application form or an outright rejection.

  • A Valid Passport

You need to have a passport that is valid for at least three months after the completion of your trip to the EU. Apart from this, the passport must not be older than 10 years and should have at least two blank pages for the visa stamp. 

  • Photographs

You need to attach two photographs with the application form. The photographs must be taken against a light background, and your face and upper shoulders must be clearly visible in them.

  • US Residence Permit

You also need to provide the original residence permit (green card) or your valid US residence visa. Also, the residence permit or the visa should be valid for at least three months after the completion of your intended trip.

  • Cover Letter

You need to attach a cover letter with the application form, explaining the reasons for visiting the Schengen area, the places you intend to visit, as well as the duration for which you will remain at each destination.

  • Financial Documents

Financial documents proving that you have the necessary funds to support yourself financially through the entire duration of the trip. Documents such as bank statements and pay slips for the last three months can be used for this purpose. If you are being sponsored by someone else, you will need a letter of sponsorship from them, along with their financial documents. The letter must be written by the person sponsoring you and should state the reasons for them doing so.

  • Travel Health Insurance

To travel to the Schengen territory, you need travel health insurance with coverage of at least €30,000. The insurance must be valid across the entire Schengen territory and cover you in case of any medical emergencies, such as an accident or an illness.

How to Apply for Schengen Visa from USA

  1. The first step in applying for a Schengen visa is to select the type of Schengen visa most suited for the purpose of your travel. There are different categories of Schengen visa, such as transit visa, business visa, tourist visa and so on.
  2. Next, you need to decide which embassy or consulate you should apply at. This should be either the specific country you will be visiting or the one that you will be spending the most time at within the Schengen zone. 
  3. After this, collect all the necessary documents and submit them, along with the application form.
  4. Then, book an appointment for your visa interview and attend it. The visa interview appointment can be booked online as well as in person at the embassy. 
  5. After attending the visa interview, you will need to pay the visa processing fee. The visa processing fee can be paid in cash or via credit or debit card. However, some embassies do not accept credit card payments.

What if Schengen Visa is Rejected?

In case your visa application is rejected, it is important to go through the reasons provided by the embassy for the denial. This would help you in not repeating the same mistakes when applying again. If you feel that your visa application has been wrongly rejected, you can appeal against the rejection.

When to Apply for Schengen Visa from the US?

The earliest you can apply for a Schengen visa from the US is three months prior to your date of travel. The visa processing time is generally 15 days but can take longer if the application requires further investigation. Therefore, it is always recommended to apply for a visa at least three to four weeks before you intend to travel.

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What is the Schengen Visa Fee from the US?

CategoryFee in EUR
Children below the age of 6 years Free
Children aged between 6 and 12 years35

There are certain categories of people for whom the visa fee is exempted, such as:

  • Holders of diplomatic or official passports
  • Children or spouse of a EU citizen
  • Researchers traveling to the Schengen area to conduct scientific research or exploration
  • Students and accompanying teachers, traveling for educational purposes. 

For any further information, it is advisable to contact the embassy of your destination country.

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