The Schengen Area is often confused with the European Union. While the EU has 28 member countries, the Schengen Area includes 26 European countries that have abolished their internal borders, allowing the free movement of people. Although the Schengen Area covers most of EU, it excludes UK and Ireland. Also, while Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are not EU members, they are part of the Schengen zone, says an article by the European Commission.
The Schengen agreement was first signed in 1985, introducing green visa discs to be displayed on the windscreens of vehicles, which would permit entry into the ten signatory nations without the need for stop and check at their borders. The Schengen II agreement, signed in 1990, took it a step further by eliminating border checks across the Schengen region, coming up with a common visa for all the countries.
The Schengen visa has made it extremely convenient to travel across the member nations, without having to clear any border formalities. Once you’ve cleared immigration formalities at the arrival country, you can freely travel to any other Schengen country without any further stops, checks or searches.
Before applying for a Schengen visa, it’s important to know the different types of visa available and decide which one is the most suited to your purpose.
In this article…
Types of Schengen Visas
Schengen visas are divided into short stay and long stay visas. With a short stay visa, you can stay for a duration of 90 days within a six-month period. With a long-term visa, you can stay in the area for a duration of more than 90 days. Long-term visas are granted by each individual Schengen country.
Types of Short Stay Visas
Airport Transit Visa (Type A)
This type of visa allows you to wait for a flight from one non-Schengen country to another. This visa is valid for 24 hours and does not give you the flexibility to exit the airport during this period.
Transit Visa (Type B)
A transit visa allows you to travel through the Schengen territory from one non-Schengen country to another, using transportation other than flights. If you wish to leave the airport while waiting for a connecting flight and enter the Schengen area, you should get this type of visa.
Short Stay or Travel Visa (Type C)
A short stay or travel visa allows you to travel to the Schengen area for a period of 90 days for the purpose of tourism, travel, business, medical treatment or to attend sports or cultural events. There are three categories under this visa:
- Single Entry Visa: If you wish to enter the Schengen area only once, you can apply under this visa category.
- Double Entry Visa: This visa allows you to enter and leave the Schengen territory twice within the duration specified on the visa.
- Multiple Entry Visa: This visa allows you to enter and leave the Schengen territory as many times as you like within the specified period.
Limited Territorial Validity (LTV)
This type of visa is issued only in special cases of humanitarian crisis, national interests or international obligations. The duration of this visa can vary. This visa can be applied as a short stay or transit visa.
A group visa is issued to tourists traveling in groups, which generally comprise of 5 to 30 persons, to the Schengen area. A group visa can be applied as a short stay visa, airport visa or transit visa. For this visa, the length of the trip must be less than 30 days.
Schengen Visa According to Purpose of Travel
Apart from choosing the type of visa, you would need to select the purpose of visa on the application form when traveling to the Schengen territory. The visa categories according to the purpose of travel are:
This visa allows you to stop in a Schengen nation for a short period of time for the purpose of changing the means of transportation.
If the purpose of your travel to the Schengen area is sightseeing and experiencing the culture and natural beauty, then this is the category you can select in the application form.
Visiting Friends and Family
If you wish to visit your friends or family living in one of the Schengen nations, you can select this category. You are required to have a letter of invitation from your relatives or friends to be eligible for this category of visa.
This visa is suitable for you if you wish to travel to the Schengen area for the purpose of conducting business related activities, such as a meeting, conference, tradeshow or workshop.
If you are traveling for official purposes to the Schengen territory, you will need to select this category on the visa application form.
This visa is suitable for those traveling to a Schengen nation to undergo a medical treatment or procedure. For being eligible for this visa, you must have an appointment with a doctor or hospital in the Schengen area.
This visa allows you to attend an educational course, such as a language course or an internship. However, the duration of the course needs to be shorter than three months. You would also require a letter of acceptance from a university in one of the Schengen nations.
How Much Does a Schengen Visa Cost?
For getting a Schengen visa, you would need to submit a visa processing fees. The visa processing fees is nonrefundable, and its cost varies depending on your age, nationality and the purpose of your visit.
The visa fee is generally €60 for adults and €35 for children between 6 and 12 years. There is no free for children below 6 years of age. The visa fee can be submitted in cash or by a credit or debit card. Keep in mind that some embassies do not accept credit cards for payment of visa fees.
Can the Schengen Visa be Extended?
According to the Schengen visa policy, a short stay visa can be extended only in case of some very specific conditions, including:
- Late entry
- Humanitarian reasons
- Force majeure
- Important personal reasons
Apart from this, there are certain conditions that need to be fulfilled to be eligible for a visa extension. These include:
- The duration of your stay in the Schengen area should not have exceeded 90 days.
- You must have strong enough reasons for applying for a visa extension.
- Your passport must be valid for at least an additional six months and must not be older than 10 years.
- You must provide sufficient proof of being able to financially support yourself for the entire duration of the stay or have a sponsor who is willing to support you.
- You must have a travel health insurance policy with cover of at least €30,000 for the complete Schengen area. You would be required to provide a copy of the coverage letter.
- There must be no signs of you intending to settle illegally in the Schengen area.
What are the Reasons for the Rejection of a Schengen Visa?
There can be various reasons for which the Schengen visa may be rejected. Some of the most common are:
Your Schengen visa will get rejected if the documents provided by you are invalid. If your passport is older than 10 years or it is valid for less than three months after the completion of your intended trip or the details on your application form do not match the documents provided, you will be denied a visa.
If you have any criminal record, you will be denied a visa. Such applicants are considered a security threat to the public and property of the Schengen nations.
For traveling to one of the Schengen nations, you would have to prove that you can financially support yourself. Documents such as your last three months’ pay-slips and bank statements can be used for this purpose. In case you cannot provide proof of sufficient funds, you would be denied a visa.
Unclear Purpose of Visit
If you cannot justify your purpose of visit with the help of proper supporting documents, your application for a Schengen visa will be rejected. Documents such as proof of accommodation, travel itinerary, plane tickets, invitation letters from family, appointment proof from medical facilities and letter of acceptance from a college are used for supporting your purpose of travel.
Lack of Travel Insurance
For traveling to one of the Schengen nations, you must have travel health insurance of at least €30,000. The insurance must be valid for the entire duration of your stay and cover the complete Schengen territory. Lack of proper travel insurance can result in your visa application being rejected.
How to Proceed After Rejection of Schengen Visa Application?
In case your visa application has been rejected, it is important to go through the reasons provided by the embassy for their decision. Knowing the reasons for rejection will help you avoid the same mistakes when you reapply. If you feel your visa application has been wrongly rejected, you have the option of appealing the denial.
If you are traveling to multiple Schengen countries, you must apply for a visa at the embassy of the country in which you would be spending the most time. In case of any further information, it is best to contact the embassy of your destination country.