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Schengen Visa details (for non-US & non-EU residents/citizens)

February 25, 2009

What is a Schengen Visa?

“With a Schengen visa, you may enter one country and travel freely throughout the Schengen zone. Internal border controls have disappeared; there are no or few stops and checks. This means that internal air, road and train travel are handled as domestic trips, similar to travel from one US state to another.”

The Schengen countries are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

To apply for a Schengen visa:

The applicant must first identify which Schengen country is the main destination. This determines the State responsible for deciding on the Schengen visa application and therefore the embassy or the consulate where the traveller will have to lodge the application. If the main destination cannot be determined, the traveller should file the visa application at the embassy or consultate of the Schengen country of first entry. If the Schengen State of the main destination or first entry does not have a diplomatic mission or consular post in his country, the traveller must contact the embassy or the consulate of another Schengen country, normally located in the traveller’s country, which represents, for the purpose of issuing Schengen visas, the country of the principal destination or first entry.

Source: Wikipedia

The documents required for a Schengen Visa are:

  • Completed visa application form. Check the country’s consulate website for specific form.
  • Passport or official travel document recognized by the Schengen countries, with a validity that exceeds the intended stay by at least 3 months. Please make sure that the passport has a blank page to affix the visa.
  • (For applications from US): Original Alien Registration Card (Green Card). If you do not have an alien registration card, a Green Card Stamp in your passport, an Advance Parole, or a valid US Visa together with the valid I-94 departure record must be provided. Students should also submit an original validated I-20, DS-2019 or IAP-66.
  • One recent passport photograph, full face, which show a clear and exact likeness of the applicant. Photo must be taken against a plain, light background with good contrast, in color or black & white, clear and of good quality, printed on normal photographic paper (without sunglasses or head covering, unless it is on account of religious or medical reasons).
    Children travelling with their parents on their parent’s passport do need their own visa with photo (free of charge). Therefore, applicants should also submit one recent passport size photographs for every child travelling with them. Please make sure that you have enough pages to affix the visa’s for you and your child(ren).
  • Proof that you can proceed to the next country after you have visited the Schengen countries, i.e. confirmed itinerary / airline reservation or airline ticket and required visa. When you bring a confirmed itinerary / airline reservation at the time of your visa application, the actual airline ticket has be shown if your visa has been approved.
    Important: if you are not sure that your visa will be approved, do not buy an airline ticket yet, bring a confirmed airline reservation which can be cancelled.
  • Proof of sufficient funds for your intended stay: 3 recent monthly bank statements and/or signed travelers checks.
  • Original letter of employment or 3 months of recent pay stubs. If you are self employed a business license and tax return forms are required.
  • Proof establishing the purpose of your trip:
    When visiting relatives or friends, please submit an official invitation letter issued and certified by a City Hall in the country you’re visiting and a copy of the relatives’ or friends’ passport or valid country residence card. If they are paying for your expenses proof of financial means is required from your reference person in the country (e.g. salary statements, recent bank statements, etc.).
    For tourism, please submit confirmed hotel reservations, stating name, address and telephone number of the hotel, including confirmation number and/or proof of group travel participation, etc.
    Important:
    if you are traveling in group then make sure that the hotels give a confirmation letter stating names of all the travelers, and not just the name of the person who will book the hotel.
  • Medical health/travel insurance that meets the following criteria (recommended: AXA-Schengen):
    1. It is valid throughout Schengen territory.
    2. It is valid during the entire period that you will be in Schengen territory.
    3. The coverage is at least €30.000 (US $45.000).
    4. The coverage includes repatriation for medical reasons, urgent medical care and/or emergency treatment in a hospital.
  • Cash (exact change please) or money order to pay the visa fee. Personal and business checks and credit cards are NOT accepted. Visa fees vary depending upon the type of visa, duration of stay and the exchange rate between the euro and US dollar. Check the website of the consulate you’re applying at for the correct fee. Visa fees are non refundable. It is possible to have the passport with the approved visa sent to your home or business address – at your own risk – by overnight mail. In this case an additional postal fee will be charged.