A quick google search for ‘schengen visa in India’ reveals how farcical the whole process of obtaining a schengen visa is or more importantly how farcical people have made it out to be. In brief such a Google search will leave the traveller either nowhere or running around in loops, both of which are not ideals that Google aspire to.
So I went through this whole charade of visa process myself a couple of days ago and to my surprise it was the simplest of procedures. Before I describe the process let me iterate the variables involved. There can be three levels of process involved depending on how you apply.
1.) A local agent. The person who deals directly with the applicant based on the premise that he/she will definitely deliver the visa. Since we are complete newbies to the whole process, its normal to feel more confident on another experienced person.
2.) VFS – They are more like mediators between the Visa providing consulate and the agent/applicant.
3.) Consulate General – People who actually matter and provide the visa.
Visa Fees (as of 12th September – 12/09/2014)
* The Visa Fees charged by the Consulate General of various countries is roughly Rs. 4900/-
* The Visa fees charged by the VFS is roughly Rs. 6800/-
* The agent fees is variable. In my case it was rs. 1500/-
Now me and 3 of my friends were planning this trip together. 2 of them decided to take the longer route and apply via an agent. The visa was refused the first time. My friends paid Rs. 9000/- towards the VFS and agent fees and lost it all once the visa was refused.
Saddened and shocked by this we decided to do some manual work and submit the visa application myself. Here are the detailed steps below.
STEPS REQUIRED FOR VISA PROCESS –
STEP 1: Go to the website of the consulate general of the country you are applying the visa at. For eg. In my case it was Germany. So I went to “http://www.india.diplo.de/visa” and applied for an appointment. They only need your passport number and name.
STEP 2: Documents Preparation is the most important part of the process and some agents would have you believe that you require certain documents which are not required at all. Below is the list of only documents you will require for Visa.
a.) Online Visa Form’s Printouts – Filled
b.) Leave Application from workplace/university
c.) Bank Statement
d.) Travel/Accommodation Bookings – Bookings must be made for all the nights being spent in the schengen region
e.) Covering Letter and Itinerary
f.) Travel Insurance
g.) 2 photographs
h.) IT Returns
i.) Address Proof – Can be bills/Property Documents/Rent Agreements
STEP 3 : Reach the consulate according to the time slot. Answer certain questions that may/may not be posed to you. If all goes well and it will if you have been careful, you will get your visa in 3-4 working days. I got mine in 2 days.
The whole point of writing this blog post is not to condone the various agents or facilities involved in the visa process but just to point out that the process is too simple if the official channels are followed and all the guidelines are followed. Its always normal to be intimidated by any new process but to rely on others is the worst you can do. Not to mention the money you save if you complete the whole process manually. Ofcourse, a bit of hard work never hurt anyone.