I had to briefly fly to Europe for some purpose so had to get my Schengen Visa done. The process is not as straight forward as I had hoped for it to be and information is often scarce on the internet. I will be posting all resources that helped me
What Visa to apply for?
A Schengen Visa will give you access to all of the Schengen countries, however you should get the Visa using the following criteria:
- Country where you will be spending the most number of days in, regardless of the port of entry.
- If you are spending the most amount of days in equivalent in two or more countries, apply to the country of port of entry.
Both of these guidelines are strictly adhered to, both during the Visa process and at the port of entry. There have been cases of people being sent back if you can’t demonstrate this criteria at the port of entry so becareful!
After you know which Visa to apply for, you need to check how to apply for the Visa of the country that you are planning to visit. Many countries use VFS Global to process documents. Poland does not do this for India.
There are three type of Schengen Visas offered:
- “C” type(Schengen) Visa – which is for a stay up to 90 days within 180 days in the Schengen area.
- “D” type(National) Visa – Long term visa for a stay over 90 and up to 365 days in Poland. Please note that the national visa allows to stay in other Schengen countries for up to 90 days within the period of 180 days.
- “A” type transit Visa.
You have to apply for the appropriate one accordingly. Usually “D” type Visas are for things like working, studying etc. in the destination country, while “C” type Visas are for temporary visits.
How to apply
You first have to go to the e-konsulate website, select your language on top right as English, select your country(India) and the consulate you belong to.
- Mumbai Consulate – Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Daman, Diu ,Pondicherry, Telangana, Andaman and Nicobar islands
- Delhi Embassy – Rest of India.
Click the Schengen Visa – Register form option and book the appointment after filling out the form. Many people have trouble getting the appointment and travel dates may be approaching. In that case please contact the Embassy/Consulate via Email/phone and they may help you out.
I was told that slots for the Mumbai consulate open on every Monday at 9-10 AM. I however managed to get my appointment at 3 AM on a Friday night. Keep checking every half an hour or so throughout the day. Someone may have cancelled his appointment and you may get it. Using agents is frowned upon. Most people online say that agents are not legitimate. I don’t know anything to comment on this.
Submit the documents with all the documents they have asked for on their website on the appointment date. The following may be a little problematic.
- Airplane tickets – They ask for a valid reservation without actually paying for the ticket. Yatra provides this.
- Hotel reservation – They ask you to show bookings for a hotel room. I already had this figured out. Expedia has an option wherein you can book hotels without paying for them until you end up there and it gives you an option to cancel at the last moment.
- Travel insurance – United India Insurance provides this for a cheap cost online. It was valid for Mumbai at the time of writing this.
I also had to go a day early to do the payment at a different location specified. I was applying from Mumbai consulate.
What if you don’t have a passport?
No need to worry! Goto the Passport Seva website, create account, fill in details and book an appointment on the closest day possible with the Tatkal option. I booked an appointment on the next day and got the passport delivered by Speed Post within 24 hours.
It cost me ₹ 3500 as I used the Tatkal option. The police verification will be done in a few days, wherein you’ll be called to the police station and a few documents will be collected from you. However this is not needed to travel. However make sure you get it done before a month or so. The whole process is very streamlined and there is much to appreciate.
Interview and passport collection
Immediately after submitting the documents, they’ll call you for an interview. If you are going for a legitimate purpose you have nothing to fear. The interviewer quickly asked me about me, what I do, why I am going to Poland, cross questioned me a little to make sure I am not lying, noted something down on the paper and that was the interview done. Took roughly 2-3 minutes. The interviewer was something like this.
Interviewer: What is the purpose of your visit?
Interviewer: Tell me more about your sponsoring company?
Interviewer: XYZ seems strange. Can you tell me more about it?
Interviewer: Do you intend to go back? Would you be applying for a permanent Visa for Poland later.
Me: Yes. No, this is a solitary visit.
Interviewer: What do you work as?
Interviewer: Have you to Europe before?
Me: Would it be possible for you to give me a yes or a no today?
Interviewer: Unfortunately we are a little short on resources and have to give priority to people travelling on the same week.
Me: No problem. Thank you.
Interviewer: Thank you.
The Embassy/Consulate can take upto two weeks to take a decision and they do not courier passports. You will have to check the decision status on the Embassy/Consulate website and collect the passport when it personally or through someone you know after it shows due for collection.
While I have heard of cases wherein people have got their Visa on a single day, it took three working days for mine and I got it collected through a friend. You will need extra documents if you are getting someone else to collect it.
I got a 30 day, single entry Visa as requested. Getting a Schengen Visa is a lot of trouble for what you get. Next time you want to travel, you need to do the same process all over again. If your Visa is rejected, you have to re-apply with the same fees again and there is no guarantee of an approval. The cost of applying for a Visa and re-consideration of application on rejection is ₹ 4900 each.
I found a few resources on the internet which were useful for me.
- Indian Community of Poland Facebook Group.
- Soumendra Jena’s blog post.
PS: Special thanks to my friend Rohan Chaubal for collecting my passport.