Visa application is one dilemma many of us (who did not originate from countries with plenty of strong country allies) have to endure. Traveling is one of the most sought-after activities since the social media age, where one of our main goals is to relax and, of course, flex!
One of the most critical factors that stress us out when we apply for a visa is when our actual travel schedule is getting closer by the date, and we haven’t had any news on whether we will be able to leave the country.
This page will give you insights, tips, and tricks on how you can make your visa application easier than it looks.
Of course, we dread not obtaining our visa on time; we dread reservations made that must then be canceled or changed, not to mention the hassle of looking for another flight availabilities, missing an event, the extra cost to rebook tickets, hotel reservations, and such.
Begin searching online for information about visa requirements from the country you have planned to visit as early as possible. The earlier you do this, the better you can gather information and be prepared for the documentation you will need.
Schengen countries allow visa applicants to submit their documents for application as early as three months in advance.
Not all visa application requirements are the same in every country. Some countries have specific requirements – easy and straightforward, while some countries are a bit vague.
US Visa application per se requires you to fill in the application form online; they will also ask you to prepare documents that will prove your capability to sustain your visit financially along with evidence that you are planning to come back to your country of origin. In my personal experience, I was only asked for my travel itinerary, the number of years I have worked in my company, and my purpose of visit – these are the only questions I was asked but maybe because I was naturally very open and blab about my plans, in the end, I was given ten years multiple entries within 24 hours.
Be mentally prepared for your interview and have all your documents ready to prove that you have no intention of staying illegally in the country you are visiting.
During my interview, the assessor did not request any documents except for my original passport. I do have them in case I’m asked to share evidence – these are; hotel reservations, flight itinerary, last six months bank statement, my husband and children’s original passport (who are all German nationals btw- which I think is a major factor why I got the visa that soon), No Objection Certificate from the company where I work, salary certificate, salary statement from the last six months, daily travel itinerary and so on.
If you are traveling to multiple countries, the first Schengen country you will be visiting will be the country you have to apply for your visa for.
Know the Country’s Visa Application Center
There are visa processing agencies authorized to submit visa application on your behalf, such as VFS Global; Agencies usually have their own website with the list of almost everything you need to know about your visa application; they are efficient in screening your documents and all, however, they will not be able to advise the status of your visa application, instead, they will refer you to the website of the consulate/embassy of the country you are applying your visa for – for you to contact directly if you wish to follow up your visa status. Your agency can further assist you, though are insights into what documents are accepted for your visa application. This would be their expertise, so expect them to be full verse on dealing with this sort of information.
Another point that I would like to stress is the Q&A that you will encounter upon submission of your documents at the agency; the agent will review and let you know should they need elaborated information about your itinerary given on the form; your sponsor’s details, your traveling dates, the exact address where you will be staying in the country (if not the hotel), etc., all these are important to be answered and corrected before the embassy/consulate receives your application. You will also have an increased chance of getting your visa application approved if you can elucidate the information being requested beforehand – this is what your visa processing agency will assist you with the most.
Once your documents are submitted to the agency, they will normally send them within 24 hours to the consulate/embassy of the country you are applying for your visa.
So what are the documents you need to prepare? In short, these are documentation that will prove that you can sustain your visit financially and that you have no intention of staying illegally in the country. Vague or not; the following is a list of documents you need for your visa application;
*Prepare two copies of each; one to be submitted and another set for your file as reference.
01. Your Original Travel Document
Your ordinary passport; valid for not more than 10 years, with an undamaged picture page and two empty pages for the visa sticker and stamp.
02. Passport page and *Visa copy
Visa copy for those residents of countries other than the country where their passport originates:
- If you are working abroad and have a temporary resident visa, you have to copy that temporary resident visa. Usually, your visa should be valid at least 90 days after your intended date of journey. If it is not – renew your residence visa immediately before applying for your tourist visa to another county.
- Copies of your previous Schengen Visas, attached with printed visa copies, increases your chance of getting your visa approved.
03. Two Recent Biometric Passport Pictures
Each country has different specified requirements; it is safer to get a new one than to get your passport pictures rejected and risk delaying your visa processing. Ensure that you go to the photography studio that can take your pictures professionally by the photographer who knows the requirements of the country you are applying for your visa for.
04. Overseas Medical Insurance / Travel Insurance
For me, this is the easiest, and if you work for a company that provides medical insurance, you can request an insurance certificate from your company’s medical services department; if you do this, make sure that the details on your insurance certificate coverage comply with the minimum requirement of the country you are applying visa for.
If not you can always purchase travel insurance online such as at AXA Insurance, where you can pay for a minimum of one-week coverage and you’ll only pay for what you opt to get covered. Do not submit Medical Insurances from your credit cards, they will not be accepted.
05. Flight Reservations and Travel Itinerary
You can get this from your reputable airline company by giving them a call to book a ticket for you; they will also send you the details via email so you can have it as a reference for your visa application – look for airlines who do this ‘free of charge’ like Emirates Airlines. Emirates Airlines will hold your reservations for two days, although you have to call them every two days to verify and advise that you’re still waiting for your visa to be approved; it’s better than losing some amount of cash after purchasing and canceling air tickets. Hopefully, your chosen airlines will hold the booking for you, do this especially if you were able to book a ticket with a great deal.
06. Your Employers’ No Objection Certificate
Companies usually have their standard template for NOC letters, particularly for visa applications. It normally takes a minimum of three working days to get this ready to be handed over to you; hence the key is to request the letter as soon as you find out where and when you are traveling abroad.
07. Bank Statements and Salary Certificate
Of all the documentation you will need, your finances are the most critical. The bank statement that you will provide can make or break your visa application regardless of whether it is the bank statement of your sponsor or yourself.
This is required to validate your capability to afford and sustain yourself whilst you are not in the country you reside. The bank statement must show monetary transactions with regular deposits, withdrawals, debit card purchases, direct debits, and such; most importantly, it must have enough money to sustain your stay in the country you visit.
Do not submit a bank statement with a one-off deposit of a big amount of money. It will raise questions about your source of finances, especially if it is not the equivalent amount of salary noted on your salary statement. You can request salary statements from your Company’s Human Resources.
08. Hotel Reservations confirmation
There may be loads of hotels available on where you will be visiting; choose booking engines such as booking.com where you can reserve rooms and get confirmation without providing advance payments and with zero cancellation fees. You will need to give your credit card details to guarantee the payment of the reservation for these bookings. Remember to choose those with zero cancellation fees as there’s no guarantee that your visa will be approved.
If you are visiting family/friends and will be staying in their residence – you will need to submit a legal document from your sponsor (family/friends you are staying with) residing from the country you are visiting, such as their residence permit.
09. Family/Friends Residence permit
If you choose to declare that you will be staying with your family/friends during your visit, You must submit a formal invitation by your family/friend residing in the Schengen country. It is a document obtained from the local government or competent authorities they live in; this document will state the exact residence address and contact details. If the family/friend covers the applicant’s expenses, a formal document such as a bank statement, employment certificate, tax returns, or any relevant document that will prove the sponsor’s financial status is to be submitted.
The Schengen visa application usually provides a checklist of documents you need to submit. The above-mentioned documents are the minimum requirements for your application. At the same time, you will be requested to provide mandatory biometric fingerprints during your document submission. They may also advise you to visit the consulate for a personal interview, especially if it is your first time traveling to a particular country.
If you have applied for your visa at least three months in advance, minor clarification about your visa application can be cleared and corrected in time. Time is truly the key. However, it is unavoidable on most occasions when we don’t get all the travel information at once.
The website of the country you are applying for a visa for will have a ‘contact us section where you can send an email inquiry, always note your visa application reference number on the subject and body of your email for the consulate general representatives’ easy reference.
- Schengen Visa application can be stress-free – if you apply for your visa at least three months in advance, processing will take 15 days, depending on your documents.
- Be mentally prepared by knowing the purpose of your travel, your itinerary, and your length of stay in each country if you will be traveling to multiple countries.
- If you are about to visit multiple countries, you will have to apply to the first Schengen country you will be visiting.
- Know the visa application center by doing some research online; book an appointment for your application as early as possible; this can be rescheduled if you haven’t completed the documents.
- And of course, be organized with your documents, prepare 2 copies of each; one for your file and another to be submitted.
Have you had any challenges in applying for a tourist visa in Europe or anywhere else in the world? Share it with us!