What would you do if you won a lottery?Travel the World ? Buy all the riches you can dream of ? Leave it in the Bank ?
Most people have a common answer: Travel the world. As a British citizen you could travel to 173 countries with just your passport. When it comes to visa free travel, UK is at par with Finland and Sweden. But if you don’t hold a British passport, just living there either as a student or working, then you have get Schengen visa for UK residents . Schengen visa allows you to travel 26 of the European countries which are part of the Schengen area. These include France, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Sweden. However, UK residents who do not have citizenship do need to apply for a Schengen visa which is kind of sad.
Schengen Visa: What is it all about?
The Schengen area is based on the concept of free travel between European countries. This concept isn’t new and has been around since the middle ages. However, the idea was put into place only in the 1980s. France and Germany were the pioneering countries with respect to the Schengen area. In 1985, the Schengen agreement was signed by five countries. These included France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. The agreement was named so because it was signed in a village called Schengen. According to the agreement, a citizen from these 5 countries could travel to any of the other 4 countries without a visa. With time, this number increased to 26. The last country to sign the agreement so far is Liechtenstein.
The United Kingdom was never a part of the Schengen area. However, as long as it is part of the European Union, British citizens can stay in any of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days. This is extended to BOTCs (British Overseas Territories citizens), BS (British Subjects), BOCs (British Overseas citizens) and BPP (British Protected Persons).
Planning a holiday in Europe? Know the types of short stay visa you can apply for
We travel for a number of reasons ranging from a holiday to a business trip. Hence, each country offers a number of different types of visas. The Schengen area is no different. The different types of Schengen Visas include:
- Tourist Schengen Visa
- Business Schengen Visa
- Working Schengen Visa
- Student Schengen Visa
- Transit Schengen Visa
Of these the tourist visa has the highest demand. This is also known as a Schengen Short Stay Visa. With this visa a tourist can travel to and stay in any of the Schengen countries for up to 90 days at a stretch. Once issued, the visa is valid for six months. A Schengen short stay Visa can further be categorized as a single entry visa or a multiple entry visa. A single entry visa does not allow the visa holder to reenter the Schengen area once he or she has left it. However, a multiple entry visa allows a tourist to come and go as they please. Foreigners are not allowed to work on a tourist visa. However, you may attend job interviews while holding this visa.
Are you a UK Resident Trying to Get a Schengen Visa? Know thy Documents
A number of people who live in the UK may not be British citizens. This includes those who are studying there or working in Britain. In such cases, they may be referred to as UK residents. UK residents cannot travel to the Schengen area without a valid Schengen visa. For a British resident to apply for a Schengen visa from the UK he or she should have been a resident for at least 3 months. Nonresidents who have been staying the UK for less than three months should apply for a Schengen visa from their home country. The documents required by a British resident to apply for a Schengen Visa include:
Your passport should have been issued no more than ten years ago and should be valid for a minimum of three months beyond your return. It should also contain at least 2 blank pages. If you have been issued a Schengen visa earlier, a copy of the same should also be available. If you have any earlier passports that have expired, these must be carried as well.
- UK Residence Permit
This permit must be endorsed on your passport or on a biometric identity card.
- Visa Application Form
The visa application form can be downloaded from here. This form can be edited on the computer or filled in by hand. The former is often preferred as it is more legible and makes correcting mistakes easier. The form must be filled completely and signed by the applicant.
- Passport Photograph
The Schengen area is very strict as far as passport photograph requirements as concerned. A British resident needs one passport photograph for a Schengen visa application. To be the safe side, you may keep a few extra photographs handy. The specifications for these passport photographs are mentioned below.
- Travel Insurance
As mentioned earlier, a tourist entering the Schengen area must have a minimum travel insurance cover of 30,000 Euros. This insurance must be valid in all the countries being visited and throughout the duration of your trip. Know how to get Schengen visa insurance quickly in this article.
- Hotel Reservations
When visiting a Schengen country, the visa issuing officer will want to know where you plan on staying. However, this may not always be possible. For example, you may have planned to backpack your way across Europe and hence may not have a fixed itinerary. In such cases, working with a travel agent is beneficial. For a small token payment, they can reserve a room in a hotel under your name. You will receive confirmation of the same in the form of an email that can be presented along with your visa application. It is important to note the reservation number mentioned in this email and cross check its validity. You are under no obligation to stay here and can make your own arrangements, once the visa is issued. If you are travelling as part of a pre-paid tourist group, a copy of the payment details to your tour organizer will suffice
- Flight Itinerary
There are two main reasons you will be asked for your itinerary. The first is to ensure that you are applying at the right consulate. Once your visa is issued, you can use it to travel to any of the Schengen countries. However, it is important to apply to the right consulate for your visa. You may apply either at the consulate of the country you will be visiting first or at the consulate of the country where you will spend maximum time. The second reason an itinerary is asked for is to assure the visa officers that you will not be overstaying your visit. This can take the form of round trip tickets or a detailed itinerary. to know more about flight bookings without buying a full flight in advance, have a look at our flight bookings article
- Proof of Financial Sufficiency
A UK resident needs to prove that he or she can spend a minimum of £55 per day. When travelling as a group or a family, this amount needs to be multiplied by the number of members of your group. There are many ways to prove your financial sufficiency.
- Cover Letter
Lastly, your application should be accompanied by a cover letter. This should mention our reason for travelling, a list of supporting documents that have been submitted and include a copy of your itinerary. Sample personal cover letter.
One of the most common reasons a Schengen visa application is rejected is because of the passport photograph submitted. This photograph must be pasted on the application form and must follow a few guidelines.
- It must be no older than 6 months from the date of being submitted.
- It must not be cropped from a larger photograph
- It must be taken against a plain, neutral backdrop
- It must be printed on high quality glossy paper.
- The photograph must be focused on the applicant and have a good contrast. Without this, it may be difficult to reproduce the photograph for biometrics
- The photograph should measure 35mm x 45mm
- 70% of this should be taken up by the applicant’s face
- The applicant’s ears, chin or forehead should not be cropped out of the frame
Specifications to be kept in mind while taking a passport photograph for Schengen Visa application:
- The applicant must look straight into the camera with a neutral expression
- The applicant’s head must not be turned or at an angle
- If glasses are worn, they should not cause a reflection to be seen or create a shadow across the face.
- Tinted glasses and sunglasses are not allowed
- Headwear is permitted only if worn for religious reasons. In such cases, it should not create a shadow across the face or hide the forehead, chin or ears.
These specifications hold true for photographs of children as well. When it comes to passport photographs for infants, no toys or other people should be visible in the background.
An itinerary for the purpose of a Schengen visa application can take the form of return tickets or a detailed itinerary. In case of the latter, it is not necessary to buy air tickets before your visa is issued. Your itinerary should include:
- Date of arrival and departure
- Airports you will be entering and leaving the Schengen area from
- Valid Flight Reservation Number
- Booking ID
- Flight Name
- Airport IATA codes
- Total Price of the ticket
Most airlines allow a traveler to reserve a seat without any payment for a period of up to one week. However, it usually takes up to 14 days to process a visa application. If your eat reservation is invalidated by the time your visa application is processed, it will be rejected. Hence, it is better to work with a travel agent who can reserve a flight seat for a longer period of time. You will need to make a small payment for this service but it is comparatively much cheaper than buying a ticket. IT is important to note that one way tickets are not accepted for a visa application and you will need to show your return itinerary as well. To get your flight itinerary
How to Prove Financial Sufficiency
No country will allow a tourist to enter if he or she does not have the ability to pay for their holiday. Some of the ways to prove your financial sufficiency include:
- Bank Statement for the last three months
- Pay slips for the last three months
- Credit card
- Travellers cheques
- Proof of employment
In case you are the proprietor of a company you work at, you will also need to furnish a copy of the firm’s registration certificate. In case your travel expenses are being taken care of by a third party, you will need a letter giving details of the person sponsoring your trip and their reason for doing so.
When you are ready to apply for your visa you will need to book an appointment at the consulate. This should be done at least 15 days before your intended trip. When you reach the consulate you will be given a token number and assigned to a visa officer. While you submit your application and documents, the office may ask you a few questions regarding your trip. This may include:
- Why are you travelling?
- How are you paying for your trip?
- Do you have any family and friends in the countries you will be visiting?
The main aim of asking these questions is to cross check the details mentioned in your application. Hence, it is important to answer honestly. After this interview, biometric details will be collected form each applicant. This data is recorded for a period of 5 years. Hence, if you have already undergone this process I the last five years, you may skip this step. You will also need to pay a visa processing fee.
A visa normally takes 15 days to be processed. In rare cases where additional documentation is required, it can take up to 60 days. Hence, it is best to not leave this to the last minute. Once the visa is issued, you can collect it from the consulate. If your visa application is not accepted you may appeal against this decision and reapply for a visa.
Schengen Visa Fees for UK residents: As Affordable as they can get
Since UK citizens do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen area, they do not have to pay any visa fee. However, this payment is necessary in the case of British residents applying for a Schengen visa. Visa processing fees for an adult amount to £51. Visa applications for children below the age of 6 years have no fees. For children older than this, a visa processing fee of £30 needs to be paid per application. This fee may change based on currency fluctuations. It can be paid only in UK Pounds. These fees are nonrefundable and if you need to reapply for a visa, the fees will need to be paid again. Visa fees could also differ if the traveller’s spouse is an EU national.
Schengen Visa Specifications for Minors
In case you are travelling with children under the age of 18 you will need to submit a copy of their birth certificates naming you as the parents. In case the child is travelling with a guardian, a signed letter is needed from both parents giving the guardian the authority to travel with the child. In such cases proof of the parent’s financial sufficiency is also needed. In cases where the child is travelling with one parent, written consent is needed from the other parent.
Schengen Visa from UK for Indian Passport Holders
Indians are the largest ethnic minority in the UK. This is because the UK is home to over 1.4 million Indians. India has the maximum number of UK visa application centers in the world. Most visa applications to Britain are accepted and Indians today travel to Britain to study, work and holiday amongst other reasons. It has been estimated that up to 300,000 Indians travel to the UK each year. As an Indian passport holder if you have stayed in the UK for over three months, you can apply for a Schengen visa from the UK. If you have only a three month UK visa, you will need to extend this visa for at least another three months before you can apply for a Schengen visa from the UK. This should be done while you are in UK and before your current visa expires. A visa extension can be applied for by post or in person. In case of the former, it can take up to 8 weeks. However, if you apply in person, you could receive an extension on the same day. In case you are travelling to the UK for less than three months, it is better to apply for a Schengen visa from India. This increases the chances of your visa being issued.
So, are you ready to say Bonjour and have a Schönen Tag? The Schengen region is a beautiful part of Europe and suits travelers with all budgets. If you’re on a budget trip, Euro Rail passes can be very useful. Else, you can pick any of the European airlines to travel from one country to another. For culture lovers, Europe offers a wide range of art and architecture to marvel at. Many historical sites are also located in the 26 Schengen countries. In addition, there is a wide variety of foods from different cuisines to sample and beautiful scenic areas to be explored. The Schengen area is also considered relatively safe for solo travelers and women. So, pick the country you want to explore first and take the first step to a memorable holiday by applying for your Schengen visa today.