Europe is a major tourist destination and people from around the world come to visit. Tourist from many nationalities the privilege to travel visa free or get visa on arrival, but for all others they need to apply a Schengen visa to visit most of the European countries.
What is Schengen Visa?
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.
The term Schengen visa came after the Schengen agreement in 1985 which lead to the creation of Europe Schengen area which abolished their internal borders controls for the free and unrestricted movement of people.
Currently there are 26 European countries in Schengen region;
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
Schengen area cover most of the European Union countries. There are few countries which are in European union but not in the Schengen region like UK and there are few other countries which are not part of European Union still the part of the Schengen agreement like Switzerland.
Other than these 26 countries if you have a valid Schengen multiple entry visa you can visit visa free to many other countries in Europe like Romania and Turkey.
How to apply for Schengen Visa in Abu Dhabi
Here is a step-by-step guide for how to apply Schengen visa from Abu Dhabi.
First you have to prepare your itinerary and decide which country you want to visit. If you are visiting a single country then the process is straight forward, apply Schengen visa for that country. If you are visiting two or more countries then you have to apply for the country in which you will stay for maximum duration. For example, if you are going only to Switzerland then apply Schengen visa for Switzerland but if you are going to Switzerland and France and you are staying 3 days in Switzerland and 4 days in France then you have to apply for Schengen visa for France even though your port of entry is Switzerland.
So, number of days staying in a country is more important than the port of entry for applying Schengen visa for specific country in a multi country tour.
Schedule an appointment for submitting your application form. Most of the Schengen countries visa is handled by VFS Global. Download the visa application form from VFS Global website. Every country has the same visa form but the visa form is bilingual with the country’s language and English. Download the form from the country specific VFS Global site where you want to apply. There are few countries whose visa is not handled by VFS Global, like Schengen visa for Spain is handled by BLS International. There are few other countries who have not outsource their visa facilities to any agency. You have to visit their Embassy and submit your Schengen visa application form, like Poland and Lithuania.
After your appointment is scheduled, start preparing for your documents which you have to submit along with filled visa application form. Documents required for Schengen visa application;
- Original passport: You have to submit your original passport to get the visa pasted. Your passport must be issued in last 10 years should have at least two blank pages. Passport must be valid for at least three months from the intended date of departure from Schengen region.
- One recent passport photo with white background: The photo needs to display a full-frontal view of the face showing neutral expression (no smiling). The photo size should be 35 mm width & 45 mm height. 70 – 80% part of the photo must be filled by your face within acceptable face height of 32 to 36 mm.
- Confirmed Flight Tickets: For applying Schengen visa, you need a confirmed and valid return flight tickets. This is to show your exact date of entry and exit from the Schengen region. If your next destination is not your home country or resident country then you have to show visa for that country.
- Proof of accommodation: You have to provide proof of your accommodation during complete duration your stay. It can be a booking confirmation from hotel or apartments from Airbnb. It’s not necessary that the accommodation should be fully paid. If you are invited by somebody and staying at his place you have to submit letter of invitation by the host.
- Proof of financial capacity: You have to submit the statement of your bank account for the last 3 months. Bank statement generated from internet banking is not accepted. You have to collect your account statement and get it stamped by the bank. You should have sufficient fund in your account to cover your trip duration in the Schengen region based on the cost of living in the country you plan to visit.
- Medical insurance: You have to buy a policy that should cover the entire duration of your stay in the Schengen region. The minimum coverage required for Schengen visa is Euro 30000. It’s better to get a travel insurance which will cover Medical and travel both.
- Certificate of employment: You have to submit a certificate of employment that indicate the joining date in the organization you are working, your current position and monthly salary.
Please note that along with the application form you have to submit a photocopy of passport first/last page and copy of your UAE resident visa. UAE resident visa must be valid for at least three months from the intended date of departure from the Schengen region.
On the day/time of your appointment go to the VFS Global office to submit all your documents along with visa application form. VFS Global office is located in shining Tower near the Khalidiya mall. Once you reach the VFS Global office they will give you a token number for your turn. Inside the VFS Global office they have different counters to collect visa application for different countries. Your waiting time depends on the number of people who are applying visa for the same country.
VFS Global staff will check all your documents and verify that they are all in order. After that they will send you to the biometric room for taking your fingerprints and your picture. In the biometric room you have to submit your passport to affix the visa. After collecting your passport, they will give you a receipt which you must keep with you until your get your passport back.
Wait for Visa stamp. As per VFS Global, normally it takes 15 working days to get the visa approval but you may receive your visa within one week depending on the number of applications with the Embassy.
Schengen Visa fee
Schengen Visa fee is AED 240 + AED 84 Service charges.
SMS and courier charges (optional) are separate. You have the option to collect your passport from VFS Global office. If you are applying for a family it’s better to collect the passport rather than giving a big sum of money for courier. Passport collection time in Abu Dhabi office is from 15:00 to 17:00 weekdays.