There are a lot of reasons why you didn’t get that Schengen visa. A lot of whys and hows and what-the-hell-happened blank stare.
There are currently 26 member states in Europe that form part Schengen Area. Today, the Schengen Area encompasses most EU States, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the United Kingdom. However, Bulgaria and Romania are currently in the process of joining the Schengen Area. Non-EU states Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have joined the Schengen Area. These 26 states and countries allow free movement of citizens as a single country.
For visitors to enter these states, a valid Schengen visa is required. To find out if you require a Schengen visa to enter these member countries, check this link.
The visa application process can be pretty challenging both mentally and financially. Rejection rates can be as high as 16% (Belguim, 2014) for some first world countries.
Here are the 5 reasons why your application maybe one of those rejected by EU member state.
Incomplete documents and forms
Incomplete forms get rejected right away. Most consuls do not want to waste time reviewing your application form if you filled all the blank spaces. One glance at your document and they know something is missing or not correct.
To not waste yours and the interviewer’s time, complete all questions, fill in with ‘NA’ if the question does not apply to your case. Make sure to paste your ID photo with the correct background and size.
Unpreparedness during the interview
Prepare yourself for the interview questions. The interview usually last under 2 minutes depending on your case. Prepare to answer all questions honestly and direct to the point. Interviewers already know if you are not being honest with your answers. Remember, they’ve been doing this for a long time and before you even reach the window, they are already profiling you.
Insufficient funds to cover your trip
You do not need a huge amount in your bank book. Or proof of ownership of a vast estate. All the interviewer needs is a proof that you have enough funds to cover your itinerary for the entire duration of your stay in Schengen area.
For the employed, this maybe simple as providing your pay-slip, certificate of employment and proof of holiday leave approvals from your manager. If you plan to stay in Paris for 8 days, compute your daily expenses, food expenses, hotel expenses, travel expenses (trains, bus fares, taxi) and multiply this by 8 plus additional buffer of about 20% for any unforeseen events. Don’t forget to compute this amount in Euro.
For my case, both times when I applied for a visa for France and Sweden, I presented my bank statement where my company deposits my monthly salary. And no, I did not present any savings account bank book or credit card statement.
For the self-employed or those running their own business, the requirements may be a lot more, including income tax declaration, annual financial statements and business registration. For the freelancer, the challenge here is how to present to the interviewer how deeply rooted you are to your home country so that you will come back after vacationing in France.
You did not have a complete itinerary
When I presented my Northern Lights itinerary, my itinerary includes day 1 of my arrival, the address and contact numbers of the hostel where I will be staying. Day 2 activity, Day 3 tour, Day 4 movement to Copenhagen, places where I will be staying while in Copenhagen, Day 5 in Copenhagen, Day 6 drive to Malmo, and so on up to the day that I will leave the Schengen area. It is important to include the day you leave the Schengen area in your itinerary.
I listed all the contact numbers of the places where I will be staying, advance booking for train tickets, airport transfers, contacts for the travel insurance and all other information that I included in my itinerary.
This clearly shows the interviewer how interested and eager I am to get that precious visa stamp.
Overheard during the interview (I was seating in the front row)
Interviewer: Why are you visiting France?
Girl: To visit Paris.
Interviewer: Do you have friends and family member staying in Paris?
Girl: Yes I have cousins living in Paris for a long time now.
Interviewer: Do you have their addresses and contact numbers?
Girl: No, sorry.
You get the picture? The girl was handed back her application forms and documents at that moment. She was asked to come back with the contact details of her cousins. What a waste of time and money.
Do not make the same mistake. If you declare that you have friends and families living in the Schengen area, have their contact numbers and addresses ready just in case. If you are staying with a friend, fiancee´ or relative, declare it and be honest about it.
Bottomline, any declaration you make during the interview, make sure you have supporting documents for it.
The interviewer will reject your application if they cannot connect 2 things. They need to establish how rooted you are to your home country so you will come back after your holiday. And that you can support yourself while you are in the Schengen area.
When you present your well planned itinerary, proof of sufficient savings to cover your trip and completed forms and documents, this reflects that you have this Europe holiday confidently covered from A to Z.
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