Get Your Schengen Visa in Under a Week

Written By: Abi Patel
Fact Checked By: Jakus Eloff

May 23, 2022

6 min read

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How I Quickly Got My Schengen Visa.

What’s the quickest way to get a Schengen Visa? This is the question I asked myself as I scoured the internet, frantically reading through forums, articles, and (ugh) European Union member’s government websites. I needed to get a Schengen visa in a 14 day period. In the end, I managed to get a Schengen Visa in half that time. This is how I did it...

Now I don’t go around setting these crazy challenges for myself for the fun of it. Trying to enter the Schengen zone with a lead time of 14 days was not my idea...

“What’s The Problem? Why Can’t You Just Fly To Portugal?”

It all started when my friends decided to move our annual reunion (or Re-Bro-Show as it’s known, not my idea btw…) from a weekend getaway in Las Vegas, to a week-long road trip through Portugal. Everyone thought this was an “epic” idea, apart from me… All of my friends, bless their hearts, are American. If they want to go to another country, they just book a flight and go. I’m an Indian with a green card. The number of countries I can travel to visa-free is somewhat more restricted, to say the least (185 countries vs 58 countries…)

I’ve visited Europe and the Schengen Area a couple of times before. My last trip was in 2018 when I visited France, and that particular Schengen visa application took 4 weeks from the date I started it, to me actually receiving my visa. And that was before the world was in a pandemic. Two weeks was nowhere near enough time for me to get a Schengen Visa. But unless I was willing to be the one guy who didn’t make it to Portugal, I needed to figure out how to get a Schengen Visa in record time.

From previous experience, I knew that while the Schengen visa application form can take a while, the biggest challenge will be to find a Schengen Visa appointment in time. But, I had a plan…

A Plan Comes Together...

I started by calling each and every Portuguese Consulate in the US, Portugal’s Embassy included. I did not care if it was in Miami, Chicago, New York, or wherever - a short cross-country flight was a small price to pay for what promised to be an unforgettable week in Portugal. Not one of them had an appointment slot available for me to get a Schengen visa in time. That is if they replied at all. The message was the same, “Sorry, please try again later.” I didn’t have any later.

Undeterred, I moved on to plan B. This time I contacted all the VFS Global offices in the USA. I reached out to each and every one of them, from San Francisco to New York. I called, I emailed, I begged, I pleaded. Again, nothing. My time was running out, and I dreaded making the phone call to tell my friends they’ll be one short for the “Amazing Travelling Bro Show.” Yup, that was the actual name of our traveling party. They had t-shirts made and everything…

I was now at the point where I was trawling through government websites, Facebook groups, and reddit. Somewhere, someone must’ve asked what is the quickest way of getting a Schengen Visa. I was right, there were a whole lot of questions, but not nearly enough answers. It seems that if you don’t have the right type of passport International travel can be a one-way street. But not entirely ready to throw in the towel, I struggled on…

My Perseverance Is Rewarded By A Lucky Break

After what must have been hundreds of searches, forums, and FAQs later I stumbled across a blog called Portugal Visa Applications And Appointments from Atlys. Having been fooled before by pages promising one thing but delivering another, I clicked on it with a sense of incredulity. Entirely misplaced incredulity, it turned out…

Literally, top of the page was a box that showed all of the available appointments for Portuguese Schengen Visas. I couldn’t believe my eyes. This was exactly what I’ve been looking for! But, how could this website manage to do what neither the Portuguese government websites or VFS Global couldn’t?

Innovation.

The kind folks at Atlys were essentially scraping Schengen Visa appointments availability in real-time. I clicked on an appointment that suited me and I was in business. Furthermore, I could easily complete my visa application online, making things a million times easier.

Turns out there was more to this App than just finding visa appointments… Atlys have gone and automated the entire visa application process through their app. Remember the required documents that I didn’t want to struggle with earlier? Well, the app does all of that for you, your itinerary, visa photo, bank statements, employer letters, Travel and health insurance, the works. And it was fast too. In a matter of 5 minutes, I had a Schengen visa appointment. I was going to make it to Portugal after all...

Or so I thought… The problem I encountered was that Portugal took a minimum of 14 working days to process a Schengen Visa Application. I didn’t even have 14 days anymore, never mind 14 WORKING days. However, the app asked me a couple of questions and then recommended I should apply to Germany. “Why Germany?” I asked.

One Last Twist Of Ze Pretzel...

This is the really cool part, and it’s something I had no idea of. Because I’ve been to a country in the Schengen Zone during the last 5 years I could bypass the appointment and mail in my application. Now I wasn’t going to just believe something because some app told me so. I was going to do some research before going for this solution.

A Game-Changing Tip To Speed Up Your Schengen Visa Application

The app was right. All Schengen states share one central system, known as VIS, which they use to store biometric data, the fingerprints, and photos that are taken at a Schengen visa appointment. This data is valid for 59 months and any of the Schengen countries can access them. This is why there’s that “Have your biometric data been collected…’ question on the Schengen visa application form. At the moment, Germany was the only country accepting mail-in applications. I have no idea why other countries don’t support mail-in applications, but I can only hope this will change in the future.

I completed my application on Atlys, getting all of my supporting documents through the app, printing out my entire application, and mailing it in. I did overnight priority shipping labels and exactly 3 days later I received my passport and visa. You really can't beat German efficiency.

A Solution For You

All in all, I received my Schengen Visa to Portugal in exactly 6 days. While I used the Atlys app, I’m pretty sure you’d still be able to mail your entire visa application to your nearest German Consulate, provided of course that you have traveled to the European Union in the last 5 years. I just enjoyed having the app do all of the heavy lifting for me...

And to be honest, I was more than glad to be able to join my friends on their Iberian jaunt. They already had a t-shirt made just in case I couldn’t. It said: “The Official No Show Of The Bro Show.” With friends like these, right...

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