Last Updated : 4 Sep 2023
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Visiting the Schengen Area is not as easy as it seems. If you don't leave enough time for your Schengen Visa application process, you might risk not getting your visa before your trip. Unfortunately, most people get absorbed in the excitement of planning a trip and don't consider the time it takes to complete the entire Schengen Visa application process. This happened to me once...
I won't bore you with the details, so I'll keep my story short. My first trip to France was an absolute disaster. To be honest, it was entirely my fault, and I should've known better. As I just mentioned, I got caught up in planning my exciting trip rather than spending time on completing my Schengen Visa application. Because I left everything for the last minute, I received my Schengen Visa 2 weeks too late. All that long hours of planning for nothing. Sadly, I couldn't travel to France that year!
That's the reality of Schengen Visas today. You first need to stress about getting your visa before you can get excited about your trip. That's why I decided to write this blog today, to help you understand how long it really takes to get a Schengen Visa.
It's important to understand when you should start the Schengen Visa application process. The earliest you can start applying for your Schengen Visa is 3 months before your intended date of departure. I recommend starting as soon as possible. This will leave you enough time to complete all the Schengen Visa application process steps.
The Schengen Visa application steps include (if you do it the traditional way):
2. Filling out the Schengen Visa application form
4. Attending your appointment and submitting your biometric data
5. Pay the visa application fee
6. Wait for feedback from the Embassy
Starting with your application process soon enough will leave you enough time for all of these steps. Also, should there be any unforeseen events, you'll have enough time to react to them.
For example, suppose you can't attend your initial Schengen Visa appointment, and you need to reschedule it. In that case, you'll have enough time to do so and still receive your visa before your flight to the Schengen Area.
There is always the possibility that your Schengen Visa may be denied. Don't worry. A visa getting denied is usually due to minor mistakes made during the visa application process. This can be something like a spelling mistake, incompleted application forms, or even unclear travel purposes. If you leave yourself enough time, you can successfully appeal the initial decision and correct the small mistakes you made.
Another thing you should consider is the number of people you're traveling with. This can influence how long it takes for you to complete all the application steps. For example, suppose you're traveling with 4 children. In that case, you'll need to gather all the required documents for all your children alongside your own. This can take a considerable amount of time.
The next thing you should consider is the time of the year you'll be traveling to the Schengen Area. During holiday seasons, Embassies will most likely have more Schengen Visa applications they need to process. Conversely, during offseasons, the demand for Schengen Visas will be less. This means Embassies won't have to process a large number of visas.
Considering all these factors mentioned above, there is an effective way to cut your application time in half. How? Complete your Schengen Visa application through Atlys (within minutes). Atlys gets everything from the required documents to your appointment slot, with minimum effort from your side. By far the easiest way to save time when applying for your next visa.
The processing time for your visa can depend on the Embassy you plan to apply at. Typically you can expect to wait around 15 calendar days for your visa to be processed. In some cases, you might receive your visa before the initial 15 days. However, keep in mind that other factors can delay the visa processing time. Some of these factors include:
Political unrest in the Schengen country you plan to visit
New visa changes are being implemented
Political changes within the country you plan to visit
A sudden demand in Schengen Visas
Furthermore, if you're planning to travel with your family, you should consider the time it takes for the Embassy to process all your visas.
You should always keep these things in mind when you start your Schengen Visa application process.
As you already know, I failed to consider many things during my Schengen Visa application process. Unfortunately, all of these led to me not getting my visa on time - which meant I couldn't go on my trip to France.
After that horrible experience, I have decided to compile a list of general tips you can refer back to when you apply for your Schengen Visa...
This is the first mistake I made. I didn't consider how long it would take to gather all the required documents for my Schengen Visa. Remember, without the correct documents, your Schengen Visa will be denied indefinitely.
Here is a list of documents you require:
A Valid Passport/Valid Travel Document (with 2 blank pages available for your visa sticker)
2 Passport Photos that meet the following requirements
2 Copies Of Your Passport
Copies Of Your Previous Visas
A Flight Itinerary/Return Flight Ticket
A Cover Letter (which states the purpose of your travel)
Proof Of Accommodation
Proof Of Sufficient Funds
Proof Of Your Employment Status
An Invitation Letter (if applicable)
At first glance, it's not a very tall order. These documents aren't that difficult to collect. However, that's the mistake most people make (like me). Because it seems pretty straightforward, most people don't prioritize collecting their documents in time.
You'll need to consider the time it takes to travel back and forth to collect these documents. For example, you'll need to present 2 passport photos that meet specific requirements. So, you'll need to travel to get your photos taken, collect them, and travel back.
Maybe you need to submit a letter of invitation from a family member or friend you plan to visit. They'll need to provide their personal details, address, telephone number, and so on. It might seem simple, but you're still dependent on them sending you the letter in time.
Whatever the reason, don't underestimate the time it takes to collect the required documents.
Quick tip: If you apply for a visa to a specific country, you'll need to submit your documents in English or the official language of the country you plan to visit. Let's use my example - my documents had to be either in English or French. You can get all your documents translated by a certified translator on upwork.
If you've ever applied for a Schengen Visa, you'll know what a headache scheduling a visa appointment can be. Unfortunately, the truth is, Embassies won't always have the appointment slot available that suits you. Meaning, you'll have to settle for a later appointment date than you planned. Furthermore, the entire process of scheduling a Schengen Visa appointment can be difficult and tiresome.
In my case, I couldn't get the appointment slot I wanted. I was only able to get an appointment a week later. I was still hopeful that I would receive my visa before my intended departure date, but that was not the case. As I already mentioned, I received my visa 2 weeks too late.
Realistically, there isn't really a way you can reduce your visa's processing time. However, I once asked a consular officer if there was any way to speed up the visa application process. She informed me there isn't, but providing a complete visa application does help Embassy officials make a decision faster.
A Complete Schengen Visa Application Includes:
All the required documents
A Schengen Visa application form that has been filled out correctly and neatly
Providing enough evidence that supports the reason for your trip
It might not make a massive difference in the processing time of your visa. Still, it does help Embassy officials make a favorable decision faster.
I used to think that there was only one way you could apply for a Schengen Visa. However, after my tragic France visa experience, a friend told me about another simpler way to apply for a Schengen Visa. So, next, I'll list the 2 ways you can successfully apply for your Schengen Visa.
Applying the traditional way is how I used to apply for my Schengen Visas. If you follow the visa application process correctly, you can successfully obtain a Schengen Visa to your main destination. Nonetheless, applying the traditional way does have a few downfalls:
It takes some time to gather all the required documents
Scheduling a Schengen Visa appointment is difficult
You have to do everything on your own
If you don't know how to apply for a Schengen Visa, it can be stressful
The Schengen Visa application process takes a lot of time and can be tiresome
These are some of the things I encountered while applying for my Schengen Visa. Also, these are the things you need to consider when you apply for a Schengen Visa.
Quick note: I understand that I was to blame for not getting my Schengen Visa on time. I'm in no way saying that the traditional way of applying for a Schengen Visa is the worst or wrong way to do it. I have just found an easier way to do it.
As I briefly mentioned before, a dear friend of mine told me about a handy tool called Atlys, which he uses to apply for his Schengen Visas. After I couldn't go on my planned trip to France, I decided to reapply for my Schengen Visa and go the following year. So I ended up downloading Atlys and applied for my short-stay visa through the app.
To be honest, I fell in love with how simple the app made the entire visa application process. So much so that I still share my experience with anyone willing to listen.
Let me share how simple the visa application process was for me...
After downloading the app, I had to:
pick a country (France),
fill in my personal details
and answer some questions about my planned trip.
I took a selfie (for my passport photos which was delivered to me),
a photo of my passport,
and a photo of my US Green Card.
After taking the photos, Atlys also auto-generated a complete flight itinerary, proof of accommodation, and employment letter (I had the option to do this myself, but why would I). Also, I had the option to add health insurance/insurance policy through the app. Furthermore, I had the option to connect my bank account (for the required bank statements) for proof of sufficient funds.
The best part was scheduling my Schengen Visa appointment. Atlys automatically generated available visa appointments for me. So, all I had to do was choose an appointment slot that suited me - done!
After finalizing the service payment, I had to print my Schengen Visa application form (which had all my supporting documents attached to it), attend my visa appointment, and wait for feedback from the French Embassy. It was honestly as easy as that!
This entire process took less than 10 minutes, and I did it from the comfort of my own home, only lifting one finger.
Quick note: I ask you not to take my word. Instead, try it yourself!
After receiving favorable feedback from the French Embassy, I traveled to collect my new visa. Afterward, I was well on my way to my long-awaited trip to France.
You now know what to expect when you start your Schengen Visa application for your next trip to the Schengen Zone.
There are 26 Schengen Member States you can visit with your Schengen Visa:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.