Last Updated : 4 Sept 2023
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My mother always told me that it's wrong to hate something. She used to say that hate is such a powerful word and that I should instead use the words "strongly dislike." Well, one thing that I strongly dislike... is uncertainty. Unfortunately, uncertainty has become such a common thing in our world, and it drives me crazy. "Do I look good?" "Have I studied enough?" "What do I do now?" "Will I get my Schengen Visa to the Netherlands?" ugh!
Let me introduce myself. My name is Asim, and one thing you should know about me - I get stressed very quickly (oh, and I strongly dislike uncertainty. So 2 things, actually).
I decided to write this post when my Schengen Visa application to the Netherlands was denied due to not having the correct documents...
I have a best friend who lives in the Netherlands. After school, we had to go our separate ways. My best friend got a full college scholarship in the Netherlands, and I chose to study in my home country. After graduating, we started talking about our future plans. We decided that we would plan a visit before we took the big step into the grown-up world. He persuaded me to visit him in the Netherlands as I had never been there before. Also, he pointed out that I would have the opportunity to visit Europe and some of its beautiful countries. After weighing up the pros and cons, I finally agreed and started planning my trip. The plan was to meet up with him in the Netherlands and travel to France, Italy, and Germany afterwards.
Because I get stressed easily, I decided I would apply for my Schengen Visa the traditional way. So, I travelled to the nearest Netherlands Embassy to learn more about the short-stay Visa and the visa application requirements. There, Embassy officials informed me about the Schengen Visa rules, visa requirements, and most importantly, the required documents for my Schengen Visa application.
This was one of the first questions I asked. The Embassy informed me that I had to provide the following documents for my Netherlands Visa application:
A Schengen Visa Application Form
The information on the application form must be accurate and correct. Ensure that the personal details you provide are the same as your passport or travel document details. For example, check that your surname matches.
A Valid Passport
Your passport must be valid for 3 months after you depart back to your home country. It must be in good condition and not older than 10 years. Also, you must have at least 2 coloured photocopies of your passport.
2 Passport Photos
Your passport photos must be in color and meet the following requirements.
Copies Of Previous Visas
You must provide copies of your previous visas. Also, you must ensure that you have at least 2 blank visa pages available (In my case, I didn't need this as I didn't have any previous visas).
Letter Of Invitation (If Applicable)
If you plan to visit a family member or friend in the Schengen Area, you'll need to include a letter of invitation with your Schengen Visa application form. In my case, I planned to visit my best friend. Therefore, the attached letter had his personal details, address, telephone number, occupation, and my arrival and departure date.
Return Flight Ticket
You must provide proof that you'll return to your home country after you have visited the Schengen Zone. This can be done by providing copies of flight reservations or a purchased flight ticket indicating your departure date to your country of origin.
Proof Of Sufficient Funds
You'll need to present proof that you have the financial means to provide for yourself during your visit. For the Netherlands, you can expect to have around €34/day. For this, I provided my bank statements for the previous 3 months.
Proof Of Accommodation
If you don't plan to visit a friend or family member, you'll need to submit proof of where you'll be staying during your trip. This can be a rental agreement, hotel reservations, or an Airbnb booking.
While traveling through the Schengen Area, you'll need to have valid travel insurance, also known as health insurance. However, there are certain requirements your travel insurance must meet. One of which includes full medical coverage across the entire EU. In addition, it must be valid for the duration of your stay, cover all medical expenses, and provide minimum coverage of €30,000.
The Embassy also informed me that I had to prove my employment status. For your convenience, I'll include each one:
If You're Employed
An employment contract
Your bank statements for the past 6 months
A letter from your employer stating that they do not object to you being absent from work.
An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form
If You're Self-Employed
An Income Tax Return (ITR) Form
A copy of your company's bank statement from the past 6 months
A copy of your business license
If You're Retired
An official document or certificate that proves you're a retiree or any relevant document.
Your bank statements for the past 6 months.
If You're A Student
Proof that you're enrolled at a recognized education institution.
A letter from your educational institution stating they do not object that you'll be absent from school.
After my trip to the Embassy, I felt confident about the visa application process. Once I arrived home, I created a document checklist and immediately started gathering all the required documents. As soon as I had all my documents, I called the Embassy to schedule my Schengen Visa appointment. A week after, I traveled back to the Netherlands Embassy to attend my visa appointment.
Once I arrived for my appointment, I started to get nervous. However, there was no time to be nervous as I had to attend an in-person interview with an Embassy staff member. During my interview, I submitted all the supporting documents I had gathered and answered a few simple questions about my trip.
Everything was going good until the interviewer asked where my flight itinerary was. "What flight itinerary? The official I talked to previously didn't mention anything about a flight itinerary," I thought. Needless to say, I finished the interview, paid the visa fee, and was informed that I would receive feedback within a few days.
While traveling back home, the uncertainty about getting my Visa kept swimming through my head. As a result, the following few days were stressful. Nonetheless, I still had hope that my application might be successful.
Unfortunately, the feedback I received from the Embassy was not favorable. My Schengen Visa was denied due to the purpose of my trip being unclear. I knew I could appeal the visa decision, but it would create more uncertainty, so I decided to reapply.
Frustrated, I talked to my friend and explained my situation to him. He suggested I use an app called Atlys to apply for my Schengen Visa. Still a bit skeptical, I downloaded the app and started a new application to the Netherlands. To be honest, applying for the visa was very fast and straightforward. Atlys included all the documents I required, and afterwards, generated a checklist I could use to monitor my progress throughout the visa application process.
While I was applying through Atlys, I noticed that I had the option to generate a flight itinerary that would be included with my application. Generating a flight itinerary was extremely fast and all the flight information was automatically attached to my Schengen Visa application. Pretty amazing if you ask me.
However, I still couldn't understand why the Embassy didn't mention I required a flight itinerary. So just to be sure, I did some further research. While researching I found that the documents l previously gathered were indeed the correct documents. However, I noticed that it's always a good idea to bring along any additional documents I feel might improve my visa application's chances of success. Something small can make a huge difference in the outcome.
I noticed that the reason the consular official would ask for a flight itinerary is because I planned to travel to more than 1 Schengen Country. So you see, the flight itinerary would have helped support the reason for my trip.
Because I planned to travel to 4 different Schengen Countries, the interviewer had to determine if I would return to my home country and if tourism was the actual purpose of my trip. Unfortunately, in the end, the documents I presented didn't provide enough proof.
Thinking back, I should have known that I had to submit a flight itinerary. How stupid could I have been? You see, authorities won't just take your word for something. They want to see proof!
Anyway, I finally understood why my first Schengen Visa application was denied.
Now my next question was...
As mentioned before, it's a good idea to bring along any documents you think would help support the reason for your trip or increase the chances of a successful visa application. Here are the additional documents Atlys generated for me:
A Flight Itinerary
My flight itinerary included all my travel dates and flight numbers. It specifies when I would be entering and leaving the Schengen Member States. This helped prove the purpose of my trip and that I intended to leave the Schengen Area before my Visa expired.
I submitted an agenda that included all the things we plan to do while visiting the Schengen Area. This had tours, hotel reservations (with dates), and other activities.
Hotel Reservation And Additional Accommodation Documents
I went through the effort to present hotel reservations and Airbnb bookings. Should the interviewer have asked me where I planned to stay in each country, I had sufficient proof of accommodation.
A Cover Letter
Within my cover letter, I included a written reason for the purpose of my trip. For example, I explained why I wanted to travel to the Netherlands, what countries I planned to visit, what I planned to do in each country, who I planned to travel with, etc. Alongside this, I attached my hotel reservations, travel itinerary, and agenda to help support the reason for my trip.
Copies Of Everything
Before traveling to the Embassy to attend my in-person interview, I ensured that I made at least 1 additional copy of each document. I safely stored it in a folder and kept it with me during the entire entire process.
When applying for a Schengen Visa, most Embassies will require you to submit your documents in English or the country's language where you plan to visit. In my case, my documents had to be in English or Dutch. You need to get your documents translated and certified by a certified translator before submitting them to the Embassy.
After a tiresome experience, I decided to use Atlys to apply for my second Visa. The application process was much easier and a lot less stressful than the one before. Moreover, as mentioned, Atlys generated all the other documents I required like my flight itinerary, hotel reservations, and proof of my employment status. The entire application process took me approximately 6 - 10 minutes, where it previously took me hours to complete. At my second interview, I submitted all the required documents, presented my other supporting documents, and confidently walked out of the interview.
In the end, I finally got my second Schengen Visa and could go visit my friend in the Netherlands. Our trip was terrific, and I plan to visit the Schengen Area soon as there are still so many places I want to see. I know that next time I'll be certain about the documents I need to submit at my Schengen Visa appointment.