The following post is my personal experience and does not apply to all situations where Schengen Visas are denied. Here I will explain what happened during my Schengen Visa refusal and the steps I took to appeal the decision.
For your convenience, I have labeled each event, to help explain how it all unfolded.
In 2019, my friends and I planned to travel to one of the many Schengen Areas for tourism purposes. We decided to travel to Greece for our summer holiday. It was our final year at university, and we wanted to end it off on a high note. The decision was impulsive, and we only had a few months left to gather all the documents needed for our Schengen Visa.
Having this in mind, we started gathering all the required documents. After this, we went to the nearest Consulate General of Greece to get the application form for our Schengen Visa.
The application process was quite simple, seeing as we already had the documents. We scheduled our appointment and waited for our in-person interview.
After my interview, I was extremely excited about our trip, not once thinking that my Schengen Visa would be refused. Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened. I was notified that I could collect my passport and that sadly my Schengen visa application has been rejected.
I went over to the Embassy to collect my passport. There, I received a form that stated the reason for my refusal and that it is possible to appeal the decision if I wish.
The reason for my visa refusal was ridiculous at the time, but thinking back now, it makes sense. I had an insufficient explanation for the purpose of my trip, meaning I did not provide enough supporting evidence on what I planned to do in Greece. For me, this seemed obvious, tourism, but for the interviewer, I did not provide enough supporting documents to prove the reason for tourism.
I immediately went to do some research on the subject of Schengen Visa appeals and how I could support the reasons for my trip.
After I have done my research, I realized the mistake I made. Because I was so focused on meeting the Schengen Visa requirements and gathering all the documents - such as proof of income, criminal record, travel insurance, and so on, I never stopped to get the necessary information that would help support the purpose of my trip.
Listed are the documents I should have acquired:
These documents might not seem like a lot, but I know that if I presented these during my interview, I would not have been in a situation where my Schengen Visa was denied. Meaning, I would never had to go through the visa appeal process.
Quick tip: During your in-person interview, give as many details as possible when asked what the purpose of your trip is. Providing little details - such as what you want to see in a certain city, can go a long way. I found using Upwork and paying $10 as the best alternative.
Now that I understood why my Schengen Visa was refused, I could start the visa appeal process.
To be clear, you have 2 options. You can reapply for your visa, or you can appeal the initial decision made on your first visa application. Keep in mind that when you reapply for your Schengen Visa, it might be automatically refused due to the refusal of your first application. For this reason, I choose to follow the visa appeal process rather than reapplying.
I started the visa appeal process as soon as possible, knowing that my trip was only a few weeks away. I noticed that I only had a few days to start my visa appeal. You only have 30 days to start the visa appeal from the date you received your refusal form. If I didn't, the refusal would be definitive.
I had to write an appeal letter for the Schengen Visa rejection. This was no easy task as I did not want to come forward as impolite but still wanted the initial decision to be reversed.
I will give a step-by-step example of how I approached the appeal process.
Quick tip: Usually the appeal letter you plan to submit must be translated. You should translate it into the language of the country you plan to visit. So, if you're appealing to Spain, your appeal letter should be in Spanish. My best advice would be to write your letter in English (or your own language) and get it translated by a certified translator. You can find certified translators here.
Knowing the reason for my refusal, I gathered all the documents that would support the purpose of my trip. These documents will be attached with my appeal letter to help support my case.
As I started writing my letter, I ensured that I wrote down the current date and the Embassy address. My plan was to be as formal and understanding as possible, knowing that there may be many appeal letters that the official needs to read through.
Quick tip: Do not be condescending or arrogant when writing your letter. Your appeal will most likely not be successful, and you'll need to start your Schengen Visa application from the start with a bad reputation.
I mentioned the date my visa was refused and the reasons for the refusal. Acknowledging that the mistake was made by me.
I explained that I have gathered all the documents that would prove the purpose of my trip. To strengthen my appeal, I added additional documents that supported the purpose of my trip even more.
I apologized for the inconvenience and asked if the initial decision can be reversed. I added a departure date to create a sense of urgency, especially because I had little time left.
I thanked the reader politely for their consideration.
Finally, I added all my personal details. This included my full name, surname, email address, passport number, phone number, and signature.
Quick tip: When writing your letter, try not to write more than 2 pages. In the same sense, don't write one paragraph. Only include the information and reasons you think are important when appealing.
As soon as I finished writing the letter, I ensured that I have all the supporting documents attached to the appeal letter. If these documents are not included, the decision will not be reversed. I attached documents like hotel reservations, a cover letter, a flight ticket with a date stating when I plan to travel back to my home country, and so on.
After I finished writing my letter and attached all the supporting documents, I went to the Embassy to submit my letter to the officials. They informed me that my appeal would be reviewed, and I would receive feedback before my date of travel.
For your convenience, I'll add the Schengen Visa appeal letter sample I used for my appeal letter.
[enter letter date]
[enter the address of recipient]
To Whom It May Concern,
I'm writing to appeal the denial of my Schengen visa, which I received on [date]. On [date you filed your application], I applied for a [type of Schengen visa you applied for] from [country Embassy where you applied for a visa].
The reason for my Schengen Visa being rejected were as follow:
[Enter the reasons provided by the Schengen Visa rejection letter]
I believe that the consulate/embassy of [in my case: Greece] was wrong to reject my Schengen visa application, for the following reasons [why you feel your visa shouldn’t have been rejected].
Quick note: Remember, don't be arrogant or condescending. Try and understand why your visa was denied. If applicable, acknowledge that you didn't provide the correct documents (or whatever the reason may be).
I understand my ethical responsibility to only include truthful and correct information along side my Visa application. Therefore, I attest that this letter does not contain any falsehoods or exaggerations about my ability to [reason you were denied, such as: afford my trip, leave the Schengen area within the required period, etc].
I would be grateful if you could reconsider my Schengen Visa application. To help you make a more informed decision, I have attached additional supporting documents that will help strengthen the reason of my trip.
Please contact me if you have any further questions.
Thank you so much,
[enter your full name]
[enter your email address]
[enter cellphone number]
Be mindful that this is only a simple template of the appeal letter. You should evaluate your situation and write a letter that is well equipped to explain your reason for writing an appeal letter.
After a few weeks, I received a call informing me that the decision of the refusal has been reversed. They told me I could go back to the Embassy to get my Schengen Visa. I was beyond relieved and made plans to go to the Embassy the following day.
Take note that this process is what worked for me. It does not mean that it will apply to your situation. Different Embassies have different regulations, rules, and procedures. Before applying for your Schengen visa, I recommend you research the Schengen country you wish to visit. Ensure that you understand what documents you need and what the minimum visa requirements are. This may save you the whole appeal process.
In the case where your Schengen is refused, try to be as understanding as possible. Your visa could be denied for a simple reason, such as a missing signature or unclear information. Be open-minded and respectful when writing your appeal letter, as officials will be more inclined to help reverse the visa refusal.
Unfortunately, the visa appeal process is not as easy as it seems, and even if you submit the correct documents during the visa appeal process, it may still be refused. This section will briefly explain a few key points you need to consider when starting the visa appeal process.
First we need to take a look at how long the visa appeal process takes once you've submitted your visa appeal letter.
Understand the the visa appeal process does not have a set processing time such as a standard visa application. Simply put, the time it takes for your visa appeal can vary. Generally, it takes around 4 weeks. However, in some cases, you might have to wait 8 weeks.
After your visa appeal has been approved and processed, your visa needs to be issued by competent authorities. This shouldn't take too long as authorities will be instructed to issue your visa after the appeal is successful. You can expect your visa to be issued within 4 - 7 business days after the appeal processing time.
I should mention that this is only an estimate and not an exact time frame. Remember, there is no set processing time for the visa appeal process. As such there are plenty of factors that play a role in the processing time. These can include:
How long it takes to receive your visa after appeal is also determined by the country's embassy where you initially applied at. For example, if you applied at the Slovakian Embassy, the processing time is more likely to be faster than that of the Greece/France embassy. This is because Greece and France are popular tourist destinations; and embassies receive plenty of Schengen visa applications.
To be honest. The chances are very high. Remember, in most cases your Schengen Visa is denied due to incorrect documents or small mistakes made on the application form. If you can correct any mistakes and provide the required documents as requested by the embassy, there is no reason for them to refuse your visa application. Simply put, if you can prove that you're eligible and meet all the requirements to receive a Schengen Visa, there is no reason for authorities to deny your visa application.
In the same breath:
If your Schengen visa application was denied because of something extreme, such as you lying during the interview, hiding your criminal record, or producing fake bank account statements; the chances of getting Schengen visa after rejection reduces significantly. Therefore, I always recommend you answer all questions honestly, and that the documents you provide are "real" and not forged.
When you submit your visa rejection letter, along with any required documents that was missing or incorrect. Your visa rejection letter will be reviewed by the appropriate appeal processing authority of that country. Generally, you'll submit your visa rejection letter at the Embassy or Consulate of the Schengen Country you plan to visit. After doing so, a higher-ranking officer who deals with Schengen visa appeals/visa rejection letters will decide whether or not the decision on your visa application's denial should be reversed.
If the visa decision is reversed, authorities responsible for issuing your visa will be notified and you should receive confirmation. However, it's best to contact the embassy responsible directly afterwards to learn about the next steps you should take and if they have been notified.
One more thing:
The unfortunate reality is that some embassies and consulates don't notify you of your visa appeal status. As such, you should follow up after a few weeks of submitting your rejection letter.
Even though appealing the initial visa decision is the correct option, it may take some time. If your trip is imminent, the best option is to reapply for your visa. However, when doing this, ensure that you correct any mistakes as pointed out by your visa rejection letter. Remember, authorities already know that your previous has been rejected, and will most likely check your new application for similar mistakes. Therefore, be sure your second visa application is 100% correct and that you meet the exact requirements for the Schengen Visa.
Not long at all, after I did all my research and understood what mistake I made, I wrote the appeal letter in 1 day.
It depends on what you included in your appeal letter. You need to rectify your mistakes or convince the official that there was no mistake to start with. You are allowed to include any laws or regulations that you feel might support your case. If there are documents missing, apologize for the inconvenience, acknowledge your mistake, and attach the required documents. Explain your situation clearly, but do not be arrogant in your letter. This will only lead to the decision not being reversed.
Quick tip: Understand why your visa was refused. This will make it easier to write your letter and correct your mistakes.
This can depend on the Embassy's rules and regulations. If your Schengen Visa is refused, you will receive a form that indicates the time you have to appeal the decision. If you do not appeal within this time frame the decision won't be reversed.
A consular officer that is responsible for Schengen visa appeals will evaluate your letter. It is also important to understand that he/she has the final decision in regards to your Schengen visa approval.
In most cases, you'll be able to reapply for your Schengen Visa as soon as you've been informed about your visa rejection. There are a few exceptions though. Schengen Countries like Switzerland and Finland have their own rules in regards to reapplying for a visa after its been rejected. For Switzerland, you'll only be able to reapply for your visa a month after it was refused. Finland handles cases individually. Meaning, Embassy officials will determine when you can reapply for your Schengen Visa. This can be anywhere between 1 - 6 months.
There are many reasons why a visa applicant may receive a visa rejection letter.
These are just a few examples and do not include all the possible reasons for your Schengen visa being denied.
No, the appeal process may be different for each of the Schengen states. This means that Germany may follow different procedures than France. I recommend that you do thorough research about the Schengen Country you wish to visit. There are many document checklists available you can use to simplify the Schengen visa application process.