Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Backpacking around Europe Part 1 (Tourist Visa process)

At last here is the series of post of my first Europe Trip during the September and November this year.
As I had thought about earlier, if you go on a business trip through your company to US from India it makes a sensible choice to think about taking a stopover at Europe. I had thought about this during my second trip that I will definitely do it during the next one. As its well known travelling as youth ( below 26 years of age) has its own advantages.

I had little time to apply for Visa as the trip came up as urgency but various sources of information told that 5-7 days should be enough for a visa. Here are some (hard learned) realities (All info is about Schengen Visa applied at French Embassy in Mumbai) :

0) The main thing, almost all countries Visa office now issue Schengen visa for Tourists. This means once you get a visa you can travel freely between 22 nations. Usually you need to apply for Visa of the country where you gonna spent maximum number of days (This point is slightly elaborated in 5)

1) A Tourist Visa isn't as simple a deal, the big list of documents that I had to submitted included:
Hotel reservation proofs, No object letter and covering letter from Employer, Payslips for past 6 months, Income tax returns for past 3 years (I submitted 2 that I had worked for), return tickets printout, Medical Insurance proof, Two photograph white background 35 x 45 80% face, Visa Form, Credit card copy and of course a valid Passport.

2) The French Embassy in India didn't give me Visa based on these documents alone, they schedule an appointment date 6 days after submission of my application (due to high number of pending applications)

3) The interview process is pretty much similar to a B1 visa for US. The consulate tries to ensure that your documents are your intents are real and not harmful. You have to appear in Person for this interview, I had to visit the Nariman Point Visa office.

4) They issued the Visa the same day in a matter of 30-40 minutes after the interview.

5) On entry to France, they put the date of entry on my passport. The Visa was a 15 days, multiple entry, I guess based on the documents I provided (my plan showed I wished staying for 11 days and had insurance for 21 days and had slightly flexible requirements of date as my US return trip dates weren't fixed yet).
As much as I understand you would need to exit from the same Airport as they will have to put the exit stamp.

Against the general impression and opinions I heard from others, the Embassy isn't sitting there to solely reject the visa requests, they were pretty cooperative and in no sense non-welcoming. I was not really questioned about why I requested Multiple Entry (which I still don't know :D)

Oh, btw the Tourist visa was valid for a duration of 2 months, but 15 days in one trip, as against the usual notion that they will give very restrictive visa according to your itinerary, I guess explaining them that my US travel was flexible helped.


  1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

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