Indian passport holders can enjoy visa-free travel to less than 60 countries(2020). Some of them offer E-Visa, and very few offer Visa on arrival. Being the second-largest population globally, we Indians go everywhere searching for better opportunities. Being called “Economic Immigrants,” the Schengen Visa procedure for Indians is strict and tedious – But in the end, it is all worth it. For example, Greece being one of the Schengen countries, we had to submit almost 40 pages of documents to get our tourist Visa.
I have seen my friends applying for a tourist visa for their honeymoon. He gets rejected, and her Visa gets accepted or vice versa. The list of documents published on the Schengen website may not be sufficient for those couples who apply for visas before marriage. With just two words,” Insufficient documents” and “Invalid reason”, you get your Passport back from the embassy without a Visa sticker.
Here is your complete guide to Indians and countries like India to apply for Greece Tourist Visa by yourself.
- What is Schengen Visa?
- How does Schengen Visa help you to get other country Visas easily?
- How can I apply for Schengen Visa without a travel agent in India?
- Things to be cautious about while applying for Schengen Visa.
- List of documents needed for unmarried couples.
What is Schengen Visa? Is Greece a Schengen Country?
The official Schengen website says – “Schengen Area signifies a zone where 26 European countries abolished their internal borders, for the unrestricted movement of people, in harmony with common rules for controlling external borders and fighting criminality by strengthening the common judicial system and police cooperation.” I am not here to talk about their trade /foreign/political policies. But this is what an Indian and any other tourist with a weaker passport must know.
For tourists – With a Visa from any one of the 26 Schengen countries, you can travel to all the other 25 countries – For Example, with a Greece Visa as it is one of the Schengen countries, we could travel to the Netherlands too. But the Visa you obtain must be from that Schengen country where you first land. If you are entering Greece first and then heading to Belgium, you must get Schengen Visa from Greece Embassy.
In the Netherlands with Greece Tourist Visa
Euros is the official currency in 19 countries out of these 26 Schengen countries. So the headache of buying/exchanging new currency every time you cross the border is less.
Are European Union and Schengen countries the same?
European Union and Schengen areas differ. Not all countries in Schengen are part of the European Union. Some Non-Schengen countries are part of the European Union too.
How does Schengen Visa help you to get other country Visas easily?
The tourist hotspot- Santorini
With a Schengen Visa sticker on your Passport, you become eligible for many countries’ E-Visa. For e.g., we could easily get a Turkey visa online within a few minutes with a Greece visa in hand. If we hadn’t had a Greece visa, we had to go through a similarly lengthy process for Turkey too. In addition, most eastern European nations like Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria and North American countries like Peru allow Indians with Schengen visas to apply for an E-Visa. So if you have an active Schengen Visa, your Passport gets wings.
How can I apply for Greece Tourist Visa without a travel agent in India?
Applying for Schengen Visa by yourself is convenient if only your city has the visa issuance service company of the country you are visiting. For Example, my city Bangalore has a Greece Visa application centre. So submitting the documents after fixing an online appointment was easier.
Suppose your city doesn’t have a particular visa application centre, take the help of a travel agent. You have to travel to the other city for applying first and attend a personal interview later and lastly, collect your approved/disapproved Visa with your Passport. Some may deliver it to a courier. But it is a lot of travelling.
For Schengen Visa, your documents have to be super perfect!
For those earning a regular monthly income, Schengen Visa paperwork is easier. Because income tax returns, regular salary slips, and other work-related documents are easier to get. Along with that, you will need some ten more documents.
You have to follow the checklist of documents on the Schengen Visa website. Suppose you are new to the job or unemployed and don’t have the previous six months’ salary slip and ITR; you need to submit supporting documents. Honeymooners who apply for a Schengen Visa before getting married also have to submit documents other than those mentioned on the official Schengen Visa website. In either of the above cases, you can connect with a good agency that gives you advice on the documents needed after receiving a nominal fee.
You should make sure that you provide enough documents to convince the embassy that you are just a tourist, not an economic immigrant planning to stay in their country to make a fortune.
List of documents needed to apply for a Schengen Visa.
While we(Indians) submit documents for a Schengen Visa, we got to be more careful than holding a tortoise – The poor fella was struggling to cross the path near Meteora Hermitage. After this photo, I carefully left him beside the paths in the same direction they were crawling.
The following list of documents is required for any short-term Schengen visa application specified on their official website.
Passport and other requirements.
- Visa application form filled online and signed. Download it from GVCW for Greece Visa.
- Two recently taken photos of particular size and background as specified.
- A valid passport. It is not older than ten years and should be valid for at least three more months beyond the date you plan to leave the Schengen area.
Travel Insurance for Schengen Travel
Airtickets and accommodation proofs
- Confirmed to and fro air tickets with complete details on the flights covering all the sectors.
- Proof of accommodation. A document that shows where you will be accommodated throughout your stay in Schengen. This can be one of the following with every applicant’s name mentioned in the confirmation voucher with the complete address of the place.
- A hotel/hostel /Air BnB bookings with full address.
- A letter of invitation from a host at whose house you will be staying.
Proof of financial means
- Proof of financial means. Evidence that you have enough money to support yourself financially throughout your stay in the Schengen. This can be one of the following:
- A bank account statement shows you have enough money in your account for the trip. The statement shall be no older than three months.
- Sponsorship Letter – by another person who confirms they will financially support your trip to the Schengen. For this letter to be valid, it must be accompanied by a sponsor’s bank statement, no older than three months, along with their PAN detail.
- A combination of your bank account statement and a letter of sponsorship (if needed)
- Proof of paid visa fee. €80 for adults in 2018.
Following are the mandatory supporting documents we were suggested to submit by a Visa advisory agency –
- Day to day itinerary: Though you are flashpacking/backpacking, hook up an itinerary.
- CONFIRMED FERRY TICKETS
- PAN Card copies
- PERSONAL INCOME TAX RETURN for the Last three years for Ashrith
- PROOF EMPLOYMENT for Ashrith – NOC from Ashrith’s office and Leave an approved letter
- FOR MARRIED COUPLE – Government authorised official marriage certificate.
- PROOF FOR MARRIAGE IN THE FUTURE FOR UNMARRIED PEOPLE APPLYING AS A COUPLE-We were engaged but not married by then. Instead of the marriage certificate, we had to submit the wedding invitation card in English, our traditional wedding attire, engagement photos, and our family members!
- PROOF OF FUNDS for ME – MY FATHER’S BANK STATEMENT ALONG WITH HIS PAN CARD COPY. I had changed my job recently then, so couldn’t provide previous three months salary slip and an employment letter from the same company.
- CONSENT LETTER for me from my PARENTS to travel with Ashrith.
Honestly, the Visa process can suck every last drop of blood off your brain – But it is worth it!. – thanking god at Meteora for giving us the strength to do everything to get our Greece Visa.
Things to be cautious about while applying for Schengen Visa.
- Know the type of Schengen Visa you need– Multiple or Single Entry- Multiple entry visa lets you exit/enter the Schengen area various times within the specified period. With a Single entry Visa, you can’t enter any Schengen countries once you exit the Schengen area. For Example, We went to Greece first, then Turkey, and the Netherlands. So we had to take multiple Entry Visas.
- Keep in mind that the country you receive the Visa from should be the first country of landing. For Example, you can’t get your Schengen Visa from Greece and land in France before Greece.
- Various service companies like VFS GLOBAL provide Visa facilitation services to different countries. Ensure you are aware of these service providers concerning your first visiting Schengen Country. So for Greece, it is VGC WORLD.
- The legitimate documents with 100% clarity are the key to getting your Visa request approved. Unfortunately, the list of documents is more when you are unemployed/new to your current job/retired. You have to prove you have a sponsorer for your trip, though you have enough money in your hands.
The relief when I saw our Greece Visa is unexplainable.
- Without valid air tickets and room reservations, the Visa may be rejected. If rejected, the non-refundable air tickets can crush your travel dreams and bank account. Always book fully refundable air-tickets
- Book refundable accommodations-If you are unsure where you will stay for how many days, many hotels/ hostels book your room with zero cancellation charge/minimum cancellation charges. You cancel these later once you get the Visa and change it later.
- When you book BnB / hotels/hostels for both of you, ensure you enter both of your names in full. There have been incidents where a few tourists were rejected Visa because their name wasn’t mentioned in a few room bookings!
Keep your dummy itinerary devoid of Ambiguities.
On a rainy evening, Meteora – magical sunset & game of thrones.t Meteora
- Do not mention any unclear things in that “namesake” itinerary you submit to the embassy. For Example, if you say in your itinerary that you are travelling from Athens to Meteora by train and don’t submit the confirmed train ticket, it may get you into trouble.
- People travelling through invitations need to be more conscious if it is a tourist visa. When you don’t show paid accommodations, the chances of visa rejections increase; make sure you submit all legit documents of your host too.
Use your tourist visa for tourism only! Don’t stay back after the due date; don’t misuse it for business purposes. – Your one misconduct may cost a lot to millions of honest Indian tourists like us.
Research well while applying for Visa. Eastern European countries like Romania and Bulgaria are in line to get into Schengen. So the list may get updated. Check the official website to stay updated.
You may / may not have to attend a personal interview or biometrics procedure. That depends on your luck! We drove 650km back and forth from our home town to Bangalore two days after our wedding ceremony to give our biometric details. After standing 30 minutes in the line, the officer told us our biometric procedure, and the interview was waived off. We had neither received an email nor an SMS on the cancellation of biometrics. Be prepared to face all these kinds of dramas.
Be prepared to answer more questions at Foreign immigration
We didn’t face racial discrimination at Athens or Amsterdam airport. But many Indians/browns/Muslims/Asians get interrogated and will be asked too many questions. Have patience, answer them patiently and enjoy your travel.
The process may be tedious, but your travel experience will be exciting. As an Indian tourist, we hope this post has helped you. For the privileged travellers, this explains why there are only a few backpackers/flashpackers from India and how we struggle to get a Visa that you would get within a few minutes.