Schengen Visa from Rejection to Approval

Visiting Europe is the dream of every individua. One major hustle for Pakistanis and some other countries is getting Schengen Visa which opens doors to 26 countries in Schengen territory whose list you can find at:

  • List of Schengen Countries
  • Being an incusitive and travel enthusiast, I love participating in different national and international conferences/summers schools. It's a great way to experience meaningful travel and connect with people from across the globe.

    Learn more about How International Exchange Programs can Change Your Life by Clicking: Read Story

    Learn more about How I Got Turkish Visa In 15 Minutes: Read Story

    Last year, my visa got rejected by Embassy of France in Islamabad due to following reasons as mentioned on my visa refusal letter:

  • Justification for the purpose and the conditions of the intended stay was not provided
  • The information submitted regarding the justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable
  • Coming out of the interview room, I was sure about my rejection because I made some blunders that I'll share at the end of this writing so you can do things in the right way.

    Step-by-Step Guide for Schengen Visa Application

    Step 1: Visa Interview Appointment

    First thing first, get an appointment at German Embassy or any Embassy you are applying for using the link given on thier website; Click here to book your appointment at German Embassy

    Do this step right after you know that you’re going to travel. During seasons, Available slots will be as late as 3 months or more. I know you don’t want to miss your trip!

    Step 2: Prepare Documents

    This is the most hectic task as you can see my documents below;
    Remember, your documents decide your approval and if not prepared carefully, Rejection is confirmed. Following documents are for Short-Term German Visa. Every schengen country have its own document list, however, most of these are applicable for every category and in almost every schengen country.

  • Fill Application Form
  • Both online and manually filled application form are valid but I would suggest you to go with online as it’ll ease up the interviewer to retrieve your data directly

    Click here to fill online application form

  • Invitation, Confirmation Or Acceptance Letters from Host Organization
  • This is considered as the most impactful document in your visa application and can strengthen your application. This letter will be issued by the organization or from family/friend/relative who's inviting you

    From organization, it should be on their official letter head written with your name and exact dates of your arrival and departure, a brief introduction of the organization including their aim and purpose of this event, organization’s registration number and contact details. This contact detail will further be used while filling application form during reference section. If they are sponsoring your trip, it must be clearly written on this letter at what extent they’ll sponsor your event

    In another article, I'll share how to get invitation letters from international organizations/institutions the way I do for my every international trip. I call it meaningful travel

  • Copy of Employment Letter and Original Leave Certificate
  • Employment letter is the contract letter we get during hiring process and Leave Certificate will be issued by the HR department of the company we are working in. Just write an email to HR, explain your purpose and they will issue in a day or two. It must be on official letter head and must include your Post, Employee ID, Date of Joining, Annual Salary, Approval Statement and Exact Dates of Approved Leave.

  • Letter of Permission from the University
  • If you are student or both employed and student; you should attach bonafide letter issued by your university including student ID, Batch, Expected Graduation Date as well as stating that university has no objection for your travel. It must be on official letter head.

  • Personal Bank statement
  • I attached my one year bank statement with significant amount available that would be enough to cover my travel, accommodation and food expenses. It’s important to have a balanced bank statement i.e. a meaningful history of bank deposits and withdraws. Depositing a large amount (say 2 hundred thousand rupees) one month before visa application and with no such deposit history in the past will creat suspicious impression and may cause for visa rejection.

  • Salary Slips of Last Three Months (both original and photocopies)
  • These will be issued by HR department. Just write an application to HR

  • Other Proof of Income Generating Assets
  • Along with bank statement and salary slips, it's a best practice to attach other proof of income generating assets such as rented land, freelance financial sheet, national saving assets etc

  • Letter of Funding from Parents (affidavit) and their Bank Statement (original)
  • If no one is funding your trip, a formal declaration from your parents will work as well. It should be on Rs. 20/30/50 Affidavit and should include their contact details, how much they will fund in dollars/Rupees and their proof of financial means such as bank statement

  • Copy of Itinerary for round-trip Air Tickets
  • I wouldn’t recommend you to actually book a flight prior to visa. It’s a huge risk and may cause loss of money in case your visa get rejected and airline doesn’t offer any refund. Like many other schengen countries, German embassy asks for verifiable reservation and there are some airlines that offer Free of Cost Reservation for one, two or even a week such as Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Emirates. Better get reservation one day before visa interview so it can be verified by the embassy within allowed time period. Be aware of the online scams of some travel agencies that charge a significant amount for travel itinerary. Why to spend some thousands when you can get it free online!

  • Hotel Reservation as per Planned Itinerary:
  • This is one of the major factors that can lead to rejection if not handled carefully. Get a letter of hotel reservation from your inviting organization if they are sponsoring your accommodation. If you don’t have any sponsor, the best way is to reserve a room online. There are many such websites that allow you to reserve hotels anywhere in the world with payment on arrival and no cancellation fee. But I would recommend to use booking.com as it’s reliable and I have been using for quite a long time.

    Click here to book online Hotels/Hostels

  • Original Passport + Previous Passports:
  • It’s obvious to have original passport with validity of minimum of 6 months and also bring along all the previous passports if you have.

  • Copy of Passports + Previous Visas:
  • It should be readable and on A4 size paper.

  • Copy of National ID Card, Employee Card & University Student Card:
  • All the Photocopies must be on A4 size paper.

  • Original and Copy of Family Registration Certificate:
  • You can get this certificate from NADRA office by paying a fee of Rs.1000

  • Appointment Email and Copy of AMEX receipt:
  • Take a print out of your appointment email. AMEX receipt will be given during documents submission.

  • Copy of Refusal letter and Letter of Explanation of Refusal:
  • Skip this step if you are lucky, not to have any refusal in the past. Otherwise, attach the copy of previous refusal letter alongwith a written explaination of refusal, stating the date when you applied, purpose of visit and the reason of refusal as marked on your refusal letter. You better think about some logical reasons why your previous visa got rejected and then explain how you are better prepared for this time and what positive changes are there in your profile now, considering your previous mistakes. Don't lie!

  • Security Questionnaire:
  • Attach the filled security questionnaire.

    Click Here to download Security Questionaire

  • Health Insurance:
  • This is very important document. You must have health/travel insurance for your complete stay in Schengen Territory. Its charges vary depending upon your duration of trip. I can connect you with a reliable agent who’ll offer insurance fee as minimum as possible. Do contact me for travel insurance.

  • Evidence of Property Documents as Proof of Civil & Economic Ties (Photocopies):
  • These documents can leave a positive impression on your profile. Embassy do issue visa to the person who have strong reasons and ties with their homeland.

  • Income Tax Return:
  • Better attach this document as it shows that you are a responsible citizen. It’ll strengthen your profile positively.

    Step 3: Visa Interview

    Get proper sleep before interview because you'll need alot of energy to cope with this day. Don't get panic and mess it. You must reach in the embassy at-least 2 hours before appointment. I knew someone who wasn't allowed to enter embassy because he was late. Following are the steps you may go through to get into the Embassy;

  • Pay RS. 100 at the counter, submit CNIC Copy and Get a token for entry
  • Use this token, appointment email and original passport to get shuttle service that will drop you at the doorstep of your embassy:
  • Economy shuttle charges: 500 rupees

    Business shuttle charges: 1000 rupees

  • Submit all your Visa Documents.
  • Pay Rs.500 for passport home delivery charges that may vary depending upon your home city.
  • After getting token for visa interview, wait for some hours dear! I was called for interview after 1 and half hour.

  • Visa Interview Questions
  • This is the moment. Keep calm and take deep breadth before you go inside the cabin. Here are some common questions that you may face in every embassy:

  • Introduce yourself?
  • After stating your name, place where you live and what you study/job, quickly move towards why you are going and how it is related to your job/study. This is your chance to convince interviewer that you’ll come back after this. In my case, I mentioned that “The organization I’m working in is focusing on related programs and this opportunity will help me learn and serve back to my organization and ultimately I’ll get promoted” This shows the solid reason that I'll come back and have no intension to overstay there illegaly. Design your own reason accordingly.

  • What is your purpose of visit? What is the event you are attending? How did you know about this? How much you paid for this?
  • Relate your purpose with your previous experiences and future goals. If you are applying for tourist visa, convince them that you are passionate travelor. Mention some famous places you want to visit.

  • What’s your job about? Salary?
  • Convince them that you love your job and you are only going for tourism or professional development that’ll help you grow in your job after coming back.

  • Who is sponsoring your expenditures?
  • Here, your letter of sponsorship helps. Just mention that you have enough savings and stable job as evident from bank statement.

  • How many countries you have traveled and for what purposes? Have you been rejected before by any embassy?
  • Remember not to lie as they have all the records already. You must have prepared a strong reason to defend your rejection and state how you have improved those mistakes. Here letter for reason of rejection helps!

    These are all the questions they asked me. Another question they may ask sometimes;

  • What if you get a job there, would you like to do that?
  • Just don’t say YES! You are applying for Short Term Tourist Visa, not the Working Visa. Your "Yes" will lead you straight rejection. Just be humble and state that your family needs you and you already have a great job here and you won’t accept that offer for this particular journey

    Step 4: Visa Fee Submission

    After having interview, You'll get a fee slip to submit visa fee in the bank inside Embassy. Following is the Schengen Visa Fee structure;

  • Individuals 13 Years and Older: EUR 60
  • Children 6-12 Years Old: EUR 35

  • Children 5 Years and Younger: No Fee
  • Visa fee will be different if you are applying for Long-Term Visa. You may contact the visa issuing consulate for exact fee.

    Step 5: The Never Ending Wait

    This is the worst phase. You see flights and accommodation prices going up because you don't have confirmed visa for booking. Embassy takes 2-3 weeks for visa processing. But in my case, they took 37 days. I still can’t figure out why. Probably, because of my previous rejection and they had to investigate in details.

    Why My French Visa Got Rejected?

    "You are attending a fully funded event, You have booked your flight tickets, all the hotel reservations are confirmed and even some domestic flights in Europe are booked but a week before your departure, you get to know that your visa has been rejected!"

    That's the kind of disappointment I had faced two years ago when my first ever Schengen Visa got rejected from French Embassy in Pakistan

    The reasons I think I got refused were;

  • I didn’t attach covering letter explaining my purpose of visit and accommodation that might cause some ambiguities for embassy officials
  • I requested an over-stay of 10 days after my intended program without providing any official invitation from France for the extended days
  • My Personal Tips for Schengen Visa

    Schengen Visa is one of the difficult visas to get and rejection rate is quite higher. Following are my personal tips for Schengen Visa;

  • Make a clear, precise and understandable itinerary
  • Must attach a covering letter that explains your short introduction and purpose of visit, day by day plan, flight details, accommodation, inviting company name and their contacts and the list of documents being attached. In this document, You can also share things that's not included in other documents such as an explaination of your savings in your bank account if it's more than your current salary to make it clear for embassy
  • Never extend your stay form written duration on official invitation letter if you are applying for first time
  • You must have a solid reason along with all the documents completed that include hotel accommodation and insurance for complete itinerary if you want to extend your stay.
  • Don't add more than 2 countries in your itinerary. This leaves a suspecious impression on interviewer. Once you have Visa, you can go to all Schengen Territory as you want within Visa Duration
  • You must have a balanced bank statement with significant funds to cover your journey
  • Apply in low season and ahead of time like 3 months prior to your trip date
  • Your past travel history matters if you are applying for tourist visa. Better have your passport stamped from other famous and easily-accessible countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, UAE, Sri lanka, etc
  • All my best wishes for you. If you need any help, you can contact me any time

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