8 common mistakes to avoid
when applying for a
Schengen visa

A Schengen visa is a short stay visa which allows its holder to enter, freely travel within and leave the Schengen zone from any of the 26 Schengen member countries. It is valid for stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

The Schengen Area is a borderless zone of European countries that have officially abolished all passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders. Made up of 26 European countries, it is the largest free travel area in the world.

Today, the Schengen Area comprises the following European countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Each year, millions of tourists and business travellers are able to travel freely within the zone by applying for a Schengen visa. Employers sponsoring overseas nationals in the UK on a Skilled Worker visa can also obtain a Schengen visa if they think their employees may need to travel to Europe for meetings or business.

However, the process of applying for Schengen visa can be stressful, especially if you are filing the application yourself without any professional support. With this in mind, Smith Stone Walters’ team of global immigration specialists have set out below some of the most frequently made mistakes applicants make when applying for a Schengen visa, along with our specialists’ advice for avoiding these common pitfalls.

Having a damaged or invalid passport

The issue: Whilst you may meet the eligibility requirements of the application, if your passport is not kept in good condition the authorities may refuse your application.

A damaged passport may be a passport that has pages that are detached or missing, or the cover of the passport is damaged. Alternatively, if your passport is not valid or has a short period of validity remaining, if it does not have two different blank visa pages, or if the passport is older than ten years, your application may not meet the requirements.

SSW advice: If your passport is damaged, has insufficient blank pages or validity, it is imperative a new passport is obtained prior to filing an application for a Schengen visa.

Inadequate funds to support your trip

The issue:  A Schengen visa will be refused if the authorities are not satisfied that you can financially support yourself during your trip. Supporting documents must be submitted with your application in order to demonstrate that you have sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of your stay.

SSW advice: Every country has a minimum cost of living. If you are submitting financial statements, ensure that the last statement is not older than a month from the date of the application submission.

Not having a clear purpose or planned itinerary for your stay

The issue: Another common reason for Schengen visa application refusal is not being able to present a clear plan of travel. This can include applying at the wrong embassy or not providing supporting documents such as flight tickets for your trip.

SSW advice: We advise applicants to submit confirmation of flights including onward journey. Use a reputable booking service and provide a clear written statement of your visit including the intention of your trip. To be on the safe side, we would also advise that you book flexible and/or refundable flights.

Not holding valid travel insurance

The issue: Another reason that might lead to a refusal is the inability to provide the appropriate travel insurance coverage for the duration of your trip.

SSW advice: Ensure you purchase travel insurance that covers the full period of your trip(s) within the Schengen Area, with a coverage of at least 30,000 Euros.

Not disclosing past or current criminal actions

The issue: Failing to disclose prior convictions will result in your application being refused. The authorities may consider this omission as deception and in harsher cases such refusals may impact future applications.

SSW advice: It is important to be transparent on your application. The authorities will consider any convictions and its threat to public policy, internal security or public wealth. If you are concerned about this requirement, please seek our advice.

Failing to provide a letter of reference

The issue: If you are travelling for business activities and do not submit an invitation letter with your application, your case will fall to be refused.

SSW advice: A formal, signed invitation letter should be provided by the host country. The letter must be printed on letter header paper and contain the name, address and contact number of the author of the letter. Our advice is to ensure the letter is issued within three months of the application.

Not providing proof of accommodation

The issue: If you are unable to properly demonstrate that you have a place to stay during your visit, your application will be refused. If your accommodation details are vague or uncertain, this could also be considered grounds to refuse your visa.

SSW advice: The authorities will accept evidence such as hotel reservations or an invitation letter from your host. If it important that evidence of accommodation covers the entire period of your stay. Refundable hotel bookings, in case your plans change, are accepted.

Having a history of refusals or breaches

The issue:  Above all, any previous Schengen visa refusals or breaches to the conditions of your stay may have an adverse impact on your application. This includes overstaying in the Schengen Area and working on a Schengen visa.

SSW advice:  Applicants must ensure that visitor rules are adhered to across the Schengen Area and trips do not exceed the total amount of days permitted as a visitor.

Help with applying for a Schengen visa

If you require support in filing an application for a Schengen visa and compiling the necessary supporting documentation, Smith Stone Walters can help.

We also offer a bespoke, twinned service for Skilled Worker and Schengen applications, which is growing in popularity with our clients.

By partnering with us, we will work with you to ensure both your Skilled Worker and Schengen applications are prepared for your overseas employees simultaneously, securing a fast-tracked decision to provide your business with the fastest and most effective delivery possible.

To find out more, please contact our team today.

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