Sunday, March 29, 2015
Visas within 48 hours as of 1/1/2015: The French Minister for foreign affairs announced, on 30th June 2014, that visas will be delivered within 48 hours as of 1st January 2015 for Indian tourists. This seemed rather ambitious but I decided to give it a try and trust me the visa requirements for Indians applying for a Schengen tourist visa if you are travelling to France are simple, and the process, facilitated by VFS in most of India, is efficient. I scored a multiple entry 3-year Schengen visa within 48 Hours, and here are my tips to get you entry into the land of Epicures.
1) The Schengen Visa Forms and Fee
Download the forms and document checklist from www.vfs-france.co.in
Unlike most visa applications, the forms for a tourist visa to France (Schengen) are relatively short and few in number. The Schengen visa fee for Indians is INR 4,138 for a single entry or a multiple entry visa. There is an additional service charge of INR 966/- (Inclusive of 12.36% tax) for application lodged in India. You can download the form and fill it either on the computer or by hand. The visitor form need not be filled while you are connected to the Internet. The form can’t be signed electronically. Once you’ve completed the form, print and sign it. You can even go through this link to know more on form filling.
All applicants except first time traveller (traveling first time to a Schengen country) while applying for a French visa are required to fill Visa Insurance Undertaking form in addition to the visa application form.
2) Flight and Accommodation Bookings
As while applying for a Schengen visa through VFS France, you need to show your confirmed flight. However Embassy of France, Delhi has announced that hotel confirmation is no longer required for France short stay visa.
Making these ahead of the visa is always a bit of risk – so you’re better off making fully refundable bookings. Most hotels on booking.com offer full refund upon cancellation. Once you receive your visa, you can cancel these and make your actual bookings. The idea is to show that you have enough money or credit limit to book your flight and stay.
3) Cover Letter and Support Documents
After assuring that all your documents are in order as per the document checklist on the VFS France website, http://www.vfs-france.co.in/requisitedcument.html ; you should write a brief cover letter summarizing your application ; why are you visiting France, how do you intend to cover your expenses, do you have an invitation letter, which countries have you obtained visas for in the past (having Europe, the UK or the US on the list tends to add to your credibility). Don’t forget to attach copies of your past visas UK, US & Schengen visas.
4) Opt for the Multiple Entry Visa Option
I have always found Schengen visas to be stingy when it comes to multiple entry and validity. But I got a multiple entry visa as I applied through the Consulate of France valid for 3 years! (We are going to France on a family vacation for two weeks), totally my money’s worth. Whether or not France appears to be part of your plans again, having a valid multiple entry tourist visa to the Schengen as an Indian, has its advantages – you get Visa on Arrival in a handful of other countries, and it adds to your credibility while applying for other visas.
4) Applying For the Visa at VFS
VFS has 14 centres for France, across the country. If your city or town doesn’t have one, your options might be to go via a travel agent or courier your documents. You can check out all information and passport submission timings on http://www.vfs-france.co.in/contactus.html
If you have all your documents in order, the process is quite straightforward.
5. Passport Collection
The official processing time now is just 2 working days and I can vouch that my visa was approved within 2 working days! You can sign up for the free SMS / email alerts at the time of submitting your passport, or track your application online. And can either ask for the passport to be delivered by courier (They send it Via BlueDart and it costs INR 300) or you can personally collect it yourself . Remember to keep the receipt and a photo id ready.
I leave for France in a month with my family! Join me virtually on this trip via https://twitter.com/rupalidean, https://www.facebook.com/rupali.dean.9