What do I need to know about obtaining a visa to visit loved ones in the Schengen Area?
Getting a visa to visit loved ones in the Schengen Area
People from countries outside the Schengen Area who wish to visit close relatives, friends or extended members of their family in Schengen countries will need a Schengen Visa unless their home state has a visa-free travel agreement with the area (these countries include the U.S.A., Mexico, and Canada).
Those who need a Schengen Visa for a family visit will in most cases need to apply for a short-stay visa allowing you to travel to the Schengen Area for up to 90 days. This visa will allow you to travel freely within all the 26 Schengen countries.
RELATED TOPIC : What are the different types of Schengen visas ?
How do I apply for a Schengen Visa to visit family or friends?
You will first need to establish what documents you need for your application. These are:
- A Schengen Visa application form containing all the required information. You will also need to pay a visa application fee of €80 for adults or €40 between the ages of six and 18. Those under six do not have to pay a fee.
- Two identical photos, taken within the past three months.
- A valid passport.
- A letter of invitation from your friend or relative. If they are not a citizen, they will also need to provide a copy of a residency permit.
- Flight reservations and itinerary.
- Schengen travel insurance. You will need a certificate establishing that you have insurance covering you for emergency medical treatment, with a minimum of €30,000, including repatriation in case of death.
- Your travel itinerary, describing your plans for your trip.
- Means of subsistence. You will need to prove that you have enough money to financially support yourself during your stay in the Schengen Zone. The minimum amount required varies from country to country. You can do this by providing bank account statements, a sponsorship letter from your relative or friend who is offering to pay for your stay or a combination of both.
- Proof of accommodation. This could take the form of a friend or relative’s flat, a hotel or hostel booking, or a rental contract.
- You will also need proof of your family relationship if you are staying with relatives.
What do children need in order to travel?
If you are taking children to visit family members, you will also need to provide a birth certificate, copies of both parents passports or ID - even if one parent is traveling - as well as notarised notices of commencement. These must also be provided if the child is traveling unaccompanied.
Where do I submit a Schengen Visa application?
If you want to visit your friends or family members residing in a Schengen state, you will need to apply for a visa in your home country. The number of countries you plan to visit determines which embassy, consulate, or visa application center you need to apply to.
If you are going to visit only one Schengen country, you should apply to the authorities handling its visa applications in your country. If you are visiting more than one, you should apply to the country where you’ll spend the most time.
How do I apply for a Schengen Visa to visit family and friends?
The latest you can file your Schengen Visa application is 15 days before you plan to travel but you can do so up for six months before your trip and it is advised you submit with plenty of time to spare. Your visa application will take at least 15 days to process and can take up to 30 days or 60 days during busy periods, such as the holidays, or if there are complexities with your application.
What products do AXA offer to help me with my visa application?
AXA’s Low Cost Travel Insurance costs only €22 - $24 - per week of your trip and will meet your visa requirements, while the AXA Schengen Europe Travel Insurance offers extended coverage up to costs of €100,000. Those seeking a multiple-entry visa to make more than one trip to visit friends or family can purchase the Multi Trip insurance from €328 per year, which again covers you for expenses up to €100,000.
Frequently asked questions about getting a Schengen Visa to visit friends and family
How long is the friends and family Schengen Visa valid for?
Your Schengen Visa can be valid for up to 90 days, but the number of days you are allowed to stay in the Schengen Area will be specified by authorities on the visa sticker placed on your passport during your trip.
Can I extend a Schengen Visa I have obtained to visit friends and family?
You can only extend your Schengen Visa on rare and specific occasions, such as on humanitarian grounds, for important personal reasons or unforeseeable circumstances.
What do I do if my Schengen Visa application gets rejected?
If your application for a Schengen Visa is rejected, you can still apply again - avoiding errors that may have resulted in your rejection. However, if you believe that your visa has been rejected by mistake, in that case you can appeal the decision by submitting an appeal letter.