Every year in summer, scores of Indians make their ultimate travel dreams come true by visiting Switzerland (alongwith some cities of Europe). One of the main preparations for a Switzerland or Europe trip is applying for a Schengen Visa for Indian Passport holders, which is also a main pre-requisite to travel to Europe. When me and the husband were preparing for our self- planned trip to Switzerland last summer, one of the most time-consuming process was for applying for Schengen Visa from Switzerland. We had to research a lot on the internet, ask our friends and colleagues who had previously gone on how to obtain a Schengen Visa for Indian Passport holders. I have written this post on Detailed guide to applying Schengen Visa for Indian Passport Holders from Switzerland, based on our experiences, collating all the information as well as practical issues faced (and how we resolved them). Read on:
Schengen Visa Switzerland – Visa Processing and handling from India
In India, VFS handles the Switzerland Visa application on behalf of the Switzerland Embassy in India. One has to book an appointment for Switzerland Visa application online at the visa application centre of your city. Once you get appointment, on the designated appointment visa application date you have to personally go to submit all your Schengen Visa Form along with documents at the respective VFS center in your city. Please note that this task can be handled by someone else (for example travel agent of the tour company if they already have your biometrics data with them (past 5 years). However, I would strongly recommend to do the process yourself as travel agents/agencies handle multiple volumes of travellers and they sometimes goof up on dates/information (yes it has actually happened with even big travel agencies/tour operators). Please note: In case one has applied for Schengen Visa after Nov 2015, biometrics data submission is not required again. Please go through this VFS Global link of east stepwise process of applying Schengen visa from Switzerland – https://www.vfsglobal.ch/switzerland/india/
About VFS Global and visa application process through them to Schengen countries
VFS global handles manages administrative and non-judgmental tasks related to visa, passport, identity management and other citizen services for respective Schengen country. To apply for Schengen visa from India through VFS, one needs to first register an account to log in to the portal. Once logged in, there is easy guided options to schedule an appointment. For a group travel, there is option of adding upto to 5 applicants (in case of group appointment).
Basic Facts and Information for applying for a Schengen Visa for Indian Passport Holders – Most Schengen Countries have similar requirements while applying for Schengen Visa. Based on my experience of applying for Schengen Visa from Switzerland, I have listed down the basic facts and information below:
1- Apart from UK one can visit all European countries on Schengen visa
2- You have to apply to visa to the country where your work primarily is or where you are going to spend the maximum time irrespective where you are landing. (In our case, since we were only visiting Switzerland, so we had to apply for Schengen Visa from Switzerland).
3- There are two types of Visa Forms available – Business Visa and Tourist Visa. The documents and statements for both these visa application forms are almost similar. Only difference is that for Business Visa Application – one has to provide invitation letter from the firm/organization for which purpose one is going for business/work.
4- Passport requirement – Passport with six month validity at least four empty pages, old passport also to be attached.
Documents and important statements which are required to be attached along with Schengen Visa Application are as follows :-
5- Plan for your itinerary accurately each day has to be accounted and stay for each night must be shown – Booked Flights and Hotel bookings of each day have to be done and attached in visa application.
6- Cover Letter for Schengen Visa – A cover letter is an important document of the Schengen Visa and it is strongly recommended to put forward a well written letter covering all the documents (as enclosures) that are attached and the reason for same. A covering letter concisely stating your intent of travel, employment status (or dependent status) and itinerary should be attached. I have attached a template of Covering Letter for Schengen Visa from Switzerland for easy reference of readers at end of my post.
7- Hotel bookings for Schengen Visa application:
- Book in advance at booking.com- They do not charge any advance no cancellation fees, make sure you enter the name of the accompanying person in the booking so that it reflects in the booking confirmation slip.
- Please note if you are planning to stay in Airbnb on your trip to Switzerland or Europe – Air bnb is not accepted even if you paid in advance as it is not a hotel and for airbnb booking you require letter from the host and even the passport number. So, the way to overcome this is to book on booking .com and then after visa may cancel it and book on air bnb. However, please note that in order to do all this – one has to apply for visa one month in advance from the date of travel. Therefore, it is always advisable to apply for Schengen visa in advance rather than at last minute.
8- Documents showing Financial/Income means – It would include the following:
- Income tax return for last two financial years
- Bank statement of salary account for last 3 months duration (you have to visit bank and get it stamped).
We also took our mutual fund statement and FD statements; however, they were not attached by VFS staff when accepting application.
9- Employment Statement – Employment Statement or Contract (in case of Consultants/Freelance Workers). If employed, one also has to get no objection certificate (NOC) for the duration of travel from the employer, , if unemployed/dependent then sponsorship letter – which the spouse or some else can provide, if professional and not currently employed then mention that in the covering letter, for business visa – visa invitation letter, If your business then income tax return of the business.
10- Confirmed Flight Tickets – The booking receipt on Flights (this is essential and will be cross checked by Switzerland embassy).
11- Insurance policy of USD 50,000
12- Marriage Certificate – In case one is travelling with spouse, it is advisable to carry the marriage certificate. In most cases, it is not asked during processing but just in case one is asked, it should be readily a
13- Photographs as per instruction (check VFS Global application link for Switzerland for more details – https://www.vfsglobal.ch/switzerland/india/how_to_apply.html)
Schengen Visa cost India
The Schengen Visa Application fee needs to be paid at the time of submission of documents at the VFS center. The Schengen Visa fee is approximately 60 Euros + VFS service fees (which was around 400 INR if I remember correctly, recommend to check online once).
Schengen Visa Processing time
On can apply for Schengen visa at least 3 months in advance and not later than15 working days before scheduled date of travel. The VFS global usually tells applications that Visa processing will take 15-30 days to finish. However, our visa was processed within 10 days of submission.
Switzerland Visa Tracking
The visa processing can be tracked on the VFS Global website here – https://www.vfsvisaonline.com/Global-Passporttracking/Track/Index?q=shSA0YnE4pLF9Xzwon/x/JldnEmQkhedF2EE/dpQUaTBNCiiJzWaMUCzU3RA6BhRicqlI8nqwv3HjabSFHrZXaDs3IFAsdENoLQ9pItiWFE=
However, one is able to know if the visa has been rejected or approved only once passport is received in hand.
Cover Letter for Schengen Visa from India – Template
Embassy of Switzerland
Sub- Application of Mr./Ms./Mrs. Xx xxx (passport No – xxxxxxxx) for the visa for travel to Basel Switzerland from xx date to xx date to (state purpose – whether business, attend conference, leisure travel).
I would like to apply for a Schengen visa upon my intention to travel to Switzerland from xx date to xx date. The main purpose of my travel is — state purpose (which can be also enjoy the beauty of Switzerland in case of leisure travel)
I am employed at xx organization (giving full address) and currently hold the position of xx . My employer has already issued no objection certificate.
My Planned Itinerary is as follows-
Write full itinerary of each day along with flights and hotel bookings.
(in case spouse/partner accompanying then write below)
I will be going with my spouse XX who has also applied for the visa. We will be travelling together in the same flight and staying in the same hotel. Flight ticket is booked and hotel reservations are done at hotel- xxx. We will be bearing the cost of the travel ourselves and we have sufficient funds and savings for that. We will come back to India on xx date .
Documents attached in support of my visa application:
– Visa application form, duly dated and signed with attached passport-size pictures
– Cover letter for visa of my spouse XX (Enclosure-1)
– No objection certificate from employer XX mentioning my position, duration of service, dates and purpose of trip (Enclosure-2,3 )
If Invitation letter is there then – Invitation letter from XX mentioning my details, dates of XX and purpose of the trip (Enclosure-4)
-Travel Insurance coverage of USD 50,000 (Enclosure-7)
– Flight ticket reservation for my flight XX (Enclosure-8,9)
– Hotel reservations at XX (Enclosure-10)
– Employment contract (enclosure-11,12 ), last three months salary slips- (enclosure-13,14,15), last 3 months salary bank account statement (enclosure-16), income tax return of the last two assessment years (enclosure-17,18), savings in the mutual funds (enclosure-19)
– Marriage Certificate with my spouse XX (enclosure-20),
I trust that you will find everything is in order. For any questions or clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact me anytime.
Thanking you in advance for a favourable reply to my application.
Mention Your name and Address
I hope this detailed guide to how to apply Schengen Visa from Switzerland for Indian Passport Holders is useful to you and eases your process. In case of any queries, please share in comments section and I will get back to you for sure.
You may find these articles on my Switzerland travels useful :
Read about my self panned Switzerland summer holiday here.
Read about my visit to Bern, Switzerland here.
Read about my visit to Thun, Switzerland here.
Read about my travel guide to using public transport to travel around Switzerland here.