If you are an Indian and are looking forward to applying Schengen Visa for Belgium, the post will help you to get through it. If you want to find out everything around the visa to enter Belgium, its here. The post has a personal touch but it mentions all the important documents needed and the process for going about it. You can’t miss this quirky account of arranging all my documents, postponing my interview because I was traveling to Vijayawada, visiting the Belgium embassy, forgetting and not forgetting my receipt and finally getting my passport after 3 weeks
Last month, I applied for a Schengen visa finally. Yes, I had been itching to return to Europe after 7 years and now when its finally happening, I can’t be more excited. The plan is to reach Brussels in Belgium first and then explore its neighboring cities and countries. There are two reasons to start from there, first I have to catch up with a friend who lives there. Secondly, I am really looking forward to the whole lot of street art and graffiti there. Back in 2012, when I was there in Sweden and Norway, the bug for street art and Instagram-worthy pictures had not bitten me at all. But this time, I definitely have lots on my mind.
ON MY WAY TO VFS GLOBAL BELGIUM
Though this wasn’t my first trip to Europe but when I was going to VFS Global in Delhi ( Mezzanine Level Shivaji Stadium Metro Station, Baba Kharak Singh Rd, Connaught Place) to submit my documents, I was very nervous. Week long or fortnight trips don’t make one jittery but I was applying for 50 days visa. The number of days was enough to make everyone curious. So long, really? It demands a huge itinerary and it needs enough funds too. Some people even told me that its tough for freelancers. Some said Belgium consulate is strict. In my last two visits, I had got my Schengen Visas very easily because I was employed. But I thought in my mind, this shouldn’t be a reason to discriminate. If someone thinks that way, I would love to argue that just because one cannot produce approved holidays on a letter head of a company, doesn’t mean they are not serious travelers. With my experience, I have no complains at all.
Let gets back to the process. If you have all your documents intact, the process at VFS GLOBAL is smooth. The most tedious part is the phase before that when you are preparing your documents. When you have a vague itinerary in your mind, you know your dates of travel and are confident of putting it into real, you must start arranging all the needful. First and foremost, you must fill the online application visa form. https://www.vfsglobal.com/Belgium/India/Online-application-form.html
DOCUMENTS NEEDED – SCHENGEN VISA FOR BELGIUM
Now the second crucial step is to book your appointment at the VFS. You may schedule your appointment here but only when you have compiled your docs or are sure of doing it by then. https://www.vfsglobal.com/Belgium/India/schedule-an-appointment.html
Below is a list of the essentials that are needed if you are not employed anywhere. They must have an option for freelancer. If you are working, you will need an approval of your leaves, too.
1.ITINERARY of your whole trip. (Places that you are travelling to and the number of days)
2. COVER LETTER, wherein you must put out a request to the Embassy officer for the grant of visa and you must mention the dates and the purpose of your visit. As a freelancer, I also added details as to how I was planning to fund my travels. If you have a sponsor, you may mention that as well.
3. CONFIRM TICKETS – Booking the tickets is never a problem but there is a catch. What if you don’t get your visa on time. So, either you may book your tickets or you may discuss it with your agent who can give you dummy or flexible tickets and when you get your visa stamped, you can go ahead with the booking.
4. TRAVEL INSURANCE – Now this is very essential. It must cover your trip end to end. There is an approved list of insurance companies on the Belgium visa website. You must get insured only from them.
5. BANK ACCOUNT STATEMENT – This is a proof that you have enough to sustain your trip. Also if you don’t have considerable amount in your account, you can always mention that the trip is sponsored by your spouse or father or mother or sister and take there account statement. This statement must be procured from the bank because it needs to be attested.
6. HOTEL BOOKINGS – This is crucial because its asked for. I often use Booking.com or Airbnb to book my hotels. And mind it the bookings must be genuine. You may cancel it later if you have a change in plan but before applying for visa, you must have them booked. And yes, don’t forget to carry the print out of each of them.
7. PHOTOGRAPHS – Get yourself clicked because you need latest pictures and the right dimension of the photograph. Most of the professional studios know the specifications. You are required to carry minimum 2 photographs.
8. PASSPORT and its photo copy of first and last page. You must also carry the photocopy of the first and last pages of your passport. If you have old Schengen visa, attach a copy of that as well.
9. A completely filled VISA APPLICATION FORM is a must. Don’t stick the photographs on your own. The people at the visa counter will help you with that.
10. Last but not the least, don’t forget to carry the print out of your appointment, which mentions the date and timings of visiting the VFS global.
11. If you are a freelancer or employed, you must have the ITR of last 3 years. This helps to prove that you have a clean record.
P.S. – REMEMBER TO CARRY A PHOTOCOPY OF ALL THE DOCUMENTS. SO BASICALLY YOU NEED TWO SET OF ALL THE ABOVE DOCUMENTS. BOTH SETS ARE SUBMITTED AT THE VISA GLOBAL.
It took me at least a week to prepare for my Schengen Visa for Belgium but I did everything on my own. So plan your trip accordingly. And when you are done with it, just go and submit it on the scheduled day.
VFS GLOBAL, NEW DELHI
Ensure that you reach there 15 minutes before your appointment. Once you are inside, they have a streamlined process. You will be directed to the counter for Belgium and will be called out as per your token number. The concerned person at the desk will verify that whether you have brought all the right documents. Next, they will also check how long are you staying at Belgium. My maximum part of the stay is in Belgium and hence I applied there. This should hold true for you too, only then apply for Belgium. Schengen Visa applies for 26 countries in Europe, so you must apply for the visa through the country where you are staying the most.
For me, everything went very smoothly at the Belgium VFS counter. The lady confirmed that the documents were right and sufficient to back my itinerary. Though she did notice and point out that I was going for a long trip. From there she directed me to the cash counter and bio-metric test (which has been mandatory for Schengen now). After the bio-metric test, I was told that the process is complete. I had opted for a courier service for my passport return because for the next few weeks, I was planning to fly down to Vijayawada. Little did I know that once you apply for visa, you must stay in the city for a couple of days. Why? Because you may be called for interview at the consulate.
I HAD TO POSTPONE MY INTERVIEW
I had submitted my documents on Friday and I was flying out of Delhi on Tuesday. Everything seemed hunky dory until that one call on Monday. My papers had reached the Embassy of Belgium and I was needed for an interview. I told them that I was flying out of station. The reply was plain and simple, “We will put your application on hold. Get in touch with us once you are back.” I was not traveling to Vijayawada for few days but three weeks. I really dint know what to say or tell them. I simply said okay. Also, this was a good time to travel to Europe and summers were just right therefore I couldn’t delay my Europe trip too.
I could have cancelled my Vijayawada ticket and rescheduled but it was too late for that too and I couldn’t actually cancel it. I went ahead with my trip and shortened my stay over there. I traveled on 27th June and came back on 11th July, got my interview scheduled for 12th July. Now the pressing question for all these days was why was I being called for the interview. What will I be asked? Anyways there was not much to worry about. Everything about my travel was genuine and I was clear with my itinerary in my head too.
INTERVIEW FOR MY SCHENGEN VISA FOR BELGIUM
I reached the Embassy sharp at 9.57 a.m. while my interview was scheduled for 10 a.m. I had totally forgotten about the receipt that I had got at the VFS Global after submitting the docs and paper. I was asked for the receipt at the gate. I blanked out for a moment. But God was definitely on my side that day because I was carrying the same bag that I had with me three weeks ago. My mind reacted, ” The receipt should be in there”. I fished in and pulled it out. In 5 minutes I was inside.
They asked me to wait in a room and after 20 minutes, one of the officers walked in and had a quick chat with me. I will not reveal much details but yes one must know about their trip, one must know why they are traveling to Belgium and one must have enough funds. I was very clear that I wanted to do a story on Tintin Museum, Waffles and street art of Antwerp, Brugges, Brussels and Ghent. The officer was happy to learn that I knew that these places had street art. He also suggested Ostend and that was so cool. All in all, it was a very positive and friendly chat. Maybe earlier he was not sure why I wanted to stay in Belgium for 12 days but after talking to me, he was convinced. In the next three working days, my passport was couriered to me. Well, I was not at home to receive it but my mother in law did that and informed me instantly. It had visa inside.
UPDATE – I had a fabulous trip to Europe and you may read some of these stories!