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If you wish to travel to the Schengen Zone, you may need to apply for a visa first. After submitting your visa application, you must wait a certain period for your visa to be processed. The processing time of your visa application depends on a variety of factors, and the waiting time is not the same for all applicants.
Standard Schengen Visa Processing Times
The standard Schengen visa processing time is fifteen (15) calendar days. Your visa application will be processed within 15 days from the day that you submit your application.
However, you should know that this period may be extended up to thirty (30) days. This usually occurs if certain applications need further observation or examination. Additionally, your application may take up to a maximum of sixty (60) calendar days to be processed if your application is incomplete/requires additional documentation.
What Factors Affect Schengen Visa Processing Times?
Many factors can affect the processing time of your Schengen Visa application. For example:
- Nationality of the applicant. Under the Schengen Agreement, a Member State has the authority to request that the central authorities of other Member States consult with its own central authorities when reviewing visa applications submitted by nationals of particular third countries or specific categories of such nationals. This means that the requesting Member State can ask for additional input or information from the consulted Member State’s authorities during the visa application review process.
- Type of Visa. The processing time varies on the type of Schengen visa you have applied for. For example, a long-term visa may require more time to go through than a short-term visa.
- Time of year. The time of year you decide to apply for a visa will determine the waiting time. This is because, during peak travel seasons, such as the summer months, the embassy or consulate may receive a higher volume of visa applications. This can lead to delays.
- Consulate workload. Normally, if the embassy or consulate where you have applied for a visa is typically busy, the processing time will take longer than usual. It also depends on staffing, which can change from week to week in different embassies/consulates.
- Completeness and accuracy of the application. In order to get a decision on your visa application as soon as possible, make sure that your application form is complete and accurate. This is because in such cases that your visa application requires additional information/is incorrect, visa application processing time will be delayed.
Remember that while some of these factors are beyond the applicant’s control, you can make sure that your visa application is complete, accurate, and submitted well in advance of the planned travel dates, which can help to minimize the processing of your visa application.
Countries Subject to Extended Periods of Processing Times
As mentioned, some Member States require to be consulted on visa applications that are submitted to other Schengen States by citizens of certain countries. Those countries are:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
Additionally, this also applies to the following categories of persons:
- Stateless persons
Some Schengen states may require to be informed when a visa is issued to nations of certain third-country nationals. This requirement applies to all third-country nationals listed below:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Ivory Coast
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Sri Lanka
*(Does not apply to holders of diplomatic and service passports).
This requirement also applies to the following categories of persons:
- Stateless persons
Are There Accelerated Visa Processing Options?
Yes, there are, Under EU law, you may be eligible for an accelerated visa procedure (free of charge) if you meet the following criteria:
- You are a family member of a European Union (EU) or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen,
- The EU/EEA citizen is traveling to or residing in a member state different from the country he/she is a citizen of,
- You are accompanying the EU/EEA citizen, or you will be joining him/her in the Schengen State of destination.
However, to be entitled to an accelerated visa procedure, you must show proof that you meet these criteria. You must attach the proof to your visa application.
How to Check the Status of Your Schengen Visa Application?
You can track the status of your Schengen visa application online. It depends on where you have submitted your application.
- If you have applied at an embassy or consulate-general, you must have received a code during your application which you can use to track your application online.
- Go to the embassy’s website.
- Select the country where you submitted your application and your language.
- Enter your tracking number.
- Click ‘Submit’ to view the status of your application.
- If you have applied at a third-party service provider (VFS Global, TLS Contact, etc), go to the website you applied from
- Select ‘Track your application online’.
- Fill in the reference number or write down your email address and password, as required from the webpage.
- Click ‘Submit’ and view the status of your application online.
Some third-party service providers offer SMS alerts. You can sign up for SMS alerts when you apply. You will be notified about your application status. If your visa application is taking longer than expected, you may want to contact the embassy or consulate to inquire about the status of your application. You can ask if there is any additional information or documentation you can provide to expedite the process.
Delays in Schengen Visa Processing
Visa processing times can vary depending on the country where the application is being made and the specific circumstances of the application. Your visa may be delayed due to several reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:
- Peak travel season. During peak travel seasons, such as the summer months, the embassy or consulate may receive a higher volume of applications, and this can lead to longer processing times. Therefore, you may want to consider applying in other seasons of the year.
- High volume of applications. Embassies and consulates can receive a large number of applications which leads to delays. This is beyond the control of the applicant and the embassy.
- Background checks. Some visa applications require additional background checks or security clearances. This is, often, a reason for delays.
- Specific nationalities. Some nationalities may require additional processing or documentation. If you come from a country whose citizens are subject to longer processing times, make sure to apply in advance. This is because your visa application might take longer to process than usual.
- Incomplete or inaccurate applications. If your visa application is incomplete or contains errors, this will delay the processing of your application. This is because the embassy or consulate will require you to provide additional documentation or clarification.
To avoid any delays in the processing of your visa application, make sure that you submit your application error-free. Moreover, remember to include all supporting documents so that your application is complete and apply well in advance of your planned travel dates.
When is the Best Time to Apply for a Schengen Visa?
When applying for a Schengen Visa, you must consider visa processing times among other factors. Here are some tips on how to plan your trip and ensure that you have enough time to apply and receive your visa:
- Apply well in advance of your intended travel date. As a general rule, it is recommended that you apply for a visa at least 15 calendar days in advance. However, you can apply up to 3 months before your travel dates. This allows the consulate to process your visa application and request any additional documentation or information if necessary.
- Be prepared to adjust travel plans. In the event that your visa application takes longer to process than expected, you must be prepared to adjust your travel plans. This means rescheduling flights, accommodations, or other activities to ensure that you can still make the most of your trip.
- Consider potential delays when booking flights and accommodation. When booking flight tickets or accommodation, you must keep in mind that there might be delays in the processing of your visa. Therefore, look into booking refundable or flexible accommodations and flights or consider travel insurance to cover any unexpected delays or cancellations.
- Check the visa requirements for each country you plan to visit. It is very important to check the requirements for all Schengen Member States you plan to visit, as some countries might have different requirements or longer processing times. Make sure that you allow sufficient time for processing all of the visas you need.
Who Processes Schengen Visa Applications?
Schengen Visa applications are processed by the diplomatic missions of the Schengen countries, which include embassies and consulates. These missions are the only ones responsible for reviewing and processing visa applications, conducting interviews if necessary, and making decisions about visa approvals.
Although the Schengen embassies may outsource certain aspects of the visa application process to third-party service providers, they do not have the right to decide on visa applications. They are only responsible for collecting visa applications, handling visa fees, and returning passports to applicants. The ultimate responsibility for the processing and decision on the visa application lies with the embassy or consulate where the application is submitted.
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