If you’re planning a trip to Europe, there’s a good chance you’re applying for a Schengen Visa. Regardless of which Schengen country you’re travelling to, you’ll be expected to answer a few standard questions regarding who you are, you travel arrangements, and how you plan to fund your holiday/study.
Once all your paperwork and documentation is completed and set in order, you’ll be expected to attend a Schengen Visa interview, which will determine whether you eventually receive your Visa or not. The interviewers are trained to detect hesitation, unwillingness to answer certain questions, etc. and are trained to reject Visa applicants if it seems like they’re hiding information or providing false information.
That being said, it’s a common rule of thumb to be as calm, composed, and articulate as possible during any kind of interview, especially a Visa interview. If you have nothing to hide and everything about your Visa application and the reasons for travel are truthful, all you need to do is treat the interview as a regular conversation. Treating the interview as a regular coffee-shop conversation is the easiest way to have a Visa approved – provided that all the questions are answered – no matter how personal or seemingly degrading they may seem. Don’t hesitate, no matter how weird or personal the questions are, as the interview is designed in a specific way and there is a specific way in which to answer even the more complex questions.
Tips to keep in mind when answering Schengen Visa interview questions:
- Be calm, composed, and articulate.
- Breathe and stay relaxed.
- Give precise and comprehensive answers.
- Answer all questions truthfully to the best of your knowledge.
- Smile and take every question positively, understand that the interviewer is trying to see whether the information you provide is accurate by studying your responses.
- Be honest and don’t answer more than what is necessary – stick to the point.
Given below is a list of some of the most common questions that you can expect to be asked at the Visa interview (with answering tips give in italics):
Is this your first visit to a Schengen area?
If you have travelled to any Schengen area before, say “Yes” and give a few details about the last visit(s) including dates (does not have to be exact dates) and the places you visited, what you did when visiting those places, what you saw, etc.
If you have not travelled to any Schengen area before, say “No” and keep it simple.
Which Schengen country are you planning to visit, and why?
It’s good to be prepared. The interviewer basically wants to know that you’ve done some research and that you have a clear itinerary planned out for whatever you want to do on holiday.
What do you know about the country you have planned to visit?
Doing some research beforehand always helps. If you’re planning a holiday to a foreign country, you’ll obviously have done some research about the place – tell the interviewer this at this stage. Say that you know places of interest and explain why those places interest you – whether it’s because of historical significance, etc.
What is the purpose of your visit?
The interviewer wants to know here that you aren’t planning on illegally emigrating to a Schengen country under the guise of a tourist in order to seek employment. Be clear about why you wish to travel to a particular country in the Schengen area.
Are you going to seek employment in any of the Schengen areas?
There are specific limitations on every kind of Visa. Chances are that you’re either travelling to study or on holiday, so communicate this clearly to the interviewer. Mention that you have work/property/family here in India that you cannot abandon to pursue employment illegally in a foreign country. Explain that you understand the limitations on different types of Visas and that you will absolutely not hunt for a job.
When will you travel to the Schengen areas?
The interviewer can easily get this information from your flight tickets and application, but they need to check to make sure that you are the person who booked the tickets and filled out the application – as there are many agencies that help people illegally emigrate to foreign countries promising them employment. Answer clearly and truthfully saying that you’ve booked your tickets and have a clear itinerary planned out. Another objective of this question is to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the limitations on the validity of your Schengen Visa.
Where will you stay when you’re on holiday/studying in the Schengen area?
Tell the interviewer that you’ll be staying at campus provided accommodation if you’re a student, or the names of your planned hotels and recommended accommodations if you’re travelling on holiday. If you’re travelling on holiday, it’s expected that you’ve at least researched enough to know in which area of the holiday destination you’re planning on staying, and whether it is close by to the tourist attractions, etc.
Why do you need a Visa valid for three months? Can’t you plan a shorter trip?
Explain that Schengen countries are many, and that your Visa can allow you to visit all these beautiful places and that an international holiday like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to explore the world. Communicate your flexibility and willingness to shorten your trip, if that’s what’s necessary. It helps if you have a clear itinerary of your plans to visit multiple Schengen countries and what you intend to do there.
How do we know that you will return to your home country within the allowed time on the Visa?
Explain to the interviewer about your relationships/employment responsibilities/personal or professional commitments, etc. that you have to attend to when you’re back from your vacation. Also explain that you understand that overstaying your Visa limit amounts to a criminal act and that you do not wish to break any laws.
What will you do if your Visa is rejected?
Mention here that you have other things to do in your home country itself – like work, prior engagements, etc. The official wants to basically know that you aren’t going to look for employment on a holiday Visa.
How much will this journey cost you?
Give details of the financial planning and budgeting you’ve done in advance to show the interviewer that you’ve been planning this trip for a while now and that you’re confident that you can complete a successful trip within a certain budget.
Who is sponsoring your journey? How are you coming up with the money for this trip?
Since many people get offended by this question, it’s important to stay calm and speak clearly and to the point. If your trip is being sponsored by parents or any beneficiary, mention their name and the reason why they’re sponsoring your trip. If you’re sponsoring your own trip, say so, and say you’re been saving for ages/have a good job.
What do you do for a living? Which company do you work for? How much do you earn?
This is a follow-up to the previous question if you’re sponsoring your own trip. Answer with the precise nature of your job and the company, and the company’s area of business operations. You can also state how long you’ve been working for that company and how much you earn there every month.
How are you able to travel for 3 months if you have a job?
State that you’ve applied for leave and had it approved by your managers, etc. and the conditions on which you had leave approved for such a long time.
Do you have a leave approval letter from your employer?
Chances are that this letter will be in the form of an email, so have it printed out before going for your interview. Simply hand the letter over to the interviewer and he/she will gather the required information from there.
How much do you earn?
If you’re an employee, state your monthly income. If you’re an employer, state your average monthly earnings.
What is your educational qualification?
State the highest degree you’ve earned in a formal educational institution. Don’t talk about every school you’ve attended unless the interviewer asks for this information.
Do you own any property in your home country?
Answer with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The interviewer is trying to ascertain whether you have something of commercial value to return to in your home country. Follow up questions here can be answered in more detail stating what type of property it is, what it is being used for, etc.
Do you have any family or friends currently living in any Schengen area?
Answer truthfully and provide names and locations of any relatives and friends that you have that currently live in any of the Schengen areas. If you intend to meet them, mention that too, and mention that you’ve contacted them or if you wish to surprise them.
Do you have an active travel insurance policy that covers you against illness on this trip?
It is important to get travel insurance and health insurance that’s valid overseas, if you wish to secure a Schengen Visa. Provide the name of the insurer and the details of the insurance policy you’ve taken.
Can you present your bank statement?
A bank statement is one of the documents you’ll be expected to carry with you to your interview. Produce this without hesitation for scrutiny by the interviewer. He/she will require this as a sort of evidence that you can support yourself financially during your stay in any of the Schengen countries.
Are you married? Is your spouse travelling with you? If not, why not?
While it is common for people to forget their wedding anniversaries, it helps to memorize it for this interview. Tell the interviewer your exact marriage date and speak a little about your spouse. If your spouse is not travelling with you, explain the reasons clearly.
Are you travelling with someone else?
Answer this question truthfully, a simple ‘no’ if you’re travelling alone will suffice, but if you are travelling with someone else, you can mention their name and the relationship they share with you.
Do you have any children? If yes, what is their age, occupation, and marital status?
It can be difficult to remember all the details about your children on the spot, so it’s important to prepare for the interview by brushing up on what their job titles are, where they work, birth dates, etc. It’s important not to hesitate during the interview and to be as clear as possible.
These are some of the most common questions that you could be asked, but be prepared for the unexpected, as it is a Visa interviewer’s job to check whether your identity is what you say it is, and whether your reasons for travel are what you say they are.
Interviewers are told to be especially weary and cautious about people who would lie about simple matters on their application in order to enter a Schengen country to seek employment illegally. Hesitation or uncertainty about certain facts, figures, dates, etc. that a person should know, like children’s birthdays, wedding anniversaries, children’s occupations, etc. can result in Visa rejection.
The most important thing to remember is to be totally calm and relaxed during the interview. It is absolutely not a big deal at all if you’re honest and ready to give the interviewer any information that they require. Some questions may seem off topic, but just go with the flow and answer everything to the best of your ability and be candid about the whole process. Smile and be courteous, but not so much that they think you’re trying to hide something. Do not hesitate to divulge information, but be honest if you can’t remember certain things like exact previous travel dates, etc. as a regular person doesn’t have a perfect memory to remember everything.
It is important to smile and remember that the interview, too, is merely doing his/her job and that this job is of a certain level of importance, as there are many people that travel overseas on holiday visas and then look for employment (which is illegal). Your job when you’re at that interview is to be as calm, courteous, and articulate as possible. Convince the interviewer through your answers that you aren’t looking for employment and aren’t going there to cause any trouble and you will be fine. Don’t hide any information or give any half-information. Answer all questions to the interviewer’s satisfaction providing all the details you can in the most concise way. Identify which questions are simple ‘yes or no’ questions as indicated above, and always answer to the point, comfortably. Remember to treat the interview as a conversation rather than an interrogation.