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Schengen Visa: Planning a vacation in Europe? You need a Schengen visa even if you have a green card

Continental Europe and the UK have emerged favourite vacation destinations for Indians amidst the trend of revenge tourism after the pandemic. For Indians planning summer or winter vacations in Europe; one of the issues that often becomes a hurdle is visa backlogs, both for the UK and the Schengen category. And if you are a non-resident Indian – in the US or Canada – you too could face the same challenge. Indian passport holders in the US or Canada; including those on work permits, student visas and permanent residents; need visitor visas for Europe unlike those who have become citizens of those countries. “It is possible for Indians living in the US or Canada to apply for the UK visitor visa and Schengen visa, that covers many European countries, without coming back to India. They will have to initiate the process of applying through the UK visa website and the Schengen visa website for online applications,” says Sonali Mehendale, proprietor of Mumbai based tour company Tours R Us. She adds that the timelines for getting the UK or Schengen visas, for Indians living overseas, depends on the embassy or high commission that they are applying at. “For Schengen, it generally takes 15 to 20 days to process; leaving Saturdays, Sundays and the holidays, if there are any, out. For the UK visa it takes around 15 days or may be a little more,” says Mehendale, who has helped several Indian citizens based in USA and Canada to get their visa processes done and to plan European vacation packages. “The applicants pay service charges and I often help them to even fill up the visa form and tell them what documents they need for the process,” she says. Even though it’s a small and niche group, most travel agencies and tour operators in India offer services and support to Indians living overseas, in planning their European vacations. “Most of our customers based in the USA hold US passports and do not need UK visitor visas or Schengen visas to travel to Europe. While we do receive queries from a select number of Indian passport holders or green card holders, a very small number of customers have an H-1B work permit visa,” says Daniel D’Souza, president & country head, holidays, SOTC Travel. He adds that customers based in the USA usually get their Schengen visas on their own or through local agents in New York or San Francisco. “The total visa turnaround time is approximately 10-14 working days. The visa application process for customers based in the USA is fairly simple, and in most cases the visa is granted without hassles,” says D’Souza. While many non-resident Indians, living in the US, seek the assistance of local travel agents with the visa application process while planning overseas vacations; Indian travel companies provide them with customised travel itineraries and other required documents. “To help our NRI customers booked on our Thomas Cook Europe Tours, we assist by providing hotel confirmation details along with a supporting letter of their booking confirmation,” says Rajeev Kale, president & country head, holidays, MICE, visa, Thomas Cook (India) Limited. Customers living in the US can download or check with the local consulate or embassy for their Schengen visa requirements and follow a simple visa application process by submitting the required documents including residence and work visa details, he adds. “The application process is fairly simple and convenient for Indians living in the US with a turnaround time of 15-20 working days,” Kale says. Useful websites For Schengen visa For UK visa