INFORMATION SHEET FOR SCHENGEN VISA APPLICANTS IN BELARUS
WHAT IS A SCHENGEN VISA?
A Schengen visa is a visa issued by a country which is part of the Schengen Area (countries belonging to this area – see next paragraph). A Schengen visa entitles its holder to transit through, or stay in, the territory of the 25 Schengen countries which are members of the Schengen Area. The maximum duration of stay is no more than three months within a six-month period counted from the date of first entry into the Schengen Area.
WHICH COUNTRIES CAN YOU ENTER WITH A SCHENGEN VISA?
The Schengen Area comprises the following 25 countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
WHO CAN SUBMIT A SCHENGEN VISA APPLICATION IN BELARUS?
All Belarusian nationals or nationals of another country ("third-country national") legally residing in Belarus.
All those third-country nationals, who are legally staying but not residing in Belarus, can also lodge an application, if they provide justification for submitting the application in Belarus.
AT WHICH SCHENGEN COUNTRY EMBASSY/CONSULATE IN BELARUSSHOULD YOU SUBMIT A VISA APPLICATION?
(1) If you want to visit one specific Schengen country: the Schengen country whose territory is the soledestination of your visit(s).
(2) If you want to visit several Schengen countries: the Schengen country whose territory is the maindestination of your visit(s) in terms of length or purpose of your stay.
(3) If no main destination can be determined: the Schengen country whose border you will cross first.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR APPLICATION IS SUBMITTED AT THE WRONG EMBASSY/CONSULATE?
Once an application has been submitted, the embassy/consulate verifies, whether it is in its competence to examine the visa application. If the embassy/consulate is not in a position to process the application, it will, without any delay, return the application form to the applicant, reimburse the visa fee, and indicate at which embassy/consulate you should submit the application.
WHAT TO DO IF A SCHENGEN COUNTRY DOES NOT HAVE AN EMBASSY/CONSULATE IN BELARUS?
If a Schengen country does not have an embassy/consulate in Belarus, a Schengen visa application needs to be submitted with that Schengen country which represents this country for visa matters.
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Slovenia: a Schengen visa application for one of these countries may be submitted at the German Embassy.
Finland: a Schengen visa application for Finland may be submitted at the Estonian Embassy.
Greece: a Schengen visa application for Greece may be submitted at the Lithuanian Embassy/Consulate.
Iceland, Norway, Portugal and Spain: a Schengen visa application for one of these countries may be submitted at the French Embassy.
Malta: a Schengen visa application for Malta must be submitted at the Italian Embassy.
Switzerland: a Schengen visa application for Switzerland must be submitted at the Hungarian Embassy.
WHAT IS THE VISA PROCESSING FEE?
The visa processing fee for Belarusian nationals is 60 €. However, there are categories of Belarusian nationals for who the visa processing fee can be waived (see next section). The visa processing fee for Belarusian children between six years and twelve years of age is 35 €.
The visa processing fee for nationals from the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Georgia and the Republic of Moldova is 35 €. If urgent processing is required, the visa processing fee for nationals from these countries might be 70 €.
The visa processing fee must be paid in Euro.
FOR WHAT CATEGORY OF BELARUSIAN NATIONALS CAN THE EMBASSY/CONSULATE WAIVE THE VISA FEE?
The Schengen visa fees shall be waived for applicants belonging to one of the following categories:
(1) Children under six years;
(2) School pupils, students, postgraduate students and accompanying teachers who undertake stays for the purpose of study or educational training;
(3) Researchers from third countries travelling for the purpose of carrying out scientific research as defined in Recommendation No 2005/761/EC of the European Parliament and of the European Council of 28 September 2005;
(4) Representatives of non-profit organisations aged 25 years or less participating in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events organised by non-profit organisations.
The Schengen visa fee may be waived for applicants belonging to one of the following categories:
(1) Children from the age of six years and below the age of 12 years;
(2) Holders of diplomatic and service passports;
(3) Participants aged 25 years or les in seminars, conferences, sports, cultural or educational events, organised by non-profit organisations.
Please note that certain Schengen countries grant additional visa fee waivers for specific categories of applicants (see website links below).
HOW LONG BEFORE THE START OF THE INTENDED VISIT SHOULD YOU APPLY AT THE LATEST?
It is recommended to submit an application at least 15 calendar days prior to the intended visit (please take into account national holidays in the country of destination and in Belarus).
However, applications should be submitted no more than three months before the start of the intended visit.
Please check the website of the embassy/consulate at which you submit your application (see links below).
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR THE EMBASSY/CONSULATE TO DECIDE ON YOUR APPLICATION?
Normally, you will receive a decision on your application within 15 calendar days after lodging the application. Sometimes, that period may be extended to up to a maximum of 30 calendar days. In exceptional cases, the period may be extended to up to a maximum of 60 calendar days.
DO YOU NEED AN APPOINTMENT FOR SUBMITTING YOUR VISA APPLICATION?
You may be required to obtain an appointment. Please check the website of the Schengen country (see links below).
DO YOU HAVE TO GO THROUGH AN INTERVIEW AT THE EMBASSY/CONSULATE?
During the examination of your application the embassy/consulate may call you for an interview.
SHOULD YOU HAVE A STAMP IN YOUR PASSPORT INDICATING THAT YOUR VISA APPLICATION IS ADMISSIBLE?
Yes. When an application is admissible, the competent embassy/consulate stamps your travel document. This stamp indicates (a) the Schengen country examining the application, (b) the date of lodging the application, and (c) the authority examining the application. This stamp has no legal implications, and when a visa is issued, the visa sticker is placed over the stamp. Diplomatic and service passports are not stamped.
WHAT SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS DO YOU HAVE TO ATTACH TO YOUR VISA APPLICATION?
Check the harmonised list of supporting documents to be submitted by applicants (see link below).
Please note that the embassy/consulate at which you submitted the application may request additional documents when examining your application.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF THE VISA IS REFUSED?
If your visa application has been refused, the embassy/consulate will issue an official refusal letter. Having received such a letter, you have the right to appeal the embassy's/consulate's decision in accordance with the national law of the Schengen country concerned. In the refusal letter, each Schengen country is obliged to indicate a reference to (1) the national law and the procedure relating to the right of appeal, (2) the competent authority with which the appeal may be submitted, as well as (3) the time limit for lodging an appeal.
WHAT DOCUMENTS DO YOU HAVE TO TAKE WITH YOU WHEN YOU TRAVEL ON A SCHENGEN VISA?
The mere possession of a Schengen visa does not give you an automatic right to enter the territory of a Schengen country. At the border of the Schengen country, the visa holder may be requested by the border police to produce (a) documents justifying the purpose and conditions of the intended stay and (b) evidence that he/she has sufficient financial means for both the period of the intended stay and the return to his/her country of origin or transit to a third state.
WHAT RULES APPLY IF YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS ARE NATIONALS OF ONE OF THE EU COUNTRIES?
If you are a family member of a national of one of the EU countries, you may qualify for an accelerated visa procedure free of charge.
If you think you qualify for an accelerated visa procedure, you will need to show proof that you meet these criteria when you submit your visa application
The visa application should be submitted at the embassy/consulate of the country of residence of the EU national, not at the embassy/consulate of the EU national's country of origin.
RELEVANT WEB SITES LINKS OF SCHENGEN COUNTRIES PRESENT IN BELARUS
Czech Republic: www.mzv.cz/minsk/ru/vizy/index.html
Poland: www.minsk.polemb.net (Polish Embassy in Minsk), www.grodnokg.polemb.net (Polish Consulate in Grodno), www.bresc.polemb.net (Polish Consulate in Brest), and www.e-konsulat.gov.pl (for internet registration of application forms)
INFORMATION ABOUT EU VISA CODE
As from 5 April 2010 the EU Visa Code, adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in June 2009, is applicable. It is directed to the Consulates of States applying the common visa policy all over the world.
The Visa Code:
- sets out all procedures and conditions for issuing "short stay visas" and "airport transit visas". It also establishes the lists of third country nationals who are required to hold "airport transit visas" when passing through the international transit areas of airports situated on the territory of the Member States.
- covers visas issued for the purpose of "short stays", meaning stays not exceeding 90 days in any 180 days period. Legislation in relation to the issuance of visas for the purpose of long stays (beyond 90 days) remains of national competence.
- concerns "short stay visas" and "airport transit visa" issued by EU Member States, except for UK and Ireland; Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus will apply the Visa Code once they become part of the Schengen area without internal borders
- is also applied by the those countries that are part of the Schengen area, without being EU members (Iceland, Norway and Switzerland)
Below are answers to questions frequently asked in Belarus:
Q: Is it true that from 5 April Belarusian citizens will need to give fingerprints when applying for visas?
A: No, the requirement to fingerprint applicants will only become applicable in Belarus when the Visa Information System (VIS) is operational at EU Member States' consulates in Ukraine. The VIS is being gradually introduced in different regions of the world, starting in North Africa in late 2010. There is not date foreseen yet for the introduction of the VIS in Belarus.
Q: Is it true that from 5 April Belarusian citizens will need to fill in a more complicated application form?
A: No. The Visa Code indeed contains a new visa application form, which will be used worldwide from 5 April. However, the new form actually has fewer fields to fill in than the previous one!
Q: Is it true that the Visa Code abolished transit visas (B visas)?
A: Visas will still be issued for the purpose of transit. However, the code "B" visa will no longer be printed on the visa sticker. "B visas" issued before 5 April 2010 will remain valid until their expiry date.
Q: What are the criteria for the travel document (passport) submitted for a Schengen visa?
A: It shall satisfy the following criteria:
(a) its validity shall extend at least three months after the intended date of departure from the territory of the Member States or, in the case of several visits, after the last intended date of departure from the territory of the Member States. However, in a justified case of emergency, this obligation may be waived;
(b) it shall contain at least two blank pages;
(c) it shall have been issued within the previous 10 years.