Visa Shopping: You Could Be Denied Entry to the Schengen Area

Visa shopping has become increasingly common among applicants due to long waiting times for appointments and convenience. However, it is important to note that visa shopping is illegal and can have serious consequences.
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As Schengen visa applicants face excruciatingly long wait times for appointments, a growing number of individuals are resorting to “visa shopping,” a practice where they apply for a Schengen visa at an embassy different from their intended destination.

This trend is driven by convenience and the desire to avoid missed opportunities. However, this practice carries legal risks, and embassies are warning against it.

Visa Shopping’s Rising Popularity

Long wait times for Schengen visa appointments have left many applicants frustrated and eager to find alternatives. “Visa shopping” involves applying at embassies where the process is faster and more convenient, even if it’s not the primary destination.

Reasons for Visa Shopping

There are a few main reasons why people choose to visa shop. First, it can be a way to avoid long waiting times for appointments. Some Schengen embassies have very long waiting times, especially during peak travel season. Visa shoppers may choose to apply for a visa at an embassy with shorter waiting times, even if they do not intend to visit that country.

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Second, visa shopping can be a way to increase the chances of getting a visa. Some Schengen countries have stricter visa requirements than others. Visa shoppers may choose to apply for a visa from a country with more lenient requirements.

Finally, visa shopping can be a way to get a visa for a longer period of time. Some Schengen countries issue visas for longer periods of time than others. Visa shoppers may choose to apply for a visa from a country that issues longer visas.

Risks of Visa Shopping

Visa shopping is illegal and can have serious consequences. If you are caught visa shopping, you may be denied a visa, refused entry into the Schengen Area, or even blacklisted from entering the Schengen Area for several years.

In addition, visa shopping can be a waste of time and money. If you are denied a visa from one Schengen country, you will have to start the application process over again at another embassy. This can be costly and time-consuming.

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Embassies Warn Against Visa Shopping

While some applicants are aware of the risks, many others are not. The Embassy of Estonia emphasized severe consequences for those who engage in visa shopping, including visa refusal or being sent back home from EU borders.

The Embassy of Switzerland in India and Bhutan issued a stern warning, advising everyone to apply for a visa in the country they plan to visit or stay the longest. Violators may be denied entry upon arrival in Switzerland.

The embassy also shared measures to address limited appointments, including allowing applications up to six months before travel and increasing overall capacity.

Alternatives to Visa Shopping

If you are considering visa shopping, there are a few alternatives to consider. First, you can try to get an appointment at the embassy of your intended destination country. Even if the waiting time is long, it is the best way to ensure that you get a visa.

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Second, you can try to apply for a visa from a different Schengen country that has shorter waiting times. However, it is important to make sure that you meet the visa requirements of that country.

Finally, you can try to get a multiple-entry visa. Multiple-entry visas allow you to enter the Schengen Area multiple times during the validity period of the visa. This can be a good option if you plan on visiting multiple Schengen countries during your trip.

Processing Times and Popular Schengen Destinations

Schengen Countries Sign Board

The Embassy of Switzerland disclosed that it takes no more than 13 working days to make a decision on Schengen visa applications. However, despite the challenges, data from Schengen Visa Statistics indicates that France, Spain, and Germany received the highest number of Schengen visa applications last year.

France received 1,918,515 applications, Spain received 1,197,457 applications, and Germany received 1,043,297 applications in 2022. Notably, these countries received a high number of applications despite not having the lowest rejection rates.

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Easiest and Hardest Countries to Obtain a Schengen Visa

When it comes to rejection rates, some Schengen member states have lower rates than others. Iceland, Lithuania, and Latvia had the lowest visa rejection rates in 2022, making them the easiest to obtain a Schengen visa from. Iceland had a rejection rate of 1.9%, Lithuania had a rate of 7.8%, and Latvia had a rate of 9.5%.

In contrast, Malta, Sweden, Belgium, and France had the highest rejection rates in 2022, indicating that it is more challenging to secure a visa from these countries.

Conclusion

Visa shopping is a risky way to avoid long waiting times or increase your chances of getting a visa. It is important to be aware of the risks involved before you decide to visa shop. There are a few alternatives to visa shopping that you should consider before making a decision.


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Manish Khandelwal
Manish Khandelwal

Manish Khandelwal, a travel-tech enthusiast with over a decade of experience in the travel industry. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Travelobiz.com, he's passionate about writing.

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