Let us start this blog with a disclaimer: we all make mistakes. It is human to err. And yet, when it comes to applying for a visa, simple visa mistakes can cause a delay or even a rejection. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of common mistakes people make during the visa process (don’t worry, it’s not just you). Starting from the application form to the documents and finally visa interview.
Furthermore, you should know that many of
these mistakes can be avoided with a keen eye for detail and preparing for the
process in advance.
So, shall we get started?
The documents you submit for your visa, and that you carry for your visa interview, form the building blocks of your visa application. They corroborate the details that you’ve mentioned in your application form. Therefore, leaving documents out of your application, particularly mandatory ones can delay your visa or even lead to rejection.
What can you do? Before you start the
entire process, research! Check out the documents required based on the region
that you are visiting. Next, start gathering your documents in advance. That
way, if they aren’t ready or updated, you have enough time to get your
documentation in order.
following the rules
Every country, every type of visa has its
own specific rules and regulations. Breaking, violating or trying to manipulate
the rules doesn’t just have an effect on the visa you’re applying for
currently. A serious violation can end up affecting your chances of obtaining
future visas as well. Violations can include extending your stay beyond the validity
of your visa, providing insufficient documentation, working or earning money on
a tourist visa etc.
What can you do? This goes back to research – read up in advance about the rules pertaining to your visa. Furthermore, when you book your visa with Thomas Cook, you’ll have your own personal visa expert who will guide you through the process and also point out problem areas in your application and documentation. Ultimately, it falls to you to travel responsibly and honour the commitments you’ve made to the embassy – it’s just that simple.
an incomplete or incorrect travel plan
Countries want to know the purpose of your trip and how you plan to carry out that purpose on your visit. Therefore, you’ll need to provide the embassy with a travel itinerary or plan. This is particularly important if you are applying for a visa like the Schengen visa, which covers 26 countries.
What can you do? Ideally, your itinerary
will need to be home-destination country-home, or home- first destination country
– second destination country – home.
embassy can judge the purpose of your trip, as well as your intention to return
to India with a crisp and clear travel itinerary. Both these points are
essential in getting your visa application approved.
your accommodation or being vague about it
Where are you staying? This is a question that is incredibly important when you start to plan a trip abroad. Embassies also consider this to be an important part of your travel plan. Proof of accommodation is also an indication that you have a travel plan and the money to pay for it. However, if you mention hitchhiking, couch surfing or do not provide a valid address, it could be considered grounds to reject your visa.
Recommended Read: Why was my Schengen Visa rejected
What can you do? Before you apply for your visa, get your accommodation in place. Make a hotel reservation or get a valid address from the person who is sponsoring your trip (they will need to provide proof of this). To be on the safe side, you can make sure your hotel booking is refundable, in case your plans change or if your visa does get rejected for other reasons. You can never be too safe!
non-refundable tickets or accommodation
This is a move that isn’t necessarily a
mistake or wrong, however, it is rather risky. In order to secure your chances
of a visa, providing proof of accommodation or booked tickets is a definite
advantage. However, plans can change, or the visa could be rejected. In cases
like these, it’s best to be flexible about your bookings.
What can you do? Between losing all your money or not making a booking, there is a middle ground – the refund. Make sure that you check the refund amount before you book either tickets or a hotel room. If the refund is substantial and is processed quickly, you should go ahead and book. This way you’ll be able to provide the embassy with your flight tickets and hotel, but not worry too much about losing your money in case plans change.
We’re including a section on visa
interviews exclusively as this is the first impression the embassy will have of
you, outside of the details of your life mentioned in your documents.
Therefore, the interview is a great place to shine, to answer well and convince
the embassy official to approve your application. At the same time, certain
mistakes or behavior can damage your chances of getting a visa.
Visa interviews are scheduled on the basis of availability – and in many cases availability is scarce. If you are applying for a UK visa, US visa or Schengen visa, you’ll need to apply in advance to get a suitable interview date. After all that work, showing up late for the interview can undermine all the work you put in before this. The interview is your chance to make a good impression. Showing up late puts you on the back foot with the interviewer and you’ll need to work extra hard at the interview to prove your worthiness for the visa.
What can you do? Try to arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the interview starts (make sure you take traffic and the route to the embassy into account). Not only does that create a good impression, but it also gives you a chance to catch your breath and calm yourself before the interview begins.
questions or lying
You have submitted your verified documents
and a verified application form to the embassy. Now, it’s the interviewer’s
turn to confirm these details with you, and even ask you deeper questions
surrounding the documents you provided. Trying to skip the question the
interviewer asked or providing vague or incorrect answers will drastically
reduce the chances of getting an approval.
What can you do? First, take a deep breath.
Remember that some visa questions are certainly going to be more personal than
the ones on the application form. Skipping the question will not help. Instead,
review your application form before the interview and then use those details to
answer the interviewer. Secondly, resist the urge to lie or manipulate facts. The
embassy has a copy of your documents and will certainly cross verify your
interview answers with the documentation provided.
Dressing badly or inappropriately
The visa interview is a formal occasion and
is all about creating a good impression. As such, your outfit says as much
about you as your answers do. Small details like makeup, shoes, accessories and
the general body language, tell an interviewer if you take this seriously or
not. Dressing messily or inappropriately, slouching in your chair, folding your
arms or frowning can create a bad first impression.
What can you do? When you’re choosing your outfit for a visa
interview, keep it formal, simple and clean. Neat shoes, a formal shirt,
well-ironed clothes, minimal accessories, and even a light perfume go a long
way in creating the right impression. As for your body language, try not to be
too aggressive, too casual or too uncertain. Sit straight, look them in the
eyes and keep your arms uncrossed to show the interviewer that you are open and
ready to talk. If the idea of the interview makes you nervous, practice! Stand
in front of a mirror and assess your body language. Write out the answers to
common visa questions and practice with friends or family members.
with the interviewer
One of the things the interviewer will be
looking for in a candidate is temperament. Certain questions may be personal or
require additional information that you might not be comfortable talking about.
Raising your voice, refusing to answer or arguing over certain issues shows a
lack of respect for the interviewer and the process. The interviewer could
conclude that you may not have the right temperament or are too aggressive.
What can you do? It’s understandable that certain questions might seem personal. However, the mark of good temperament is to answer the questions calmly and clearly. Do not let the matter escalate. Pause, ask for a minute to compose your answer and then speak to the interviewer. A moment’s reflection will stop you from blurting out the first thing on your mind.
Also Read: Travelling hacks for your next trip