German Student Visa - A big pain! (part 1)
Some time in mid June, I guess, I received an e-mail attachment of my invitation letter to spend one fall term (Sep-Dec) at Zeppelin University, Germany. The letter mentioned that while the university would like to help in whichever way they can, Visa procedures are solely the responsibility of the candidate. What that means is, it’s upto me to figure out all the modalities starting from what all documents I should procure and submit to till collecting the stamped visa.
A little web browsing gave the info that VFS is also the facilitator for Germany embassy, much like US case. In Bangalore the VFS-Germany centre is located in St.Mark’s Road, in a commercial complex named Sophia’s Choice, right opposite to Hotel Nandini. Good thing is that the complex has a free bike park area. [It is always full, but if you look hard you would find just enough space to move existing bikes and shove in yours in between.]
Many friends say many things about what documents to furnish, but what VFS center folks tell would be the most reliable info (they in fact give you a check-list with appropriate things tick-marked as per your visa requirement, if you visit their office and explain what your need is). At the risk of undermining my earlier statement I still am listing down the essential documents I could think of for a German student visa. Ah! I forgot to mention one thing, which appears now trivial to me but wasn’t that trivial when I began my visa formalities.
“Any person who wants to stay in any Schengen country (browse internet for what all countries of European Union form the Schengen region, Germany is certainly part of Schengen area) for a period of less than or equal to 90days can avail a Schengen Visa from any of the Schengen country consulate. If the stay is going to be for more than 90 days, one has to apply for the long-term/residence permit type of Visa.”
List of essential documents for German Student Visa:
Invitation Letter from University (English must, nice to have in German also)
Bank Statement for past 1 year
Letter from Bank mentioning the balance in your bank account both in rupees and equivalent euro amount (as per that day’s exchange rate)
German translation of above letter
Cover letter by candidate to Consulate seeking Visa
German translation of above mentioned cover letter
Filled long-term stay application form (application form can be downloaded from chennai german consulate website, or picked up free of cost from VFS-Germany center)
Bio-metric photo (have at least four in number)
With these in hand, I went to VFS-Germany center in St.Mark’s Road to book the mandatory appointment with consulate. Some one said the visa fee is 4100, but did not mention the 776 rupees of service fee. First time I tried to book my visa appointment I was short of 60 rupees and had to go the next day and book the appointment.
After the first personal visa interview in Chennai, I was told to collect my passport end of that week. I felt glad. Alas, the received passport doesn’t have any visa stamping on it. In the meantime I found out that the Visa stamping is not any near, and it’s a long way later to happen. From July 21st when my first visa interview was over, the executives whoever they may be, Germans or Indians, took their sweet long time to approve me a student visa after verifying with my german university and bank statements. While for my friend who was interviewed on the same day, who is from my college going on exchange to the same university the approval came before July end itself, my approval letter was generated only in the second week of August (15 days of delay for no conceivable valid reason). More comedy is yet to begin… for the executives in German consulate, Chennai it took 6 days to courier a piece of paper that I was repeatedly mentioning that I badly need to schedule my second personal interview (yes, it’s two rounds of personal interviewing for Germany, though one would argue it is not worth the salt when even for U.S it’s just one personal interview only).
Back home I mentally made up my mind that I would have to reschedule my flight dates (which would mean not just monetary loss but also a lot of personal disadvantage) as I waited eternally for the visa approval letter. Days passed by and my end-terms began. In he midst of my exams, on 23rd August when I had two exams 9a.m to 11.15a.m and 2.30p.m-6.30p.m, after the first exam was over I got a call from VFS-Germany center informing me that my visa approval letter arrived and that I should collect the same. When inquired what was the earliest date I could get if I have to book a second personal appointment, I was informed that it was 3rd September, which is the day I’ve my flight scheduled. I requested if a slot on that date can be blocked for me, but I was told that it’s not possible. And on top, I was fortunately or unfortunately, informed that the interview slots can be grabbed away by anyone from any of the other VFS centers as they speak. What this meant was – “JC! You better rush and book the appointment in person NOW, or else you risk rescheduling your flight”. I looked at my watch and it showed exactly 2hr 10minutes for my second exam to begin. I took a very risky call and started from my room towards VFS centre. Did I get my interview scheduled on 3rd? Did I miss my exam? (… know in my next post)