To qualify for a Schengen visa, you must generally establish three things. One, you must justify the purpose and condition of your stay in the Schengen country. Two, you must show that you have the intention to depart before the expiry of your visa. Three, you must show that you have sufficient means of subsistence for your visit. Though there are other requirements, these three account frequently for most visa refusals.
Justify the purpose and condition of your stay
You must provide documents showing the purpose and condition of your stay. If you are visiting as a tourist, you must provide information detailing your plans for the visit. These should include a travel itinerary, hotel and flight booking, etc. However, the production of documents alone is not sufficient. You must explain your purpose well at the interview with clear knowledge about your plans for the visit. You must show sufficient knowledge about any places you wish to visit, the duration of your stay, entry and departure dates, and why the Schengen country is your preferred tourist destination. You must provide your answers in a clear and coherent manner to assure the consulate that you have sound reasons for your visit.
If you visiting a family or friend, you must show that there is a genuine relationship between you and the person. Evidence may include phone records, Whattsapp, Viber, Facebook or other means of communication. You may submit money transfer receipts if you are ordinarily dependent on the person. You must show adequate knowledge about the person including the nature of the relationship, the last time you met the person, how often you communicate, and information about the person’s work, family and other personal details. Uncertainty in your answers may cause the consulate to doubt the claimed relationship.
How can you show that you will depart?
Generally, you must show that you have a stable socio-economic situation in your home country. You may prove this by your bank statements, employment letter, pay slips, business documents, etc. You may also provide ownership of real estate by title deeds, land certificates, indentures, leases, etc. You must provide these documents even if someone is paying for you.
In the case of students, the consulate would usually not expect to see a stable economic situation. However, you must prove your social or other ties as strongly as you can. You may prove your educational ties by your school fees receipts, hostel fees, academic transcripts, etc. You may obtain letters of reference from your academic heads detailing their personal opinion about your academic or other abilities as known to them. If you hold any leadership position in your school, you may provide a letter on headed paper stating your roles. If you are dependent on the person inviting you, provide evidence of the dependency.
How to show that you have sufficient means of subsistence.
Sufficient means of subsistence simply means that you have adequate funds to maintain yourself. Usually, the consulate will estimate the cost of your stay and the reliability of the financial documents you presented. If your accommodation is being provided free of charge or the cost of your stay is covered entirely or partly by your sponsor the assessment will be lower than the standard cost of living in the Schengen country.
If your sponsor provides you with a certificate of sponsorship and accommodation the consulate would usually accept that you have adequate funds to maintain yourself. However, you must provide proof of your own social and economic circumstances even if someone is paying for you. The reason is that even if the consulate accepts that someone is paying for you that is no proof that you will depart the territory.
The Schengen visa is both a documentary and interview based application. Do not rely on your documents alone to prove your eligibility. If you provide the most convincing set of documents but fail to confirm their contents with sound explanation at your interview, the consulate will be less likely to grant you a visa.