My Schengen visa has been refused. What are my options? (Part 1)

Acheampong & Associates

Acheampong & Associates

Expert immigration, corporate, and family law firm in Ghana with a client-centered approach, established in 2015.

If you are refused a Schengen visa, you may have certain options to consider. Regardless of the reason for refusal, your options may be broadly similar. In general, you may have three options. These are

  1. To appeal the refusal
  2. To apply for a review of the refusal. 
  3. To make a reapplication for the visa.

The right to appeal a Schengen visa is provided by law. It is written in the notice of refusal, and all applicants get it, no matter why they were turned down. It is called an “appeal” in Article 32(3) of the Schengen Visa Code, which says the following:

“Applicants who have been refused a visa shall have the right to appeal.” “Appeals must be made to the Member State that made the final decision on the application and must follow that Member State’s national law.”

Procedure for lodging an appeal

The right of appeal is fundamental and provided for by law. Any person refused a Schengen visa has the right to appeal the decision. But your right to appeal is based on how the member state that denied your visa does things. This would be the case if the member state only represented the country you wished to visit. For example, the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana accepts applications for Schengen visas from Ghanaian residents travelling to Portugal, Poland, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Hungary, and Lithuania.

If the Dutch Embassy refuses In all cases, the notice of refusal will tell you where to send your appeal and how long you have to do it. If you apply to any of these countries, the appeal will be handled according to Dutch law. In all cases, the notice of refusal will tell you where to send your appeal and how long you have to do it. 

You may file the appeal either by yourself or through an authorized representative. If you decide to use a representative, you must sign a letter authorizing the representative to act on your behalf. The mandate must also say that they have your permission to accept and send all mail on your behalf.

In every case, the appeal letter needs to be signed and backed up by any other proof or information. The appeal must state your name, date of birth, and the refusal reference number. 

What to consider before making an appeal

One of the major considerations is time. Appeals generally take a longer time to be determined, usually within 12 weeks. If the purpose of your visit is time-sensitive, like attending a wedding, a business conference or meeting, or any other purpose for which time is of the essence, an appeal may not be the best option. 

Another consideration is having a valid basis to appeal the decision. Having the right to appeal does not mean your appeal would be successful if you decided to pursue it. You must have valid grounds to dispute the decision. Saying that the decision is unfair without pointing out any mistakes the consular officer made with facts or the law wouldn’t be enough to change their mind. You must identify facts that undermine the consulate’s decision to refuse your visa.

In many situations, you may be able to give extra proof that wasn’t part of your original application. This presents an opportunity for you to amplify your case with further evidence. For example, if the consulate decides that your relationship with your host is not backed up by enough paperwork, you may be able to get around the refusal by showing more proof. You can show that the relationship exists by sending photos, call logs, messages, greeting cards, remittances, or statements from third parties, among other things.

During the process of deciding the appeal, the person in charge of the appeal may ask you to give more evidence or explain certain parts of the appeal. Usually, the request notice would say how long you have to send in the needed information and how you should do it. You must promptly provide the evidence if it is available. If, for some reason, you are unable to provide the requested information, you must state the reasons why you are unable to do so and provide alternative or secondary evidence, if possible.

How long will it take for my appeal to be decided?

An appeal usually takes several weeks to be determined. The length of time is determined by the national law of the member state deciding the appeal. There is, therefore, no fixed period for all appeals.  An appeal is therefore not advisable if your reason for visiting is time bound or based on an immediate, pressing purpose. You may request a review or make a reapplication in such a case.

What happens if my appeal is successful?

If your appeal is successful, you will be notified via written notice. The decision may specify conditions for the issuance of a visa. If you don’t meet the requirements by the date given, you won’t get a visa. Some conditions may include that you present a confirmed return air ticket, valid travel medical insurance, a travel itinerary, or a new document specifying the purpose of the journey. As a condition for getting a visa, you may also have to show a certain document.

What happens if my appeal is unsuccessful?

If your appeal is turned down, you will get a letter telling you what happened. You would often be told about other options you might want to look into. This may include the option to appeal to or petition a higher authority. The decision will tell you where to send a second appeal and how long you have to do it.


Another option to consider for a refusal of a Schengen visa is to apply for a review, or what the Germans call a remonstrance. You may have the right to apply for a review or a remonstrance only when the national law of the member State allows it. If this option is allowed, it would be stated in the refusal notice. 

Usually, an option for a review is stated as an addition to an appeal. In the letter, it will say that you have a certain amount of time to either ask for a review or appeal. You cannot apply for a review and appeal at the same time. You may opt for one. However, you may have the right to a further appeal if your application for a review is unsuccessful.  

What is a review?

A review simply means a request to the consulate to reconsider its decision to refuse your visa on the basis of new representations, information, or evidence. If you have new evidence or information that may enhance your case, you must attach it and explain its relevance to your case.

For example, Section 82 of the German Residence Act states that an applicant “may put forward his or her interests and any circumstances in his or her favour which are not evident or known, specifying verifiable circumstances, and to produce forthwith the necessary evidence relating to his or her personal situation.” This means that a person who wants to apply has the chance to give any relevant information, document, or proof to help their case. If you have new evidence or information that may enhance your case, you must attach it and explain its relevance to your case.

After you send in your request for a review, a different officer will look at your arguments and any supporting evidence to decide if you have made a case for the original decision to be changed. 

What is the procedure for making a review?

A review need not take any particular form. It may be handwritten or typed and sent personally, by post, or by email. For example, Section 10 of the German Administrative Act states that administrative procedure must not be tied to form. It states that:

“The administrative procedure shall not be tied to specific forms when no legal provisions exist which specifically govern procedural form. It shall be carried out in an uncomplicated, appropriate and timely fashion.”

However, the review letter must state your full name, date of birth, passport number, date of refusal, and the refusal reference. It must also state your full return address and/or email. You may also include a copy of the biodata page of your passport since certain Embassies require this. The letter must be personally signed by you. If you use a representative, you must attach a signed letter authorizing the representative to act on your behalf.

The refusal notice will specify the period within which the review must be submitted, and the place where it must be lodged. There is no fee for submitting a remonstrance.

The outcome of a review

There is generally no fixed period for deciding a remonstrance. A decision may take up to several weeks. The period is usually determined by the internal procedure of the consulate and differs from one consulate to another. In reviewing the decision, the consulate may maintain or reverse the original decision. If the consulate maintains the original decision, they will provide a written decision for doing so. 

You would usually have the right to appeal the review decision. If you decide to appeal the remonstrance decision, you must lodge your appeal with the appropriate authority in the Member State. The decision will specify where you must lodge your appeal and the period within which you may do so.

If the review is successful, the consulate would usually contact you via phone call or email to confirm that they have approved your review application. They will inform you to submit your passport for a visa to be issued. They may specify certain conditions which may include the presentation of a return air ticket, valid travel medical insurance, a travel itinerary or a new document specifying the purpose of the journey.


The right to reapply for a visa is inherent, though this is not specifically provided for by law. The refusal notice does not also state your right to reapply for a visa. You may decide to reapply for a visa as many times as you want. There is no time limit within which you may reapply. In all cases, you must demonstrate some compelling new information or evidence to stand a chance.  

Unlike an appeal or review, you must complete a new application, book a new appointment, and pay a new visa fee. A re-application is usually the preferred option if the purpose of your visit is time conscious, for example, attending a wedding or business event. Again, if you were refused for failing to submit certain information or if a substantive document is no longer valid, such as a cancelled hotel booking, it is preferable to reapply. 


As previously discussed, the option you may wish to consider following a refusal is contingent on several factors. The decision to opt for an appeal, a remonstrance or to reapply may be influenced by several considerations. Individual circumstances differ, and therefore, you will have to assess your options to decide which option may be suitable for you.

Please complete the form below to request a call or text back from one of our legal experts.


Don't Leave Yet

Have you requested a free call back from us. If You haven't click the button below to request a call back so we discuss how we can help you.