What Are My Options If My Schengen Visa Has Been Rejected?
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 3 options. These are
- To appeal the refusal
- To apply for a review of the refusal.
- To make a reapplication for the visa.
- APPEAL THE REFUSAL
The right to appeal a Schengen visa is provided by law. It is provided in the notice of refusal and it is a right granted to all applicants regardless of the grounds for refusal. It is provided under Article 32(3) of the Schengen Visa Code follows:
“Applicants who have been refused a visa shall have the right to appeal. Appeals shall be conducted against the Member State that has taken the final decision on the application and in accordance with the national law of that Member State.”
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. However, the right of appeal is conducted in accordance with the Member State that refused your visa. This is 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 residents of Ghana travelling to Portugal, Poland, Luxembourg, Austria, France, Hungary and Lithuania.
If the Netherlands Embassy refused your application to any of these countries, the appeal will be conducted in accordance with the national law of the Netherlands. In all cases, the refusal notice will specify the address to which you must lodge your appeal and the time limit within which you must do so.
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 include their authority to accept and receive all correspondences on your behalf.
In all cases, the appeal letter must be signed and supported by any additional evidence 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 conscious, like attending a wedding, a business conference or a 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 of appeal does not mean your appeal would be successful if you decide to pursue it. You must have valid grounds to dispute the decision. Merely saying that the decision is unfair without pointing out any factual or legal errors made by the consular officer would not be persuasive. You must identify facts that undermine the consulate’s decision to refuse your visa.
In many cases, you may be allowed to provide additional evidence which was not part of your original application. This presents an opportunity for you to amplify your case with further evidence. For example, if the consulate decided that your claimed relationship with your host was not substantiated with adequate documentary evidence, you may overcome the refusal with further evidence. You may submit additional evidence like photos, call records, messages, greeting cards, remittances, or statements from third parties confirming the existence of the relationship.
In the course of determining the appeal, the appellate authority may require you to provide further evidence or explain certain information in the appeal. The time limit for submitting the required information and the manner for submitting them would usually be specified in the request notice. You must promptly provide the evidence if available. If for some reason, you are unable to provide the requested information, you must state 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 for it 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 would be notified via a written notice. The decision may specify conditions for the issuance of a visa. If you do not meet the conditions within the timeline specified, no visa will be issued. 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. You may also be required to provide a specific document as a condition for the grant of a visa.
What happens if my appeal is unsuccessful?
You will be notified of the outcome via a written decision if your appeal is denied. In many cases, you would be notified of other options you may wish to explore. This may include the option to appeal or petition a higher authority. The decision will specify the address to which a further appeal may be lodged and the time limit within which you may do so.
- APPLY FOR A REVIEW OR REMONSTRANCE
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. The letter will state that you may either apply for a review within a specified period or appeal within a certain period. You cannot apply for a review and appeal the same time. You may opt for one. However, you may have the right for 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 them 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 an applicant has the opportunity to provide any relevant information, document, or evidence to strengthen their case. If you have new evidence or information that may enhance your case, you must attach them and explain its relevance to your case.
After the review application is submitted, a different officer will consider your submissions along with any supporting evidence to determine whether you have made a case for the original decision to be reversed.
What is the procedure for making a review?
A review need not take any particular form. It may be handwritten or typed and may be sent personally, by post or 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.
- REAPPLY FOR A VISA
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, as 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.