It’s tempting to take a train from London to Paris in less than three hours. However, as smooth and simple as the journey may be, the visa formalities are quite the opposite.
With Schengen visa appointment wait times of weeks or even months, it’s difficult to obtain both visas in time for your trip.
The simplest solution appears to be to stick to one location, but what if we told you there’s a way around this? Nihal Daswani of EASA, a business that provides end-to-end visa solutions, offers some advice. His most crucial piece of advise is to begin with a UK visa application. This is why.
1. You can opt to keep your passport when applying for a UK visa
You can choose the “keep your passport service” while applying for a UK visa. Your passport will be returned to you once you have completed the biometrics and filed your visa application at the UK visa center. For an extra £36 cost, you can keep your passport until the UK embassy makes a decision and tells you.
This is useful, especially if you want to apply for a visa to another nation. Daswani recommends finishing the UK immigration procedure completely if you have several months to spare. However, if you have a few weeks, he recommends preserving your passport and applying to a Schengen country that gives appointments in a matter of days, such as Sweden.
2. UK visa appointments are easily available
Another reason to apply for a UK visa first is that appointments, unlike Schengen visa appointments, are frequently available within a day or two, according to Daswani. Even while summer travel is winding down and appointment wait times are decreasing, there are a few exceptions, such as Greece, which can take up to seven to eight weeks to get a visa once you have an appointment.
3. UK visas are likely to process faster
According to the official website, the processing time for a UK visa is three weeks. Daswani, on the other hand, claims that most client visas are processed within 10 days. “Schengen visas may take longer depending on the country.” However, in certain situations, they may arrive in less than five days. Consult your agent, and if he notices a pattern of early grants, opt for ‘the maintain your passport service.”
If you need to apply for a Schengen visa quickly, you can expedite your UK visa application. A priority visa costs £230 and is processed in 5-7 working days; a super-priority visa costs £990 and is handled in 1-2 working days.
4. UK visa officers do not require an itinerary
You are not needed to plan any travel for a UK visa before a decision is reached on your application, so it is better to get it out of the way before moving on to a Schengen visa. If you intend to go to a Schengen nation via the UK, you must give your itinerary (including your ticket and hotel reservations) as well as a UK visa. “If you are short on time, you can always apply for a Schengen visa with proof of your UK visa application,” Daswani suggests.