What makes the Schengen visa so special is that it doesn't just apply to one country. For the most part, visas are imposed by a certain country as a way to control the number of people going into their territory. But the Schengen visa is actually used by an entire continent instead, or more particularly, the European Union. All of the countries under this union are covered by this visa, which means when you've been approved for one, you can easily use it to go from one country to another. Though you will still need a base country upon which to apply for the visa to begin with.
Now, you may ask: what countries do the Schengen visa cover? Well, they include France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, and the Netherlands, among many others. Basically, all the countries under the European Union. When it was still under the EU, England was also covered by the Schengen visa. Nowadays, however, since they've departed the union, you have to undergo a different process when applying for a UK business visa.
Usually, a Schengen visa only lasts for 90 days. It's very rare for one to extend it but it is possible. In fact, they only approve motions for an extension for a limited number of reasons. One such is that you arrived at your European destination later than expected, meaning your 90 days have to be adjusted from the original schedule detailed in your visa. Another is if a natural calamity, be it in your country of origin or your European country destination, prohibits you to travel even after you 90 days are up. Whatever the reason, the process remains rigid and challenging.
So, what do you need to submit when applying for a Schengen visa? Firstly, there are the basics: current and valid passport, flight details, and travel itinerary. You'll also need to show an invitation letter written by your company (or the company that ha invited you to travel to Europe) as proof of the business nature of your trip. It will also help if you provide your accommodation details as well—it shows proof that you intend to stay in Europe for a limited time. Then there's your usual proof of financial stability and employment, which can come in the forms of bank statements and a certificate of employment respectively.
Despite its special nature, the process of applying for the Schengen visa is actually quite standard. You begin by visiting the official Schengen website or the website of a European country's embassy in your country. A general rule of thumb is, if you intend to travel throughout multiple European countries, your entry point is your base country and it's that embassy where you should apply.
For instance, if the first country of your trip is France, you apply for your Schengen visa in your country's French embassy. Once you've filled up the online application form, you schedule an appointment on when you submit it to the embassy. That's also when you pay the corresponding fees. After a couple of days, they will either call you back for an interview or simply return your passport with/without the stamp of approval.
The standard fee for a Schengen visa application is €60 EUR. However, if you're coming from other European countries not included within the union, namely nations like Russia, Georgia, Kosovo, and the like, the fee is only €35 EUR. Certain countries also add another fee for your biometrics data, and there's usually no standard price for such.
Unlike other visas out there, it's fairly doable to apply an appeal for your Schengen visa if your first application was rejected. In recent years, embassies have made a point to inform applicants of the reasons why they were rejected a Schengen visa. This, in turn, has made it possible for people to appeal the decisions and still get the Schengen visa for their trip. It's important to note, however, that just because you're appealing, it doesn't mean you're automatically going to get approved in the end. But, at least, it's a glimmer of hope for those who desperately need to to go to Europe for business.
Your ticket to the "old continent" is a Schengen visa. If you have to go to Europe for business, this is the visa you have to apply for. Fortunately, when you do get approved for one, you can use it to travel through different countries within the EU.