Last month I have successfully got my Thai girlfriend a Schengen Visa to spend a full month with me in Germany (that’s where I’m writing to you today). And so I thought some of you guys might be interested in how the application process works and what to look out for.
Because it happens all the time that applications get denied and they (the relevant embassy) aren’t even obliged to tell you the exact reason for it. So better be prepared and get it all right.
First of all it’s important to know that your Thai girlfriend can apply for her Schengen Visa no earlier than 3 months before the planned arrival date. So even though you might have booked an early bird flight ticket 5 months in advance, she will need to wait until that time frame of 3 months before the departure before she can apply. But you will need some time anyway to get together all the necessary paperwork.
Schengen Visitor or Tourist Visa?
Next you need to be aware that there are two types of Schengen visas for the purpose of going on a trip. If your Thai girlfriend can show enough funds in her bank account(s) to support all expenses of the trip on her own (generally 100 Euros per day, plus accommodation) then she can apply for a tourist visa (it doesn’t work if you just send her some money as she will have to prove that she earned that money herself, see below).
And then there’s also the so called visitor visa that has the purpose of allowing Thai nationals to visit a relative, friend or acquaintance who is residing in one of the Schengen countries. This is the type of visa I have got my girlfriend as even though she earns around 15,000 Baht per month, she is currently not able to save up any money with this kind of salary that makes it possible for her to go for the tourist visa option. Not a big problem really, but you need to be aware that you take the full financial responsibility for her during the trip (by signing a Formal Obligation for Foreign Visitors, see below). But then if you’ve come this far you probably love her, don’t you?
Required Paperwork for your Thai Girlfriend’s Schengen Visa
Okay, once you have decided when to travel and which type of visa to go for it’s time to prepare all the documents. I think it’s a good idea to present you the full list of required paperwork first and then go into some of them in more detail. The list is very similar for both the visitor and tourist visa and so I have highlighted the differences in color:
- valid passport with at least 2 empty pages and valid for at least another 3 months after the trip
- previous passports (only if applicable)
- 2 biometric passport photos (35x45mm)
- completed application form for Schengen Visa (you would fill in all your details online via videx and then print it out and sign it)
- signed form called “Information provided to applicants pursuant to Section 54 (2) 8 in conjunction with Section 53 of the Residence Act)“
- travel health insurance for the complete duration of the stay with a limit of liability of at least 30,000 Euros and including a repatriation for medical reasons
- formal obligation for foreign visitors from the inviter (this could be either yourself or anyone residing in the Schengen country you plan visiting with your Thai girlfriend, like a family member – as long as you can provide a proof of financial means for travel and subsistence, see below for more detailed information)
- copy of the passport of the inviter of your Thai girlfriend
- proof of willingness to return and rootedness in Thailand (including house registration – Tabien Baan, own national Thai ID card, national Thai ID card of parents, employment contract, student certificate, bank statements – the more the better)
- return flight ticket and reservation confirmations of hotels for the complete duration of the stay
- confirmation of holiday from the employer (if applicable)
- proof of financial means for travel and subsistence (bank statements of the last 3 months showing a regular income)
Documents illustrated in blue color are required exclusively for the visitor visa while documents illustrated in green color are required exclusively for the tourist visa. All other documents are required for either type of visa.
Even though I will try to keep this list up to date (just check at the very top of the post) you should obviously double check the list of the required documents on the relevant embassy/consulate you are planning to apply for the visa. And what’s also quite important is to have the documents in the correct order. For instructions on how the German Embassy in Bangkok expects you to have it sorted, have a look at their info pdf.
Note to the Formal Obligation: It has the purpose to officially invite a Thai national to your residence in a Schengen country and take all financial responsibility for her (or him). This one you will need to get at the embassy/consulate in advance (before the day of the application) and the following documents are required:
- Valid passport + copy
- Proof of your first domicile being in Thailand (e.g. residence or work permit, non-immigrant visa, Thai domicile stated in passport)
- Copy of passport of the Thai girl you want to invite
- Proof of funds (note that only one bank statement is generally not enough!)
- Fee of 1,000 Baht
Alternatively you can also get the formal obligation at a Foreigner’s Registration Office in the Schengen Country itself. Like you could ask your brother or dad to do it (but then he would be the inviter instead of you) and send it via post mail (don’t forget the passport copy of the inviter).
Once you have all documents ready it is time to book an appointment at the relevant embassy/consulate. Note that the waiting time can be quite long – in our case all dates and times for the following 19 days were taken, so we had to wait almost 3 weeks until we could hand in her application. They will send you a confirmation email of the appointment that you should print out and bring with you and also recommend to appear 15 minutes before the appointment time (German embassy).
How to make the Schengen Visa Application a Successful One
There are two factors that decide whether your Thai girlfriend is granted the Schengen Visa or not. First you need to provide all the documents listed above. And second it’s about the impression she makes on the Thai official at the embassy/consulate handling your application.
Therefore make sure that your girlfriend dresses appropriately (like long sleeved shirt, trousers), if she’s a student then she should wear her uniform.
While handing in her application the Thai official in charge will go through all papers very carefully and ask your girlfriend several questions that’s really like an interview. Some of the questions she has been asked in our case:
- What date do you intend to travel?
- Where will you be staying?
- Do you have plans to travel to other countries?
- What’s the name of your boyfriend?
- How old is he?
- How long have you been together?
- Where have you first met?
- What is his profession?
- Which language do you use to communicate?
- Do you have plans to study German? (hopefully she has)
- Do you have plans to marry? (she better says “not yet”)
- Where do you currently work/study?
- What is the name of your workplace/college/university?
The above questions are typical for the application of a visitor visa. If your girlfriend applies for a tourist visa, means she provides proof of her own funds, then there will generally be less questions on her marital status and more about her profession as they check where the funds are coming from.
Remember that the two most important things for the Schengen Visa application to be successful are the proof of the necessary funds (which is ensured by the formal obligation for the visitor visa) as well as the certainty that the Thai applicant is going to return to Thailand afterwards. This is what the whole interview part is about, for them to (double) check that everything is alright.
We have even printed two photos on A4 paper of us on the Chao Phraya Riverboat together with my dad, sister and husband who visited us earlier this year and in front of a Tuk Tuk at the hotel with all of us to additionally make our application trustworthy (we are staying at my dad’s house, after all). It’s not compulsory to hand in photos, but it can help and make a good impression. We even included the return flight ticket which she didn’t want (required only for the tourist visa) but she did keep the photos.
The checking of documents and interview took 10-12 minutes in our case, then she asked her if she would like to come back in person to pick up the passport or have it send via post mail (we chose the latter one). Then we had to pay the visa application and EMS postage fee at different counters and after that go back to hand her the receipts.
You know the end of the story – 4 working days later (6 days if you include the weekend) we received the parcel and were overjoyed by finding the visa in my girlfriend’s passport.
The Cost for the Schengen Visa Application
- Visa application fee: 2,400 Baht
- EMS postage fee for sending the passport back to your address (optional): 130 Baht
- Travel health insurance: 2,007 Baht (in her case with AXA Thailand and a 25 days stay)
- Formal obligation: 1,000 Baht
- Total Cost: 5,537 Baht
In our case it took just 4 working days from the date of application until we received the parcel with the passport and visa in it along with a notice that the visa doesn’t guarantee the entrance and that we should carry the travel health insurance as well as the formal obligation with us when going through immigration in Germany.
A Final Tip
Both the Schengen Visitor and Tourist Visa can be valid up to 90 days and they will issue it for the exact period of time you state in your application. If it’s your first time applying for a Schengen Visa for your Thai girlfriend then I would strongly recommend you to choose a stay of not more than 2 months. In our case we played it safe and just asked for 25 days and the application process was more or less relaxed and smooth.
I wish you good luck and I will keep the information on this page up to date in the future.