One of the most common questions we get from our readers is, “Can I apply for a Schengen Visa if I am unemployed?”.
The short answer is that it’s possible.
You can apply for a Schengen Visa even if you are unemployed.
Schengen Visas are not exclusively for employed applicants or those with businesses.
But let’s be frank here; if you are unable to cover your travel expenses yourself or don’t have a stable stream of income, there are a few challenges you need to tackle.
However, you don’t have to worry about that.
Want to know how to submit a successful Schengen Visa application even if you do not have a paid job or the financial ability to cover the costs of travelling to Europe?
Then look no further since we have it all here.
Note: This post does not include applicants who are currently studying. If you are a student and want to apply for a Schengen Visa, please check out this post.
Table of contents:
- Schengen Visa requirements for unemployed applicants
- 3 effective tips for unemployed Schengen Visa applicants
1. Schengen Visa Requirements for Unemployed Applicants
When applying for a Schengen Visa, you must show you have enough money to travel and cover the expenses for each day spent within the Schengen Area.
This is because the Embassy officers want to ensure you have enough means of subsistence to reside abroad so that you won’t be a burden to the countries you will be travelling to.
But how can you prove you have the financial ability to travel and reside abroad if you do not get regular income?
Article 21 (5) of the Schengen Visa Code states that “proof of sponsorship and/or private accommodation may also constitute evidence of sufficient means of subsistence.”
This means that someone else can sponsor your trip and cover all of your travel expenses.
In that case, you can show proof of financial means by submitting:
- Your sponsor’s bank statements for the last 6 months.
- A sponsorship letter written and signed by your sponsor stating that they will be covering all of your travel expenses.
- A copy of your sponsor’s ID or passport (we highly recommend you submit a certified copy of their ID or passport).
- Documents proving your degree of kinship or relationship (e.g., if your parents sponsor your trip, you can submit your birth certificate including your parents’ names).
- Some Embassies may also require additional documents proving your sponsor’s employment status, such as their payslips for the last 6 months or Certificate of Employment (COE). Or, if your sponsor is running a business, you may need to submit documents such as their company registration certificate or business income certificates.
- If your sponsor is living in Europe, some Embassies may require you to submit proof of address of your sponsor (e.g., property deed, rental agreement, etc.) and a copy of the residence permit of your sponsor (if applicable). These documents are mandatory for all Embassies if your sponsor also provides you with accommodation – meaning that you will be staying at your sponsor’s house during your trip.
Note: If you are unemployed and plan on travelling using your personal savings, you must submit your bank statements for the last 6 months.
You can also submit proof of your income from unemployment benefits – if applicable to your situation.
Be sure to also check the complete list of Schengen Visa required documents you must submit (along with the documents proving your means of subsistence).
Now that you’ve got a grasp of the Schengen Visa requirements for unemployed applicants, let’s have a look at the challenges you may tackle when submitting your application and the best practices to overcome them.
2. 3 Effective Tips for Unemployed Schengen Visa Applicants
Getting a Schengen Visa if you are unemployed is possible, but you need to convince the Embassy officers of your genuine intentions to return home without overstaying your Visa.
Remember, the Embassy officers’ main duty is to prevent irregular migration and ensure all travellers holding a Schengen Visa will return to their countries of residence.
So, if you are unemployed, they may think you want to travel to seek employment in Europe.
This is because it is illegal to work in Europe if you hold a tourist visa. At the same time, it is not possible to convert a visitor visa into a work visa.
To legally work in Europe, you must return to your country of residence, then apply for a long-stay work visa while proving you will be legally employed in Europe.
So, if you are unemployed, here are the best ways to prove that you are a genuine visitor and you won’t stay or work illegally in Europe:
- Prove your intent to return home
As we have previously shared, your deep-rootedness in your country of residence is one of the very important requirements you must meet for a successful Schengen Visa application.
Even if you do not have a paid job (that is typically considered a strong proof of rootedness), there are a few ways you can show your clear intention to return home.
For example, you can prove your family ties by submitting your marriage certificate or the birth certificates of your children. Or, you can prove you have dependents who you are taking care of (e.g., elderly parents).
Or, you can prove your regular participation in worthwhile activities (e.g, volunteering) that help you build social bonds and strong ties to your home country.
You are allowed to ask the Embassy officers for any documents they might want from you to prove your deep ties in your country.
If you’re unsure which documents to submit to prove your rootedness, we have written a comprehensive guide on how to prove intent to return home (click here to read it).
- Write a compelling cover letter
If you are unemployed, one document that can explain your situation is your cover letter addressed to the Embassy officers.
Here, you can explain the reasons why you are currently unemployed. For example, you are a recent graduate and want to enjoy an unforgettable trip to Europe before entering the labour market.
Or, you are a homemaker and your spouse is working full-time. Or, you may want to take time off between jobs.
No matter your reason for unemployment, be sure to outline your travel purpose and genuine intent to return home.
You can also provide additional information concerning your funds – e.g., the relationship you have with your sponsor, how you saved money, etc.
- Prepare for the Schengen Visa interview
Your Schengen Visa interview is a meeting where you submit your supporting documents and answer a set of related questions.
During the interview, the Embassy officers are likely to ask you questions around the circumstances of your unemployment, how you are able to fund your trip, and why you will be returning to your country of residence.
Be sure to answer truthfully and only provide answers that are consistent with your supporting documents.
Do not provide too short or vague responses. Be sure to elaborate on each of your answers and give a complete picture of your situation.
For example, if the Visa officers ask you, “Why are you currently unemployed?”, do not answer “I quit my job”.
It’s too vague, and chances are you will need to answer another series of related questions.
Instead, say, “I quit my job after three years. I feel like I’m ready to take on more responsibility and I need a change of environment to motivate me. However, before looking for another job in my country, I think I deserve a holiday. So, I’ve decided to take time off between jobs to visit Europe for the first time.”
Conclusion: Getting a Schengen Visa if you are currently unemployed is definitely possible, provided that you meet all of the Embassy requirements.
Remember, your employment status is only one aspect that Embassies have to look at.
So, as long as you show proof of funds and strong ties to your home country, you can increase your chances of getting a Visa and travelling to Europe.
Are you unemployed and want to make your chances of approval higher? If you’re worried that your Visa will be rejected because you currently do not have a paid job, take heart! We at Visas Association are here to provide you with expert advice and help you submit the right supporting documents no matter what your personal situation is.
Get your Schengen Embassy Requirements Report (SERR) for only $7! We will provide you with a complete list of documents the Embassy expects based on your situation so that you can feel confident with your application and increase your chances of success.