After a long wait, of over five months for my Schengen visa, I finally got my appointment and visited VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) Global visa office on 3 November 2022.
I went to the VFS office with the hope that this time, at least, something fruitful would happen. Unfortunately, that was not the case again, as there was still so much uncertainty regarding our visas.
I am an incoming master's student, from Delhi, at FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany. I got my admission on 23 June 2022 and applied for a visa on 11 July 2022, after my loan was sanctioned to study abroad. I’ve been on the waitlist ever since.
Recently, the German Embassy in India stated that starting 1 November 2022, Indian students will have to include a certificate from the Academic Evaluation Centre (APS). The applications have been open since 1 October, this year.
My appointment was around 11 am. I reached half-an-hour early around 10:30 am. The visa office was quite empty. There were only five-six students.
The person behind the desk asked me to fill out a questionnaire about my course and why I wanted to study this particular course. I filled it up and submitted the form.
I was the first student with an APS certificate there. So, the person behind the counter had very little knowledge about it. I was asked to wait for a bit, and eventually I had to wait for around four hours.
After four hours of waiting, I was asked to do my biometrics which took another four hours. It was not very different from a normal visa process, I'd say. I wasn't asked to do anything extra except provide the APS certificate.
What is APS Certificate?
APS certificate checks the authenticity of educational biographies and the corresponding educational certificates and issues certificates if the result is positive.
Coming to the APS certificate, the processing fee for it is around Rs 18,000, in which, they verify your educational background such as 10th, 12th, Bachelor's, Master's, and other degrees.
It's a new process and even the employees at the VFS office were not sure of the process.
Earlier, we could drop off the documents at their office, now we were asked to courier them. Several students, still, haven't received their APS certificate.
It is also quite expensive. Verification of documents is a simple process and we shouldn't be charged so much for it.
'Took Educational Loans, Stuck with Online Classes'
My university is being very cooperative and they are providing us with online classes but they have a very strict rule about exams.
Recently, we received a notice from the university that there wouldn't be online classes after 28 November 2022. If we want to continue with the course, we'll have to mail them regarding the same.
My GPA depends on the final exam results. I have been studying online for the last three years but my experience has not been good.
Personally, it has been affecting my mental health, a lot. It takes at least, one month or so, to settle in a new country and the visa process has already taken so long. I am already way behind students who have been attending offline classes.
Apart from that, I have already taken educational loan for my studies. My main expense is of the blocked account, you’ve to block money in a German bank account, which is roughly 10,500 Euros, that will last you a year there. I’ve taken a loan for the same. I’ve already started paying it’s EMI without even utilising the funds.
I have no idea when to book my flight and booking them last minute will burn a hole in my pocket.
'I Have No Plan B'
By the time we reach there, it will be exam season. God forbid, if I get rejected, I don't even have a plan B and that's what scares me.
My main concern would be paying off my student loan. If I have to pay the loan without getting a degree, it will be a big financial loss to my family.
In the worst case scenario, I will re-apply next year. Many students have already deferred their admissions to next year because the universities made it clear to them that they had to be there before a certain time. I hope this time, I get my visa and can start attending my classes in person.
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