Many consulates around the world require all applicants to purchase a flight ticket as part of their visa documentation requirements. For example, the French consulate in the US mentions the following as part of their visa application guidelines:
Purpose of travel/stay
- Pre-booked round-trip ticket
But why does this requirement exist in the first place? If the visa is not issued, the applicant would have to cancel their ticket (which incurs fees) or forfeit their journey altogether. Furthermore, its possible that the visa processing would take so long that the dates of travel would be long past by the time the visa is issued. This conundrum has caused numerous services to pop-up which offer fake (or semi-fake) flight reservations, as well as airlines which offer refunds in case of visa refusals.
- Is it so that the consulate knows the applicant is financially secure? This doesn't make sense as one would presumably need to buy a ticket anyway once their visa is issued or they wouldn't be able to travel.
- Is it so that the itinerary can be sanity checked? This likewise doesn't make sense as the consulate could simply ask for a list of possible flights instead of a ticket.
- Perhaps its designed to make the application more difficult and deter people from applying?
- Or maybe its a case of "we've always done it this way" and no rational explanation exists?
The purpose of this question is to understand the motivation behind the requirement to pre-purchase a ticket, which would help travellers decide how much importance to place on this part of the visa application checklist.