What should I write in occupation column on Schengen visa application if I graduated last year or I am not currently enrolled in any institution, just doing self study?

  • 2
    Unemployed is accurate :-) although not viewed particularly positively by consular officers. – Augustine of Hippo Jun 20 '17 at 21:53
  • I am suggesting to one of my sons he list himself as "retired sophomore". – Andrew Lazarus Jun 20 '17 at 22:25
  • 1
    Depending on your degree, you may write in your intended profession (e.g., engineer, economist...) and, if it asks where you work, write unemployed. – Giorgio Jun 20 '17 at 22:37
  • Where do you get your money for living? Call that your current job. – o.m. Jun 21 '17 at 5:39

Visa application forms often have a question about a person's occupation. In your case, you have finished your education but have not yet joined the work force. Other people are 'between jobs' or in some other similar circumstance where they are not earning a regular salary.

The problem arises when applicants feel that disclosing their employment circumstances in explicit terms may bring about an adverse result (i.e., a visa refusal). But on the other hand, to provide misleading or false information invites the possibility of a credibility problem (i.e., deception or bogus applicant). In the Schengen realm, this is Schengen Visa Refusal: Justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable and in the UK realm, they like to use UK visa refusal on V 4.2 a + c (and sometimes 'e')

School leavers

As a reality check, let's understand that visa decision makers are not idiots and they can quickly see an applicant's real circumstances and lifestyle based on a composite of the evidence provided. But more to the point, decision makers are also educated and went through the same period earlier in their own lives. They are also aware that the 'intermezzo' between school and serious professional employment is a great opportunity to travel and observe other cultures, probably many of them did it themselves.

So contrary to the intuitive reservations people have about disclosing their status, being a school leaver can actually help establish the applicant as a bona fide visitor. It's a great premise! And since the applicant's circumstances will be apparent to the decision maker anyway, there is nothing to be gained by trying to hide that one is between vocations. So ways to answer the 'Occupation' question might be...

  • "University Graduate"
  • "PhD Graduate (Physics)"
  • "Medical Graduate"
  • "Would-be Engineer"
  • "Would-be IT Developer"
  • "Entry level Journalist"
  • "Entry level Lawyer"
  • "Aspiring Teacher"
  • "Recent Graduate (BS in Chemistry)"
  • "Honours Graduate in Biology"

Or any other answer that accomplishes the applicant's burden of transparent disclosure. These are examples are not a complete list.

The inevitable corollary is "if I put this down, the decision-maker might think I will be seeking employment!" Yes, but this is always true and it will always be part of the applicant's burden to prove that they are a bona fide visitor. And which is preferable: a decision-maker who thinks you are being honest? Or a decision-maker who thinks you are trying to hide something?


This is a great term and its definition is...

a year spent travelling abroad, typically immediately before or after a university or college course.

We'll broaden the term to include those who are in established careers and have been working for a long time and are now taking an extended break to travel and experience other cultures.

In these cases, the 'occupation' is what you have been doing in your professional life, like "Engineer", "IT Developer", "Actress", "Administrator".

Examinations and other qualifications

There are cases where a professional qualification can only be earned in Europe. This is typified by the UK's PLAB qualification for entry-level physicians. Once again, there is nothing to be gained by attempting to obfuscate one's circumstances. The occupation can be

  • "Entry-level Physician"

Because there is a "niche, corner-case" for PLAB applicants, there is a section in UK visa refusal on V 4.2 a + c (and sometimes 'e') devoted to it. There is another corner case for those seeking to take the British Army Assessment. These people can use "Physical Fitness/Career Military Aspirant" or something similar that conveys the same meaning.


There is nothing to be gained by trying to blur one's status or circumstances and attempting to do so can actually lead to a worse result.

Miscellaneous notes and thoughts:

  • if the form asks for "Employer", the answer should be "none", or "not applicable", or something similar;
  • naive attempts to provide pretentious euphemism in ANY part of a visa application will invite credibility problems;
  • biology graduates and biology professionals need to take special care when applying for Schengen or UK visitor visas;
  • hint: in today's era it's a valid assumption that all adults will want to begin their international travel at some point. The 'magic' formula for this is to have a massively convincing answer to "why now?", or "why at this particular point in time?"
  • 1
    Which kind of special care do biologists in particular need to take that doesn't apply to other sciences (or, indeed, to other fields)? – hmakholm left over Monica Jun 21 '17 at 9:56
  • @HenningMakholm delving in to security threats is a different question than this one. In this answer it's just a note that occurred to me during composition. If it doesn't make sense you can ask a specific question about it. – Gayot Fow Jun 21 '17 at 12:24
  • From my own and anecdotal experience, for people coming from developing economies, the idea of gap year or Wanderjahr virtually does not exist and consular officers almost invariably see recent graduates without a job as a negative. – Augustine of Hippo Jun 21 '17 at 19:10
  • @PaulofOsawatomie I thought you lived in DC – Gayot Fow Jun 21 '17 at 19:47
  • You might have surmised so because I have mentioned applying for visas in DC however that's not the case. – Augustine of Hippo Jun 21 '17 at 21:03

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