Europe is a major destination for people from different countries across the world. Whether you are looking for quality education or employment opportunities, Europe has it all. However, it is also a major tourist destination thanks to the various attractions in some of its countries. It would be a great think to get more details on all you need to know about Schengen Visa
It therefore, comes as no surprise that you are researching about or planning a trip to Europe. Chances are that you have come across the word “Schengen” in the course of your research. You probably have many questions about it including what it is and how it works. Luckily for you, this article tries as much as possible to effectively cover everything you need to know about the Schengen visa.
Brief Background on the Schengen Visa
If you are planning to travel to Europe for whatever purpose, there are several types of visas that you can get. A good example is the Schengen Visa which is also known as Europe Visa. Fortunately, with this Visa, you can visit several European countries. The Schengen Visa allows the holder to travel to and from any country within the Schengen Area.
Currently, the Schengen Area is made up of 26 participating countries. It allows you to travel freely implying that you will not be subjected to border checks. This only applies at internal Schengen borders. On the other hand, you will remain subject to border checks when crossing external borders.
Similarly, other requirements also remain in place like when getting other Visas. For instance, you are still expected to show proof of travel insurance. You also need evidence of financial means, and proof of accommodation in Europe at every entry port. You must also have a valid passport and Schengen Visa.
When to Apply for a Schengen Visa
You have a chance to apply for a Schengen Visa as early as six months before the appointed date of your intended travel. However, you should keep in mind that the latest you can apply is 15 days before the travel date. Also remember that a Schengen Visa is only a short-stay type of Visa. So, you will only be allowed to stay for a period of up to 90 days in total within 180 days.
However, it’s the embassy of the specific country of first call in the Schengen area that has the final say on how long you can stay there. If you are fortunate enough, they might allow you to stay longer though you might also be assigned less days. The Embassy also assigns the earliest date you can enter and the last date when you can leave the area.
For more explanatory details, have a look at Moving to Nordic Countries from Abroad.
Where To Get a Schengen Visa
Any country in the Schengen area can issue a Schengen Visa. This implies that you can apply for one from any of the Schengen states. According to their agreement, all the 26 Schengen states have removed every internal border. It also implies that each country’s policies on Visas are the same across the board.
It doesn’t mean that the procedures and other visa elements are the same in each country. So, don’t be surprised to find different procedures or required documents when you apply for a visa. They might differ from one Schengen state to another.
Who Needs a Schengen Visa?
All citizens from non-Schengen countries need a Schengen Visa to enter the Schengen Area. The same applies to countries without a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU. So, if you want to enter the Schengen area and your country is one, you must get the Visa. Similarly, starting from November 2023, any individual under the visa-free regime will need to apply for ETIAS.
You can get a Schengen visa when you are visiting friends or family members within the Schengen area. You can also be issued with one when you are making an official visit. Other instances where you can get one include for business, medical, or tourism/sightseeing visit. Finally, you can get it to travel for research, sports or cultural exchange programs.
Types of Schengen Visas
If you are traveling for any of the reasons listed above then you will be issued a category C visa. You can also get a Category A Schengen Visa under special circumstances. This includes if you need to transit through a Schengen state airport. Another way to classify Schengen Visas is based on the number of entries and the number of countries you can visit. Here, you get the Uniform Schengen visa and the Limited Territorial Validity visa.
Uniform Schengen Visas (USV)
A Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) allows you to travel and stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days or less within six months. You can either get a single entry USV, multiple entry USV or a double-entry USV. The former allows you to enter a Schengen state once and stay until the visa expires. The visa expires even when you leave before the 90 days.
A Double-entry USV Visa allows you to enter a Schengen country twice as long as it is still valid. However, after you leave the second time, your visa is considered expired. Finally, the Multiple-entry allows you to enter the Schengen area as many times as possible before its expiration date.
Limited territorial validity visas (LTV)
The Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visa allows you to stay within the Schengen state that issued your visa. It is often issued for international obligations or humanitarian visits. Therefore, it only allows you to move from one country to another.
Costs Involved in Schengen Visa Application
Schengen Visa application fees differ from one country to another. Similarly, it depends on whether you are an adult or a child. However, the average cost for adults is approximately 80€ while for children aged between 6 and 12 years is 45€. Once the application has been processed, you will need the receipt. Keep in mind that you will pay the application fee again if the application is rejected and you reapply.
Those who have a EU or EEA citizen family member, you can get a visa free of charge. However, it’s only applicable where you are traveling with your family member. It can also apply if you have plans to join them wherever they are traveling to.