USA and the UK
- What is the Schengen visa?
- What countries are in the Schengen area?
- Do U.S. citizens need a Schengen visa to travel to Europe?
- What are the different types of Schengen visas?
- What is the National Visa?
- Schengen Visas According to Travel
- What are the documents required for a Schengen visa?
- What employment-related documents do I need to submit for a Schengen visa?
- What is the application process for a Schengen visa?
- Where do you apply for a Schengen visa in the United States?
- What is the processing time for a Schengen visa?
- What are the fees for a Schengen visa?
What is the Schengen Visa?
The Schengen Visa is a short stay visa for travel in the European Schengen Area. The Schengen area includes 26 counties (or ‘Schengen Member States’) that have agreed to a common visa policy for the purpose of travel without border controls.
Citizens from countries who are not a member of the Schengen Area or whose country does not have a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the European Union (EU) need a Schengen visa in order to enter Schengen countries.
This visa is valid for a short-term stay of 90 days in a Schengen country for any 180 day period as well as airport transit (aka, an airport transit visa) through Schengen member states.
What countries are in the Schengen area?
The Schengen area is comprised of the following 26 countries:
The Schengen Visa will allow travel to the countries as well as non-Schengen member states such as:
|Albania||Antigua and Barbuda||Belarus|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||Bulgaria||Colombia|
|Montenegro||Romania||Sao Tome and Principe|
Do U.S. citizens need a Schengen visa to travel to Europe?
U.S. citizens who have a valid passport do not need to apply for a Schengen visa if they would like to visit Europe for tourism or business as long as their short-term stay is less than 90 days. However, U.S. permanent residents, or those with a U.S. green card) must apply for a Schengen visa if:
- You are a foreign passport holder from a country that has not established a visa-free regime with the European Union
- You are a foreign passport holder from a country that has established a visa-free regime with the European Union but was previously denied entry into Schengen countries
Those who hold dual citizenship can travel to the Schengen Area without a Schengen visa if one of their passports is from a country that has established a visa-free regime with the European Union.
What are the different types of Schengen visas?
There are 3 types of Schengen visas: the Uniform Schengen Visa (USV), the Limited Territorial Validity Visa (LTV), and the National Visa (NV).
The Limited Territorial Validity Visa only allows for the visa-holder to travel within a specific Schengen state and without travel to another Schengen country. Usually, this type of visa is issued for humanitarian reasons or other exceptional circumstances.
The Uniform Schengen Visa allows for the visa-holder to travel and stay all throughout the Schengen area for up to 90 days for every 180-day period. There are 3 types of Uniform Schengen visas which are as follows:
- Single-entry visa (This allows only 1 entrance into a Schengen country where you can stay until the visa expires. If you decide to leave before the visa expires, you will not be permitted to re-enter)
- Double-entry visa (This allows you to enter a Schengen country twice within the time that the visa is valid. If you leave for a second time while the visa is valid, you will not be permitted to enter a Schengen country a third time)
- Multiple-entry visa (This allows for multiple entries to Schengen countries as long as you have a valid Schengen visa)
What is the National Visa?
The National Visa is granted to individuals who would like to study or work in one of the Schengen countries for a fixed period of time. Normally, the National Visa comes as a single-entry visa meant for the purposes of completing work or study in one country. However, a multiple entry visa can be granted to the following:
- An international student with a full course of studies in one of the Schengen countries
- An employee at a higher education institution or research center in any of the Schengen countries
- A sportsman, artist, or any other professional of its kind with the purpose of sharing its expertise by traveling in and out of the Schengen countries
- Those persons affected by an emergency such as a medical condition that prevents the individual leave the Schengen country at the designated time frame.
Schengen Visas According to Travel
If you need to apply for a Schengen visa, you should first determine which type of visa you will need for your travel. Those who are applying from the United States can choose from the following types of Schengen visas:
- Tourist Schengen visa (For the purposes of sightseeing and visiting Europe for pleasure)
- Airport Transit Schengen visa (This airport transit visa will allow entrance into the Schengen Area for the purposes of changing their means of transport but not entering the Schengen country, ex. Changing flights at an international airport)
- Transit Schengen visa (This visa is mostly for foreign seafarers who need to stop for very short periods of time at seaports of Schengen states)
- Business Schengen visa (for the purposes of doing business in the European Union)
- Visitor Schengen visa (if you would like to visit family members or friends who are legally residing in a Schengen country)
- Cultural Schengen visa (for those who would like to travel to Europe in order to facilitate or participate in work for a cultural, sports-related, or religious event. This visa is also available for film crews.)
- Official Visit Schengen Visa– (for the purposes of official duty)
- Medical treatment Schengen visa (For those traveling to a Schengen country for the purposes of seeking medical care)
- Study Purposes Schengen Visa – (For those looking to study at any educational institution for a period no longer than 90 days)
What are the documents required for a Schengen visa?
If you would like to apply for a Schengen visa from the United States, you will need to submit the following documents:
- Schengen Visa application form (You will be asked to print this form twice and sign both copies)
- A valid passport or valid travel document (Your passport must have been issued within the past 10 years, have 2 full blank pages, and is valid for three months after the date you leave Europe)
- Your US residence permit (green card or valid U.S. residence visa)
- 2 photos (these must be taken within the last 90 days and meet the Schengen visa requirements)
- A cover letter stating the reasons for travel, the countries that you will visit, the amount of time you plan to spend in each of them and any other details relevant to your trip
- Round-trip Flight Itinerary from the U.S. (If you are taking any other flights within Europe, you will also need to provide those as well)
- Proof of accommodation in Europe such as a hotel booking, a rental agreement, an invitation from your host family, etc)
- Evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself financially while in Europe (ex. Bank statements, letter of sponsorship, etc)
- Proof of purchase of Schengen Travel Health Insurance (you must purchase travel health insurance that covers the Schengen Area territory and has a minimum coverage of €30,000 and covers any medical emergencies or repatriation to the U.S. in case of death)
It should be noted that your U.S. residence permit or visa should be valid at least 90 days beyond the intended departure from the Schengen Area.
As part of the Schengen Visa application, you will need to submit additional employment-related documents. The type of documents that you will need to submit will depend on your employment status.
U.S. employees will need to submit:
- Employment contract
- Current bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Leave permission from the employer
- Income Tax Return (ITR) form or Certificate of Income Tax deducted at the source of salary
Those who are self-employed will need to submit:
- A copy of your business license
- Company bank statement of the latest 6 months
- Income Tax Return (ITR)
Foreign students who are on F1 visas will need to submit:
- A valid I-20
- Reference letter from the educational institution (school/college/university) stating that you are in good standing academically, what your major is and the expected date of your graduation.
Those who are retired will need to submit:
- A Pension statement from the last 6 months
If you are unemployed and married to a citizen from the European Union, you will need to submit:
- A recent (less than 90 days old) Confirmation of Employment letter from your spouse’s employer stating the position held within the company as well as the starting date
- Your Spouse’s valid passport
- An official marriage certificate
Children who are underage will need to submit:
- Original birth certificate
- Signed travel consent from both parents
- If one parent is not located in the United States then they should submit their signed consent to the Embassy/Consulate of their residing country
What is the application process for a Schengen visa?
Applying for a Schengen visa from the U.S. is similar to any other visa application process in that you need to follow a series of steps to apply. These application steps are as follows:
- Determine which type of Schengen visa you need. (ex. Single entry visa or multiple entry visa, tourism visa or business visa)
- Determine where you need to apply for a Schengen visa in the U.S. In order to do this, you will need to apply at the Embassy or Consulate of the country whose jurisdiction you will fall under.
- Fill out the Schengen Visa Application Form. This form is free and can be found online.
- Decide when to apply for a Schengen visa. It is usually recommended that you apply at least 3 weeks prior to your trip.
- Gather all of the required Schengen visa documents.
- Book and attend an interview at the Schengen visa application center.
- Pay the visa fee.
After the interview, you will usually receive a response within 15 days. If approved, you will receive your valid Schengen visa and will therefore be free to travel to Europe.
Where do you apply for a Schengen visa in the United States?
Where you apply for a Schengen visa will depend on a number of factors such as the purpose of your visit and the length of your visit in each Schengen country.
If you are visiting only one Schengen country then you will need to apply for a visa at the Embassy or Consulate of that particular country.
If you are visiting more than one country then you will need to apply for a Schengen visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country where you will spend the most amount of time in.
If you are visiting multiple Schengen countries and spending an equal amount of time in each, then you will need to apply for a multiple entry visa at the Embassy or Consulate of the country where you will first enter.
What is the processing time for a Schengen visa?
If you would like to travel to Europe and need a Schengen visa, then you will need to apply and make an appointment at least 15 days before your intended journey. This is the latest you can apply although it is recommended that you apply for a Schengen visa at least 3 weeks before your trip. If you would like to apply earlier, you can apply for a Schengen visa 3 months prior to your departure for Europe.
It usually takes about 10 days for your application to be processed. This may take longer if you apply during the peak summer season where embassies usually receive a lot of applications for Schengen visas and the waiting time for a response is closer to a month.
What are the fees for a Schengen visa?
If you would like to apply for a Schengen visa, you will need to pay the necessary visa fees. The cost of the visa is relatively straight-forward and are as follows:
- Adults (older than 12 years old): $70
- Children (6-12 years old): $41
- Children under 6 years old: $0
People traveling for official purposes with a service or diplomatic passport are exempt from Schengen visa fees as well as family members of European Union or European Economic Area nationals, students traveling with their teachers on school trips, and researchers traveling for the purposes of performing research.
It should be noted that if your Schengen visa is denied or if you decide to withdraw your application, you will not receive a refund.
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You are eligible to stay in the Schengen member states for a maximum of 90 days for every 180 day period with the Schengen visa. However, authorities will sometimes issue visas for shorter or longer times depending on what they determine to be reasonable for your travel including the earliest date you can enter and the last date when you can leave.
If you would like to stay for more than 90 days, you may be eligible for a Schengen National Visa which will allow you to stay longer than 90 days in the European Union for the purposes of work or study.
If your visa application is denied, you will receive a letter from the embassy or consulate stating the reasons why it was refused. If the problems are fixable, you can simply reapply after you have corrected the mistakes.
If you are unable to reapply for a Schengen visa, you may choose to appeal the decision by writing a visa rejection appeal letter.
If you are a U.S. permanent resident who is not sure if you need a visa to travel to Europe, our advisers are happy to advise you and answer any questions you may have.
One of our immigration lawyers will advise you on whether you need to apply for a Schengen Visa and guide you through the visa application process if needed. This includes assisting you with your visa application form and supporting documents.
If you need to transit to the Schengen Area, we can also advise you on the best Transit Visa to apply for based on your circumstances.