Update – October 2020
As the travel restrictions, which were in place at the height of the first wave of the coronavirus crisis, have loosened over time, the German government announced that it would not extend the regulation allowing for extension of the stay of those with Schengen Visas in Germany. Schengen Visa holders were allowed to stay in Germany following the expiry of their Schengen Visa as they could not return home when the travel restrictions were in place around the world. The regulation expired on September 30th, and no country currently bans its citizens from returning from different parts of the world. This has meant that since the start of October, it has been expected that those people with expired Schengen Visas should have returned home.
However, it is not possible for everyone to return to their home countries. In such an event, where reasons prevent your return to your home country, you need to make this known. The government’s announcement removes the blanket allowance for the extension of the Schengen Visa, but cases can be examined individually. For this reason, it is advisable to contact our immigration law team to prepare the documents necessary to extend your Schengen Visa stay in Germany. Working with an experienced legal professional in preparing your application is the best chance of success.
The reasons for extension are provided later in this article and can also be found in more detail on our “Schengen Visa and its Requirements” page.
Update – June 2020
With the realities of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis still impacting travel, with Schengen Visa holders situated in Germany still facing travel bans and flying restrictions, the German government has taken action regarding Schengen Visas. Using a statutory instrument, the German government has allowed for the extension of the Schengen Visa holder’s stay in Germany. In detail, this statutory instrument states the following:
- Applicable to: Schengen Visa holders who were present in Germany on March 17 March 2020, with a valid Schengen visa or issued with a valid Schengen visa after 17 March 2020 and who have entered Germany and who are staying in the Federal territory on 30 June 2020.
- Duration: Able to remain in Germany from July until 30 September 2020 without extending the visa. In other words, those people to who this is applicable can reside in Germany until September 30th without the need to extend their Schengen Visa.
- Employment: The statutory instrument also allows for those for whom it is applicable to continue working in Germany. The employment in question is that which is allowed for by their Schengen Visa. This statutory instrument does not extend the rights of holders to other areas of employment.
- Transit: For individuals with valid visas to stay in another Schengen country (for example, France, Netherlands, Belgium etc.), it is possible to enter Germany to transit to another Schengen country (Austria, Poland, Czechia) – as long as you have a title for that other country. This allows the visa holder to stay in Germany for a maximum of three days. They should also have documents proving their intention to go to the other Schengen country.
If your case does not fit those stated here, it is strongly advised to contact our immigration team! You will need to apply for an extension of the Schengen Visa to remain in Germany legally. Make sure to contact us as soon as possible to provide you with the support you need.
Additionally, if you are unsure how these updated requirements apply to your situation, contact us directly. It is often the case that personal situations are not as straightforward as may be stated here. With this in mind, although this statutory instrument may make it seem like there is nothing that needs to be done, incorrect interpretation or complacency may lead to issues further down the line. Having written confirmation of permission to stay in Germany remains critically important in avoiding future legal problems. Therefore, if you want to avoid facing difficulties in the future, contacting an immigration law expert is recommended.
Here is an English language link to the statutory instrument concerning these changes mentioned above BAnz AT 18.06.2020 V1 (2) EN.txt.
COVID-19 and Measures Taken
COVID-19 coronavirus has now officially been declared a pandemic. It is dominating world headlines, and countries around the planet are taking steps to reduce its impact. COVID-19 coronavirus is now influencing every means of human interaction. On a macro-scale, it has hit the world stock exchange and has led to the postponement of music concerts, the release of blockbuster movies and major sporting leagues and competitions around the world. Many countries have closed schools, universities and childcare facilities. Some of the measures that countries have taken include banning travel to and from different parts of the world.
For example, the USA has prohibited travel from the Schengen Zone to the USA for foreign nationals who have been in the Schengen Zone at any point for 14 days before their arrival in the USA. Therefore, the restrictions do not apply to US citizens, the immediate family of US citizens or those with legal permanent residency in the country. Restrictions are also in place for travelling to and from China, and more restrictions may occur as the situation develops. Travellers from Italy, Iran and South Korea (particularly) face travelling restrictions, but once again, it is tough to predict how this crisis will develop.
For our clients who have come to Germany from abroad, this uncertainty can be particularly worrying. This is especially when they have arrived with a short-term Schengen / Business visa and may now need an unexpected visa extension.
Many people who come to Europe (and of course Germany), from outside of the EU bloc, do so using the Schengen Visa or the Business Visa. These visas are used for short-term visits (of less than 90 days) for reasons ranging from attending business conferences and meeting clients/partners (in the case of the Business Visa) to visiting friends and family, medical reasons and for sports events and film crews (for the Schengen Visa).
Both visas are very similar and are legislated for under § 6 German Residence Act. The same reasons apply when looking for an extension of the Business and Schengen Visas.
Valid Reasons for Extension of the Visa
It can be quite challenging in normal circumstances to avail of an extension to a Business / Schengen Visa, and they are given on a case-by-case basis. However, the current situation is not normal circumstances. Generally, four accepted grounds are supplemented by an interview. The four accepted reasons are:
- Late Entry
- Humanitarian Reasons
- Force Majeure
- Personal Reasons
The third ground listed here: “Force Majeure”, is the one of primary focus. Force majeure is a term that means “Act of God”, and it means that the situation is beyond the control of the applicant. It is disruption due to an event that the person in question could not have predicted. It is normally reserved for outbreaks of war, natural disasters or dangerous domestic situations arising when the applicant has been away from their home country.
The rapid developments around COVID-19 coronavirus could certainly fall within this definition. Air routes from the Schengen Zone to the USA closing, for example, was an event that the USA made unilaterally and could not have been predicted in advance. The sheer speed of the rate of infections and the arising developments globally are unprecedented.
Our lawyers will help your application and put forward the argument that this event is a “force majeure”. However, time may be of the essence, and to ensure the benefit of our legal expertise, it is vital to contact us in good time.
Applying for the Extension of the Visa
As this crisis develops, it is hard to predict what will happen. We do not know how long it will last and what the final impact will be. The disruption to travels could last for some time more. Therefore, it is vital to consider applying for an extension of your visa if you are in any doubt. Not extending a visa and staying beyond the deadline can result in a travel ban to the European Union. A travel ban can have a huge impact regardless of whether your visit is due to business or personal reasons.
Visas can be extended by 90 days, but the application should be submitted before the original’s expiry. If your visa is close to expiring, it cannot be stressed strongly enough that action needs to be taken!
Should you wish to apply for an extension but are sick with the virus, are in quarantine or wish to reduce social interaction, please consider contacting our legal firm. We can connect with you remotely through phone, email and video conferencing and provide all necessary assistance with the extension application. To apply for an extension, the following documents are required:
- National passport (valid and in-date),
- Proof of health insurance cover,
- Application form for the proposed extension,
- Proof that you can support yourself during the extension period.
Our lawyers will ensure that your visa extension application fulfils the requirements and that all necessary paperwork is submitted. But please make sure to contact us in good time to ensure that we can perform our services successfully.
At Schlun & Elseven, we are a full-service, comprehensive law firm in Germany with a particular focus on immigration law. We assist our clients on a range of immigration issues, including applying for an extension to their visas. COVID-19 coronavirus is impacting every area of human interaction, and it is having a massive impact on the lives of our clients.
With this in mind, it is clear that COVID-19 coronavirus will affect numerous legal fields. We have already provided advice regarding the Coronavirus and German visa applications from China, as well as COVID-19 Coronavirus and employment law. As this crisis continues, we aim to provide the legal advice people need in difficult circumstances.
If you need legal counsel concerning the impact of COVID-19 coronavirus on your immigration law issues, your business, on contracts or other legal issues, please contact us directly. Our offices are located in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen, but we have alternatives to contact from a distance. Contact us today for any legal queries you have around COVID-19 coronavirus and the issue of visa extension.