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The Schengen Visa and Germany

The Schengen Zone consists of 26 countries in Europe, including Germany (the full list is located later on this page). It is the passport-free zone within Europe and consists of most (but not all) EU member states. Schengen is the largest free-travel zone in the world. However, although Schengen may allow citizens to benefit from free travel within it, this is not the case for those outside the zone. Some countries outside the zone have special arrangements made to allow for short-term visits to be free of visa requirements, but for many others, the Schengen Visa is a requirement for visiting the zone. The legal basis for the Schengen Visa can be found here with European Regulation No 810/2009.

This page will answer how to apply for a Schengen Visa, who needs a Schengen Visa, in what countries is it valid, what are the benefits of a Schengen Visa and which Visa form is most suitable for your visit. However, if your situation requires more specialised assistance, please contact our office directly.

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Visa Type 1: The Reasons for Your Visit

When applying for the Schengen Visa, one should be aware that it requires the applicant to supply a reason for their visit. Furthermore, it is important to note that each of the different reasons for applying brings about different paperwork requirements. Here listed are the different reasons allowed for when applying:

  • Airport Transit Visa: This is a Category “A” Schengen Visa and will be explained further in the article. Additionally, the Seafarer’s Visa will also be outlined in greater detail later on in the piece.
  • Tourism: This is one of the most common reasons for availing of the Schengen Visa and used to see the sights in the member states of the Schengen Zone. When applying for the visa, for this reason, the applicant should provide a travel itinerary (with documentation concerning their accommodation) and a recent bank statement.
  • Visiting Friends and Family: The applicant has friends and/or family who are residents in the Schengen Zone and wishes to visit them. The other requirement for the Visa, the applicant should also show a letter of invitation (which may require a copy of the friend’s residence permit if they are not an EU citizen) and a travel itinerary when applying.
  • Official Visit: The Schengen Visa requirements also outlines that those on official visits should seek the Visa.
  • Medical Reasons: The applicant in question is seeking to come to the Schengen Zone to avail of medical treatment. When applying under this ground, one should also supply a letter from a doctor outlining the need for medical assistance, official confirmation of treatment by a medical institution and proof of financial means. For further information on medical treatment in Germany, please visit our page on the topic.
  • Study Purposes: The visa is also available for students who may wish to study in the Schengen Zone, whether at an educational institution, university, language school etc. However, this visa is constrained by its time limit once again, so applicants should bear this in mind when starting the course. Furthermore, when applying for the visa under this ground, one should provide proof of acceptance by the Schengen Zone educational institute and provide evidence that they can support themselves.
  • Cultural, Sports and Film Crews: in this case, the applicant is an active member of the event in question´. Therefore, this visa applies to people involved in the event’s production – so film crew members, people involved with organising a sports’ event and even artists or authors who wish to present their book/artwork in the Schengen Zone. When applying under this ground, one should know that they need to show information concerning the event itself and proof of previous performances.

Should you need more help regarding your application form and its requirements, contact our office directly. Our legal team will provide you with straightforward assistance in the matter.

Who is in the Schengen Zone?

Here is a list of all the countries that are members of the Schengen Zone. As can be seen, the zone includes most members of the European Union besides Ireland (which has an exemption) and Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia and Romania (who are set to join the Schengen Zone in the future) and some non-EU members (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

What is the Schengen Visa, and Who Needs One?

The Schengen Visa is designed for short stays in the Schengen Zone. It is valid if one plans to stay 90 days (or less) in the Schengen Zone over a 180-day period. A person should look towards other forms of residence permits and visas such as the EU Blue Card, the ICT Card, Cross-Border Residence Permits, and the Job Seeker Visa for longer stays. Therefore, if one is planning on moving to Germany for work or study purposes for a longer period of time, they should look to avail of another form of visa or residence permit.

With a Schengen Visa, one has the power to travel around the Schengen Zone during that time frame. The main point to realise is that one should not seek to stay longer than the visa permits. Should they wish to stay longer, it is advisable to seek the legal methods by which someone can remain within the zone. Subsequently, on this page, we will outline extending a Schengen Visa should it be sought.

Regarding who needs one, it comes down to your citizenship and whether your country has a visa-liberalisation agreement with the Schengen Zone. Many countries have prior arrangements made with the Schengen Zone, and thus their citizens do not require a Schengen Visa when visiting. However, citizens from countries without such an agreement do require a Schengen Visa. Most countries fall into this list but to give an insight into which countries do not have such prior arrangements, here is a list of countries whose citizens require a Schengen Visa:

Citizens from these Countries need Schengen Visas

  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Bhutan
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • China
  • Congo
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Cuba
  • DR Congo
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Liberia
  • Mali
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Samoa
  • Senegal
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Tanzania
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam
  • Zimbabwe

Which Countries Outside the Schengen Zone do not need Schengen Visas?

As stated above whether a person needs a Schengen Visa or not comes down to their citizenship and whether your country has a visa-liberalisation agreement with the Schengen Zone. Citizens from countries with such visa-liberalisation agreements include the following: the USA, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea. Here is a list of countries with a visa-liberalising agreement with the Schengen Zone and therefore its citizens will likely not need a Schengen Visa.

Citizens from these Countries do not need Schengen Visas

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Argentina
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • El Salvador
  • Georgia
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Macao
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Micronesia
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • New Zealand
  • Nicaragua
  • North Macedonia
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Saint Lucia
  • Samoa
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad & Tobago
  • Tuvalu
  • Ukraine
  • The UAE
  • The USA
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela

Visa Type 1: The “C” Category Schengen Visa

This is the more typical type of Schengen Visa as it allows its holder to stay in the Schengen Zone for a longer visit. Consequently, this is the Schengen Visa used by most of those who apply for one. There are three main types of visas to consider here:

  • Single-Entry Visa: With the single-entry visa, one is restricted to only entering the Schengen Zone once within the required time period. So with this visa type, one may be able to visit multiple countries, but they should know that they cannot re-enter it on their current visa once they leave the Schengen Zone. This holds even when the person has not spent the maximum 90 days in a 180-day timeframe in the Schengen Zone.
  • Double-Entry Visa: The double-entry visa works similarly to the single-entry visa, but with that, the holder can leave the Schengen Zone and then come back to it. Again, it does not limit the number of countries one can visit while in the Schengen Zone. However, it also doesn’t permit the holder to spend more time in the Schengen Zone.
  • Multi-Entry Visa: The multi-entry visa allows its holder to come and go from the Schengen Zone on a much freer basis. However, they are not permitted to break the 90 days in 180 rule – but otherwise, they can move in and out of the Schengen Zone. Should a person be a regular entrant to the Schengen Zone for business or other reasons, they can also obtain one of the following multi-entry visas. Just note that the person must show why they need to avail of one of these visas, and in the case of the latter, they must show strong proof. Once again, the 90 days in 180 rule applies to all of them.
    • One Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa
    • Three Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa
    • Five Year Multiple-Entry Schengen Visa

We will now outline the reasons one can use to avail of the visa, the requirements one needs to apply, the benefits and limits involved with the Schengen Visa and how a person can apply to extend their Schengen Visa.

Visa Type 1: Documentation Needed for your Application

When applying for the Schengen Visa, one should be aware that certain documentation is required. As shown above, under the different reasons one can apply, some requirements are specific for the individual purpose; however, some more generalised requirements are also required. Here are the requirements one should generally have when applying for the Schengen Visa:

  • A completed application form
  • Two recently taken photographs (within three months of the application)
  • A valid passport
  • Travel itinerary
  • Travel Insurance Policy
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Proof of financial means
  • A receipt or other proof of paid visa fee

If one is applying for a minor, there are additional requirements. For example, in this case, one has to show that the parents (or guardians) approve of the minor’s visit to the Schengen Zone and thus give signed permission (on the application form) as well as copies of their passports (along with that of the minor), and a copy of the minor’s birth certificate.

Extending a Schengen Visa

It is possible to extend a Schengen Visa. However, it isn’t easy to do. One requires strong reasons for doing so and must demonstrate proof to validate the claims made. When applying for an extension, one should do so before the visa expiration as a holder will be deemed to be illegally overstaying their visa should they do so afterwards – even where they may have a valid reason for it. Moreover, one should only extend the visa in the country where they plan to stay afterwards, as the application can take time to process. During the processing time, one may not be allowed to leave the country in question.

When it comes to the application, one needs the following documents:

  • Application form: for the short term visa extension,
  • Passport: This passport must also have the current Schengen Visa,
  • One photo: which bears in mind all visa photo requirements.
  • Proof of Income: Demonstrate that you can financially support yourself during the intended extended period of time,
  • Proof of Travel Health Insurance – that covers the whole Schengen Area for the intended extension period,
  • Documents demonstrating the situation in question and thus the need to get a visa extension.

Valid Reasons for Extending the Visa

The most important aspect of the extension process is the reason put forward for it. Here are the reasons allowed for an extension:

  1. Late Entry: Under this ground, one can seek to extend their stay in the Schengen Zone because they entered the zone after their visa had already started. In other words, their visa started on the 3rd of the month, but they only entered the Schengen Zone on the 17th of the month in question. In this case, the applicant can seek to extend their visit by two weeks.

  2. Humanitarian Reasons: Under this ground, a person can have their visa extended should they need to do so to complete medical treatment or attend a funeral (for example). Essentially if a person has experienced hardship or their family in the Schengen Zone has experienced hardship, they may extend their stay for a short period of time.

  3. Force Majeure: This is also described as “an act of God” and is an event beyond the applicant’s control. The following events can be considered under a “force majeure” – extreme weather conditions preventing flights, natural disasters such as earthquakes, a dangerous domestic situation arising in the applicant’s home country and even war erupting. Once the situation quietens down, the person will be able to return to their home country. However, should there be no change to the situation, the applicant can further extend their Schengen visa or apply for another residence permit.

  4. Personal Reasons: Should a person’s reason for remaining and extending their visa not fully satisfy any of these reasons, they can also seek to use personal reasons. However, as these cases are decided through an interview process, the applicant must have strong reasons for doing so. The immigration authorities will have the final say as to whether the applicant will be granted the extension.

Once an applicant has the paperwork completed and the reason established, they will face an interview on the issue. This interview is critical and can play a key role in determining whether their application is successful. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to extend your Schengen Visa, please contact our office directly, and our lawyers will be able to assist you.

Visa Type 2:  “A” Category – Transit Schengen Visa

Airport Transit Visa

When it comes to applying for a Schengen Visa, there are several types one can apply for. Should a person only need to enter the Schengen Zone to travel further (e.g., using a connecting flight in the Schengen Zone), they will need to use the “A” Category Schengen Visa. The Airport Transit Visa is the one required for this purpose. This visa allows the person to remain in the international transit area of the airport but no further. Should a person need to leave the airport, they should apply for the “C” Category Schengen Visa.

Citizens only require this Airport Transit Visa of the following countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka (across the Schengen Zone) and for those from India, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Turkey (for Germany). However, exemptions exist, so contact us directly to see if your situation fits within the exemptions!

This visa should be applied for at least fifteen days in advance of the flight. The earliest one can apply for it is three months before the flight, and the earlier, the better, as it should be noted that processing such visa requests can take up to two weeks. Therefore, the fifteen days mentioned above is the very latest by which one should apply! When applying, one should have the following:

  • A completed application form,
  • Two recent photos,
  • A valid passport,
  • Travel Insurance documents,
  • Proof of paid visa fee,
  • Documentation concerning the further journey.

When it comes to applying, one should look for the German embassy or consulate in their country. They should have the above-listed documentation and bring them to the appointment along with the €60 fee. Should you require more assistance with the Airport Transit Visa, make sure to contact us directly!

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Practice Group: German Immigration Law

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