The Schengen Area is an immense territory with virtually no boundaries that you could have access to, provided that you meet certain parameters. It comprises most European countries, though not all of Europe is part of the Schengen zone, and even some European Union countries are excluded from the Schengen Agreement.

Several countries, both inside and outside of Europe, have a visa-free agreement with Schengen countries for short-term allowances However, if your country of origin doesn’t have a signed agreement, you’ll need to file a request for a short-term Schengen visa. For this purpose, the aid of qualified immigration lawyers is imperative, as they may offer valuable Schengen visa advice, as well as fast track Schengen visa applications of any kind.

Short-stay Schengen Visa Explained

Short-stay Schengen visas are permits that grant access to the Schengen territory and allow individuals to remain for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. Short-stay visas can be issued for a myriad of purposes and under a wide variety of conditions.

To illustrate, some visas allow for only one entry into each of the member countries, while others enable multiple entries, but likewise only within the 90-day window. In some scenarios, you could even be issued a multiple-year visa, but only insofar as you don’t exceed the stay limits established therein.

How to Apply for a Short-stay Schengen Visa?

To apply for a short-stay Schengen visa, you ought to book an appointment with the Consulate office of the country that stands either as your main destination or as the first country you visit (depending on whether the duration of your stay in each country is equally distributed or not).

When the date of your appointment arrives, you must present certain documentation that supports your eligibility, such as a valid passport, bank statements showing you have the financial means to remain in the territory, and the fee payment receipt. These are just some examples, but the list of documents you must provide is extensive.

When applying for a short-stay Schengen visa, you must state your purpose of visit via a cover letter attached to the documentary proof demanded from the Consulate or Embassy.

Schengen members would require virtually the same documentation across the board, but not all Schengen countries have the same approval rates. Visa applications could be rejected for various reasons, even those not related to lack of proof. Fulfilling all the requirements does not guarantee that you’ll get your petition approved, for reasons of national interests could stand in the way.

Furthermore, some countries, even within the same agreement, are more wont to reject petitions than others. Belgium has been traditionally a very difficult country to apply for a Schengen visa, but Portugal has also been very hesitant to grant short-stay Schengen visas in recent times. Countries like Slovakia, Lithuania, or Luxembourg are, conversely, much more lenient.

You would have to submit your application at least 15 days before your trip, as that’s the time it usually takes to get a decision (though it may take a lot longer if extra documentation is requested). It’s always recommended to submit the petition as early as possible, though it should not be earlier than 6 months before the trip.

What If I Wanted to Stay for a Longer Period?

In those cases, a Schengen visa is not the proper route. You would have to submit a residence permit or long-stay visa application instead, in which case, you’ll be asked to provide some additional information and documentation depending on the purpose of the visit.

Long-stay visas are not the same as multiple-year visas. Short-stay visas may be granted for up to 5 years, but they only permit you to stay for various shorter periods for the remainder of their validity. Long-stay visas are issued for individuals who need or wish to stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days.

How Do I Know If I Need a Short-stay Schengen Visa?

To know whether you are required to ask for a visa in order to enter the Schengen area, you would have to get in contact with a visa advisor, who’ll be able to offer updated information on the matter, as well as further Schengen visa advice, such as the type of visa that’s right for you.