So, what exactly is the Schengen area?
When you reach the border of a country, you only receive free passing after a series of customs checks. But the Schengen area allows removal of those formalities when passing the border to that specific country.
In other words, anyone who is located on the territory of a Schengen state can move to another Schengen state freely, without extensive birder checks.
For example, between Luxembourg and Germany you can travel freely, there are no border controls. But if you want to travel from Hungary to Romania, you will have to go through this procedure.
Only member states of the EU can be part of Schengen?
No, there are 23 member states of the EU (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden) which are part of the Schengen area and 4 countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) which, although not part of the EU, are still part of the Schengen area.
In order for a country to be part of the Schengen area, they must fulfill the conditions of accession. Among these it’s the assumption of responsibility to use external border control on behalf of other countries in the Schengen area.
In 2023, Croatia became member of the Schengen area. On the other hand, although Romania and Bulgaria also met the accession criteria, they did not receive an approval vote from Austria. They were rejected, because voting unanimity between the Schengen states is required for admission. In this sense, various technical criteria must be met, as well as political conditions of mutual trust between states.
Are there no checks performed, in any situation?
Exactly. On the other hand, special internal checks may be carried out in exceptional situations or special threats, like potential terrorist attacks or even in a pandemic. But introduction of such procedures is only carried out as a last resort.
What is the Schengen visa?
The Schengen visa is issued by any Schengen state for citizens who need such a visa by law.
If a citizen of third-party countries wants to enter Schengen, they can receive a visa for maximum 90 days in any 180-day period. The purpose of this trip should be listed among those accepted by international treaties.
However, there are nationals who do not need a Schengen visa (ex. USA citizens). Also, Schengen countries can issue national visas that do not allow travel to Schengen area in general, but only to that specific country.
How can you obtain a Schengen visa?
You can submit a visa application at the consulate of the country you wish to enter.
If you want to travel to several Schengen states, you will apply at the consulate of your first country of destination. Generally, it takes up to 15 calendar days to get a visa, but this term can be extended up to 60 days.
Can the Schengen visa duration be extended?
There are two types of visas at European level: type C visa and type D visa.
Type D visa can be extended by obtaining a residence permit in the country of destination.
But conversion of a type C visa into a residence permit is an exceptional procedure, accepted in limited cases. If you have such a visa and you cannot leave the Schengen territory before its expiration date, you need to prove you were in a special situation that caused this impediment (ex. you were hospitalized after an accident).
Legal Intern R&R Partners Bucharest
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