There is so much confusing information out there for all of us non-EU citizens trying to prolong our stays legally in this beautiful content! Trust me, we have read through a lot of information and spent a lot of hours stressing over how we can make it work for us!
We have been told incorrect information time and time again, especially during the whole COVID-19 lockdown saga. You would think that if an embassy or consulate tells you something that it would be true! Well always look into it carefully and don’t take their word for it.
As a non-EU citizen from Australia (I think the same rules apply to NZ and Canadians) you may visit the Schengen region in Europe for a maximum of 90 days over a 180 day period. So that means that you can travel freely for 3 months and then you need to exist the EU for a total of 3 months (90 days) before you can legally re-enter and travel freely for a further 90 days. Confusing right?!?
The only way to get around this and to stay longer, is by gaining a long term visa for a particular country or some sort of residency. Being under 30 years old does make this a lot easier, as Australia (and some others) has agreements with Schengen countries and others outside the EU, that allow you to apply for a Working Holiday Visa. This means you can travel and work if you wish, in that country for the period of the visa. It also allows you to travel in and out of that country and into other Schengen countries freely. They do say the 90 day out of 180 day rule still applies, but if you have a visa, it will be hard for them to track and trace, especially if you are crossing borders by land.
A very unclear and valuable piece of information to note, is that even if you are coming off a visa or residence permit, this does not mean that your 90 day tourist visa starts again. You do have to exit the EU once your visa expires unless you can get your hands on another. We were during corona, advised that this was not the case but it in fact is. Don’t get caught out.
When applying for visas, please be aware that for certain countries, visa approvals can take up to 3 months so you really need to be prepared and on your game to ensure you don’t overstay your visa and face a fine, a ban or they even say deportation.
Living in Europe during Corona shut downs made applying for visas very difficult. The Schengen region announced that countries will/should apply extensions to current visas to help out during this time. This was not the case or from what we experienced anyway. We went round and round in circles, being pushed from embassies to the authorities with no resolution. Do not rely on even your own countries embassy to help you out. Local authorities will tell you to contact them and they will tell you to contact local authorities. See our problem?!? Very frustrating.
My suggestion is, always apply for your new visa at least 3 months before your current visa ends or plan your Schengen region exit in advance to ensure you don’t overstay. It is possible to be denied entry by a non-EU country if you have overstayed your Schengen visa, they say its not, but we know first hand, it happens. It may not be right but save you self the stress and be careful.
The joys of long-term travel as a non-EU citizen are never ending! It is stressful and sometimes seems unfair but trust me, in the long run its worth it to be able to maximise your stay!