EUROPEAN UNION (EU) - Schengen Visa Regulations Change April 5, 2010

  • European Union
  • 04/05/2010
  • Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

IIn June 1985, several EU countries established a common visa policy (the Schengen Agreement or Schengen) to facilitate borderless travel within a common area (i.e., the Schengen Area)*. Pursuant to the European Parliament’s Regulation No. 810/2009, important new changes to the Schengen visa codes, protocols and requirements and the ability to travel within the Schengen Area will come into effect on April 5, 2010.

Under the new regulation, the new visa codes will be as follows:

Type A – Airport Transit Visa (ATV): required for all nationals listed in Annex IV of the new regulation** and for all other nationals who are not eligible to use the Transit Without Visa (TWOV) facility. This visa is exclusively for those travelers in direct transit through a Schengen country when arriving from and departing to a non-Schengen country. Foreign nationals who would normally require an ATV may be exempt if holding certain, valid residence permits or travel visas issued by Andorra, Canada, other Schengen member states, Japan, San Marino and the United States.

Please be advised that as Transit visa and TWOV regulations can be complex and change with little to no advance notice, it is recommended to confirm current regulations with BAL and the departing air carrier well in advance of an assignee’s overseas travel. Also, persons not holding valid status in their country of departure when applying for an ATV may be refused a visa.

Type B – Transit Visa: Abolished as of April 5. Existing, valid B visas should continue to be honored for travel when transiting through more than one Schengen country until expiration of the visa;

Type C – Visitor Visa: A uniform visa for business/tourism purposes valid for travel within the entire Schengen Area for those nationals that require a visa to enter the Schegen Area (i.e., Schengen visa national). Visas can be valid for single or multiple-entry for a maximum duration of up to 90 cumulative days within a given 180-day period. Extensions of visitor stay are generally not granted unless for serious personal reasons (e.g., a true medical emergency). All visitor applicants must evidence specific medical insurance coverage of at least €30,000 available for the entire duration of stay and valid for coverage in all Schengen countries;

Type D+C – National Visa + Uniform Visitor Visa: Abolished as of April 5. It is unclear at this time for work permit applicants who are Schengen visa nationals if they will be allowed to depart and re-enter the Schengen Area while waiting for their final residence permits from their host Schengen country of assignment. Existing D+C visas that are valid should continue to be honored for travel until expiration. But, prior to departing to other Schengen countries, it is advisable for these visa holders to confirm with their air carrier the current boarding regulations for traveling with this type of visa;

Type D – National Visa (Work Visa): Generally considered as a work visa within the Schengen Area, the D visa is a national visa issued by the host Schengen country of assignment. Once a work permit application is issued, if required by that country’s national immigration law, an assignee will apply for a D visa to enter the country of assignment, complete all work/residence permit registration formalities and await issuance of his or her residence permit.

Type D Travel Concern: Prior to the April 5 regulation, most D visas were issued for entry within 90 days of issuance for a single-entry stay to permit assignees a single transit through the Schengen Area to their country of assignment. After April 5, it is anticipated that the new D visa will allow an assignee to travel freely within the Schengen Area for a period of up to 90 days from date of issuance. However, it is unclear whether this visa will be granted for multiple entries to permit the assignee to travel outside the Schengen Area while awaiting issuance of his or her residence permit.

Application Forms – Visa Application forms and application requirements at most Schengen country consular posts will come into effect on April 5. For at least the next few weeks, work visa applicants must confirm if the issuing consular post has a new work visa (Schengen Type D visa) application form or continue to use the universal application form used for business/tourist visa (Schengen Type C visa) applicants. The best example of changing visa application form requirements can be found at the following web link: http://www.cgny.org/article.asp?articleref=AR00000446EN

Personal Appearance/Biometrics Requirement – Each Schengen country may implement over time the requirement that all visitor and work visa applicants must appear in person to submit biometrics (i.e., 10-print fingerprint scan/digital photographs) at the time of filing their visa applications. Exceptions to the biometric requirement will be for children under the age of 12, persons who may have physical inability to submit prints or for certain diplomatic/heads of state applicants.

Consular Processing Times – After April 5, the new regulations require that all Schengen consular posts must streamline their application protocols and devote staff to process straightforward visa applications within 15 calendar days from date of filing. For those visa applications that require additional scrutiny, processing time may be up to 30 calendar days. In exceptional cases, processing time can be up to 60 calendar days from date of filing.

BAL Comment

As Monday, April 5 is a major religious holiday in Europe, many Schengen country consular posts may not be open to the public. In addition, as this new regulation represents substantial changes to protocols and requirements, please be advised that not all Schengen country consular posts may uniformly implement these changes within the next few weeks. Therefore, prior to submitting a Schengen visitor or work visa application, clients should check current consular requirements and exercise flexibility and patience when learning of last minute changes.

Persons receiving Schengen visas over the next few weeks should confirm with the issuing consular post the specific travel allowances for their particular visa. In the meantime, BAL will continue to monitor all new changes to Schengen visa requirements.

*The Schengen Area member states are: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

**Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka.