Overstaying in the Schengen Zone? Here’s How to Extend Your Schengen Visa
So you are traveling across the Schengen States, or one of the Schengen Countries in particular, and find yourself falling for the culture, scenery, music, and people and a tempting idea pops into your head of whether you can stay longer than the allowed duration of your visa. Before you entertain this appealing thought, you should know the consequences of intentional or unintentional overstaying short-term visas. We will also talk about how to avoid overstaying altogether.
What are the consequences of overstaying in Schengen Area?
First thing first, you need to know that your entry and exit to each Schengen Member State is recorded and shared among the Schengen countries.
Overstaying the allowed time of your visa is an offence that will warrant a fine, being booted back to your country of origin, or worse being banned from entering the Schengen area
Although there is no common policy for all Schengen Member States regarding overstaying penalties, each of the individual states apply different types of sanctions. For this reason, the consequences of overstaying in the Schengen territory varies greatly on the number of days you have overstayed and the country you get caught in. Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, and Scandinavian countries are all very strict about entry and exit while Greece is known for applying very high fines to those caught overstaying in the Schengen zone.
Here are the general penalties enforced by the Schengen Member States for overstaying.
This is the usual penalty for overstaying a visa. The fee varies depending on the member state. Additionally, If you are caught overstaying your welcome for a month or so then you will also be banned from entering the Schengen Area for a specific period of time.
When you get caught staying illegally in a Schengen Area, you will be deported to your home country. You may be deported immediately, within just a few hours or after a few days.
Deportation is always usually followed by another consequence that will be communicated to you before being deported. If you’ve overstayed for a few days and you are lucky enough to be caught in one of the countries that do not mind overstayers, you may leave without any penalty or adverse effect.
If you are banned, you will not be allowed to enter the Schengen Zone for a period of time as set by the ban. This usually happens due to you overstaying, working when not permitted or engaging in other illegal activities. You can be banned for a period of three years or more.
Difficulties coming back to Schengen
As previously mentioned, the database records are shared by the Schengen countries so even if you get back to your home country without any fine or ban, you should know that your overstaying in the Schengen zone will cause you problems the next time you attempt to enter the Schengen Zone or apply for a new Schengen visa. Immigration officers and border patrol tend to be suspicious of people who overstay even once; no matter in which country they were caught overstaying.
No consequences for overstaying in the Schengen zone
There are also cases when people do not get any penalties for overstaying. If you are a child or a person that cannot travel without a caretaker because of an illness or disability, then it’s likely that you will not face any sanctions for overstaying.
Nevertheless, if there is an unforeseen event, or you are in a situation that does not permit you to travel to your home country, like the COVID-19 pandemic, then you are strongly advised to apply for a Schengen visa extension instead of overstaying.
How to Avoid Unintentionally Overstaying in the Schengen Area
What does 90 days within 180 days mean?
There are people that unintentionally overstay their visas. To avoid unintentionally overstaying in the Schengen zone, you need to check the period of time you are allowed to stay in the member states combined.
For Short Term Schengen visas, people commonly misunderstand the 90 days in 180 days (six months) rule of Schengen Visa. Some sources state “On the 181st day, the clock is reset and you are in a new 180 day calendar“… this is wrong! It does not reset.
To calculate the 90 days visa free Schengen, you should always count the last 180 days and check if you have been in Europe for longer than 90 days within those six months. On the 81st day, you need to count backwards another 180 days and check if you have been in the Schengen zone for more than 90 days.
Bear in mind that the first day you enter the Schengen territory is counted as day 1 even if it is just before midnight, while the date you leave is counted as the last day even if you left before sunrise.
How Long is Your Schengen Visa valid for?
People are also confused with the validity and duration of the Schengen Visa. A Schengen visa validity is the date from which the visa holder is permitted to enter the Schengen Area and the duration of stay is the number of days that you can spend within that period. This information can be found on the visa sticker on your passport.
The DURATION OF STAY…DAYS is the number of days you can stay in the Schengen area. These days are the 90 days visa free Schengen that you are permitted to enter within the last 180 days. It is counted from the date you enter the Schengen area (you will get an entry stamp) to the date you exit the Schengen area (the exit stamp). The entry date and exit date are also counted and included in the calculation.
The days between “FROM …UNTIL” is usually longer than the “DURATION OF STAY“. This is to give you flexibility to plan your entry into and exit from the Schengen area.
Your stay in the Schengen area must never exceed the exact number of days in the “DURATION OF STAY …DAYS“.
You must also leave no later than the date printed in the “UNTIL” field.” If the days FROM…UNTIL is less than 90 days, you can extend this visa for personal circumstances.
If you think that you will not be penalised just because you stayed after your visa expired without knowing, you are wrong. It is your responsibility as a traveler to a foreign land to check how long you are permitted to stay in the Schengen Zone. So you should think twice and be a smart traveler and don’t jeopardise the effort you exhausted when you applied for the Schengen Visa.
Extending a visa beyond the 90 days visa free Schengen travel
Do you find yourself stuck in a Schengen Area due to flight restrictions and travel bans imposed because of Coronavirus or any unforeseen events? Well, it is critical not to overstay your visa as it may be a cause for disqualification on your next visa application.
If you find that your visa is running out and you have an exceptional reason to stay in the Schengen Area then you have to apply for a visa extension. Although it is hard to request for an extension, it is not impossible to extend a short-stay Schengen visa so long as you have a very strong reason and have proof to support your claim.
Schengen visa types and validity
Check the visa type and validity of your Schengen visa to determine whether you need an extension or not.
Single Entry – you will have a limited amount of days to remain in Schengen member state, and after you leave you have no right to go back
Double Entry – same policy as above mentioned, however you are allowed to enter the Schengen Area twice.
Multiple Entries – you can enter any of the Schengen member states as many times as you wish, for as long that you do not exceed the 3 months limit within a six months period.
Acceptable reasons to extend a Schengen short-stay visa
Here are the acceptable reasons to extend a Schengen short-stay visa:
It is generally intended to include occurrences beyond reasonable control. For instance, something unpredictable happened all of the sudden in your home country prior to your visa expiration, as a conflict or war, or even violent protests across the country, extreme weather conditions, no flight connections for reasons beyond your control, then you have a good chance to get a Schengen short-stay visa extension. You will be granted an extension of a few weeks, or until the situation in your home country changes. If the situation does not change, you will have to apply once again for a short-stay visa renewal, in order to remain in Schengen.
This can be used for a single-entry short-stay visa.
You can base your extension due to late entry if you have entered Schengen after the visa becomes valid. For example, your visa became valid on March 1, but you entered a Schengen state on March 15.
You will be granted with a short-stay visa extension based on humanitarian reasons if you need to stay in one of the member states to continue receiving medical treatment, to take part in the funeral after the sudden death of a family member, to give support to a person close to you who is going through some kind of hardship.
Important Personal Reasons
You will have a lesser chance of getting an extension but your reason does not fall on the above categories. For example, you have unfinished business in one of the Schengen Member State, an unplanned wedding, etc. It will be up to the immigration authorities whether you should be granted a visa extension or not.
Preparing to extend your Schengen Visa
Once you have determined the reason for your extension then you have to prepare the necessary documents to support your application.
Here are the documents needed:
- Passport and Schengen Visa
- Application form
- Bank Statement
- Travel Health Insurance
- Documents, which prove your situation, and the need to get a visa extension
Once all your documents are ready, you also need to check the member state you are residing where you can submit your application and if an interview is needed as it will vary depending on each member state.
It is crucial to know that you need to remain in the country where you requested for an extension. It would take a few days to a month to process your application and you are permitted to remain even if your visa expired but you are not allowed to travel to another member state.
Applying for a visa extension has a separate fee and would depend on your reason for staying. If you have already extended your visa once and still need to stay for whatever reason, the cost of the second Schengen visa extension fee depends on the age of the applicant.
If your extension request is rejected and your visa has expired then you will be given a day or two to leave the country.
What if you get stuck in the Schengen Zone?
The European Union has issued European Guidance on Schengen visas & COVID-19-Related Travel Bans and Solutions for Overstaying in the Schengen zone under EU communication (2020/C 102 I/02)
If you are s visa holder and are present in the Schengen area but cannot leave at the expiry of your short-stay visa, you have the ability to extend your Schengen visa for up to a maximum stay of 90/180 days by the designated Member States authorities (17).
If you hold a visa and need to stay beyond the extended period of 90/180 days, a long-stay visa or a temporary residence permit should be issued by the competent national authority that you are currently stuck in. This means that if you are currently stuck in Spain, for example, the Spanish government should give you a Spanish residence permit.
For visa-waived third-country nationals, like US nationals, Australians etc, who need to stay beyond the extended 90/180 days, a national long-stay visa or a temporary residence permit should also be issued by the national authorities.
Member State countries are being encouraged to waive administrative sanctions or penalties on third-countries nationals unable to leave their country due to the travel restrictions.
Additionally, overstaying because of the current coronavirus travel restrictions should not be considered when you are next processing any future visa applications.
The EU guidance includes the following key points:
- Visa-exempt nationals. If you overstay your 90 days visa free Schengen of allowable stay out of 180 day timeframe, you should be able to apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit where you are currently stuck.
- Visa nationals. You should be able to first apply for a 90-day Schengen visa extension based on force majeure (unforeseen circumstances). Once the 90 days are running out, you should be able to apply for a long-term national visa or temporary national residence permit.
- Waiving of sanctions. EU countries are urged to waive sanctions or penalties for overstaying in the Schengen zone and should disregard current overstays for future visa or residence applications.
- Minimum visa service. EU countries should continue offering minimum visa processing service and assistance for those exempt from the travel ban.
- Essential travel. Member states should remind visa holders that they must justify their purpose of travel when seeking entry into the European Union.
Despite the EU guidance, there seems to be differences in the implementation between EU countries. You are therefore advised to clearly document your purpose of travel to prevent entry and re-entry issues.
How to Stay in Europe for More Than 90 days legally
For visa-exempt nationals and those of you touring Europe for a prolonged periods, or if you are just curious (and just asking for a friend), the question of whether it is possible to stay in Europe for longer than the 90 days legally.
Well, there is. If you hold a Schengen visa or are exempt, you can stay in Europe for longer if you plan well. It involves obtaining visas to countries like the UK and Ireland and possibly other countries in Europe as your time resets. You can then get a further 90 days visa free Schengen travel.
If you are stuck in a Schengen country, need to extend, or want to find out the best way to reset your travel allowance, we would love to hear from you. If you also have a story on extending your Schengen visa or have ideas how to extend, leave a comment below.
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