If you're planning a European trip, you'll need to apply for a Schengen visa. This national visa allows you to travel freely within the Schengen Area, which includes 26 countries. So not only can you travel visa-free to any of the Schengen Visa countries, but you can also see all the EU countries in one trip.
This post will be your new Schengen Visa Guide. In this post, I will explain important information like what is a Schengen Visa, the Schengen countries, types of European Visas, and the Euro Visa cost.
Stick with me during this post, and I will guide you through your next Schengen Visa experience. So let's get to it:
If you're considering a trip to Europe, you've almost certainly come across the term "Schengen" during your study. I know it looks hard to pronounciate, but actually, it's not that hard at all. The easiest way to learn it is by pronouncing it as follows:
"What is the Schenzen Visa"
But what exactly is the Schengen Area? When is a Schengen visa required for travel to Europe, and how can you obtain one? What is valid Schengen visa insurance, for that matter?
Here's everything you need to know about navigating the Schengen zone, from general travel laws to the Schengen visa application process.
A Schengen visa is an official travel document that some non-Europeans must have to travel to 26 Schengen nations. This visa permits the traveler to traverse the borders of other member nations without having to go through identity checks at the border after it has been granted. The most common Schengen visa (the short-stay visa) allows you to travel/stay for a maximum of 90 days over six months beginning on the visa's entry date.
A Schengen visa is a short-term visa that allows its holder to travel freely throughout the Schengen area. As a result, there are no border restrictions between the 26 nations that make up the Schengen area ("Schengen States").
Although there may be minor variances in procedures and required documentation, these countries have agreed to eliminate all internal borders and adopt a uniform visa policy.
A Schengen visa is a document issued by a Schengen State that allows you to:
A planned stay of no more than 90 days in any 180 days on the territory of the Schengen States ("short-stay visa"),
Travel through the Schengen States' international transit zones at airports ("airport transit visa").
While you may not require a visa to enter Europe, you must have a valid passport to enter any Schengen country. In addition, each person of a nation that is not a member of the Schengen Area and does not have a Visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU needs a Schengen visa to visit any member country. Starting in January 2023, those under the visa-free system will be eligible for ETIAS.
If you try to leave the Schengen Area without the stamps in your passport, you may be asked to prove how long you've been in Europe. Also, you will be issued a visa if you intend to exit the Schengen area before the visa expires. You must also have sufficient means of subsistence for the duration of your stay and present all necessary documentation. A Schengen visa does not automatically entitle the holder to enter the Schengen area.
The countries covered in the Schengen Visa policy are as follows:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland are the current members of the Schengen Agreement.
Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway are the only Schengen countries not members of the European Union. As a result, they are formally known as countries associated with the EU's Schengen activities. This means that, although their not members of the EU, these countries are bound to respect its decisions. In addition, Norway and Iceland, two of these non-European union nations, are members of the Nordic Passport Union.
Apart from these countries, the Schengen zone encompasses France's Caribbean islands and three European micro-states: Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City. Visitors are welcome to visit these territories and micronations with open or semi-open borders.
The nature of the 90/180 rule is vital for multiple-entry visa holders. Most people believe the 180-day period begins when your visa is issued, but it begins once you enter or exit the Schengen Area. This means you must calculate backward from the day you plan to re-enter the Schengen Area to ensure you haven't spent more than 90 days there in the previous 180 days.
We know this rule can be complicated. That's why I suggest you check out our guide on the 90/180 Schengen Day Rule.
Now that you know the basics of the Schengen Visa, you're probably asking who needs a Schengen Visa. In short, some citizens enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen Area. Therefore, I will explain if US citizens need a Europe Schengen Visa and who must apply for one.
No, US citizens do not require a Schengen Visa to visit any Schengen Member State. One of the main benefits is that US citizens can visit any Schengen country without a Schengen Visa. Suppose you are a US citizen planning your next trip to Europe. In that case, I suggest you check out our guide for Americans traveling to Europe.
Even though certain citizens hold a US Green Card, this does not entitle you to visa-free travel. Your nationality will determine if you need to apply for Schengen Visa. For example, suppose you have a valid US residence permit, and your home country requires a Schengen Visa. In that case, you must obtain a Schengen Visa to enter the Schengen Area. As I previously stated, if you enjoy visa-free traveling, you are not required to obtain a Schengen Visa.
Not all nations outside of Europe allow visa-free travel. Because of this, citizens of those nations must obtain a Schengen Visa before visiting the Schengen Area. Depending on your country of residence, please check if your country requires you to apply for a Schengen Visa
Nationals from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and the Schengen Area do not have to apply for a Schengen Visa when visiting any Schengen Member State.
Now that we've covered who needs and does not need Schengen Visas, I will explain how you can enjoy visa-free travel. This section will include important information such as the required documents and what you can expect at the European border.
I was so thrilled to find that I didn't require a visa to visit the Schengen Area that I completely neglected to pack my travel paperwork. So please don't do what I did.
Although Americans do not require a visa to enter Europe, there are several documents you must have with you to enter. The following documents must be presented when you reach a Schengen Area:
Gather the few required documents I mentioned above, book a flight, and fly to your desired Schengen country.
You must adhere to the regular arrival protocols when you get to the border. Border agents will question you about your itinerary, intended stay length, and other travel-related questions. All of the supporting materials you have gathered can now be presented. Once your admission has been authorized, you'll get a stamp on your passport. Then, you can continue to enjoy your stay in the Schengen region.
Keep in mind that authorities do not usually request these documents. Not that you should avoid collecting them, though. However, your entry into Europe can be revoked if you fail to provide a convincing justification for your travel.
Now that we've covered everything for citizens who travel visa-free to the Schengen Area, we must dive into the Schengen Visa information for citizens who require a visa.
In this section, I will cover the different types of Schengen Visas, the visa fees, and the Schengen Visa processing time. Later in this post, I will also cover how to apply for Schengen Visa and what to do if your visa application is denied.
The first part of your Schengen Visa application is to determine your purpose. This is very important because it will determine the type of Schengen Visa you will apply for. For example, there are different types of travel Visas for Europe, such as transit visas, tourist visas, and Business visas which are all Uniform Schengen Visas. Here is a list of visas that are mainly used to visit the Schengen Area:
If you travel to another country and must transit through a Schengen Country, you must apply for a Transit Visa. The Transit Visa is also referred to as the Type A Visa. In addition, you can enter the airport's international section with a "Category A" USV, sometimes an Airport Transit Visa. For connecting flights, layovers, etc., this sort of visa only allows you to pass through the airport in a Schengen nation. It forbids you from traveling to any Schengen country or region.
A Schengen tourist visa is another name for the Schengen visa. This is because visiting the Schengen Zone for tourism is arguably the most popular reason to do so. Therefore, you must apply for a Schengen Visa if you intend to travel to any of the great Schengen Countries to enjoy the fantastic sites, cultures, and locations. This type of Schengen Visa is considered a Type C Visa.
You can enter the Schengen Area for business purposes if you have a business Schengen visa. In addition, a multiple entry visa is typically issued to regular travelers to facilitate passage to and from the Schengen Zone.
Business purposes include:
An invitation letter from the foreign company or a letter of no objection from your employer would be helpful when traveling to the Schengen Area for business. This will support your case for why you are traveling.
In some situations, you might need to go to the Schengen Area for medical reasons. Your doctor will draft an official letter asking for medical care within the Schengen Area. You must submit your letter and other necessary Schengen documentation as soon as you receive it. After submitting your application, your Schengen visa will be processed as a medical Schengen visa.
As the name implies, you can visit family members and friends in the Schengen Area using a Schengen Visa. However, you must include an invitation letter with appropriate documentation while visiting family or friends in the Schengen Area. Essentially, this attests to your invitation to the Schengen Area.
If you perhaps apply for your Schengen Visa and do not find any of the purposes mentioned above, please check out our guide for other types of Schengen Visas.
For the purpose of this post, I'll explain important information about the Schengen Tourist Visa.
Now that you can determine what type of visa you must apply for, we must discuss the Schengen Visa application fees. Here is a list of Schengen Visa application fees you must pay when applying for the Schengen Visa:
The Schengen Visa processing time depends on where you apply and the destination country in the Schengen Area. For more detailed processing times, please check out our guide on the Schengen Visa processing times.
You must apply for your Schengen Visa at any Schengen Country Embassy/Consulate. This depends on where you are traveling or where you will spend most of your time. I know it sounds confusing, but you can either apply at the Embassy of the main destination you are traveling to or the Schengen Country embassy you will spend most of your time in.
Although you must apply for your Schengen Visa through an Embassy/Consulate, you can also get help using Atlys' Schengen Visa services.
The earliest time you can start applying for your Schengen Visa is 6 months before your departure date. However, I suggest you start your Schengen Visa application at least 2 months before traveling.
Before you begin your visa application, make a document checklist. This works the best for me in keeping track of what I've already acquired and still need to acquire.
To that end, the following list of documents is required for your Schengen Visa application:
The most crucial document on this list is a completed Schengen Visa application form. An incomplete Schengen Visa application is one of the main causes of a Schengen Visa denial. I've heard several tales of visas being rejected due to a minor error on the application form. Yes. A simple spelling error in the surname could result in a visa denial.
Don't be afraid to start your application form because you're afraid of making a mistake. If you are, check out our guide on people's most common mistakes during their Schengen Visa application.
A valid passport should go without saying. Just make sure your passport is valid for at least 3 months past the time you want to travel back to your place of origin. It might be safer to apply for a new passport first, then apply for your Schengen Visa if your current passport is about to expire.
If your trip is scheduled for February, for instance, make sure your passport is valid until May or June.
Additionally, ensure your passport is in good shape and includes at least two blank pages.
This could appear to be a straightforward need at first. However, even something as straightforward as your passport photos must adhere to specific standards.
Don't worry; you probably won't even need to know what they are. First, I'll provide a link to a document you can consult and briefly outline the most typical photo requirements.
If you are unsure about your passport photo, please feel free to use Atly's photo checker tool when applying for your Schengen Visa.
One of the Europe Visa requirements are proof of sufficient funds. However, the financial requirements for each Schengen Country aren't the same. Therefore, it is hard to explain each Schengen country's financial requirements. For this section of the post, I will give you a list of some Schengen Countries' financial requirements. Please check out our guide for more Schengen Visa information on financial requirements for all Schengen Member countries.
You must present documentation proving your accommodations during your Schengen Visa interview. This is frequently referred to as proof of accommodation. Here is a list of documents that acts as proof of accommodation:
If you have booked everything already and don't want to go through the process of gathering all your hotel slips, I have a super alternative. Atlys has an excellent Hotel Itinerary Tool that is easy to use. Just add your hotel details and stay dates; everything will be included in one document.
A cover letter is nothing more than a letter outlining the reason for your journey. The Embassy wants to know why you're going to the Schengen Region and what you will do there.
Your letter doesn't need to be ornate or formal. It only needs to describe the goal of your journey.
I typically include the following in my cover letters:
A flight schedule or a return flight ticket is another essential item. The embassy personnel frequently requests documentation demonstrating your intention to return home following your tour. Your visa application will probably be rejected if you cannot provide proof.
An itinerary, reservation, or return ticket for a flight will be enough to demonstrate this.
It is advised that you purchase a flight ticket without paying for it, though. This is because you would have spent money on a flight ticket if your visa application had been rejected.
During my Schengen Visa application process, I usually use Atly's Flight Itinerary Tool. It's very convenient and easy to use.
All travelers who need a Schengen Visa are required to have travel medical insurance. You can choose from a variety of health insurance plans. However, to be deemed "legitimate," your travel insurance policy must adhere to a few conditions.
The requirements for valid Schengen Travel Insurance are as follow:
The final document of your Schengen Visa document list is evidence of your employment. The Embassy representative may tell from your proof of employment that you intend to return to work and will not look for work outside the Schengen Zone. The following list of documents can be used as proof of employment:
Please remember that the required documents for the Schengen Business Visa may require you to submit some additional documents. Therefore, please check out our guide on the additional required documents for a Schengen Business Visa.
Minors' parents or legal guardians must present additional documents for the underage applicant when applying for a Schengen visa. Please also refer to our guide for minors traveling to the Schengen Area. Here is a list of additional requirements for minors:
Okay, now we've covered the most important Schengen Visa information. One of the last and main things I must discuss is the Schengen Visa Application process. After reading this far, you might think the application process will be petrifying. But, lucky for you, I have made an easy 6-step guide for the Schengen Visa application process. In this section, I will explain how to apply for a European Visa without a hassle.
As I mentioned earlier, applying through Atlys is the fastest and easiest option when applying for your Schengen Visa. However, if you want to take your chances and apply yourself, I suggest you follow these steps:
Priorities come first. Gather the necessary paperwork for your visa application. Of course, you can do this later, but gathering your materials ahead of time can help you comprehend the visa application procedure.
To be safe, make copies of all the necessary paperwork in case you misplace something.
The second step would be to complete the Schengen Visa application form. I usually complete the application form online. But remember, you must print it out before submitting your Schengen Visa application form.
It's straightforward to complete the application form. You only need to enter personal details like your name, passport, and travel details. After you complete the application form, print it out, and sign it. Then, just add it to your pile of required documents.
Now that you have all the required documents, you must schedule your visa appointment (also known as a visa interview). There are a few ways you can schedule your visa appointment, such as:
After you've scheduled your Schengen Visa Appointment, you'll receive a confirmation for an appointment date and time. On the date of your visa appointment, you must head to the Embassy or Consulate where you made your visa appointment. I suggest you arrive at least 15-20 minutes before your scheduled visa appointment.
During your visa appointment, a Consulate or Embassy official will ask you some personal and travel-related questions regarding your trip to the Schengen Area. In addition, you will be asked to submit all your documents during your visa interview. Remember to include a convincing cover letter when you submit your documents.
I almost forgot to mention that I will cover more detailed information about the Schengen Visa Appointment later in this post.
As I mentioned previously, the waiting period for a Schengen Visa is determined by the Schengen Country you are traveling to. However, you can get your Schengen Visa in about 15 days under normal conditions.
During the processing time, the Embassy or Consulate officials check your visa application and do a few background checks. After that, there is nothing to worry about. The last thing you need to do is sit back and wait for your visa to be processed.
As I mentioned, you can expect to wait about 15 days for your visa to be processed. Then, once your visa is approved, you can head over to the Embassy or Consulate to collect it.
If you do not hear anything after 15 days, please contact the Embassy or Consulate to find your visa status. In addition, some Schengen Visa applications allow you to check your visa status online.
You will receive a visa sticker to place in your passport if you have been given a Schengen visa. German, French, and English are the three languages in which the visa sticker information is presented.
You must learn to read your visa attentively to keep track of crucial details like the nations you are permitted to enter, your validity dates, and the different sorts of visas. Here is a list of things you should be aware of on your Schengen Visa Sticker:
You'll also find other important information on your Schengen Visa Sticker. So please remember to identify all your information before arriving in the Schengen Area.
Although your Schengen Visa application is approved, it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be rejected at the border. At the European border, a Border Patrol official will ask you to present your visa documents. Remember that Atlys can help to ensure you have the correct documents.
Once the Border Patrol official lets you pass, you are free to roam in Europe. But, remember, if you stay past your prescribed exit date, you may be liable for a fine or be banned from entering the Schengen Country.
There are some cases where a Schengen Visa will be denied. Sometimes it won't be even the applicant's fault, but don't worry. I will explain everything you can do if your Schengen Visa application is rejected.
In this section, I will explain the most common reasons why a Schengen Visa would be denied, how to appeal a visa decision, and when you'll receive feedback after an appeal.
Also, please stick around becuase in the last sections of the post, I will cover important visa appointment notes, how to write a convincing cover letter, and more tips for the Schengen Visa application.
There are many cases where Schengen Visas, or short stay visas, are denied. Unfortunately, it is common for visa applicants to be confused about the reasons for the denial.
Your visa application may be denied if the Consular Officer cannot get all the necessary information. Without this information, the Consular Officer cannot determine if you are eligible for a visa.
Another reason a visa is denied is that the information received by the applicant may be incorrect or false. Occasionally, an applicant can be prone to illegal and/or dishonest behavior. Furthermore, some information the applicant provides may not be per the rules and procedures of the visa application or the country the applicant wishes to visit. Again, this can lead to a visa refusal.
There are also some cases where the applicant failed the in-person interview with the Consular Officer. It is essential to understand that the Consular officer decides whether your application will be approved or denied.
Here is a list of the 10 most common Schengen Visa mistakes people make during their Schengen Visa application:
The appeal process is complicated, so I will give you a quick 8-step list you can follow if you're visa has been denied. However, suppose you want to know more about a template or further information regarding a Visa appeal. In that case, I suggest you check out our guide on how to appeal when your Schengen Visa is denied.
Here is my quick 4-step Schengen Visa appeal process guide:
Unambiguously, you have two choices. You have two options: you can appeal the decision made regarding your initial visa application or reapply for your visa. Remember that if your initial application for a Schengen visa was denied, your subsequent application could also be rejected. This is why I decided against reapplying and followed the visa appeal procedure instead.
You can typically reapply as soon as you learn that your Schengen Visa application has been denied. However, there are a few outliers. For example, Switzerland and Finland, two Schengen nations, each has unique regulations on reapplying for a visa following a rejection.
You can only reapply for your visa to Switzerland one month after it was rejected the first time. Finland approaches each case independently. In other words, when you can reapply for your Schengen Visa will be decided by Embassy personnel. This could last anywhere from one to six months.
Be aware that, unlike a typical visa application, a visa appeal does not have a specific processing period. Simply put, the time it takes to appeal your visa can differ. For example, it typically takes 4 weeks. However, you might have to wait 8 weeks in rare circumstances.
Competent authorities must issue your visa following the processing and approval of your appeal. Since the authorities will be directed to provide your visa after the appeal is approved, this shouldn't take too long. After the appeal processing time, your visa should be issued in 4 to 7 business days.
Although I have mentioned that you can wait up to 15 days for your visa to be processed, I suggest you start well in advance. To complete your Schengen Visa application, you must gather the required documents, which may take time. That's why I suggest you try and apply at least 3-4 weeks before your planned departure date.
As I explained during the Schengen Visa application process, you must schedule a Schengen Visa appointment. In this section, I will explain where you can schedule your Schengen Visa appointment, what to expect during your appointment and more visa appointment-related information.
There are several ways to schedule your Schengen Visa appointment. Although each Schengen country has its preferred way, here are the easiest ways of scheduling your next Schengen Visa appointment:
After scheduling your Schengen Visa appointment, you must attend it. An in-person meeting between a visa applicant and a consulate representative is known as a Schengen interview. The interview's main goal is to evaluate the application and determine whether the applicant deserves a Schengen visa.
You can expect to answer some of the following questions during your Schengen Visa appointment or interview:
I know you will ace this part of your application process.
The biometric information consists of ten fingerprints and a picture. Additionally, it is utilized by both Schengen visas and biometric passports.
Personal attendance at your interview is essential unless your fingerprints have already been collected by the Consulate, Embassy, or Visa Application Center for a prior application within the last 5 years. However, they might require you to provide this information again.
Staff members will gather the passport holders' biometric data in a discrete, non-intrusive, and rapid manner. For example, a digital camera will capture a facial image. In contrast, 10-digit fingers and thumbprints will be captured using a digital finger scanner.
When posing for your Schengen Visa photos, keep your regular haircut and avoid using sunglasses, dark optical glasses, or optical glasses with frames that obscure your eyes. In addition, avoid flash reflection in your spectacles. Only images of the applicant wearing optical glasses with no reviews and both eyes visible will be acceptable.
A parent or legal guardian will be asked to obtain an agreement to collect biometrics if the applicant is between the ages of 12 and 18.
In short, yes, you can reschedule your Schengen Visa appointment. But it is essential to note that you can only reschedule it further in the future. The process of rescheduling a Visa appointment is pretty straightforward. Here's how you can reschedule your Schengen Visa appointment:
That's all you need to do if you want to reschedule your Schengen Visa appointment.
A "Schengen Visa Cover Letter" is a letter that you compose and submit to the Schengen Embassy or Consulate along with your other Schengen Visa application (or "Covering Letter").
More information regarding your vacation's purpose and your plans to return to your country of origin should be included in the letter.
The letter serves as your introduction by providing a summary of your travel itinerary to the consular officials at the Embassy or Consulate (e.g., travel dates, employment background, etc.). Thus, your cover letter essentially acts as a synopsis of your Schengen Visa application.
Your cover letter must include the following information:
Please check out our Schengen Visa Cover Letter guide for more information and templates.
Travelers to Europe should be prepared to manage and afford medical care in the event of an accident, injury, or other unforeseen circumstance.
Travel insurance has provided travelers with the financial support and comfort they need to take care of unforeseen costs, allowing them to continue their journey without concern.
One-week coverage for Schengen travel insurance can be as low as €18 to €20. However, the price of Schengen insurance ultimately relies on several variables, including your age, the level of coverage you desire, the length of your trip, and the insurance provider.
Generally speaking, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, you cannot extend a Schengen Visa while traveling. If you want to stay longer, you must leave the Schengen Area and get a new visa before returning to prolong your vacation.
However, only extraordinary conditions will allow you to request a Schengen Visa extension.
You can only extend your Schengen Visa if one of the following is true:
Now that we've focused on all the important information about the Schengen Visa application, I feel it is essential to give you some tips. So, in this section, I will give you a few tips when applying for your following Schengen Visa.
The easiest way to get your Schengen Visa is to apply through Atlys. When you use Atlys, you do not even have to worry about which countries are the easiest to apply for.
However, we suggest the easiest country to apply for your Schengen Visa, is Germany. I advise doing this path even if Germany is not your final destination in Europe because it is much simpler to complete everything without attending a visa interview.
Also, check out our guide on the fastest and easiest way to get a Schengen Visa.
For a variety of reasons, non-Schengen nations respect Schengen visas. To begin with, some of these—including Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, and the Republic of Cyprus—are Schengen candidate nations. Furthermore, it is logical to believe that other nations trust those with Schengen visas, who are put through rigorous screening to ensure they will return to their home countries within the specified time frame.
Holders of a Schengen visa are also eligible for visa-free entry into nations that lack the resources, know-how, or capability necessary to conduct a thorough application screening comparable to that required for a Schengen visa. For that reason, your Schengen Visa can open doors to over 60 countries.
Please also feel free to check out our guide on how you can apply to a Schengen country you're not going to.
I hope that you enjoyed reading our guide for the Schengen Visa. The next time you travel to any one of the Schengen Areas, I know you have all the information for a successful application process. If you want to skip all the hassles of applying for your Schengen Visa, I suggest you use Atlys. Also, please check out our FAQ section for more information.
When applying for your Schengen Visa, it's best to either apply to the Embassy of the country you're traveling to or apply to the Embassy of the country where you will spend most of your time.
No, you can not apply for your Schengen Visa online. There are rumors that the EU is planning on digitalizing Schengen Visa applications. At the time of writing, you still must attend a Schengen Visa appointment and submit your documents.
No, unfortunately, you must apply for a UK Visa. Since Brexit, the UK is independent of the EU; therefore, you can not enter the UK with a Schengen Visa.
All citizens traveling to the Schengen territory or Europe Schengen Area must have a valid passport. Before entering the Schengen Area, you must show your passport to a Border Patrol official.
The Schengen Area, often known as the Schengen Countries Zone, is a group of 26 European countries that have removed cross-border border restrictions. France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland, and Scandinavian countries are among them, but not the United Kingdom or Ireland.
The Schengen Agreement is signed by most European Union (EU) countries. However, certain non-Schengen countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania, are signed but not yet active members and are only required to join in the future. In addition, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway are not members of the European Union, yet they are part of the Schengen Area.
In a small vineyard town called Schengen in Luxembourg, the Schengen accord was signed, establishing the principle of free movement between member nations and eliminating any barriers along their borders. So, if you've ever wondered why it's called 'Schengen,' here's your answer!
The new ETIAS travel authorization system in the European Union has recently generated a lot of excitement.
Five years ago, the system was originally put forth. However, progress has quickened because of the terrorist attacks in France and Belgium. This demonstrated the need for stricter security measures in the area.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System is the proposed system (ETIAS). It is based on the same US visa waiver program, the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization).
The system's objective is to gather data on visa-free visitors to the EU and ensure that those who constitute a security danger are recognized before entering the Schengen Zone.
The European Union's primary goal is to increase its citizens' internal and external security. To achieve this, a centralized system for giving travel authorizations to visitors from the EU and monitoring their movements within the Schengen area has been established.
Without a uniform visa policy that promotes the admission of lawful tourists into the EU while boosting internal security, the borderless Schengen Area cannot function effectively. Therefore, the EU has developed a uniform visa policy for transit through or intended stays of no more than 90 days in any 180 days in the territory of a Schengen State and transit through international transit areas of Schengen States' airports. As a result, the 26 Schengen countries were granted 15 million Schengen visas in 2019. In addition, other countries' citizens must have a visa upon arrival or while in transit.
When visiting the Schengen Area, citizens from various non-EU countries are needed to have a visa. The EU maintains a list of countries whose residents require a visa to cross their external borders and a list of countries whose nationals are exempt. Generally, a short-stay visa issued by one of the Schengen States permits the holder to travel for up to 90 days in any 180 days throughout the Schengen States. Visas for stays longer than that are still subject to national regulations.
Bilateral conversations may lead to decisions on visa-free admission to the Schengen Area. They are based on the countries' success in enacting fundamental changes in areas including strengthening the rule of law, combatting organized crime, corruption, and illegal migration, and increasing administrative capacity in border control and document security.
The EU Visa Code is the second component of the unified visa policy. It outlines the procedures and requirements for obtaining visas for short-term stays and airport transit.
The uniform format for the visa sticker is the third component of the visa policy.
Schengen States can share visa data through the Visa Information System (VIS) (consolidated version). It comprises a central information technology system and a communication infrastructure that connects it to national systems. In addition, VIS connects consulates in non-EU countries with all Schengen States' external border crossing locations. Furthermore, it manages information and makes judgments about applications for short-term visas to visit or transit through the Schengen Area. The system can do the biometric matching for identification and verification, principally of fingerprints.
Border guards can use VIS to verify that a person presenting a visa is the rightful holder and identify anyone discovered on the Schengen territory with no fraudulent documentation. In addition, biometric data can validate a visa holder's identification, making checks faster, more accurate, and more secure.