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Schengen Visa Types

When you are considering visiting Schengen area, you should consider various visa types, their validity, the number of times you can enter, and the duration you can stay.

Uniform Schengen Visa (USV)

Uniform Schengen Visa (USV) allows the holder to transit or stay in the Schengen area for a duration up to 90 days per every 180 days.

There are certain categories of Uniform Schengen Visa:

  • Airport Transit Visa (Type A)
  • Airport Transit Visa allows the holder to wait for a connecting flight from one non-Schengen country to another in the international transit area of an airport located in the Schengen area. It does not allow the holder to leave the airport, even if they desire an overnight hotel stay located outside the airport.

    More details

  • Short-stay Visa (Type C)
  • This is the regular Schengen visa that most people get. It is primarily used for tourism, visiting family and friends, business, and other allowed purposes.

Transit Visa (Separate from Airport Transit Visa) allows the holder to pass through the Schengen area to get from one non-Schengen country to another via car, bus, train, or airplane.  The maximum duration allowed under this visa is 5 days.  This visa would be helpful if you needed to spend a night in the hotel located outside the airport before taking another flight.

Number of Entries

When you read the Schengen visa sticker, you will see that the Schengen visa can be valid for a single, double, or multiple entry.

The number of entries you get depends upon the purpose and frequency of your travel.

  • Single-entry Visa
  • As the name suggests, it allows the holder to enter the Schengen area only once. Once the he/she leaves the Schengen area, the visa expires, and the holder is not allowed to enter again (without getting a new visa), no matter how small of a duration the visa holder spent in the Schengen area.

    The visa sticker will indicate “Number of Entries: 1”.
  • Double-entry Visa
  • As the name suggests, it allows the holder to enter the Schengen area twice. It can be helpful if your travel itinerary is to go to Schengen area and visit a non-Schengen country and enter the Schengen area again before concluding your journey.

    Once you have entered the Schengen area twice and leave, the visa expires, and you are not allowed to go back again without getting a new visa, even if you have not stayed in the Schengen area for the number of days mentioned in your visa.

    The visa sticker will indicate “Number of Entries: 2”.
  • Multiple-entry Visa
  • Multiple-entry Schengen visa allows the holder to travel to the Schengen area multiple times, up to 90 days at a time in any given 180 days period.

    The visa sticker will indicate “Number of Entries: MULT”.

    In order to get multiple-entry visa, the consulate officer will look at several factors, such as:
    • Justification or need to travel to the Schengen area frequently.
    • Your financial situation in your country of residence.
    • Whether you have left in time and not overstayed during previous visits.
    • Your genuine intention to leave the Schengen area before the expiration of authorized stay.

    When applying for such visa, you must submit a Schengen visa insurance declaration.

    This visa can be for various durations, based on your reason to travel often:
    • 1 Year Multiple-entry Visa
    • If you also had a double-entry Schengen visa and can show the proof why you are a frequent traveler, you can apply for this visa.

    • 3 Year Multiple-entry Visa
    • You would need to justify why you are a frequent traveler to the Schengen area and why you need a 3-year multiple-entry visa.

      Generally, in order to get this visa, you should have lawfully used two previously-issued Schengen visas.

    • 5 Year Multiple-entry Visa
    • Just like a 3-year visa, you will have to justify why you need a 5-year multiple-entry visa.

      Generally, in order to get this visa, you should have lawfully used a 3-year multiple-entry visa (MEV) and have applied for the 5-year MEV at least one year before the current 3-year MEV expires.

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Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) Visa

Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visa allows the holder to travel to one or more Schengen countries as mentioned in the visa sticker.  The visa holder is not allowed to travel to any other Schengen country.

Such visa is issued primarily for humanitarian reasons, national interests, or international obligations. Such a visa is considered an exception to Uniform visa.

Certain individuals may get this visa to travel to the Schengen area on an emergency when they don’t even have a passport yet.

Examples
If the visa sticker says:

GERMANY:  Allowed to visit only Germany
F-I:  Allowed to visit France and Italy only.
ETATS SCHENGEN (-F, I):  All Schengen countries except France and Italy

National Visa

The national visa (category D) is issued to the individuals who would like to enter the Schengen area for studying, working, or residing permanently in one of the Schengen countries. It can either be a single entry or multiple entry visa.

To get a National Visa, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You are an international student in a program that grants a Schengen visa up to one year.
  • You are an international student who is about to start full-time study in a course.  Such a visa may be issued for one year with possible extension.
  • You would be traveling to teach at a higher education institution or research center.
  • You are a sportsman, an artist, or other professional who would be traveling to share your expertise.
  • You are already traveling to the Schengen area, and your medical emergency prevents you from leaving the Schengen area in the allowed time frame.

Group Visa

A Schengen visa is normally issued individually. However, it is possible to get a group visa for a group of between 5 and 50 people if the members of the group enter the Schengen territory, stay there, and leave the territory as a group. A group visa is a transit visa or a visa limited to 30 days maximum. The group must have been formed prior to issuance of the visa.                          

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Schengen Visa Purpose

You can get a Schengen visa for various purposes, as listed below:

  • Tourism
  • This is the most widely used purpose for obtaining Schengen visa. The primary purpose here would be to do sightseeing and experiencing different cultures and food.
  • Business
  • If you need to travel to the Schengen area for business purposes, such as for a meeting, you should use this purpose. It is possible that you can get a quicker appointment in this category, which can be helpful during busy travel seasons.
  • Visiting Family or Friends
  • If you have family members or friends that stay in one of the Schengen countries whom you would like to visit, you can apply for Schengen visa. You must get a letter of invitation from them before applying for Schengen visa.
  • Cultural
  • If you are a performer in a concert, part of a film crew for shooting a movie, a writer presenting their book at a book fair, or going for a religious event, you can use this purpose.
  • Sports
  • If you would like to travel to the Schengen area for participating in sports activities, you can select this purpose.
  • Official Visit
  • You can select this purpose if you will be traveling to the Schengen area on an official duty.
  • Medical Reasons
  • If you would like to travel to the Schengen area for medical treatment, you can select this purpose. This is primarily used by people who have the sufficient money for expensive treatment, but adequate facilities are not available in their home country for their specific medical condition.
  • Study
  • If you would like attend an education institution, university course, language course, or take an entrance exam, you can select this purpose, as long you intend to stay for a maximum duration of 90 days for the same. It is not meant for long-term study, such as for a Master’s or PhD.
  • Transit
  • Allows to transit through the Schengen area when traveling by bus, train, car, or airplane. You must transit within the maximum of 5 days.

    It is also used by seafarers who need stop at the Schengen seaport for a short duration not to exceed 5 days.
  • Airport Transit
  • Allows you to transit through a Schengen airport when traveling from one non-Schengen country to another. The visa holders are not allowed to leave the international transit area of the airport.

    More details

    Airport transit must occur within 24 hours.

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