In 2021, 2.6 million short-term visas were issued by the Schengen member countries*. An impressive figure but certainly much lower than that of 2022, not yet published but which should reflect the post-Covid period.
While the Schengen visa is necessarily well known to people who have to apply for it because of their nationality, its rule of 90 days out of 180 is a little less so – it is nevertheless crucial, and controlled by the Schengen Information System. Some explanations on how it works in our article!
1 Entries, validity, duration: understand your Schengen visa
For a presentation of the Schengen short-stay visa, find our article Schengen visa: the new Holy Grail? – OUI Immigration (oui-immigration.com)
Your Schengen visa includes several pieces of information:
- Number of entries: single, double, or multiple
Depending on what the Consulate has decided to allocate to you, you will be entitled to a single entry, two entries or as many entries as you wish – in all cases, the duration of the stay is a maximum of 90 days in a period of 180 days.
- Duration / length of stay
The duration is the maximum number of days you are allowed in the Schengen area. This number may vary, but will always be a maximum of 90 days. This number starts on the first day of your entry into the Schengen area.
The Consulate may decide to grant you a Schengen short-stay visa of varying validity: this will be indicated in the point “From… until…”.
Concretely, if you have a single-entry Schengen visa, and you enter the Schengen zone on 1st June 2022, you must leave the Schengen zone no later than 31st August, i.e. 90 days maximum UNLESS the validity date is lower. You will then have to leave the territory before this date.
2 The 90/180 rule
This rule is applicable without exception to all Schengen countries: it allows anyone entering the Schengen area, with or without a visa (excluding Schengen citizens), to stay 90 days in the area out of 180 days. 180 days after entering the Schengen zone, you are normally re-authorized to enter the area (if you have not exceeded the previously allowed duration) and the countdown resumes.
3 How to calculate your days in the Schengen area
To calculate how many days you can spend in the Shengen space, you have to go back to the last 180 days and check how many days have been spent in the Space. The first and last entries are counted before 11:59 p.m. of the same day.
Are you lost in the calculation? You are not alone 😊 and many “Schengen Calculators” have been created to help you find your way around – here is for example the tool proposed by the European Commission: Short-stay Visa Calculator (europa.eu)
4 How are my entries checked?
Each time you enter the Schengen area, your biometric data and travel information are recorded by the SIS, the Schengen Information System. Your passport is also stamped when entering and leaving the Schengen area – it is therefore important to check that you have obtained these stamps.
Relatively little known, SIS has existed since 1990 and has been updated regularly: the last update dates from March 2023, and has provided SIS with new types of alerts, updated data and improved functionalities.
The SIS is a database whose aim is to strengthen the security of the European Union and to fight illegal immigration and terrorism. It is a very elaborate system, centralized and managed by the European Commission, bringing together the national SIS of all the countries using it and allowing them to communicate data from one state to another.
SIS is used by almost all member countries, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Bulgaria and Romania also have full access to the SIS, Croatia and the United Kingdom also have access and Cyprus is working on it.
All authorities have access to it (police, border police, customs, immigration authorities such as consulates, judicial authorities, Europol, Eurojust,….) and can create alerts: either security alerts concerning non desired individuals wishing to enter space, on missing persons or in the context of criminal investigations. Countries therefore collaborate by having access to this database.
Concrete example: applying for a Schengen visa for Spain because Germany has refused it will have little success, because the Consulate will immediately see via the SIS that your application has been rejected.
The famous ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System), whose implementation is planned for 2024 and which is a travel authorization to the Schengen area (similar to the American ESTA), will be linked to the SIS. Beware, the ETIAS is not a visa!
The big question is always: what if I travel within Europe, how do authories know that I spent 67 days in Italy or 25 days in France?
By definition, there are no border controls in the Schengen area. However, it should be borne in mind that national authorities may carry out random police checks at the borders between these countries and in border areas. In addition, all air/train journeys are subject to data recording, and can therefore trace the course of movements.
However, this remains a rather vague point!
5 What are the risks?
In case of non-compliance the Schengen visa’s conditions, or “overstay”, the consequences vary from country to country but constitute in all cases a violation of the law. To sum up, you expose yourself to fines, deportation, inadmissibility and in any case, difficulties in obtaining a future Schengen visa.
6 What if I want to stay longer?
It is not possible to extend a Schengen short-stay visa, except for exceptional reasons: force majeure, medical emergency, humanitarian emergency.
If you want to stay longer in a country, you will need to find an immigration solution related to work or family life. And for that, or for any other questions related to immigration, contact Oui Immigration firstname.lastname@example.org
*KCMD Web Portal (europa.eu)