What is a Schengen Visa?
The Schengen Visa is a document that allows its holder to travel throughout the Schengen Area. This type of visa is issued by one of the Schengen States, and allows you to visit any of the Schengen countries for a duration of up to 90 days in total within a period of six months.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Zone is a territory of 26 countries, and home to more than 400 million citizens. It was first initiated in 1985 by five EU member states in order to abolish internal borders. It consists of 22 European Union member states and four other countries that are part of the European Free Trade Association, which are Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.
Who Needs a Schengen Visa?
Every citizen of each country that is not part of the Schengen Area and whose country doesn’t have a visa Facilitation Agreement with the EU needs a visa in order to enter any of the member countries. To find out if you need a visa for Europe, Below check the list of countries whose citizens require a Schengen Visa. The Schengen states have common rules for issuing short-stay Schengen visas, which are valid within the entire Schengen area. These visas allow a person to stay and travel in the territories of Schengen states for a maximum of 90 days in any six month period.
Visa Information for Schengen countries
A holder of a Uniform Schengen visa can travel to all 26 member countries of the Schengen Area:
The Essential Features of The Schengen Zone
The abolition of borders between European countries has resulted with:
- Nationals of any world country, when in the Schengen Area, to liberally cross the internal borders of the state members, free from border checks
- Shared standards for crossing the external borders
- Harmonized entry and short-stay visa conditions for all state members
- Improved collaboration between the police of member countries
- Privileged judicial collaboration between members, including a faster extradition of criminals, and easier relocation for execution of criminal verdicts
- An advanced shared database, assisting member countries to quickly exchange information about people and goods between them, known as SIS
- Despite the extent of the freedom guaranteed by the Schengen Area, the police enjoys the authority to carry out checks at internal borders and in border areas, in specific circumstances, but this is not considered a border check. The police can require information from people at internal borders about the stay in Schenghen Zone and additional associated questions
- If lacking to have a complete Internal Security due to a serious threat, a member country can temporarily reintroduce border checks at its internal borders, but for not more than 30 days
The Criteria to Become a Schengen Member Country
Many European countries possess the determination to be part or to join the Schengen Area, but not all essentially can do this instantly. This for the fact that there are some pre-conditions or criteria that countries willing to join must have the capacity, or, need further preparation, to deal with, such as:
- To be able, that on behalf of other member countries, to control the external borders of the Area as well as to issue Uniform Schengen Visas
- To possess the competence that after the abolishment of border controls between member states, to capably collaborate with other member countries’ law enforcement agencies for a greater level of security
- To be equipped in applying “Schengen Acquis” or rules for controlling land, sea and air borders, issuing short-stay visas, police collaboration as well as protection of personal data
- To be ready to join and put in use the Schengen Information System SIS
- *Note: Before joining the visa free Area, the aspirant country is prone to a Schengen Evaluation. Afterwards, a member country undergoes a periodical evaluation to ensure the appropriate application of Schengen Acquis.