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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I'm hoping someone can help me with this. I am trying to come to France for 3 months to study French (although will not be taking enough hours for a student visa). After 3 months, I would like to go to Italy for 3 months.

I have been receiving conflicting answers regarding Schengen Zones - does anyone know if I HAVE to have a Schengen Visa to come to Europe? Or can I stay in France for 90 days, then go to Italy for 90 days?

Any advice is warmly welcomed!
 

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Hi,

I'm hoping someone can help me with this. I am trying to come to France for 3 months to study French (although will not be taking enough hours for a student visa). After 3 months, I would like to go to Italy for 3 months.

I have been receiving conflicting answers regarding Schengen Zones - does anyone know if I HAVE to have a Schengen Visa to come to Europe? Or can I stay in France for 90 days, then go to Italy for 90 days?

Any advice is warmly welcomed!
Hi Leigh!
This is what I found. It does say 90 days!
Schengen Visa
 

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OK, the site softtouch cited is a commercial publishing company that puts out a book about Schengen visas. It isn't an official government site, and they state there that you still have to submit the application form to the appropriate consulate for processing.

Since both of you are Americans, for you a "Schengen visa" is basically the European version of what we refer to here on the forum as a VWP (the US Visa Waiver Program). You don't actually apply for or get a visa - it's simply the fact that you are admitted to the Schengen area for a total of 90 days on presentation of your passport at your port of entry.

To answer your question, Leigh - no you don't need a Schengen visa as such to stay for up to 90 days. But if you arrive in France without any other sort of visa, you are said to be here on a Schengen visa. However, you don't have the right to overstay your 90 days - and that includes any side trips to Italy or anywhere else. The idea is that you are allowed to remain for 90 days out of 180 - so technically, you need to go back home or otherwise leave Europe for 90 days before you are eligible to visit somewhere else.

Practically speaking, enforcement of these 90 day stays is not nearly as strict as enforcement of the VWP in the US (where you have to turn in a receipt to document your departure). Still, you could run into problems if you are "caught" in flagrant violation of your terms of entry.

To stay for a total of six months, you would have to apply to either the French consulate or the Italian consulate for a six-month visa. During that six month period of time, you would have the right to visit other Schengen countries, though you would still have to fulfill the requirements for the six-month visa for whichever country you chose to apply to.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you so much, this is very helpful.

Unfortunately, you reaffirmed what I had already thought... It just seems so silly that in economic times such as these, if one is able and wanting to spend more than 90 days in Schengen territories, spending money and contributing to rather than being a drain on their economy, it should be allowed.

I guess it's time to start the Long Stay Visa process.
 

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Thank you so much, this is very helpful.

Unfortunately, you reaffirmed what I had already thought... It just seems so silly that in economic times such as these, if one is able and wanting to spend more than 90 days in Schengen territories, spending money and contributing to rather than being a drain on their economy, it should be allowed.

I guess it's time to start the Long Stay Visa process.
I know where you are coming from, and prior to Schengen agreement, you could do precisely that - 3 months in France, 3 months in Italy, then Germany and so on. Now Schengen is treated as one country, and you get 90 days in all the member countries combined. The rule suits 99% of tourists who want to visit Europe for a holiday and return home. But the other 1% includes those like you who want to stay longer in Schengen and have the means to do so. The law cannot cater for the 1% minority without compromising the integrity of the Schengen rules, hence the need to jump through hoops to obtain a long-stay visa for one of the countries. The 90-in-180 days rule is chiefly designed to make things difficult for those who want an indefinite stay in Europe, with the intention of picking up illegal work here and there to fund their travels or just enter Schengen and disappear into the black economy. The rule is really a protectionist measure against those who want to benefit illegally from opportunities that exist in Schengen countries, not a means to make things difficult for bona-fide tourists, whose dollar, yen etc is very welcome indeed!
You can of course combine your 90 days in Schengen with 90 days outside, such as UK, Ireland and certain countries in the Balkans (Croatia, Albania, Serbia etc) and Eastern Europe (e.g. Bulgaria, Romania), Turkey or North Africa. Then you can go to Italy for 90 days without needing to apply for any kind of visa.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
One more visa question for everyone...
I am in the process of getting my Long Stay Visa processed (and hopefully approved) for France. I asked the consulate if it mattered what country I entered France from, and they said no. However, I am trying to find more clarification before my next meeting with them... Does anyone know the answer to this: Can I got to Italy for two months, and then after 60 days enter France on a Long Stay visa? Or will I need to go to a non-schengen country before entering France on a Long Stay Visa?
Thanks again - this site has been incredibly helpful!
 

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One more visa question for everyone...
I am in the process of getting my Long Stay Visa processed (and hopefully approved) for France. I asked the consulate if it mattered what country I entered France from, and they said no. However, I am trying to find more clarification before my next meeting with them... Does anyone know the answer to this: Can I got to Italy for two months, and then after 60 days enter France on a Long Stay visa? Or will I need to go to a non-schengen country before entering France on a Long Stay Visa?
The trouble with going to Italy first is that it may eat into your long-stay visa's validity. Unless you can ask for the start of your French visa to be delayed by 2 months (I don't know if it's possible), your stay in France will be curtailed.
Your French visa (will be called type D national visa) may be endorsed as "+1 Transit 05 Schengen" - meaning you can enter through another Schengen country but then you have to enter France within 5 days. If you can have your French visa post-dated, then the thing to do is to enter Italy, then after 2 months leave for a non-Schengen country (such as UK), and enter France where you get a stamp to prove the start of your long-stay visa. If you just move from Italy to France, the absence of a stamp (there is no border control within Schengen) can raise doubt over when you actually entered France, and can become an issue when you try to obtain your residence permit (carte or titre de sejour).
 

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One more visa question for everyone...
I am in the process of getting my Long Stay Visa processed (and hopefully approved) for France. I asked the consulate if it mattered what country I entered France from, and they said no. However, I am trying to find more clarification before my next meeting with them... Does anyone know the answer to this: Can I got to Italy for two months, and then after 60 days enter France on a Long Stay visa? Or will I need to go to a non-schengen country before entering France on a Long Stay Visa?
Thanks again - this site has been incredibly helpful!
With the long-stay visa, what matters is when you enter France and get your visa stamped/validated. The fact of having been in Italy beforehand really has no bearing on your French visa status.

You should check with the consulate, though, to see what the expiration dates are for any visa they may grant you - both the time you have to enter France after receiving the visa, and the expiration date of the visa. It may be necessary for you to have the visa validated on entry within 30 to 60 days of your receiving it - or the expiration date of the visa may be the date it's over, no matter how long you delayed your entry.

As Joppa alluded to, the big danger in entering France on your long stay visa is that you may not be able to easily get your visa stamped on entry. There used to be a process where you could report to a local gendarmerie within a day or two of your arrival to "declare" your entry and have your visa stamped - but that was a few years back and I'm not sure if you can still do that anymore. Worst case, if you enter France from Italy - or another EU country - I would go to the local mairie as soon as you can after arrival, explain the situation and ask them where you should get your visa stamped.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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