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The Schengen Visa and the UK

The Schengen system originated as an agreement between selected countries in 1985.

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    What is Schengen?

    The Schengen system originated as an agreement between selected countries in 1985. In 1999, following the Treaty of Amsterdam, the Schengen legislation became part of EU law. Currently, 28 EU members are also part of the Schengen Zone.

    The UK formally declined to sign up for the Schengen Agreement. It advocated that, as an island nation, frontier controls are needed to prevent illegal immigration.

    However, when the Schengen rules were incorporated into EU law, the UK obtained a restricted decision-making role. This means that the country may still request to participate in some aspects of this legislation upon approval of the other states.

    Whether you need to apply for a Schengen visa from the UK or enter the country with a Europe visa, we can advise you on your best options. If you have any further queries about your Schengen Visa in the UK, you can get in touch today with one of our experts.

    Applying for a Schengen Visa in the UK

    Several people in the UK hold permanent residence or immigrant visas but are not British citizens.

    Depending on your immigration status, your conditions to enter the Schengen area may differ. Nevertheless, you do not need to submit a Schengen Visa application if you are an EU national, regardless of your immigration status in the UK.

    Schengen Visa for British Citizens

    British citizens can travel through the Schengen Area, enjoying a visa-free status for a maximum of 90 days. From June 2014, the same right is extended to the citizens of all British Overseas Territories (BOTCs).

    Even if you do not need a visa, border officers can still need to confirm that you have enough funds to sustain your trip. It is also advisable to show an onward ticket to the UK. In addition, your passport needs to be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure from the Schengen Zone.

    The Schengen Visa concession does not cover employment or study in Europe. In other words, some Schengen countries may require you to apply for a national visa for intents other than tourism.

    Schengen Visa for UK ILR holders

    To get UK Permanent Residence, you need to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. This status allows you to reside in the UK without time nor immigrant restrictions.

    After three months on ILR, you may apply for a Schengen Visa for UK residents. If you wish to travel through Europe before this time, you must submit your application from your home country.

    Schengen Visa for UK citizens is free. However, the payment of a fee is necessary for British permanent resident interested in getting Schengen Visa in the UK.

    If you are an EU national holding ILR, you do not need to apply for a Schengen Visa from the UK. As a European citizen, you can benefit from the Schengen visa-free policy.

    Schengen Visa for spouses of UK nationals

    If you are on a UK Spouse Visa, you can apply for a Schengen Visa for spouses of EU national. To be eligible, you must be married to a UK, EU, or EEA national. Along with your application form, you must produce the following documents:

    • A copy of your marriage certificate;
    • A copy of the passport of your spouse.

    You are still required to submit all the relevant supporting documentation. This includes copies of your confirmed flights and accommodations in Europe. In addition, your spouse must sign your Schengen Visa application.

    If you are the partner of a UK national, but you also hold an EEA/EU Family Residential Card, you do not need to apply for a Europe Visa.

    How to apply for a Schengen Visa from the UK?

    ILR holders who have stayed in the country for at least three months can apply for a Schengen Visa for UK residents.

    If this is your case, to get your Schengen Visa from the UK, you need to book an appointment with the relevant consulate or embassy in London and will be required to submit the following documentation:

    • A copy of your passport, which should have been issued no more than ten years before the time of your application. It should also contain at least two blank pages;
    • Proof of your ILR status in the UK. Alternatively, you can provide a copy of your Biometric Residence Permit.
    • Your Schengen Visa application form;
    • A passport photograph complying with the Schengen standards;
    • Travel insurance with a minimum cover of €30,000;
    • A confirmed travel itinerary, including transportation and accommodation reservations;
    • Proof of sufficient funds to cover your journey;
    • A cover letter stating your purpose to visit Europe.

    Can you enter the UK with a Schengen Visa?

    Although it is an EU state member, the UK is not part of the Schengen system. Consequently, if you are a non-EU or EEA national, you cannot enter the UK with a Schengen Visa.

    Since the UK has an opt-out from the Schengen policy, border officers can check people coming from the rest of the EU. In other words, not all travelers may be entitled to enter the UK. However, due to EU rules on free movement of people, the UK must admit EU citizens unless they are committing any immigration fraud.

    To pass the UK border checks, non-EU nationals need a Standard Visitor Visa. You can submit your application at the British Consulate General of your home country. If you are already travelling abroad, you can still lodge your application with every British consulate in the world.

    Before you apply for a national visa, it is worth checking if your home country falls under the list of countries that need a permit for the UK.

    Can you get a Schengen Visa and a UK Visa at the same time?

    The Schengen Visa and UK national visas are different permits. Subsequently, you must submit two separate applications to the UK embassy in your country and the consulate of your destination in the EU.

    If you wish to visit the Schengen Area and the UK as part of the same trip, you can combine the two destinations. You still need to meet the requirements for both permits and have the required number of blank pages on your passport.

    If you are traveling and you wish to apply for Schengen Visa in the UK, the process will differ based on your immigration status in the country.

    Can you get a Schengen Visa if your UK Visa has been refused (or vice versa)?

    Although it is not part of the visa-free area, the UK uses the Schengen Information System to store information about travelers. Under this system, the UK can exchange its records with other countries for the sake of law enforcement and security.

    During your Schengen Visa interview, you will be asked about any past visa refusal. Since the UK is not part of the Schengen Zone, if your UK national visa application has been rejected, this will not affect your Visa for Europe decision.

    Likewise, you may wish to disclose if your Schengen Visa has been refused at the time of your UK national permit application.

    Schengen Visa and the UK: what will happen after Brexit?

    A legal binding protocol secures the UK special status within the Schengen Area to the EU Treaties. This was negotiated as part of the Treaty of Amsterdam and cannot be amended without the consent of the British government.

    In April 2019, the European Council agreed to grant visa-free conditions for a short stay to UK citizens in the case of Brexit. This means that UK nationals would be subject to the 90/180 rules.

    The UK could still decide to introduce visa requirements for nationals of Schengen countries. At that point, the EU would apply the mechanism of reciprocity, introducing, in turn, new immigration rules for British citizens.

    On the other hand, the EU Commission has confirmed that UK citizens will need to pay an ETIAS fee to visit Europe in the event of Brexit. From 2022, this will add a new requirement for British citizens traveling to the EU, that is completing an online ETIAS application form.

    The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a new travel authorisation system. It is being developed to improve the security and border control of the EU. When entering this area, applicants are screened using several international security databases.

    The ETIAS visa waiver will be valid for 3-year, allowing unlimited entries into the EU for British nationals. It would act as a Schengen Visa for UK residents.

    Schengen Visa and the UK: do you need help?

    If you are already in the UK, your Schengen Visa application process may differ based on your immigration status.

    Since your Schengen visa fee is non-refundable, you want to make sure to submit a successful application. For this reason, it is advisable to seek expert advice.

    At IAS, our immigration lawyer can advise you on the best way to get your Schengen Visa based on your immigration status in the UK.

    If you are on ILR or a Spouse Visa, we can support you through your application for a Schengen Visa from the UK. We can also help you with your supporting documents and assess your eligibility for a visa to travel to Europe.

    If you want to learn more about our immigration services, call us today, or use our online contact form. One of our advisers will be ready to listen to your case.

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