Interest Pieces

Understanding Schengen Visa Types and Validity Periods

In ordinary cases, Schengen visas authorize people from non-Schengen countries to travel to and stay in any country within the Schengen Zone (comprising 26 European countries) as well as to move freely between them for a specific period.

However, some restrictions could apply depending on the type of visa issued and the purposes and context of the visit.

Uniform Schengen Visa

The Uniform Schengen Visa (or USV in short) allows holders to remain in an EU or EFTA Schengen member country for a maximum of 90 days in a period of 6 months.

USV are categorized as follows:

  • “A” Category: Also known as “Airport Travel Visa”. It grants holders authorization to transit through a Schengen country airport in order to take a flight to another Schengen country or a non-Schengen country. This visa category is also required if you’re taking a flight between non-Schengen countries with a stopover in a Schengen Zone country airport.
  • “C” Category: It allows holders to remain in the Schengen country until it expires or you leave the country for a first or second time. You would have to clearly state the purpose of your visit when applying for this visa, whether it be for tourism, family reunion, business, official visit, education, cultural or sporting events, or medical reasons.

“C” Category visas, in turn, are classified as follows:

  • Single-entry visa: Holders can only enter a Schengen Area country once, and their allowance expires once they leave, meaning they won’t be granted access a second time. This doesn’t impede individuals authorized under this type of Schengen visa to travel to other countries within the Schengen Zone until the expiration date.
  • Double-entry visa: It’s similar to the single-entry visa, but in this case (and as the name suggests), the holder is granted two entries instead of one. Just as with the single-entry visa, double-entry visa holders can still travel to other Schengen countries after they left a Schengen territory a second time, but they can’t return to the same country they twice left.
  • Multiple-entry visas: Holders of these visas can enter and leave a Schengen country as many times as they wish, provided the visa is not past its validity period.

Multiple-entry visas might be obtained for a 90-day period, but they can also be issued for longer timeframes, to wit:

Image Source

1-year multiple-entry Schengen visa

A 1-year multiple-entry visa can be obtained if you have already held three visas within the 2 years prior. You would need to show evidence of the trips you made and the previous visas granted.

This doesn’t mean that you can stay in the Schengen country for more than 90 days, but you’re allowed to travel as many times as you wish during the year, as long as you don’t remain for more than 90 days within the 1-year window.

3-year multiple-entry Schengen visa

The 3-year multiple-entry Schengen visa is issued to candidates who used a 1-year multiple-entry visa legally within the last 2 years.

Holders are authorized to travel to the Schengen Area as many times as they wish within 3 years, as long as they abide by the 90/180-day rule.

5-year multiple-entry Schengen visa

This visa grants holders the ability to travel in and out of any Schengen Area country within a 5-year period.

To be eligible for a 5-year multiple-entry Schengen visa, you ought to have been under a multiple-entry visa that was valid for 2 years minimum in the last 3 years.

Limited Territorial Validity Visa

This visa (known by the acronym LTV) will only enable you to travel to the precise Schengen country that issued it or to the countries specifically mentioned in the decision. Holders are barred from traveling to or transiting through other Schengen states not included in the visa.

These types of visas are exceptional and only granted due to humanitarian reasons or to fulfill international obligations. Individuals who must travel to a Schengen Area country to tend to an emergency are eligible for a TLV visa, under the condition that they’re able to show sufficient proof.

National Visas

National visas (also referred to as “D” category visas) are obtained for education or employment purposes.

They may also be granted for single or multiple entries. Single-entry national visas are catered towards people who need to remain in the Schengen Area country for a specific purpose, whereas multiple-entry national visas are given to certain people under specific conditions, which may vary from consulate to consulate.

To obtain a D-type national visa, the applicant should meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be part of an international student program. The visa will be issued for a period not exceeding 1 year.
  • Be a student that enrolled and was admitted to a full course of studies in a Schengen country. This visa would be granted for 1 year and it’s extendable.
  • Be hired to engage in pedagogical work at a research center or higher institution in a Schengen country. Close family members can be included in the petition.
  • Be a professional sportsman, artist, or expert in any other field and aims to travel to a Schengen country to share knowledge.
  • Be in an emergency situation, such as suffering from a medical condition that thwarts the possibility of exiting the Schengen Area before the visa expires.

Distinction Between Validity and Duration of Stay

As you could possibly deduce from our explanation of multiple-entry visas, the validity of a visa is not to be confused with the allowed duration of your visit.

Visas can be granted for multiple years, authorizing multiple entries to a Schengen country. Yet, this visa only permits limited stay periods within a year or 180-day timeframe, depending on the type of visa under review.

In other words, if you already spent your duration allowance within a yearly or 180-day window, that would have no bearing on the validity of the visa, meaning that you don’t need to fill out a new visa application to be able to legally visit the Schengen territory after the “cooldown” period, provided that the visa is still in force.

Get Schengen Visa Help

Getting a Schengen visa application approved could be tricky if you are not very familiar with the procedures and its regulatory framework.

Our immigration lawyers at Total Law can assist you every step of the way whenever you wish to apply for a Schengen visa. You can contact us today to find out more about the services we offer.