How to Legally Stay in Europe for more than 90 Days
Staying in Europe as an American citizen is much easier in comparison to other continents. Travel between the US and European countries is generally lenient, but every country has its laws regardless. For much of Europe, you cannot stay in a country for more than 90 days without the exceptions we will show you. These rules apply to most countries in the European Union and a few non-EU countries within what is known as the Schengen Area. While the EU countries of Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Cyprus are obliged to join but have not done so yet, Ireland and the United Kingdom have opted out of being in the Schengen Area. The intricacies of these visa laws are part of the reason why few people know how to stay in Europe past 90 days.
Do Some Research
Before you research how you can stay in Europe for more than 90 days, first see if you can. There are European countries that do not fall in the Schengen area, and going to or through those countries may affect your ability to stay past 90 days. This obviously doesn’t mean that only European countries in the Schengen Area let you stay 90 days. Countries such as Ukraine, Croatia, and Ireland let you stay 90 days; they’re just not in the Schengen Area.
Reasons to Stay in Europe for more than 90 Days
Stay on the Move
The first way to stay in Europe for longer than 90 days is by always moving. Although many countries share visa laws, moving between countries can ‘renew’ your stay in Europe. For example, you can only stay in the United Kingdom for up to 90 days at a time, but if you go to France for a day and come back, you can stay in the UK for another 90 days. This can work for many countries around Europe, but make sure you don’t do this regularly.
While countries allow re-entry in this manner, they might also have rules that can only allow you to be in the country for a limited number of days per year. Another way that you can travel through Europe is if you obtain short term transit visas and drive throughout the country. People who backpack through Europe always get a transit visa, which depending on the length of their trip saves money as well.
How long can you stay?
The length of stay on your visa is not only determined by your location, but also the type of visa you have. Certain visas merely allow you to stay for under 90 days without exception, so make sure you get the right visa before you decide to travel. Having a visa that does not allow multiple entries will most likely hurt your chances of being able to stay in Europe for more than 90 days. In situations such as having a student visa, make sure you consult with your university or institution before intending to stay past 90 days. This also applies to have a work visa, as employers will revoke your work permit if your visa is not valid.
Ask for an Extension
Another way of staying for longer than 90 days can be as simple as asking. If you are already in the country whose visa you obtained for, you can request an extension or a renewal on your visa. This can either be done through the country’s immigration department, online application, or back to the embassy which you applied to in the first place. If you are reapplying through the country’s immigration department, you will probably have to go through an interview with an official explaining your reason for staying past the 90 days given. Reapplying for an extension is much easy in some European countries than others. Countries like Sweden, Italy, and France, for instance, require the same documents and information as you would need the first time applying. Make sure you find out the specific documents necessary because two EU countries won’t necessarily have the same materials to fill out or the same requirements.
One of the more difficult ways to get a visa to last past 90 days is by applying for a particular type of visa. The types include a student, business, diplomatic, work, or an official visa. To get these visas, you will have to fulfill the requirements not just for getting the visa, but using it for its purpose. For instance, if you use your diplomatic visa to travel to the beach or resort on vacation, your visa can be revoked, and your chances of re-entering the country will drop drastically. This rule would probably be more lenient for those with a work visa. Since people with a work visa are typically staying in a foreign country for multiple years at a time, it won’t hurt a work visa holder to go on a vacation within the country once in a while. As for student visa travelers, make sure you have a letter from your institution abroad and back home approving of your need to stay past 90 days. These reasons will more than likely need to be for academic purposes, so if you want to remain in the country for new reasons, make sure to get a new visa.
The ultimate way to extend your visa is by marriage. Getting married to a European allows you to get a visa that will last you for life and will enable you to apply for the citizenship of the country you will travel. This option is not recommended unless you have sincere intentions to marry your partner. There have been situations where people get married for the sole purpose of being able to stay for as long as they want in their country of choice, which often doesn’t end well.
Agreement Between Countries
Certain countries have an agreement with the US that allow people to stay in their country past 90 days without a visa. One of these countries is France, which has a two-way agreement that disregards the Schengen visa laws for American citizens. The agreement allows US citizens to stay up to 180 days without a visa. This law was written before the Schengen Area rules, which helps the US and France to disregard it between each other. Given this, make sure not to overstay or search for loopholes to stay longer since it is already a privilege to stay longer than most countries without a visa.