Following discussion on rules for travelling within the Schengen area for holders of national long-stay visas (visas for stay exceeding 90 days), the European Commission has presented a new interpretation of Schengen rules which brings a number of changes into travelling for third-country nationals staying in the Czech Republic with long-term visas (this rules apply also long-stay visas issued by other Schengen states).
Key points of this new interpretation are as follows:
Long stays spent in one Schengen state on the basis of its national long-stay visa (visa type D or D+C) do not count when calculating number of days spent on the Schengen territory. The main reason behind this interpretation is the fact that Community rules only cover short stays. In this context, previous or parallel long stays are irrelevant.
To this end, foreign nationals staying on the territory of one Schengen state on the basis of a long-stay visa who are:
- foreign nationals not subject to the visa requirement, may for up to 3 months in any half year move freely within other Schengen states irrespective of the number of days spent on the territory of the Schengen state which issued the long-stay visa;
- foreign nationals subject to the visa requirement, may according to this interpretation submit an application for a short-stay uniform Schengen visa (category C) to a diplomatic mission of a Schengen state, which they intend to visit, located inside the Schengen territory; holders of a D+C visa may do so only in the second half year as they have the right to travel within Schengen automatically for the first 3 months of the validity of their D+C visa;
- diplomatic missions of Schengen states located on the Schengen territory should accept applications for uniform Schengen visas submitted by third-country nationals staying in the long term in other member states on the basis of a long-stay visa. Due to the fact that the new interpretation by the European Commission was presented recently, it is highly advisable to verify this at the particular diplomatic mission!
New interpretation also states that holders of national long-stay visa may travel to the territories of other Schengen states not only during their long stay in one Schengen state, but also 3 months after the expiration of validity of his/her long-stay visa or residence permit.
Practical problem in an "area without borders" remain proof of time period spent outside the territory of the state which issued the D/D+C visa. Every foreign national should seek information about report duty in the state which he/she intends to visit. Rules concerning this duty may differ from state to state. The Czech Republic obliges third-country nationals to report their presence on the Czech territory to the inspectorate of the Alien Police in charge of the territory of their intended stay within 3 working days from the day of entering the Czech Republic.
New interpretation does not change travelling rules for holders of residence permit (issued by the Czech Republic or another Schengen states) during the residence permit's validity.
Holders of (long-term or permanent) residence permit may spend up to 3 months on the territory of other Schengen states than the one which issued their residence permit. They do not need any visa; all they need is to be in possession of a valid travel document and a residence permit.
Newly, holders of residence permit who are not subject to the visa requirement may travel visa-free within Schengen also 3 months after the expiration of the validity of their residence permit.
Attention! In the case of the Czech Republic, it needs to be distinguished between a long-stay visa (visa for stay over 90 days) and long-term residence permit. Possibilities to travel of holders of a long-stay visa and a long-term residence permit differ significantly!
What do these changes mean in practice?
- Issuance of uniform Schengen visas on the Schengen territory
Diplomatic missions of Schengen states located on the Schengen territory should accept applications and issue uniform Schengen visas to persons who hold long-stay visas issued by other Schengen states and who, at the same time, are subject to the short-stay visa requirement.
This concerns uniform Schengen visa Category C which enables stay in the Schengen area for up to 3 months within any half year following the day of first entry into the Schengen territory.
A foreign national subject to the visa requirement who lives in the Czech Republic on the basis of a long-stay visa (so called visa for stay over 90 days - "vízum k pobytu nad 90 dnů") and intends to visit other Schengen states, no longer needs to leave the Czech Republic for the purpose of submitting the visa application. He/she may submit the application also at the diplomatic mission of the Schengen state which he/she intends to visit, in Prague. Equally, a holder of a long-stay visa issued by another Schengen state may apply for a uniform Schengen visa at the diplomatic mission of the Czech Republic in the state where he/she lives.
In case they wish to travel to other Schengen states, Schengen visa is needed also by holders of D+C long-stay visas of which validity has exceeded the first 3 months. The Schengen visa may be issued to them with validity falling at the earliest into second half year of their stay in the Czech Republic, which is counted from the first entry into the Czech territory with such a visa.
Example: Foreign national living in the Czech Republic on the basis of a visa for stay over 90 days (category D visa) who wish to spend one-week holiday in Italy, may apply for short-stay uniform Schengen visa at the Italian Embassy in Prague.
When submitting the application for a uniform Schengen visa, rules for determining the state responsible for deciding on an application have to be obeyed. Visa may be applied at the diplomatic mission of a Schengen state which represents the sole or main destination of the visit.
- Third-country nationals not subject to the visa requirement
Nationals of these countries (e.g. USA, Canada or Japan) have the right to stay on the Schengen territory for tourist purposes without any visas for up to 3 months within any half-year following the first day of entry into the Schengen territory (so called Schengen clause). Newly, number of days spent on the territory of the Czech Republic or other Schengen state on the basis of a long-stay visa, does not count into this "Schengen clause". In practice, these nationals may spent up to 3 months in any half year on the territory of other Schengen states during or after the end of stay in the Czech Republic on the basis of a long-stay visa - within single or more stays which are calculated together.
Example: American national became holder of the Czech visa for stay over 90 days on 1 June 2008; the visa was issued with validity of 1 year. Previous 3 months, he spent in the Czech Republic without any visa and has thus "consumed" three-month-visa-free Schengen stay. Now, he may stay in the Czech Republic or leave its territory via a direct flight into a non-Schengen country. He may visit another Schengen state on 1 September 2008 at the earliest as on this date a new half year starts to be calculated within which he may spent up to 3 months in other Schengen states.
New interpretation does not change anything with regards to rules for travelling of foreign nationals not subject to visa requirement in the case of short stays not exceeding 3 months. These nationals still do not need any visas in case they wish to spend on the Schengen territory for tourist purposes max. 3 months within half year following the first day of entry into the Schengen territory. If they wish to extend their stay in the Schengen area or if they wish to work, they have to become holders of a long-stay visa or a residence permit. Otherwise they are obliged to leave the Schengen territory after spending 3 months in Schengen.
- Third-country nationals subject to the visa requirement
Third-country nationals staying in the Czech Republic on the basis of a D visa still need a visa when travelling to other Schengen states - so called uniform Schengen visa Category C. Long-stay D visas authorise their holders solely to one transit through the territories of other Schengen states in direction to the state which issued such a D visa; an additional visa is not needed only in cases of direct flights to destination outside Schengen not requiring a visa. Unlike the previous praxis, this Schengen visa may be applied also at the diplomatic mission of Schengen states inside the Schengen area, including the Czech Republic - no travelling outside Schengen is needed in order to submit and pick up the visa. This visa can be issued to the holders of D+C visa with validity falling at the earliest into second half-year - more details see above.
Example: Ukrainian national works in the Czech Republic and has a long-stay visa. So far, travelling to other Schengen states was possible only thanks to uniform Schengen visa which had to be applied only in a third country. Therefore, he had to take a direct flight to Ukraine, submit the visa application, return back to the Czech Republic and after processing the visa application return back to Ukraine in order to get the visa. Now, he may stay in the Czech Republic as short-stay visa for his holiday in Italy may be applied also at the Italian Embassy in Prague.