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My Schengen Visa Experience - Digital Nomads Forum

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How do you get into and stay in foreign countries? VISA on arrival, e-VISA, or an embassy visit? We'll help you get the info you need to arrive at your destination.
User avatar
By digitalN0mad
#9
I thought I would share my visa experience with other people, mostly because other people's visa experience greatly helped my own. I know that this is a long, so let me start with the raw information and then tell my story after. Schengen area and Europa are different. Look them up. The southern countries are the most lax with immigration, you should enter and leave through there if you are "bending" the visa rules. The "bended" rules of the schengen visa is that you can't stay more than 90 consecutive days. Also I recommend getting a holiday working visa from a southern country in the Schengen area if you want to be there for more than 3 months because flying in and out of the Schengen area can be expensive.

My story starts with me and my girlfriend were nearing the end of our 90 day visa while living in Barcelona (that you get automatically when going into the Schengen area), at this point we were confused about Europa and the Schengen area and thought by going to Norway to visit some family I have there, we would leave the area and reset our visa's. We were totally wrong, in fact Norway may not be in the EU but surprise! It's in the Schengen visa treaty so we actually never even had our passports looked at.

At this point we were actually a little fucked because we left only 1 day before my girlfriends visa was due to expire and were spending a week in Norway. After some research we found out that we needed to find another place to reset the Visas as quick as possible. We looked into leaving the next day from Norway right-a-way but soon found out that most of the Northern countries in the Schengen area are very strict on their immigration control and even 1 day past on her visa, my girlfriend would probably be barred from returning, or a very very strict warning. We found out that Spain, France, and Italy are actually the most relaxed countries as well, so we decided to wait and leave from Barcelona to another country to reset the visa's. We picked England because it is not in the Schengen area, even though technically is still in the EU. So we arrived back in Barcelona (our home base) and caught a flight 18 hours later to go directly to London.

Leaving the airport in Barcelona was a rush for us, we were so worried that the immigration officer would pull her aside or say something. We were wrong again, the officer didn't even look, he just lackadaisically just grabbed the passports, flipped to the page and stamped and wished us off. What the fuck? So chill right? Right. So we continued on to London where the experience was the opposite. In London we were basically investigated by the immigration officer, especially since my girlfriend is from Brazil and does not speak English very well (yet, I got her a free Rosetta Stone haha). The officer straight called us out on resetting our visas by coming to London for 5 days, which I didn't deny but also didn't admit to it. I was also running on 6 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours and accidentally mentioned I was working remotely instead of just saying vacation; Always just say you are on vacation. Never mention work. At the end of it she let us through with a 6 month bar on our passports basically saying don't come back for at least 6 months or a year or ever. Which is fine with me because England is a pretty terrible place for sun-lovers like me.

So we made it into England barely. We spent 5 days in London only getting sick and seeing some cool sites. We returned to Barcelona and again had to go back through immigration. Here is when we were really freaking out, I mean my heart is pounding fast. BUT AGAIN, the guy barely even looks, like he couldn't care less of a shit about us or our visa, he just wants to move us a long. He stamps and we are HOME FREE!
User avatar
By Robert O'Kruk
#13
Wow, definitely a close call! Thanks for sharing :) How long were you living in Barcelona for / what did you think of it?
User avatar
By digitalN0mad
#14
I'm actually currently still living in Barcelona, I leave for Italy in 3 days. Barcelona is hands down one of my favorite cities ever. Everyone here is beautiful, I'm also bias because this is where me and my girlfriend met about 2 months ago. It's been a very magical experience for me. I come from Houston where we have a huge problem with overweight because everyone drives everywhere and like nobody walks. Here is crazy, I've never seen so many in-shape and beautiful people. Plus this city is like a second Amsterdam.
User avatar
By Robert O'Kruk
#22
That is awesome! My girlfriend has never been but it very excited to check it out one day. Any recommendations for when we make our way over?
User avatar
By digitalN0mad
#23
Well the one thing I had trouble with was finding cheap housing. Pretty much the entire market is filled with people who are renting at local prices and re-renting at outrageous prices. Any website in english is going to charge 100 - 1000 euros just as a finders fee. I would recommend looking in craigslist ahead of time. Or you could get lucky and find a really sweet place on AirBnB if you look far ahead enough. Either way you are going to pay $1000.00 + per month for your own place if you aren't renting for more than a year. I found the average price for your own place to be about $1000.00 - $2500.00 USD per month on a short-term basis.

I recommend doing some heavy research into your accomodations first hand. I wouldn't worry about being super close to the centre because the metro system in the city is amazing and cheap (10 euros for 10 rides). If you can try to find a house somewhere near Park Guell area that has a terrace if you can be so lucky. It's a beautiful area on the hill facing the sea.

Also the city is loud as all get-out so I definitely recommend being comfortable with that or ear plugs. :lol:
User avatar
By GabrielaPreiss
#3727
Thanks for sharing! From what I understand though, traveling through Schengen areas without a visa, you can't exceed 90 days in a 180 day window. So, what do you mean by resetting your 90 day time period by leaving the Schengen area to the UK? Is that possible too? I mean I know you caught side-eye by the British, b/c they knew what you were up to, but is it technically against the law?
User avatar
By digitalN0mad
#4823
Gabriel you are right, you cannot technically reset your visa. But you can leave before the 90 days is up, return and then wait out the 180 days. It's really a crazy plan and you hope that when you leave they don't count your days and you can leave and come back again at the end of the 180 days, again hoping they don't count your days too closely. My wife did this twice, first time flying to Morocco and coming back to Barcelona after her first 90 days and then later with me when we both did what I said with flying to the UK. Like I said, its not technically allowed, but my wife did it twice and I did it one time so it is possible to cheat the Visa and not get caught.

My general advice on this matter would be that if you are going to attempt to stay in the Schengen area for more than 90 days then you leave and enter out of Italy and you always make sure you don't spend more than 90 days consecutively in the Schengen zone. Italy is probably the most lax place ever.
By WGroleau
#5439
You have misunderstood the Schengen rules. Because Spain is so lax, you didn’t get caught, but you are technically illegal. The rule is 90 days in any consecutive 180. So, If you stay ninety days, go to England for five, and return, as soon as you arrive, you are in 91 days in only 96. It’s really easy to not get caught, but IF you get caught, you are banned from all Schengen countries for ten years unless you persuade the right person that you had a really good reason (such as being in a hospital on the proper exit day).
User avatar
By digitalN0mad
#5441
Maybe so, at the time of writing my original posts, I was not as informed about the Schengen laws. Now I believe I was technically illegal and just got lucky. I feel like 2 years ago there was little information given to me about the visa until I was already in Spain, I really hope this information is more readily available to travelers nowadays.
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