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extended (over 90 days) business travel in Schengen area

Travel Forums Europe extended (over 90 days) business travel in Schengen area

1. Posted by michael_us (Budding Member 19 posts) 8y

My job (as an American working for an American company) will require me to spend the first half of 2008 traveling between Schengen countries and the UK. I'll be in a different place each week, frequently London and Helsinki, but other cities as well. I'll probably return to a "home base" apartment on the weekends, but I haven't decided where. My Japanese girlfriend will be traveling with me some of the time.

I understand that the Schengen treaty (which covers most of the places I'll visit) allows only 90 days per 180 day period. But Holland is a Schengen country and its embassy website says Americans can stay *over* 90 days without a visa (contradicting the travel books).

On another thread I read that enforcement is intermittent, but I don't want to take any chances since others will be depending on me arriving as scheduled.

What's the legal way to do this? Get visas for all the countries I'll be in? The embassy people I've talked to so far don't seem to know anything. I'm fed up with all the ambiguity. Can anyone recommend an attorney in Europe who can figure this stuff out and/or help push through the visa applications? Who has time for this nonsense?

2. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 8y

Very simple: Get yourself a home base inside the Schengen area and apply for a residency permit there. Then your frequent travels around the Schengen area won't be a problem.

Easiest would be Germany, as I know for sure that as US-citizen you can apply for a residency permit in Germany after you entered Germany. You don't need to apply for it beforehand as you would need to do for other countries. It might be that the situation is similar in the Netherlands, don't know for sure.

Applying for a residency permit in Germany is pretty painless if you got some time for bureaucracy, a decent interpreter and the money to support yourself.

I would suggest a place around Frankfurt am Main, as Frankfurt Fraport is a major airport hub. It is also centrally located in Europe, flight times to many destinations in Europe are about the same.

Berlin would also be an option if most of your destinations can be reached by Air Berlin and easyjet and if you can time your schedule and book flights at least 2 weeks in advance.

The only problem I see with your application for a residency permit is that (since you'll be working) you'll need (urgh!) a working permit. Yes, even working for an American company. If you are on German soil, you are subject to German laws. If you are working there, your company has in effect established a branch - a branch that employs you. Your company will have to pay German taxes and German social welfare (hehe, good for you!), which is pretty complicated. I don't see an easy way around it, since I don't know what you are doing for your company. For some jobs you could register yourself as freelancer / self-employed (ie you found a German one-man company that does business with your American company). Freelance-work permits are relatively easy to get.

I understand that the Schengen treaty (which covers most of the places I'll visit) allows only 90 days per 180 day period. But Holland is a Schengen country and its embassy website says Americans can stay *over* 90 days without a visa (contradicting the travel books).

I believe you'll better understand Schengen if you think of the US federal law vs state law. Like US federal law the Schengen treaty lays down the basics, the individual execution of these Schengen laws is left up to the member states. What happens inside the states is their own business. It is thus possible that a US citizen can stay visafree for longer than 90 days inside the Netherlands, if Dutch law allows this. What this US citizen however could not do is to travel around the other Schengen member countries during this time.

Schengen visa types are the following: C and D. As US-citizen you don't need a C visa, you travel visafree. But you are subject to the same rules as a holder of a C visa (90 days out of 180, no work). Schengen D-visa are national visa, these are the visa you apply to if you intend to spend more than 90 days out of 180 inside the Schengen area.

D-Visa are practically vouchers for a residency permit in a certain country. A D-visa from the Spanish embassy will grant you residency permit in Spain, a D-visa from Austria will get you an Austrian residency permit. (For Germany and maybe other countries you don't need to apply for a D-visa beforehand, you can just come over and apply for a residency permit). To nationals who need C visa, they D-visa are given as C+D visa, allowing tourist travel in the other Schengen countries. You will recieve a D visa (or a residency permit), which will allow you to spent more than 90 days out of 180 in one country of the Schengen states, but for all other states you are subject to the 90/180 rule. It is thus smart to pick the country in Schengen where you'll be most of the time. Finland might thus be the best choice.

http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?nodeid=15721&contentlan=2&culture=en-US
http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?nodeid=15980&culture=en-US&contentlan=2

3. Posted by michael_us (Budding Member 19 posts) 8y

Thanks for responding. It turns out Yoko (my Japanese girlfriend) won't go along with applying for residency in a European country because her immigration attorney in the US warned her it could harm her green card status in America. With these constraints, it's looking like the UK is our only choice.

My main business in Europe is teaching a two-day class on new product development (mostly aimed at software developers and their management). My company's attorney has the opinion we only have to worry about VAT. As we understand it now, I'll be paying US income tax only, not taxes in multiple countries. But we could be wrong about this. We've been sending people over for a span of weeks; this will be the first time we've gone over for months at a time.

4. Posted by michael_us (Budding Member 19 posts) 8y

Quoting t_maia

You will recieve a D visa (or a residency permit), which will allow you to spent more than 90 days out of 180 in one country of the Schengen states, but for all other states you are subject to the 90/180 rule. It is thus smart to pick the country in Schengen where you'll be most of the time. Finland might thus be the best choice.

Just to be sure I understand this, if I got a D visa or residency permit for Finland, the time in Finland wouldn't subtract from the 90 available days in other Schengen countries? If so, I could see this working pretty well since I'd only need to work in other Schengen countries about 10 days per month. This would leave a good margin for touring Europe.