I am a U.S. citizen, planning on a 6 month (maybe longer) stay in Europe, beginning in April 2011. From other posts, I think understand the 90/180 rule with the Shengen visa; also, from my understanding, I can stay as a visitor in the UK for up to 180 days in a 12 month period. I plan to spend most of my 90 days in Spain, making excursions UK and Morocco to stretch out the time. In trying to make the best plan, I have some questions:
1) Is it best to fly into London first or is it better to start my time in a Shengen country (Spain in my case)? Or does it matter? I ask because I'm wondering if the UK operates the same way as the Shengen countries; that is, the 'clock' starts upon entry, then stops upon exit, restarts upon re-entry (eg. 10 days in London, leave and then have 170 days left on my visitor visa).
2) Is it necessary to have a return ticket to the States at the onset? I am planning on a 6 month period, but I am not sure whether I want to fly back to the U.S. in 6 months. Ideally, I'd like to have some flexibility to decide the return date and departure city closer to the time I actually want to come back. I don't want to make my life difficult by raising eyebrows, but I'd like to keep my return plans open.
3) From what I've read, Morocco has a similar 90 day visa for U.S. citizens. Is traveling between Morocco and Spain fairly straight-forward with a U.S. passport?
4) Finally, I'm not planning on working as I am conducting research for a book (hence a desire for flexibility). Does anybody know anything about artist or journalist visas for Spain? I've been looking into them, but thought somebody might have some advice on that.
Any advice on how people have creatively worked out how to maximize visas would be appreciated! Any any advice on Morocco would be fabulous, as I have never been to North Africa.
!Thanks so much!