Travel Visas to Spain
This is a page all about visas to Spain. It includes information on tourist, student, work, spousal, and other types of visas as well as a collection of reader questions that I have answered.
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Q and A about visas to Spain
Can I return to Spain after overstaying my visa?
I am a mexican girl. Last year I was studying in spain. I had a student visa and I overstayed for 10 days in Spain because I had to do some paper work at school. I left Spain via the UK. I flew from Madrid to London and from London to Mexico. No one said to me anything nor in Spain or in Egland. I am applying for a new visa now, this time to study a Phd. I am wondering if I’ll have any problems to get my visa approved this time. Thank you for your help.
Although you could be denied a visa to continue your studies in Spain (visas can be denied for any reason or lack there of) because of your previous unpunished overstay, it is not my impression that this is very likely. As you were not impeded as you exited the region it is safe to assume that you were not entered into the SIS — the Schengen information system. I would assume that you could apply for a student visa without much worry.
How to exit Spain after overstaying a visa?
I had this time in my passport a Visa valid for four months in Spain, where I would have received my foreigner’s card that would have permitted to work in Spain for a year. Long story short, I didn’t get the job I was promised, so I did not have this card. I still decided to make the most out of my stay and travel in Europe after my 4 months visa expired. It expired in january. Since then I have been avoiding taking planes inside Europe and been travelling by bus. The point is, I’ve overstayed for 5 months now.
Right now I’m living in portugal, but I am leaving Europe around mid-june. I have, as I know now, three options for leaving:
Option 1: I leave from Malaga, in the south of Spain, just dress good, have a nice haircut, look confident and casual as I pass the controls at the airport. I hope the known laxism of the spanish culture will influence the decision of the guy to just let me go.
This is not a bad option, as many overstayers leave from Spain without being caught, but this is probably not the best option.
Option 2: I go north to take my plane from France. I hope the fact that so many french canadians take this route will influence in the fact that they will let me go easily without asking me anything…
Flights out of France have proved to work out well for many travelers who have overstayed in the Schengen zone. This is probably your best bet. Keep in mind that just about everything with Schengen immigration is inconsistent, so I can only give information out on the basis of patterns that I have observed.
As you know, the entire Schengen zone has dropped their internal borders, so there should be no immigration checks between countries, but keep in mind that I have received two reports of Spanish authorities checking passports coming into Spain from France. This should be directly against the Schengen treaty, but I have no reason to doubt these reports. So flying to France may be just as good of an option as going overland. There should be no immigration inspections on domestic flights (I have taken many and can attest to this).
Option 3: I take a boat from spain to Morroco, in a moroqui car. A morroqui guy I know in Maroc goes back every year to Morroco, and when you take the boat with a Moroqui car, they don’t ask anything, they don’t even check your passport as you leave the EU. But if you go walking on the boat they do check everything.
As for going to Morocco with the moroqui car. This could be an adequate option, but don’t bank on them not inspecting your passport — remember, inconsistencies are everywhere here. Just because your friend did not (or does not remember) having his passport inspected doesn’t mean you won’t. But, even if you do, Spain does not seem to be incredibly vigilant about prosecuting overstayers (though they seem much more active than France). If you leave from Spain on a flight back to Canada, make sure that you are not routed through any other Schengen country, as this will be where you go through immigration.
That [taking car to Morocco] option would have me go through the UK before going to montreal, as the flights from morroco to montreal are too expensive.
This is OK, as you are coming in from Morocco, a country that the UK has no immigration affiliation with. Although the UK is not a part of the Schengen zone, they will sometimes “assist” with Schengen immigration enforcement, but I have only received one confirmed report of them doing so. Again, by the time your flight lands in the UK, you would have cleared Schengen exit immigration two countries ago. There should be no problem, especially if you are just transferring flights.
First of all, since I don’t go trough to the computer system, I’m still officially in Europe? How can they know when I got out once I come back, to determine if I have the right to be there? Will they question me a lot when I come back? Will I have problems? Will the UK inform the EU that I am in fact out of the EU since I read they were collaborating?
Don’t make more of the Schengen immigration computer system (the SIS) than what it is. It is my impression that you are not really entered into the system unless you are prosecuted with a previous overstay. Although they probably could track each traveler who comes into and out of the region, this does not seem to be the case. I have heard a couple of cases where a traveler suspects that they are tracked in this computer system prior to being busted for an immigration infraction, but I currently feel that the this is not the rule. Generally, you will not have any problems with the SIS unless you are logged as an overstayer, but I suspect that this will change in the near future and every traveler will be logged and digitally monitored.
My fear is not to pay a fine, as I can borrow money to pay it. My fear is to be banned from the EU for three years, as I want to visit friends there in the future. I read on another site that if you payed the 600$ fine on the spot, in cash, at the airport, you didn’t have any other problem and you weren’t banned. Is that true?
Only Switzerland and Greece are currently fining visa overstayers. It has been the experience of some other travelers that paying these does NOT prevent them from being banned. Some pay are are still banned. Keep in mind that nothing about this Schengen immigration system is cut and dry. MANY travelers are told that they are not banned by immigration just to be denied entry the next time they try to re-enter the zone; some are told they are banned and have no troubles reentering. The experience of one person cannot be regarded as being the rule for everyone, but keep in mind that if you have ANY sort of hiccup when going through immigration, there is a reasonable possibility that you are banned.
And concerning this three year ban, I think I read on your site that people were still coming in Europe even though they had a ban, as long as they were not overstaying a second time. And as long as they don’t enter by germany or switzerland…
No, this is not necessarily true. Currently, the bans are enforced very inconsistently, sometimes banned individuals are allowed back in and sometimes they are denied. Not overstaying a second time has nothing to do with it, there is no force of login here. Generally, it is all left up to how diligent the immigration official is when checking you out that will determine if you are allowed back in. Also, it seems to take a while before your overstay record really comes up in the SIS. So some travelers who have overstayed return prior to their record being accessible, and then they think they are free to go, just to be busted at a later date. Though it is good practice to not used Germany, Switzerland, or the Netherlands as entry or exit hubs into the Schengen zone if you have any blemishes on your immigration record. The other countries are very hit and miss in terms of their enforcement of bans, and while there are patterns, there does not seem to be a rule to any of this.
Do you think I have to go trough all that Morroco problem to avoid a ban? Or are the spanish relax enough not to care? Are the french relax and see so many canadians that they won’t care?
Spain is still not a bad place to exit from if you’ve overstayed your visa. Lots of people report exiting from there without incident, but it is my impression that France is a better bet if you can make it up there. Again, there are no rules to any strategy here, only patterns, and France seems to have one of the better track record in terms of not prosecuting overstayers in the region.
One final point of advice here. If you are caught and have problems with immigration show them the paperwork for the Spanish work permit/ visa and tell them that you were awaiting your foreigner’s card. Blame the overstay on Spain’s inability to process your card in a timely matter, say that you overstayed because you were awaiting an immigration decision. Spain is notorious for taking a VERY long time issuing these residency permits, and, sometimes (but not always), overstays are overlooked if you can make it seem that you were waiting for a particular country’s immigration to issue you proper credentials. This is probably your best bet if you are caught, telling them a girlfriend story will do no good at all.
If so, then take a look at our Schengen visa community forum. It’s a community just for people who have questions or concerns related to Europe’s Schengen immigration zone.