Overstaying my welcome in the European Union by five days?
May 9, 2015 7:15 AM   Subscribe

My (German) student visa ends on May 25th. I was going to leave on the 20th, but now my exchange university in a different EU-country has asked me to attend a (really exciting) event on the 1st of June. Does anyone have personal experience with overstaying a visa in the European Union and could weigh in as to whether I should risk it? (Please no US-answers: I would never overstay a minute in the US, I know how ruthless US-Immigration is.)

I am a national of a country that is not considered an "illegal immigration risk" or "terrorist" or any of those labels (think something along the lines of Costa Rica or Argentina). I have never ever been controlled on the streets, probably owing to my relatively Western, harmless "little woman" aspect and behaviour.

My exchange here is completely legal according to the terms of the German visa. I would just be here a week longer than allowed. I would really like to go to this event, my professors and supervisors also really want me to go. It'll be prestigious and exciting and, trust me, you'd really want to overstay too!

As far as I have experienced, European entry points do not have an electronic register of exits, and my passport has never been stamped with an "exit" stamp (in yes, out never) in either of these countries.

In order to prolong my visa, I would have to do it through the German consulate, far away from here, and it would take longer than the time I have. Other ways of extending legally are unknown to me, and unknown to my nearest immigration officer.

The only risk I can foresee is that I do get carded in the last few days, and someone figures everything out, and I risk some kind of legal procedure that endangers my future plans. Namely, I need to return in August and stay in Europe for another 3 months to turn in my thesis and have my defense. So the consequences could be significant, but the odds of it happening are pretty low, I'd say.

But are there other horrible things that could happen to me I'm not foreseeing? Should I stay?
posted by ipsative to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't do it. Germany happens to be one of the more stringent countries when it comes to visas. Also, within the EU, you aren't usually given exit stamps when you travel around. It's when you leave the EU back to your home country where you have to go through passport control and get checked. If you are found to have overstayed your visa, you would risk a ban on entry or a fine. I've known people who've been banned from the EU for a number of years because they overstayed their visas - plus it's on your record which can make entering the EU a hassle even if you aren't banned.

If you're on a student visa, you can leave the EU zone when your visa is up and reenter as a tourist (provided you're citizen of a country that can get an automatic visa upon arrival). I am in the same situation and this is what I've been advised to do.
posted by cyml at 7:32 AM on May 9, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'm from a so called high risk immigration country and I've overstayed my Schengen visa several times already. When you leave, they're usually happy to see you go, so don't fret.

However, when you next apply for a Schengen visa, they'll ask you what happened for you to have overstayed your visa so you better have a good explanation. That, or you want to change passports before your next visa application.
posted by Kwadeng at 7:36 AM on May 9, 2015

Response by poster: not threadsitting, just a request for clarification: for cyml's suggestion to work, do I need to leave the EU or the Schengen Area? It makes a difference: one means I have to go to Switzerland, the other means I have to go to the UK.
posted by ipsative at 7:42 AM on May 9, 2015

Sorry, should have clarified. I was told to leave the Schengen Area, so the UK.
posted by cyml at 7:44 AM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

I replied rather cursorily earlier but on preview, I think you should just apply for a 1 week visa at the consulate of the EU country where the June 1st event is being held. And you should do it now.

Seeing that you're already in Germany on a student visa, that second visa should be a no brainer.

This will save you a lot of questions if you want to re-enter Germany in August to complete your studies.
posted by Kwadeng at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

I think you need to ask someone at your (inviting?) university's international affairs office for advice, because without knowing your nationality it is hard to find the rules, which do vary significantly by nationality - for example, Wikipedia's article on Schengen visa policy says that South Koreans, listed under something called Annex II (a whitelist of countries whose citizens do not require visas to enter Schengen) get an extra 90 days in the Czech Republic on Schengen-area 90-days-in-180-days tourist stamps, but US citizens don't.

Kwadeng's idea to talk to consular staff is also a good idea - they'll know for sure.
posted by mdonley at 7:59 AM on May 9, 2015

Thirding call up your country's consulate in Germany. For something so above-board, they'll likely be able to help.
posted by fraula at 8:18 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I would absolutely not overstay. Your risk of being penalized for exceeding the boundaries of your visa are much higher than you seem to believe they are, especially since as cyml alludes to, the information on your exit will be collected (and likely shared back) when you arrive at your next non-EU destination.

If you want to be able to return in August, you should really play by the rules now.
posted by yellowcandy at 12:10 PM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

I would leave the Schengen Area and re-enter to attend your conference.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:37 PM on May 9, 2015

Best answer: As far as I have experienced, European entry points do not have an electronic register of exits, and my passport has never been stamped with an "exit" stamp (in yes, out never) in either of these countries.

I am an American who has been flying in and out of Berlin for the last 3 years, and I have had my passport stamped multiple times upon leaving the EU. I would absolutely not count on being able to just slip through customs, particularly if it is necessary for your schooling to be back in Germany in August. In my experience, German bureaucrats are very unforgiving if you don't have all of your paperwork in order. You don't want to get marked as someone who has overstayed a visa.

Talk to the consulate of the country where you are going and see if you can get a short tourist visa to last you through the conference. Or leave the Schengen zone when your visa expires and attempt to re-enter as a tourist (I wouldn't count one hundred percent on that working, though).

In the end, this may just be an opportunity that you'll have to miss. It sucks, but life works like that sometimes. Think about it in terms of possible risks and possible consequences: is one event (no matter how exciting) worth the chance that you will be denied entry to the EU and Germany in August and will therefore be unable to finish your doctoral thesis and defense?
posted by colfax at 3:10 AM on May 10, 2015

As far as I have experienced, European entry points do not have an electronic register of exits, and my passport has never been stamped with an "exit" stamp (in yes, out never) in either of these countries.

They know exactly who is flying because the airlines tell them. Your boarding pass is linked to a register. Passport stamps are theatre for the most part.
posted by epo at 4:05 AM on May 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

It will take a few euros and a few hours to fly to England on Ryanair and back. I'd do that assuming you don't need or can easily get a tourist visa for your return.
posted by benbenson at 10:42 AM on May 10, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all for your input and experiences. I have an appointment at the consulate tomorrow, ask them what they can do for me. If I discover something new, I'll post it here so future travellers can benefit from my experience.

In the worst case, the next Schengen border is 5 hours and a scenic route away from here, so I'll make a road trip there to get my stamps on my passport.
posted by ipsative at 1:42 PM on May 11, 2015

Response by poster: So. I asked at the German honorary consulate in Alicante and at the Spanish National Police.

The right way to go about this would be to either get an extension of my residence permit at a proper (not honorary) consulate, either in Barcelona or Madrid. That takes weeks and is not possible for just the few days I need.

So either that, or leave the Schengen area and return with a new stamp on my passport that says I just entered the EU. My nationality can enter the UK and the EU for 90 days (in a 180 day period) as a tourist, so provided I fulfill the requirements at entry (return ticket or the means to buy it + enough funds to cover my stay + health insurance), it should normally work.

And then the Spanish immigration officer said: "Speaking now as myself, imagine I have no badge on right now. If I were you I'd do nothing". He said I should just go to my event and leave as soon as possible after that. In the meantime I should "avoid bar brawls at night" and keep clear of police. If I did get ID-controlled, I should carry my residence permit, my return ticket and my passport with me. Strictly speaking people are supposed to leave at the latest on the day their permit expires. But he said it's not enforced that strictly: no police officer will report you for deportation if you can show you are leaving anyway in the next few days.

"As an officer though, I have to tell you you need to leave the EU before your permit ends". And then he smiled and winked.
posted by ipsative at 5:41 AM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

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