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Traveling with an expired student visa

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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:09 AM
  #1
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Traveling with an expired student visa

Hello,

I know many people ask questions about student visas, but so far I have not been able to find an answer to my question.

I am American. I am in France on a student visa. My visa expires on September 10th and I have a date at the prefecture to renew it on September 26th. It was impossible to get one any earlier and normally this wouldnt be a problem, except that I will be traveling outside of the Schengen zone between August 31st and September 15th- meaning that I will be trying to get back into France with an expired visa.

I have tried to get a recepisse from the prefecture to say that I am in procedure and that I can travel, but it is not possible at the prefecture in Paris. I have tried to see if I can have a Visa de Retour from the country that I am visiting, but that is also not possible.

I was advised to not fly back to France in order to avoid border control, but rather to fly to Italy and take a train back to France. In this case, I was thinking to fly to Italy on the 9th of September (before my visa expires) and then take a train to Paris on the 15th.

One of my questions with that situation is, when renewing my visa, if I have an exit stamp saying that I left France on August 31st, but no re-entry stamp, could they deny the renewed visa?

Does anyone have any advice?
Thanks
Alora
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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:14 AM
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I'm sorry - but I think you're looking in the wrong place.

I have no idea what they WILL do - but they CAN do whatever they want.

I would go to a site that specializes in student visa issues - not a general travel site - since most of us are past student age - and have never had this specific issue.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:22 AM
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True- the better question would have been to ask: Will I have to deal with border control if I take a train between Italy and France?
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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:34 AM
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There is no border control between Schengen countries. If you fly back to Italy, you will have to have a valid visa, or passport.

This is not the right place for advice, but I would think that if you have a stamp in your passport from when you arrived in France, your student visa has expired, and you have been in a Schengen country for more than 90 days, you will have a problem entering Italy.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:36 AM
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If you manage to get into Italy, or any other Schengen country, you will have no problem getting to France.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:54 AM
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"I will be traveling outside of the Schengen zone between August 31st and September 15th- meaning that I will be trying to get back into France with an expired visa."

If it was me, I'd not try it. It would make me very nervous, and you could be denied entry. Then what would you do?

Cancel that trip till your visa is renewed, is my advice.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 10:58 AM
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Oh I love these questions…

The advice is to play by the rules and do things legally, even if it's inconvenient and a pain in the butt.

If it comes to light, when reapplying for your student visa, that your documentation isn't in order, such as being in France with an expired visa, then of course they could (and likely will) deny your renewed application. That's the risk you take when you don't play by the rules.

You need to decide on your priorities - renewing your visa or going travelling.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 12:35 PM
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There is no border control between Schengen countries.

Switzerland participates in the Schengen agreement, but there is definitely immigration control on the train between Italy and Switzerland; in fact, the person sitting on the other side of the aisle from us was taken off by immigration officials.
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Aug 13th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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"Switzerland participates in the Schengen agreement, but there is definitely immigration control on the train between Italy and Switzerland"

Not only on trains between Italy and Switzerland but on all international trains.
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Aug 14th, 2013, 01:18 AM
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"Not only on trains between Italy and Switzerland but on all international trains".

I have never seen any border controls on trains between the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany. There are no border controls on the roads either; only when you enter Switzerland.

The point is that you will enter Schengen in Italy, where they will check if you are allowed to enter. I would not risk it.
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Aug 14th, 2013, 01:27 AM
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"I have never seen any border controls on trains between the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany."

And still, they exist : http://www.police-nationale.interieu...aux-frontieres
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Aug 14th, 2013, 01:56 AM
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There are no border controls on international trains in the Schengen area like in the old days when customs officers would check each passenger's documents.
But very frequently, either uniformed or plain-clothed customs officers walk through the train and make random (or not so random) checks of specific individuals.
On trains from the Netherlands you can be certain to always have customs officers on board - mostly due to the different laws on soft drugs.
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Aug 14th, 2013, 03:41 AM
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As an American citizen, it is very unlikely that you would have any problem returning to France. Unlike many other European countries, France nearly never scans the passport of the "less problematic" nationalities even when you are flying into the country.

However, that is not good enough. I would go to a PAF office and ask them exactly what the rules are for a case such as yours. You'll be dealing with the PAF if you are controlled at any French border, so I would ask them for assistance rather than the préfecture.

http://www.police-nationale.interieu...Aux-Frontieres
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Aug 14th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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I am an American citizen and had to show my passport on a train from Paris to Normandy in 2010. Any thoughts on why this might have happened?
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Aug 14th, 2013, 07:56 AM
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^^ Sometimes you need to prove your ID as well just to prove that you are the person whose name appears on the train ticket. That's all. Nothing else is usually implied by them asking. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. It's quite irregular really.
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Aug 14th, 2013, 08:16 AM
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"and had to show my passport on a train from Paris to Normandy in 2010" Show it to whom? An SNCF employee? The police? Nothing unusual there, American or not. Who knows? You probably looked suspicious or unsavory, or it was just a run-of-the-mill identity check, something like “stop and frisk” in NYC.

As Cowboy mentioned, random checks are not unusual. In Spain you're required to always have a National Identification Card, Documento nacional de identidad (DNI), should you be stopped by the police. For foreigners it would be a passport or, for someone from North America, a driver's license with photo will usually work. The French also have a national identity card.

If you hadn’t had your passport with you while traveling, you would have had to produce a valid driver’s license and hope for the best.
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Aug 14th, 2013, 02:21 PM
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KL467
If it had been police or customs officers asking for your passport, it was because the Schengen agreement which got rid of mandatory border controls in most of the Continental EU implemented the power for police/customs to perform random spot controls on all major traffic arteries. Not only on international trains or at airports or ports.
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Aug 14th, 2013, 02:46 PM
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The whole point of the mobile customs units now is that they can check people and vehicles anywhere in the country and not just at the border. My parents were also stopped in Normandy for a customs check when driving a rental car with Luxembourg plates.
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Aug 15th, 2013, 02:22 AM
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There was certainly an extended argument over documentation, with someone taken away by officials, on a train from Austria to Germany (originating in Italy) that I was on in June. Italy is a route for illegal immigration into Schengen, so I imagine a fairly close eye is kept on train passengers.
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Aug 15th, 2013, 08:41 AM
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Thank you for your responses. It was an SNCF employee that asked to see my passport. Not a big deal. I was just curious.
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