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Visa for one Schengen Country, and traveling with EU spouse and children

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Oct 23rd, 2016, 06:10 AM
  #1
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Visa for one Schengen Country, and traveling with EU spouse and children

Hello,
I am an American citizen residing in Portugal with my Portuguese-American husband and children. The three of them hold dual passports. My citizenship in Portugal is in process. In the interim, I have a visa which allows me to be in Portugal (as my 90 days were recently up).
We wish to take a trip to France on tourism, all of us together.
It is my impression that under Schengen directive 2004/38/EC I may travel with my family because they are EU citizens.
Our Portugal immigration agent suggested to write an email to the French Consulate to ask for a visitors visa for myself, stating that given the details, it would be no problem- just to have to show in case there was any question at the airport.
Upon doing that, I was passed around to more than one French Consulate (with remarks like "I don't know, do you?" between them), the final of which just said "You may not go to France". But I do not think this agent took into account that I was traveling WITH my EU passport holding family. I did not mention the directive in the email as I didn't realize there would be any question as to my ability to travel to France.

We have booked tickets (prior to this email exchange) and plan to be traveling from a small airport in Portugal to a small airport in France-- so, firmly within the Schengen zone. Has anyone been in the same situation and encountered any problem? I am inclined to believe the french consulate was merely being quick with a response, rather than looking into our details. I have encountered agents at many of the consulates we have dealt with that all have different answers when asked questions regarding travel. If stopped or questioned, I plan to utilize my rights (using directive 2004/38/EC ----I have proof of the connection, both with my children's birth certificates and my marriage certificate), however, given the unclearness of the document, I want to confirm that I am in fact in the right.

Any insight by individuals familiar with this specific situation or one similar would be helpful.

Thank you.
barney1983 is offline  
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 06:24 AM
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uh ?
The idea of Schengen is to travel freely between states in Europe.
So not going into details, it is my understanding that you get the visa to get into one country (the one in whcih you are staying the longest) then you are free to go to any Schengen country.
But I am no specialist.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 07:36 AM
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Once you have Portuguese residence permit (autorização de residência) stating you are a family member of a Portuguese citizen, you are allowed to travel for 90-in-180 days in other Schengen states, but in practice, it's not rigorously enforced. If you only have a visa, you are supposed to apply for residence permit at a regional office of Portuguese Immigration Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, SEF).
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 07:48 AM
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While your application in Portugal is pending, it is not necessarily the case that you can travel to other countries, even in Schengen.

A friend of mine had applied for a residents permit in Belgium, and was not allowed to travel to the Netherlands while this was pending; even though her husband is Dutch. She was warned that she could be deported if stopped and checked in the Netherlands.

I would take advice from a professional on this, rather than risk being send back to the US.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 07:53 AM
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That's why I said make sure you apply and take your residence permit when travelling to other Schengen states. Don't travel without it.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 08:33 AM
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@alec Thank you for your response. I have an appointment for my residence permit in about 3 weeks --- my permit is pretty much a guarantee. Our tickets to France are for next week. We cannot get out of our accommodations, so if we do not go we will lose money on the plane tickets and the apartment costs for 8 nights.

Do you have any insight into why the above mentioned directive is not applicable in this situation? I am legally residing. That's why I went to the trouble to ALSO get a visa when SEF told me that simply having an appointment for the residence card was all I needed for legality here in Portugal.

additionally- how common is it for passports and visas to be scrutinized at the smaller inter-Schengen-area airports?

@Tulips- thank you for your response as well.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 09:30 AM
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I've never been on any plane in Europe, going within Schengen or not, where you didn't have to show some ID somewhere at the airport. People can't just walk onto a plane without showing ID somewhere from arriving at the airport, thank goodness. It seems to me it is often at the outer security control, you can't get into the area where the gates are without showing them your passport and boarding pass. So they are the ones who will check it. Also, if you need to check-in at the counter, they will check it. I think I've been on some airlines where they also checked it at the gate.

This isn't really a visa check but an ID check. Have you never flown within Europe before? What has been your experience?

I don't know where you are going in France, but it would have been safer to take the train in terms of checking passports. It is a long train ride from Portugal, though, even to southern France.

Maybe you have a lawyer you could ask. I don't think that directive you cited pertains to tourist travel, I think it has to do with the right of the spouse of an EU citizen to reside legally with him in his EU residence while awaiting the permanent resident status (or the right to move there with the spouse). I don't think it means you can go wherever he goes on holiday.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 09:40 AM
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You have the right under EU rules, but you still need to be in possession of permit or other documentary evidence in order to cross borders, even the so-called borderless Schengen zone. You can cite your right, but whether it will work or not is a moot point. While there is no formal passport checks, in the current security situation (especially in France), random checks are quite common, and lack of residence permit may be a reason for refused entry. All you can do, if you are willing to risk it, is to show your visa and argue your case.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 11:43 AM
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'I've never been on any plane in Europe, going within Schengen or not, where you didn't have to show some ID somewhere at the airport. People can't just walk onto a plane without showing ID somewhere from arriving at the airport, thank goodness.'

About 20% of the time I don't show my ID at all. SO yes people can board a plane without any paper.

Increasing now with apps where you download everything on your Iphone - nobody checks anymore untill at the boarding gate - and these people are neither rigorous nor specialists - it is not in the 2,4 secs when they hold my card that they could spot a fake one, would it ?

But you would not risk being caught if you are a honest person.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 12:10 PM
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Christina-
Thanks for your response. Of course I've flown in Europe. I don't think you understood my question abut the passport scrutiny. I have a valid passport with a current Visa, so I have no problems using it for ID. It's whether or not the agent at the border might get huffy about my Visa being for Portugal and not France.

Alec-
Thank you. I believe I am in the right but wanted a second opinion. I will have all papers with me pertaining to that right- ready to show if necessary. I was supposed to have already had my residence permit in hand, except SEF went on strike the day of my appt. and I got pushed back. As long as the worst that can happen is they refuse entry, then it's worth it to me since I already spent the money.
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Oct 23rd, 2016, 07:48 PM
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You said you visa is valid in Portugal until your citizenship document turns up. I see nothing to indicate that visa would be valid in France. Once you have the citizenship you can go where you want but until then - do you want to take the chance of being deported to the US.

If it were me I would just push the vacation back past the date when you get the citizenship document from the Portuguese government.
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Oct 24th, 2016, 12:40 AM
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I have been doing quite a bit of research on this matter as I intend to travel to France & the rest of Europe with my French husband and kids.It seems like EU nationals CAN travel with non EU spouse/family without restrictions in the Schengen area. You will have LESS restrictions/visa obligations in France than I, a spouse of a French national. You mention that you have a Portuguese visa stamp. Is it still valid? If yes, absolutely no problem. Plus, if the French embassy doesn't have the answers I highly doubt the people at the airport will. You are traveling to another Schengen country so yes, security + I.D but I believe you will not have to pass through immigration at the destination(?) For extra peace of mind they cannot/will not deport the parent of a EU national. Have a great trip!
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Oct 24th, 2016, 02:41 AM
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Did you get married in Portugal? I hold an Irish passport, so am good to be in the EU as long as I want, and we live here (in France). My husband, who is American and does not yet have his carte de séjour in France, has had to prove he is married to me twice upon arriving by plane from other Schengen countries (the Netherlands being the last one). We carry our livret de famille and a translation of our French marriage certificate with us at all times, as it seems incredibly random upon arrival back in French airports whether security will let us both pass without scrutiny. I am talking about small airports (like Bergerac for us). The big ones don't seem to care or bother with asking questions, but at Bergerac when I peeled off for 5 minutes to use the restroom they hauled my husband aside and grilled him with a whole lot of questions until he could prove he was married to me and had the resources to remain in France.
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Oct 24th, 2016, 03:26 AM
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@nytraveler-
We cannot push the vacation back as it's airbnb and fully paid for with strict cancellation--- plus the holiday is over my children's school break, which is sort of set, calendar wise. But thank you for your response.

@mizlondon-
Thank you for your reply. Yes, my visa is valid at present- there is no issue there. It isn't even a requirement for Portugal since I am set to have my residence card, but I went to the trouble of getting it so that I could travel. It is present on my passport. Glad to know that they won't take me from my kids should they refuse entry to me! That would break my heart.

@Stcirq- We were married in the US, but many years ago. The documentation (translation of the certificate) etc. has passed through the system and it is all established in the Portuguese system, as is my relationship to my two EU children. I plan to have the documentation on hand with me, and will make sure it is in a form that is presentable to any border agent. Thanks for your insight there- very helpful.
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