Updated: Nov 14, 2020
Are you currently on a business trip in Europe? Of course this is a really awful time for you. Europe is currently experiencing the so-called second wave of the Corona pandemic. Many countries have already decided on a second lockdown and have largely shut down public life. Of course, the restrictions in the Schengen area differ from country to country.
Many borders in the Schengen area have been closed again and some people are now stuck in Europe. This alone describes how serious the situation is at the moment, because the Schengen Agreement actually provides that border controls are only carried out in exceptional cases and in the form of spot checks. But what if your business partner is in another country and you cannot fulfill the purpose of your trip?
In this article you will be informed about the restrictions you have to expect and how you can extend your visa during this difficult time. But first, you should note that this example refers to a stay in Germany and is described from the perspective of an American. Each country has its own rules for extending visas.
Which countries experience a lockdown?
The term "lockdown" is actually not correct. To be more precise, not one single country in Europe has adopted a proper curfew, but has only restricted parts of public life. However, people are still permitted to practice their hobbies without any problems as long as they keep to the mask obligation and the required distance of 1.5 meters or about 5 feet. For this reason, the term "shutdown" would actually be more appropriate.
In France the rules are among the strictest. People are only allowed to leave the door for good reason - to go to work, for example. Walks and outdoor sports are only allowed within a radius of one kilometer from the place of residence for one hour per day. Anyone leaving the house must carry a form with the reason.
The government in Greece has also pulled the emergency brake. Except vital businesses such as supermarkets, everything is closed. There is a curfew from 9 pm until 5 am. Anyone who wants to go shopping or see a doctor must inform the authorities by SMS.
In Belgium most stores are closed. Restaurants, cafés and bars are as dense as hairdressers, massage and beauty salons. There are exceptions only for essential stores. Curfews apply at night. Each household is only allowed one person per week as a visitor.
In the Czech Republic, there is an emergency with extensive restrictions on going out and a night-time curfew. Restaurants and schools and most stores are closed.
There are stricter rules in Poland as well. Cinemas, theaters and stores in shopping malls close. Only grocery stores and pharmacies remain open. Gyms and swimming pools are closed and hotels may only accept business travelers.
The Netherlands have been in partial lockdown for weeks. Now museums, theaters, swimming pools, amusement parks and zoos will also be closed. In public, only meetings of a maximum of two people are allowed; in private, too, no more than two guests are to be received per day. All public buildings will be closed.
Italy has further tightened its rules. There is a night-time curfew for the 60 million inhabitants. There, people are only allowed to leave their homes during the day to go to work, to the doctor or to the supermarket.
Spain has a nationwide night-time curfew. In addition, the rules vary greatly from region to region. Most restaurants and cultural institutions are closed. Kindergartens and schools are still open.
In Sweden, there are still hardly any restrictions when comparing countries. Citizens are still allowed to visit restaurants and pubs there, but with a maximum of eight people at the same table. In addition, in many regions of the country there are strong recommendations to avoid contact. Above all, the country relies on the common sense of each individual.
Bars and restaurants in Switzerland are also still open, but only until 11 pm. Events with more than 50 people and sporting and cultural activities with more than 15 people are prohibited. There is also an extended obligation to wear masks.
Conditions to extend visa
In this scenario, when you wanted to conclude a contract with a business partner in the Czech Republic, you could not fulfill your purpose of the business trip. However, since the restrictions apply only for a limited time and a flight home combined with a later return flight to Europe is too expensive, you decide to sit it out. In this scenario you are stuck in Austria. You also have a Schengen visa type C, which allows you to travel for 90 days in the entire Schengen area, which is going to expire in a short time.
For an extension of the visa you need a legitimate interest. In your case, this is a not concluded contract that represents the interest of your trip. Due to the restrictions on entry to the Czech Republic, you are a victim of circumstances beyond your control. To be sure, you should also be able to prove that you cannot conclude the contract digitally.
For more information, please check out this website:
How to extend visa during lockdown
You can apply for an extension of your visa from three months before the expiry of your residence permit. Of course, there is a longer processing time of up to one month, but as long as you apply for the extension before the visa expires, you will have no problems even with an expired visa. Depending on your place of residence, a different authority is responsible for extending the application on your behalf. You can find out where to go on the following website:
As you have a legitimate interest, there will be no fee for the extension. The documents necessary for the extension of the visa are:
Proof of a secure livelihood, if necessary a declaration of commitment, and sufficient funds for the return journey
proof of accommodation or sufficient funds to cover the costs of accommodation
Proof of health insurance coverage
Proof of the purpose and circumstances of the intended stay
For security reasons, applications are only made in person. At the moment it is not possible to submit an application to the competent authorities without an appointment. But on the websites of the competent authorities you can access contact forms to make an appointment. Alternatively, you can of course also call them by phone.
As you can see, it is currently not so easy to apply for an extension of your visa. Depending on where you live, a different authority is responsible for you and the forms also differ. You will certainly feel like Asterix when he had to apply for the A38 passport.
In addition, due to the lockdown, it is not possible to go to the authorities without an appointment. The best thing to do is to call the authority in charge and make an appointment.