Grounds for extension of short term Schengen visas

Aug 09, 2018

On July 9, 2014 the European Commission issued an amended version of the HANDBOOK FOR THE PROCESSING OF VISA APPLICATIONS AND THE MODIFICATION OF ISSUED VISAS[1]. The guidelines provide an interpretation to the rules of the SCHENGEN VISA CODE[2] that set forth the procedures and conditions for issuing visas for transit through or intended stays in the territory of the Schengen Member States[3] not exceeding 90 days in any 180-day period.


One of the most controversial topics for clients concerns the grounds for obtaining an extension of an issued visa.

Art. 33 of the Schengen Visa Code sets forth:

  1. The period of validity and/or the duration of stay of an issued visa shall be extended where the competent authority of a Member State considers that a visa holder has provided proof of force majeure or humanitarian reasons preventing him from leaving the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the period of validity of or the duration of stay authorized by the visa. Such an extension shall be granted free of charge. 
  2. The period of validity and/or the duration of stay of an issued visa may be extended if the visa holder provides proof of serious personal reasons justifying the extension of the period of validity or the duration of stay. A fee of EUR 30 shall be charged for such an extension. 
  3. Unless otherwise decided by the authority extending the visa, the territorial validity of the extended visa shall remain the same as that of the original visa. 
  4. The authority competent to extend the visa shall be that of the Member State on whose territory the third-country national is present at the moment of applying for an extension. 
  5. The Member States shall notify to the Commission the authorities competent for extending visas. 
  6. Extension of visas shall take the form of a visa sticker. 
  7. Information on an extended visa shall be entered into the VIS in accordance with Article 14 of the VIS Regulation.


In case a visa holder who is already present on the territory of the Member States is unable to leave before the expiry of his visa, the Visa Code and the Guidelines provide the following rules:


Grounds for requesting an extension

the individual must have reasons of force majeure, humanitarian reasons or serious personal reasons.


To whom the request must be made

the request for an extension of the visa must be addressed to the competent authorities of the Member State where he is present even if that is not the Member State whose consulate issued the visa.


Circumstances when it is mandatory to extend the visa

Example of the reason of force majeure: 

– a last-minute change of flight schedule by the airline (e.g. due to weather conditions, strike)

Example of humanitarian reasons:

– sudden serious illness of the person concerned (meaning that the person is unable to travel) or sudden serious illness or death of a close relative living in a Member State.

According to the Visa Facilitation Agreements (VFAs)[4], it is mandatory to extend only for reasons of “force majeure” and not for “humanitarian reasons”. Nevertheless, third-country nationals covered by these VFAs also benefit from the more generous provisions of the Visa Code.


Circumstances when the extension is discretionary

Examples of serious personal reasons:

– a Namibian national has traveled to Cologne (Germany) to collect a family member who has undergone an operation. The day before the scheduled departure, the patient has a relapse and is only allowed to leave the hospital two weeks later.
– an Angolan businessperson has traveled to Italy to negotiate a contract with an Italian company and to visit several production sites in Italy. Negotiations take longer than expected and the Angolan national has to stay one week longer than intended.

Example of personal reasons not justifying the extension of a visa:

– a Colombian national has traveled to Sweden to participate in a family event. At this event, he meets an old friend and would like to prolong his stay for another two weeks.


What should be the territorial validity of an extended visa

Generally, the extension should allow the holder to travel to the same territory as the one covered by the initial visa. However, the authorities of the Member State responsible for the extension may limit the territorial validity of the extended visa. The contrary can never be the case, i.e. a visa that originally had a limited territorial validity cannot be extended to allow a stay in the entire territory of the Member States.


What should be the period of stay allowed for by an extended visa

Generally, the extension of a visa should not result in a total stay going beyond 90 days in a 180 days period.


What shall be verified when assessing a request for an extension of a visa

If the competent authority considers that the reasons provided for requesting an extension of a visa are sufficient, the following should be verified:

  • is the applicant’s travel document still valid 3 months beyond the intended date of departure?
  • does the applicant possess sufficient means of subsistence for the additional period of stay?
  • has the applicant presented proof of travel medical insurance for the additional period of stay?

If the visa is extended for reasons of force majeure the competent authority may disregard the verification of these.




C(2011) 5501,of 4.8.2011, COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION C(2014) 2727, of 29.4.2014

[2] Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 establishing a Community Code on Visas (Visa Code)

[3] Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

[4] Visa Facilitation Agreements (VFAs) between the European Union and certain third countries on the facilitation of the issuance of visas provide procedural facilitations to nationals of specific third countries (e.g. reduction of the visa fee, issuance of multiple-entry visas for specific categories of applicants, shorter processing times) without altering the conditions for issuing visas (i.e. the visa applicant must still satisfy the entry conditions).

This post was written by Content Manager
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